Category Archives: NFL
A few weeks ago I interviewed Isaiah Crowell briefly for a piece on National Signing Day that ran on Bleacher Report. In that article, Crowell talked about why he signed with Georgia, expectations that were placed on him and the impact of being a high school All-American.
Last Saturday afternoon, with the help of his representatives, I got to sit down with Isaiah at the Loews Hotel in Atlanta. The final product of that interview went up on Bleacher Report last night and can be read here, but I think it’s worthwhile to add some thoughts that were either cut due to word count restraints (I came in a bit strong at about 3800 words initially) or never written in initial drafts. Here are some of those thoughts.
The theme of time is addressed in the published article, but I’m not sure the final edit paints the fullest picture. When I arrived at the Loews Hotel, Isaiah was signing autographs. Not for fans and passers-by. He was signing hundreds of autograph placards that will soon adorn trading cards. That’s part of his job now as he upholds an already high standard for memorabilia endorsement deals, etc. When he wrapped that up, he grabbed a drink of water and showed up right on time for our chat.
Even though he was on time (I was early) he apologized for being late. On one hand, that was a nice gesture. On a more telling note, however, it shows how busy life is for a draft prospect like Crowell. He was in Atlanta to be recognized as a Black College All-American, he was there for just a few days following his trip to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine and he had his pro day at Alabama State coming up on Tuesday. What could have been a nice little break between the two most important workouts of his life was defined by a full calendar.
Crowell’s up against the clock on the 40-yard dash, but he’s also up against the clock on a dailybasis. And yet, he gave me all the time I wanted and was gracious throughout our conversation.
Perception vs. Reality
An ongoing theme in our conversation was the public’s perception of Crowell vs. who he actually was (and is).
Fans ordained him as the next Herschel Walker. He wanted to be the first Isaiah Crowell. Fans expected a Heisman Trophy. He just wanted to get on the field and help as a freshman.
Fans thought Crowell took himself out of games too often. As he explained to me, he battled bruised ribs against South Carolina (and stayed in the game and won SEC Player of the Week), fractured his wrist against Ole Miss (and again one Freshman of the Week) and tore ligaments in his ankle against Kentucky. Was he injury prone? I don’t know. But he was also an 18-year old kid adjusting to the physicality of college football and playing through bumps and bruises.
Crowell told me, “I would never want to be labeled as hot-headed or a trouble-maker, because that’s not who I am.”
After spending time with him and peppering him with an array of personal questions, that assessment is right. He’s mostly a laid back, soft-spoken dude.
Bigger Things Going On
As the article points out, Crowell wasn’t just dealing with football during his freshman year. He was also coming to grips with the death of two loved ones and simultaneously learning that he was going to be a father. These things drastically impacted his demeanor as he confessed to having a shorter fuse because of them.
There’s a rich silver lining to that, though. The fact that off-the-field components—things like family and death—matter more to Crowell than football is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, Isaiah perked up to a higher level every time we talked about the game he’s hoping to make a career, but he has balance in his life. And that’s a very, very good thing.
As much as Isaiah loves football, I don’t think it defines him. He works hard at the game both on and off the field and seems poised to be a true professional, but there’s more to life for him.
The article is light on this, but Crowell is a family man. His parents, who he pointed out are still married, are hard-working folks and huge influences in his life. His dad owned a truck and does lawn service while his mom manages an assisted living facility. He’s got four older siblings and he speaks with them daily.
His grandmother, interestingly enough, was the hardest person for him to tell about his arrest.
His son is impacting his every move. He’s training for his son. He’s maturing for his son. He’s doing it all for his son.
I was around Isaiah for a little over an hour in total, and he smiled for at least 58 minutes. The smile was partially (in my opinion, not his words) a reflection of his contentment and partially just who he is.
He was soft-spoken, light-hearted and forthright for the entirety of the interview. While he gave his fair share of “right” answers, he also gave enough depth to defy the notion that the interview was scripted or in any way inauthentic.
I’m five years older than Isaiah, and he called me “sir” every time he responded to a question.
Perhaps the most ringing endorsement I can give of his personality is that I’d do it all again under completely different circumstances. What I mean by that is this: If you take away my need to write a story, his NFL Draft aspirations and our combined connection to the University of Georgia…I’d still love to spend an afternoon with the guy. He was genuine, courteous and intriguing.
I can’t say that about everyone I’ve written about or covered.
Again, the article can be found here.
That’s all I got/
Jason Smith weighs in on the impact of major professional sports on state legislation.
This whole gay rights and sports conversation that the Dude and I talked about on my first podcast is getting on another level now.
First, Michael Sam comes out and was treated as….well, as a normal player at the Combine.
Next, the NBA did the equivalent of a YouTube “FIRST!” and saw Jason Collins, an openly gay player, get significant time in the 4th quarter of a Nets game.
Now enter the State of Arizona and SB 1062.
If you’re not familiar with that appellation it is a law that Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s desk just vetoed. To paint the bill in its best light, it was a law aimed at preventing businesses run by religious people from being coerced by the state to provide services in a way that violates their religious convictions. To paint the bill in its worst light, it would have allowed for business owners to refuse services (i.e., discriminate) to gays and lesbians on the basis of religious convictions.
Regardless of your opinion on this law (and regardless of ours, frankly), this is an interesting story from the sports perspective.
Turns out that the state of Arizona has several sports franchises. The MLB issued a statement going on record against the bill. I can’t remember the last time that has happened, if ever. Next, the NFL was also said to be closely monitoring the progress of the bill, though they did not come out against it in the way the MLB did.
Why were they monitoring the bill? Well, the Super Bowl is in Arizona next year.
Now to my point: sports are (maybe) the most powerful cultural force in our society today. Case in point—after several significant politicians have come out against it and many activist organizations have voiced their outrage over the bill, the real force that pushed the bill into the veto box might have been sports. At the very least, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Brewer decided to veto the bill after all of this outrage AND on the day that rumors surfaced that the NFL might move the Super Bowl if the law passed. In the end, doesn’t it seem like we can safely say that sports played a role in this bill’s demise?
Take a second to let that sink in.
One of the reasons, among many, that a law was vetoed was because the commissioners of the two professional sports leagues who have franchises in the state of Arizona expressed concern over the bill.
I don’t know if that’s good or bad. The real question is the one I always find myself asking in this era of sports:
How the hell did we get here?
DudeYouPodcast: Recapping National Signing Day, Remembering the Super Bowl, Talking NBA and Hyping the Olympics
In Episode 36, Andrew Hall @DudeYouCrazy) and Daniel Palmer (@dpalm66) recap the week in sports including:
- National Signing Day
- the Super Bowl
- An NBA Disaster
- The New NBA Dunk Contest Format
- The Olympics
As always, download the DudeYouPodcast on iTunes (make sure to subscribe)
Hit it up on Stitcher Radio.
Even stream it online via Spreaker.
This really happened.
In college Knowshon Moreno was more than an athlete. He was a student-athlete.
One day after a test another student asked Knowshon how he held up on his exam. Knowshon brushed his shoulder off and said, “It’s just work to me baby.”
Needless to say if Knowshon wins Super Bowl MVP and shuns Disney World for “It’s just work to me baby,” I’m going to pass out.
Best of luck to Knowshon and Champ Bailey of the Denver Broncos and Chris Clemons of the Seattle Seahawks. Bulldog Nation is proud.
That’s all I got/
This Sunday, it all comes to an end. Our true national pastime bids adieu once more, as the Broncos and Seahawks lock up in a match-up pitting not only the top teams in each conference, but also the NFL’s best offense versus the NFL’s best defense. We’re going to go over what happens when each team has the ball, some friends of the blog are gonna make some picks, and we’re going to point out some of the best ways to lose money causally this weekend. Most importantly, we’re not going to cut you off cold turkey from football for safety reasons.
First things first, prop bets. Everyone loves them, they’re a great way to integrate casual fans into the game, and if you’re paying close attention, there’s money to be made. We covered prop bets at length on the not-yet-award winning DudeYouPodcast, but there’s one we DIDN’T cover that I win money on every year.
National anthem over/under.
This year, the anthem will be brought to you by Renee Fleming, an opera singer who brings a full lyric soprano to the table (according to Wikipedia). I was embarrassed not to know who she was until I read that she was an opera singer, so I’ve got that going for me. Vegas has the length of her anthem set at 2:25, and the record right now is 2:36 seconds held by Alicia Keys, and that was done just last year. Couple the fact that we’ve got a classically trained singer who may not be used to braving the elements, and I think the under is the bet here.
(Yes, I’m aware that I have grossly over-thought this, and yes this might be a sign of a debilitating gambling addiction. What are you, my mother?)
Now, on to the game itself!
Seattle @ Denver
When We Last Saw Seattle: Richard Sherman was Richard Shermaning, Beast Mode was Beast Moding, and Pete Carroll was becoming the first coach to lead a team to a BCS title game and a Super Bowl, as I have been reminded by my USC fan friends over the past two weeks. All USC vacated title jokes aside, it’s amazing that just four years ago, the NFC West was bar none the worst division in professional football. This year, we saw two from the division lead the entire conference wire to wire, and an 11-win Arizona team miss the playoffs, so it’s safe to say that they survived the best division in football to get here.
This is a team built on their defense and their running game, and with the apparent neutral conditions Sunday, it looks like this will be a good time for them to shine. Look for the Seahawks to start early with a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch, as the Broncos haven’t had to deal with a true power running attack all year. The reason they’ve been able to avoid that kind of attack has been they score so many points so fast, that teams are forced to throw to keep up. Won’t be the case this Sunday, as this record breaking Seattle secondary will present a unique challenge for the Denver offense.
The biggest variable for Seattle is just how much Wilson is going to be asked to do under center. He’s stepped up big in every situation asked for thus far, and while his numbers haven’t been gaudy, I don’t think he stops stepping up now. Win, lose or draw, Seattle will be improving their receiving corps in the offseason, but is this the game where their biggest weakness finally bites them? Land Baron Carroll says no.
When We Last Saw Denver: Peyton Manning and company were juuuuuuust finishing up laying waste to the entire NFL in general, and the offensive record book in particular. Passing yards? Got it. Passing touchdowns? Been had it. Most points in a season? Something something, Danger Zone. Bottom line, this is the most prolific offensive season in the history of the Shield, and I’m not sure we see anyone top it going forward. Not to be lost amidst the passing stats, the running game from Denver was the 15th in the league this year.
Success on ground may have come from the offense softening defenses with the passing attack, but that same passing attack accounts for their success against the run. As I already mentioned, teams were often forced to abandon the run early to accommodate keeping up with the Peyton Mannings, and left this defense as 8th against the run. Seattle is not one to abandon the run, and will look to extend their possessions with the ball, in an effort to keep this offense off the field. The major question becomes lies on the match up between the passing game and the Legion of Boom. Can Kam Chancellor and company keep the passing game under wraps? Bionic neck cyborg quarterback Peyton Manning says no.
THE PICK: I was raised on defensive football. I like a defense that hits and makes plays, and that talks the talk and consistently backs it up. But, I’m also human. I watched this Broncos season like everyone else who helped bet this line up, and watching their efficiency and dominance this year makes it hard to think that anyone can stop them, even the Seahawks. Before we get to my pick, I asked some people around the blog and former guests of the pod their opinions:
Rodimus Prime (host of the award-winning podcast The Black Guy Who Tips, better at podcasting than us, @rodimusprime) – “This is tough but give me the Seahawks because Russel Wilson is QB cyborg and that defense is nasty. So I’m going with Seahawks plus the 3!”
Chad Floyd (writer at DudeYouCrazy.net, former intern, @Chad_Floyd) – “The Beast Mode rushing attack against a decidedly average defense? Seahawks +3. Seahawks moneyline. Seahawks with points negotiable.”
Michael Felder (lead college football writer at Bleacher Report, drinker of beer(s), @InTheBleachers) – “As the guy who started “All Russell Wilson Everything” on that Thursday night against UNLV in his debut game at Wisconsin, I feel like I need him to finish the drill. The kid balls. Oh and Seattle’s DBs play ball like a real G should. Get down or lay down Broncos.”
Andrew Hall (site runner at DudeYouCrazy.net, mid-podcast vanisher, @DudeYouCrazy) – “I’ve got Seahawks winning outright. The defense and the weather will rattle the Broncos. Beast Mode will be enabled. Wilson will make just enough throws.”
Flying in the face of convention and public opinion, I have to agree with most of these breakdowns: I think the games stays close, and a close game goes to the team that can run and play defense.
Seahawks (+3) over Broncos
If you’ve learned one thing this season gambling with me, it’s that the public is usually wrong. And if I learned anything, well…
Get down or lay down, indeed. Enjoy the game everyone.
Love this? Hate it? Think I’m an idiot? Don’t just curse at me under your breath, head to the Dude You Podcast iTunes page, and leave a 5-star review to make sure I know it, and have your voice heard on the air. Follow me at https://twitter.com/dpalm66