I do this every year. I’m not sure how many more years I can do it. But I’ll give it at least one more shot. With Super Bowl LIV now in the books, here are 19 Thoughts at the end of the 2019 season.
1. The Chiefs are a palatable, neat story … for now.
I don’t think many Ravens fans are all that worked up about the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl. There’s no real hostility between the two teams, no players that Baltimore fans hate any more than anyone else. And all fans tend to appreciate just seeing someone new win from time to time. Some sources even say it’s the first professional team to ever win a championship from the state of Kansas.
But Patrick Mahomes (who is 2-0 against the Ravens but has to come to Baltimore for the first time next year) is likely to be a thorn in the side of the rest of the AFC for the foreseeable future. Given his age and the success he’s already experienced, it’s not hard to fathom him being as annoying as Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady in the coming years.
2. A team that is very good at running the ball was badly hurt by getting away from it. Where have I heard this before?
The Buffalo Bills think Kyle Shanahan might not be particularly reliable in the Super Bowl.
3. The resume for Baltimore’s best football family is a little Fuller.
As written previously, THE Baltimore connection to Super Bowl LIV was Woodlawn’s own Kendall Fuller, who becomes the first of four NFL player brothers to win a title — and even added the game-sealing interception in the process. Former Raven Terrell Suggs was largely a non-factor but gets a second ring. That’s neat. I’m as indifferent as I expected I would be. It impacts his legacy in absolutely no way and just becomes sort of a historical footnote. Ten years from now, you’re going to say, “Did you know Terrell Suggs actually won TWO Super Bowls?” And your friends aren’t going to have any recollection of it at all.
4. And it’s genuinely difficult to not be happy for Andy Reid.
It’s the best moment of his football career and the second-best moment of his year.
5. The best commercial was the Groundhog Day one, which I assume was for watching “Groundhog Day.”
Because I honestly couldn’t tell you what it would have been for otherwise.
6. Halftime was lovely but certainly not worthy of the moment.
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira are clearly very attractive people and they gave it their all, giving the internet much to discuss. The show itself was fine. It was well choreographed, and the effort and energy were really pleasant. Sadly neither performer (but particularly Lopez) has the musical catalogue worthy of the moment. She just doesn’t have the significant songs necessary to create a truly iconic halftime show. Do you even remember which songs she did? I just remember that a lot of ass was shown.
I’ll take Ariana Grande with the first pick in the Super Bowl LV halftime show fantasy draft.
7. We are already spending entirely too much time talking about the 30th or so best free agent on the NFL market.
Yes, the Tom Brady thing was always going to be a work. And I’m not really criticizing all of the coverage surrounding Brady. He’s a major celebrity. But we have to be realistic about things at this point. Wherever he plays next season, he’s absolutely not one of the top three quarterbacks in the AFC at this point (Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson) and might be behind others. A team spending $30 million on Brady will be in far worse position to put the talent around him necessary to win with a player nowhere near the prime of his game (although I do still expect him to have one more season where he plays better than he did last year).
8. But speaking of free agents, there’s one who is roughly as overvalued as Brady.
Next year’s Super Bowl is on CBS instead of NBC because the peacock folks want Olympic synergy in 2022. The eye folks, of course, want to make sure Tony Romo is a centerpiece of their coverage. But the Mickey Mouse folks want him as they try to push for future Super Bowls and/or Sunday packages themselves.
Make no mistake. Tony Romo is outstanding at what he does. But he’s not the only one. Kurt Warner is a major football and pop culture figure who has always been GREAT at analyst work (including again this year as part of Westwood One’s radio coverage of the Super Bowl, which I took in for a bit while driving back from a charity event I attended. More to come.) He might be as good as Romo (or better). I know that we live in a world where every analyst has to be a former Cowboy for some stupid reason, but this should be easy.
9. Congratulations to former Terp Vernon Davis on an amazing career.
And for understanding that “VD” was still a far better nickname than “Duke” for a Maryland alum.
10. I can’t believe not even a single person thought Ryan Finley was worthy of an MVP vote.
As things ended up going this season, it made complete sense that Jackson was a unanimous selection as MVP. Hopefully he’ll follow Mahomes’ “MVP to Super Bowl champion” blueprint. The second part of the path is the fun one.
11. Also we probably don’t need to panic quite as much if another thing happens as expected this offseason.
When Mahomes got hurt earlier this season, the internet seemed to think it was a continuation of “The Madden Curse.” But as it turns out, he was the man who sorta broke it. That should be good news for when Jackson likely gets the cover next season.
12. Congratulations as well to John Harbaugh (Coach of the Year) and Greg Roman (Assistant Coach of the Year) for their own lovely consolation prizes.
I assume Tom Coughlin was named “Miss Totally Uncongeniality.”
13. Speaking of local folks getting awards, Brandon Copeland is a truly special Baltimorean. Much like the Fullers, he deserves more of our attention.
The Jets linebacker and Gilman alum received the NFLPA’s Alan Page Community Award, which was much deserved. He remains incredibly committed to his hometown. And his college town. And his town of employment.
14. The Pro Football Hall of Fame class is as large as it is underwhelming.
Twenty people will be inducted into Canton this year. How many of them are slam dunk “it would be embarrassing that the Hall of Fame would exist without this guy” types? Three? Four? Troy Polamalu, Jimmy Johnson, maybe George Young and Isaac Bruce?
Deion Sanders suggested last week that the Hall of Fame standards had come down a bit. I think that’s a stretch. I think there have eternally been players who were more “borderline” but got in, and because they did, history remembers them in a more favorable light. But Sanders’ “wow factor” standards make it so much more ridiculous that a truly great player (Patrick Willis) fell short of even being a finalist this year because of the length of his career.
The Class of 2021 however might be one of the better classes in recent memory, however, as Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson, Calvin Johnson and Jared Allen are all first-year eligible (and deserving).
15. The NFL isn’t giving up on the 17-game thing. Perhaps there’s a path to it.
Torrey Smith wasn’t making suggestions in the context of the 17-game argument, but his points could help provide a blueprint for getting there. Do you want 17 games? Do you want it badly enough that you’d give up a fifth year on the contracts of first round draft picks? Do you want it enough to get rid of the franchise tag? The players have made it abundantly clear that they don’t want this thing. The league is going to have to be willing to bargain significantly to make it happen.
16. The XFL is going to be just as terrible as all of the other leagues have been. I won’t watch, but I’ll be mildly interested in the conversation surrounding the rules they experiment with. Wait, nevermind, I just read the rules and these are stupid. I’ll pay attention to nothing.
A three-point conversion try after a touchdown shouldn’t be something the NFL looks to implement. The “wait until the ball is touched to cover a kick” rule SHOULD create more returns, but do we actually want more returns or do we want more offense? Allowing double forward passes is “NFL Blitz” level of gimmicky. These silly rules actually make the league a WORSE developmental process for potential NFL players. Please stop pretending like this is going to be something you’ll care about.
But go Keenan Reynolds. He plays for Seattle. I hope he wins MVP and then plays two decades in the NFL.
17. I love Ed Reed as “Chief of Staff” for Miami. I’d probably love him in other Chief of Staff roles. Or any other role at all, to be honest.
That one’s pretty self explanatory.
18. Before I wrap this up, Bradley and Nikki Bozeman are leaving for their anti-bullying world tour later this week. Please support them.
19. Your favorite tailgate game has been drastically improved with plenty of time for you to adapt before next season.
I had a great time at the watch event hosted by Towson University’s Military and Veterans Center benefitting the Nick Ziolkowski Scholarship Endowment. It was great to see legendary Towson quarterback Dan Crowley at the event. But the most significant moment was when an attendee lined up three cornhole boards in order and forced us to reimagine how the game is played. You want points? Skip the bag off the first two boards before landing it on the third or getting it in the third hole.
You should probably thank the creator of the new game. His name is Timothy. You might want to buy him a beer. You’ll just have to wait 19 years to do it, you know, since he’s 2 years old.