Humpday Fire Drill: Week 2

Ah yes, Hump Day. Unless you satiate your football cravings with half-filled stadiums and Wing-T MAC clashes on Wednesday night, or speculative Fantasy rankings-rubbish from “experts” after you smash 3 Silver Bullets with your ribeye, you need something to get you to weekend kickoff…

Sound the klaxons; we’ve created the Hump Day Fire Drill to get you through the week until the sweet symphony of gridiron warfare fills the air again. These are our takes on the previous week’s action, with a little more sauce than your average ESPNchilada…

Don’t get sprinklered, dig in!


Corralling Kelce

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By Michael Cullen

I imagine after the Kansas City Chief’s 27-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Travis Kelce (TE, #87) drove his Genesis G80 to the nearest convenience store, picked up a 12-pack of Natty Ice, and blasted the 1999 angst-anthem “My Own Worst Enemy”, fidget-spinning and Tinder-swiping all the way home, like any pissed-off teenager would…

…Except Travis Kelce isn’t a teenager…he’s a grown man whose ability and antics are at constant odds, with one aspect of the bearded-behemoth always seeking to one-up the other. His incredible talent and incredulous attitude represent a savage dichotomy that could be the undoing of the Chiefs.

Let’s take an Eastwood-esque approach to this:

THE GOOD

9/17/17

Tie ballgame at Arrowhead Stadium with under 7 minutes to go. Kelce lines up on the right side of the formation in the H-back position. The Chiefs run a misdirection with play-action fakes to both a jet motion from the WR the shotgun-offset RB. Kelce comes left, across the formation at the snap and catches a quick shovel pass from Alex Smith at the 17 yard line. He then breaks an arm tackle, increasing speed towards the goal line. When he reaches the 5 yard line, he plants hard off his left foot, launching his 6’6” 260 pound frame skyward, simultaneously hurdling a low-launching tackler and splitting two more for a touchdown.

This is the most recent example of the tremendous playmaking ability of Travis Kelce. Since he entered the league as a third-round pick in 2013, he has earned 2 Pro-Bowl bids and a First-Team All-Pro selection. He has a rare combination of size, speed, and physicality that can realistically only be compared to Rob Gronkowski. They have virtually the same dimensions, and Kelce ran a faster 40-yard dash(4.63 vs. 4.68) in combine testing. Since 2015, he has more catches than Gronk(170 vs. 105), and with Tyreek Hill “taking the top off” of any defense the Chiefs play, his targets should only increase. Kelce has also been able to stay healthy more consistently than Gronk, which is a big deal whether you’re Andy Reid or he’s your TE in Fantasy Football. He is an athletic freak in a league of athletic specimens; a supreme outlier who can change the tide of the game for his team in a good way…

…or a bad way…

THE BAD

Kelce’s history of dumb, unnecessary penalties can be traced all the way back to 2014, his first full season in the league. The thing to note here is that while the scope of stupidity largely remains constant for Kelce, the timing of the penalties has progressively occurred at more critical junctions.

11/30/14

Kelce is flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and fined $11,025 for making a “jerking” hand gesture at Von Miller.

“Seriously, dude?” Score: 3/10

As a young player in the league, Kelce is going with the old “Act your shoe size, not your age” tactic, making immature gestures at the best EDGE rusher in the league.

11/6/16

Kelce ejected for mocking referee with towel toss

“Seriously, dude?” Score: 5/10

After a perceived missed pass interference call by an official in the endzone, Kelce argues with the ref, gets a penalty, and then throws his towel at the zebra mockingly, as though to say “you can throw your flag, I can throw mine too!”. He was ejected for the offense, and fined $24k by the league.

12/9/16

Kelce runs on field to mock Raiders punter with “horse gallop” dance

“Seriously, dude?” Score: 4.5/10

Marquette King is the charismatic punter for the Raiders. Yes, you read that correctly. Punters are now showboating…but that is an entirely different issue. After the Chiefs house-called a punt by King, Kelce ran onto the field from the sidelines and imitated a dance King had done in a previous week. The two then traded petty jabs on Twitter, with King landing the knockout blow, stating: “I told him I don’t need a reality show to find a girl”. More on that later…

1/16/16

Kelce mocks Tom Brady’s pregame ritual at Gillette Stadium before playoff tussle.

“Seriously, dude?” Score: 6/10

Kelce gets some leeway here, because TB12 was technically on their side of the field. But seriously, dude? You’re gunna mock the GOAT, before a playoff game at Gillette? Talk about throwing gasoline on the fire…

1/15/17

Kelce draws Unnecessary Roughness penalty in AFC Divisional Playoff Game

“Seriously, dude?” Score: 8/10

The Steelers lead the Chiefs 15-7 with approximately three minutes left in the 3rd quarter. On 2nd and 5, the Chiefs throw an incomplete pass. Kelce is shoved by a DB as the whistle blows at the tail end of his route. Kelce then turns around, takes three steps, and double-hand blasts the DB in the upper chest, sending him flailing. KC is assessed a 15-yard penalty, turning a critical 3rd and 5 into a 3rd and 20. The Chiefs ultimately fall on the road, and Kelce goes on an infamous post-game rant, earning him more fines and notoriety.

9/7/17

Kelce shoves ball into the groin-area of Patriots player

“Seriously, dude?” Score: 9/10

After being tackled on the play, Kelce perceived that Kyle Van Noy was taking too long to extricate himself from the pile, so naturally Kelce punched him in the undercarriage while holding the rock. The cheapshot at Van Noy’s plums earned Kelce a $12k fine, which begs the question, is it 6 grand per nut, or just 12 Gs for the whole package?

You don’t punch another man in the tenders. You just don’t do it. You especially don’t do it on the road, at Gillette stadium, down 21-24 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter, the same night that the Patriots hoisted their 5th Super Bowl banner. Momentum is a force that extends beyond Physics formulas…You don’t need Mark Wahlberg giving the pregame intros to explain that, and yet Marky Mark was there. Despite all this, Kelce rabbit punched Van Noy right in the nether-region, and the zebras caught him doing it.

9/17/17

Kelce draws 15-yard “taunting” penalty after Hunt TD

“Seriously, dude?” Score: 8/10

The “Seriously, dude?” score on this one takes into account a number of things. Don’t mind the fact that it was a very tight game at home against the Eagles…Don’t mind the fact that Kelce was literally fined 5 figures the week before for similar shenanigans. Don’t even mind the fact that Kelce’s brother is on the Eagles, and he just couldn’t wait to get back at him for all those wet-willies and purple nurples over the years. No, instead we will examine the fact that even after all this, Kelce shrugged off the first 15-yarder, and after a marvelous leaping TD, decided that he needed to sprint the length of the field, flapping his arms in a clear mockery of the Eagles and their “Fly Eagles Fly” mantra. The referees could have easily flagged this as taunting, and Kelce would have been tossed for having two unsportsmanlike penalties in a single game.

THE UGLY

An interesting tidbit uncovered while researching this post is that Kelce attended Chino Hills High School. For those who are fortunate enough to be blissfully unaware of the fact that this is where the infamous Ball Brothers attend/attended, let me delve a little deeper into the despicable pop-culture crossovers that have spawned from CH High:

Lavar Ball, egomaniacal patriarch of the Ball family and proprietor of Big Baller Brand, has somehow fanangled the attention of major TV networks through his three sons’ above-average one dimensional basketball play, and parlayed it into a reality TV show that is essentially a male-version of that deplorable Kardashian rubbish. But i would be remiss if I glossed over the fact that an earlier Chino Hills grad was the first to swindle his way into a “reality TV” gig on the side. Catching Kelce debuted in 2016, and while I refuse to actually watch the show, from what I have read it is essentially a one-off of The Bachelor. One can only assume that he gives them pigskin instead of roses, and that their dates consist of watching game film, breaking down opposing Defensive schemes, right?

Pass the Tums. If you have the taste of vomit in your mouth too, we can hock and spit together. How do you dedicate yourself to becoming the best Tight End in the world if you are filming a reality TV show? As a Niner fan, I distinctly remember the transition of Vernon Davis, Tight End #85 to Vernon Davis: Entrepreneur, painter, beef jerky spokesman and Jamba Juice owner. Davis took a couple vicious hits from “BamBam” Chancellor up in Seattle and decided that maybe he ought to invest in some alternative career paths, just in case. Granted, VD85 had peaked in his career, is still playing to this day, and his business decisions will likely pay off down the road.

Kelce has the natural ability to get to Canton as an all-time pass catcher. He also has the asinine antics to piss away a tremendous opportunity with a very good team and be remembered as nothing more than a series of memes and tweets.

At this junction of his career, he is like a wine…just how good this wine is remains to be seen. Will he be a fine wine, and only get better with age, or is he merely a boxed wine, waiting to be pulled from its cardboarding housing by some jubilant Fraternity-bros waiting to “slap the bag”? “Catching Kelce” in the act of dumb penalties has been very easy for officials in 2017…I’ve got an idea for an even better show, starring Andy Reid and Travis Kelce(as himself) called Stopping Kelce…because if Reid doesn’t nix this behavior ASAP, it’s going to stop the Chiefs from making a run at a Super Bowl.


The Curious Case of Sam Bradford

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By Ricky Minno

Sam Bradford did not play on Sunday due to a knee injury. Feel free to stop me if you’ve heard this story before…

Most people know Sam Bradford as an average injury-ridden NFL quarterback who never lived up to his hype and potential, but lost in the debris of negative headlines that have consumed his career is context; How could so much obvious talent go to waste?

Let’s back up a little bit to understand who Sam Bradford is. Growing up, he was on the same AAU basketball team as Blake Griffin, he bested future PGA touring pros Kevin Tway and Robert Strep in golf, his former hockey coach is on record saying Sam had the talent to make it in the NHL, and he was ranked the 12th best pro style QB coming out of high school. Sam’s been in the 1% of natural born athletes since the day he exited the womb. He could have and probably would have gone pro in any sport to which he dedicated himself, but unless your name rhymes with Shmo Shackson, you can’t successfully play multiple professional sports. You have to choose one. Bradford chose football, of course, because being an NFL quarterback is the football equivalent of being knighted with the highest honor by Queen Elizabeth in front of Buckingham Palace. You’re royalty. So he took a scholarship from his hometown Oklahoma Sooners, threw for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns his sophomore season, won the ever-elusive Heisman Trophy, and was anointed the first pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Sounds pretty great, right? I mean, that’s the dream. He did it. He made it. Take the money and run, Sam. TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN!

He didn’t take the money and run. What I omitted from his college accolades was a BCS National Championship participation trophy he received from that illustrious redshirt sophomore campaign. Bradford did not declare for the NFL draft and decided to return to Oklahoma for his junior season in a valiant attempt to turn that participation trophy into a championship trophy. This is the part in the movie when the protagonist makes a questionable decision while unsettling music softly plays in the background, letting the audience know he or she is definitely is making the wrong decision. Hindsight 20/20. Sam Bradford made the wrong decision. In his very first game of the season, he injured his shoulder, and after a suspiciously rushed return, he injured it again, which required season ending surgery. People didn’t realize it at the time, as he still went 1st overall in the 2010 NFL Draft due to a poor QB class, but these shoulder injuries were a poetic foreshadowing of how his NFL career would play out.

In a nutshell, Bradford’s NFL career can be boiled down into one word: inconsistency. He shows glimmers of greatness, and the football world collectively boards the Bradford Bandwagon. Then, he gets a new offensive coordinator and/or suffers a brutal injury, and the football world exits said bandwagon faster than it takes for an ACL to sever… twice… in the same knee… in consecutive seasons… which is exactly what happened. Fast forward to last Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bradford had pain and swelling in his knee during warmups, which caused him to miss the game. Knees aren’t made to play professional football after two ACL surgeries. For every 1 Adrian Peterson knee, there are 2 billion Sam Bradford knees. I don’t need an M.D. next to my name to diagnose that.

How did so much talent go to waste? Extremely unfortunate circumstance.

Don’t you dare feel bad for him though.

Most of you probably don’t care much for the financial side of the NFL, but it took a interesting turn the year after Sam Bradford was drafted. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say prior to the new 2011 CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL Players Association and the NFL), rookies were paid 7-10 craptons simply by being drafted in the 1st round. The 1st overall pick? He would get more like 15-20 craptons. It was nuts. Seasoned veterans were being out-paid by unproven rookies, many of whom wouldn’t even be on a roster a few years down the road. This left teams in the hole for dozens of millions of dollars to players who never even really contributed. Simply put, it was bad for business across the board, and the NFL is all about their business. Sam Bradford didn’t have to worry about this though. His rookie contract: six years, $78 million, which is still to this day the largest contract ever for an NFL rookie. The 1st overall pick in the following NFL Draft after the new CBA: four years, $22 million. The difference: about $45 million. That’s a lot of guacamole for anyone, but let’s stick within the scope of Bradford’s career. After his first injury, Bradford was tossed around the league like a rag doll, which left him little room for success. With that being said, he always carried a high price tag around his neck because people remembered his potential and thought they could be the lucky lottery winner. In 2015, the Rams traded him to the Eagles for Nick Foles (coming off a Pro-Bowl season), a 2nd round pick, and a 4th round pick. He would soon sign a 2 year, $36 million extension, only to be almost immediately ousted by newly drafted rookie QB Carson Wentz and traded to the Vikings for a 1st and 4th round pick. In total, Sam Bradford has made $114 million to date, $78 million of which was part of his rookie contract. That means  ~40% ($45 million) of his entire career earnings are 100%  due to him being drafted 1 year prior to the new CBA rules. He’s never been considered in the upper echelon of NFL QBs, he’s had 2 reconstructive knee surgeries, he’s never even been to the playoffs, and he’s made $114 million playing a game for a living.

Why does Sam Bradford have one of the largest bank accounts in the NFL right now? Extremely fortunate circumstance.

An unfathomably unlucky football career occurring concurrently with an unfathomably lucky financial career. Bradford may never live up to his potential, leaving everyone who’s paying attention to wonder what could have been. As the leash on Sam Bradford’s career has payed out over the years, his body and ego have paid a steep price…but don’t shed too many tears…he’s certainly getting paid well enough to handle it.

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