NFL look ahead/back
Thought this was a very interesting look at some of the best and worst contract decisions made during the last NFL offseason.
It is crafted from a former sports agent and features several interesting names. Guys like Adam Theilen and Case Keenum in Minnesota. Tackle Andrew Whitworth, who got a lot of credit for stabilizing the offensive line for a Rams team that lead the NFL on scoring. Guys like Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye who helped transform the Jacksonville defense into a group so strong that we may have to deal with the phrase "Blake Bortles vs. Tom Brady for the AFC championship."
In truth, this may be the most under-examined angle in the overexposed NFL. Think of all the draft hash and rehash. And we're as guilty as anyone considering that we love the draft. You know this.
But the long-term development of most draft classes can take years, the immediate impact of a free agency haul can be overwhelming. It is especially true when you factor in affordability. Take Theilen, who signed a four-year extension before last season and delivered a season that ranked fifth in yards and eighth in catches. So the Vikings got a legit No. 1 wide out on the cheap.
Look at the teams still playing for a title and the new names on the roster are paramount for each playoff qualifier not named New England, Atlanta or Pittsburgh.
Minnesota and Jacksonville are the biggest winners in free agency. Now add in Philadelphia, which won big with additions of Alshon Jeffery and cornerback Patrick Robinson. New Orleans landed difference makers on each side of the ball in the draft, which allowed them to survive the awful free agent signing of Adrian Petereson.
Also of note in that story is the terrible contract the Seahawks gave aging safety Kam Chancellor, and considering the ramifications in a salary cap sport of having an injured and aging former star at safety as well as a high-priced quarterback crunches Seattle's financial flexibility.
So there you go.
Also of note in that story is the great deal the Vikings got with a one-year contract with Keenum.
But think about the deal Keenum will command on the free agent market, whether he stays in Minnesota or looks elsewhere.
And these free agent bargains are going to be even more valuable this year because we all know there will be several teams that push big chips on the table for the quarterbacks that will be there.
Keenum, Kirk Cousins and even Jimmy Garoppolo will all be on the market. Now add in what happens with Eli Manning in New York and Trod Taylor in Buffalo, as well as the other QBs — Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater — in Minnesota.
Big Ten's big sideshow
Fresh off not making the college football playoff, the Big Ten is a clear leader in the latest round of college sports.
College eSports, that is, as in college scholarship-level video-game playing.
The Big Ten Network and announced a two-year deal with Riot Games to have the second and third seasons of League of Legends.
All 14 Big Ten schools will start playing as the new season starts Monday and will conclude with an online eight-team tournament from March 30-April 2.
Part of the deal includes each school's eSports team receiving $35,000 to be distributed to fund scholarships.
Yes, scholarships for video game playing.
And while we are here, the Overwatch League — the most high-profile professional eSports League — started its season Wednesday.
This is hardly a whim and gang, this will only grow.
Know this: The Boston Uprising franchise — one of the 12 teams in the league — is owned by Robert Kraft. Yes, the same Robert Kraft that owns the Patriots.
The price for a franchise? A cool $20 million.
Kevin Durant's greatness
OK, regulars around these parts know we're firmly on Team LeBron.
We think he is the most physically gifted basketball player ever as well as the most unselfish superstar of all time. (Sometimes to his detriment to be honest.)
But with last night's milestone for Kevin Durant, this seems like a good time to discuss and review an all-time top-20 player (who may be moving higher with each season) and the second-best player of his generation.
Durant's one of the most efficient and lethal offensive weapons in the history of the league.
That may seem like hyperbole, but compare the numbers: Durant's career 27.16 points per game average is fourth all-time, behind MJ's 30.12, Wilt's 30.07 and Elgin Baylor's 27.36. (James is fifth at 27.13.)
Durant has made better than 48 percent of his FGs total and more than 38 percent of his 3s and 88 percent of his free throws.
Wilt of course made more than 54 percent of his shots because everyone not named Russell who covered Chamberlain was like 6-5.
KD's efficiency numbers are better than Jordan, Baylor's and James. For example, Jordan got to 30 points a night on 23 shots per game; Baylor took more than 23 shots a night and Wilt did it on 22.5 attempts per game. (Side note: In the realm of incredible stats in Wilt's incredible career on the court — and that likely does not include his biggest number, if you know what I'm saying — Chamberlain in his last year at the age of 36 played 43 minutes per game, made better than 72 percent of his shots and averaged 18.6 rebounds a game. At 3-bleepin'-6 years old.)
Anyhoo, Durant has averaged 27.1 points on less than 19 shots for his career.
In fact, no one will ever bump MJ from the all-time NBA team, but if we're talking about needing the best to ever lace them up to play the aliens in Space Jam 2 for everything we hold dear, Kevin Durant is moving closer to inclusion for being on that list.
And offensively, he's already one of the best of all time.
This and that
— Well done story on NFL.com on former Miami Dolphins assistant coach Chris Foerster, who resigned during the season when a video of him doing cocaine off his desk at work that he sent to a Las Vegas escort went viral. Real human reactions from the clearly the worst moment of a man's life.
— As bad as all the Art Briles stuff at Baylor was — and it was so bad, Briles likely will never work again unless the Devil himself needs an expert on the RPO and mid-line option — this news could be ever more damaging for the program. Matt Rhule, who was about to start his second year at Baylor, is a finalist for the Indianapolis Colts gig. Rhule landed a top-25 signing class in the early signing period for the Bears despite going 1-11 last season. To hit the reset button again after Rhule cleared the deck would be a killer.
— As David Paschall shared with our Press Row listeners yesterday, here's an interesting look at Georgia linebacker Davin Bellamy trying to copyright the "Humble Yourself" taunt he yelled at Baker Mayfield at the Rose Bowl. Man, if someone gets to profit from trash-talking, and the first to cash in is not Deion, Ali or Larry Bird, well, somehow that does not seem right.
— Here's DP's run down of the Alabama players leaving for the draft. Yes, we're kind of surprised that Damien Harris is coming back. While he has not made it official, we'd be stunned if Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the whole draft according to Mel Kiper Jr., returns to T-Town.
— Speaking of returns, the whispers that Jauan Jennings may be trying to get right with Jeremy Pruitt and the new UT regime is glorious news for Johnny Vols Fans everywhere.
— Now this a paddler with an attitude. A Japanese kayaker spiked his rival's drink with steroids to improve his chance to make the Olympic team.
Did you know that WWE Raw debuted 25 years ago today?
Crazy right? And know this, before the cable networks got NFL games and college bowl games and started developing must-watch series like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, WWE Raw was consistently the most-watched cable show year-in, year-out.
OK, on this day in 1813, the first pineapples were planted in Hawaii.
In 1964, the first government report by the Surgeon General that smoking may be hazardous.
The year before that, the first discotheque — Whiskey a-go-go — opens in L.A. Side note: Who knew that discotheque was spelled that way?
Darryl Dawkins would have been 61.
Side questions: On a scale of 1-10, 10 being excellent, where does Chocolate Thunder rank as a nickname? Question two: Would Kevin Durant be more highly regarded if he had a boss nickname?
Rushmore of NBA nicknames. Go.