10 Active NFL Players That Deserve to Win a Title

Winning the Lombardi Trophy should be the mindset of every single NFL player in the league; it signifies a team’s dominance and the effort they put into achieving this admirable feat. Unfortunately, in a league controlled by powerhouse teams that take up the Super Bowl spotlight, some players who have made a namesake for themselves have either never been able to win the big one, or ever be in one. It’s a shame that some of the game’s best athletes haven’t been able to get their hands on the championship trophy, despite their incredible work ethic and accomplishments. With that said, here are ten of the most elite, active NFL players that deserve to win a title:

10. Carson Palmer

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Carson Palmer did not have the greatest start to a professional career coming off a Heisman award-winning season and being drafted first overall by the Bengals. He bounced back later in his career to win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2015 with the Arizona Cardinals. For his sake, he does deserve some playoff glory for the hardships that he’s been through. For a man who has everything, it’s strange that he is partially defined for what he’s missing: a title.

9. Julius Peppers

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Peppers hasn’t come as close to a Super Bowl win since he and the Panthers were dashed at the hands of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXVIII (how tragic). He is currently the Panthers’ all-time leader in sacks, forced fumbles, and blocked kicks. It’s extraordinary that a man drafted in 2002 is still a force to be reckoned with in the league today. His consistent level of play and upgrade to any defense has made for a great career that would be nicely capped off with a Super Bowl victory.

8. Frank Gore

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At 33 years old, Gore is a still a stud running back that is able to rack up 1,000 yard seasons when most backs his age are at home on the couch. This past season, his 1,025-yard total was the highest by any RB not named John Riggins or Walter Payton in year 12, making for his ninth 1,000-yard season. He did get close to a championship win with Harbaugh’s 49ers, but he won’t get anywhere close with the mending Colts. For a player about to head in to his 13th year, he’s been everything of what a championship player should be.

7. Antonio Gates

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111 career touchdowns – tied for most ever by a tight end alongside Tony Gonzalez. 36 years old, more than 200 NFL games played, and Antonio Gates still doesn’t have a ring. He also earned three straight first-team All-Pro Honors from 2004 to 2006. In the direction the Chargers have taken their organization over the past couple years, Gates won’t be in the Super Bowl spotlight anytime soon, even after all work he’s put in to help his team win… or at least try to.

6. Joe Thomas

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If you give this guy a championship, you might as well give his whole team one too, and they need one more than anything. Joe Thomas has played every snap at left tackle for the saddest team in the league, the Cleveland Browns. His only winning season was his rookie year, where the Browns went 10-6 surprisingly. The six-time first-team All-Pro has done his job extremely well at an elite level while his team has gone 38-106 since 2007. This guy deserves to win, but being the humble guy that he is, he’ll put the entire city of Cleveland first.

5. Eric Berry

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This guy’s life could be a movie if some Hollywood studio decided to pick up his story. After being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in late 2014 and going through chemotherapy treatment in the offseason, Berry came back for the 2015 season and was named a Pro Bowler, a first-team All-Pro, and AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year. That’s simply incredible. The Kansas City Chiefs just made him the highest-paid safety in the NFL with a franchise tag to go along with his monstrous contract. What would make his story more incredible, however, is if he was able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy to bring it all around full circle.

4. Julio Jones

julio jones.jpg.pngSo close, but yet so far. The Atlanta Falcons were by far the best team in the NFL last year, but fell flat and blew the biggest lead in Super Bowl history (Go Pats). Julio Jones is the best wide receiver in the game today and has done nothing to tarnish his reputation off the field. I think back to Stephen A. Smith’s rant about him on First Take back in February about how it’s all about actions with him, not words. Not to mention that he’s a one-man highlight reel (see catches he made in Super Bowl). If Jones and the Falcons win a championship in the next couple years, it’ll be rightfully deserved because of the enormous work ethic they all put into success. But against the Patriots, they might have to work on holding a lead better.

3. Jason Witten

jason wittenSure enough to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Witten is without question one of the best tight ends to ever play the game. Like Gronkowski, Witten is asked to block very often and is an every-down player. He currently ranks seventh all-time in tight end catches behind Tony Gonzalez. He even helps rookies adjust well to their new spots on the team (example: Dak Prescott completed 72 percent of his passes when targeting Witten). He’s a team player that can still perform at a high level. However, the Dallas Cowboys haven’t seen a Super Bowl appearance since the mid-1990’s. Witten won’t be touching any trophies soon if his team keeps on choking in the playoffs like they have in the recent past.

2. Adrian Peterson

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When healthy and available, Peterson has been a dominant player on any field he steps on. He’s also the last non-quarterback to win league MVP. He came close to breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, which was the main reason why the Vikings landed in the postseason in 2012. Unfortunately, he has missed a total of 28 games over the past three seasons and has developed a severe case of fumbilitis. Now with the Saints, his career is going in a different direction now that him and Mark Ingram will have to share backfield duties. His resume is all of what a championship player should be, but his lone NFC Championship appearance was not one to be remembered. Maybe he’ll help the Saints get back on top and then he’ll finally be able to add a Lombardi Trophy to his repertoire.

1. Larry Fitzgerald

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It hurts me that Fitz hasn’t won a championship yet. Fitzgerald will obviously waltz right into the Hall of Fame when eligible. But can he get a ring to walk in with? His best shot was back in Super Bowl XLIII where the Cardinals lost to the Steelers. He currently ranks third-all-time in receptions and led the league last season in that same category. Time is running out for him as he has already openly pondered retirement. As one of the most reliable wide receivers to ever lace up his cleats, Larry Fitzgerald deserves a championship that will make his career completely fulfilled.

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How I Feel About Chris Cornell’s Suicide

Yesterday, I attended the annual MMRBQ Hard Rock music festival in Camden, NJ at the BB&T Pavilion. It was an amazing night as I hopped the barricade into the pit, which I knew would be at my own risk considering the music acts that they had lined up.

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Safe to say that it was insane.

Throughout the night, there were many tributes and salutes to Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell, who was found dead this past Wednesday night after a show in Detroit. The death was later ruled a suicide. The Pretty Reckless’ lead singer closed her set with a beautiful rendition of Audioslave’s “Like A Stone”, Bush mixed in the chorus from Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” near the end of their show, and LIVE performed “I Am the Highway” as part of their encore performance.

There was woman who was near me in the pit who was sick and tired of hearing all the tributes and salutes we were giving Chris Cornell. She asked, “Why are giving a man who took his own life credit?” This, of course, threw me off. I replied to her question with, “My dad took his own life. What are your thoughts about that?” She said that she wasn’t trying to be mean and I openly told her that she has an ignorant viewpoint on people who try to battle the inner demons and are not able to cope.

Whether the woman was drunk or not, there’s obviously a certain stigma that people have given mental illness and suicide over the years. It’s especially upsetting since I’ve been surrounded by people in my life who are battling and those who have let it overcome them, including my father.

Some people face some things that others cannot understand. They are personal battles that only they can understand. I just hope that anybody who faces these struggles that there’s always a reason to live. It truly does get better, and whatever you’re going through, I understand, is a trial. But what there is to remember is that suicide is permanent solution to a temporary problem, and there’s always somebody who cares, who will listen, and only wants to help you.

I would give every last breath of my life to help someone in need from taking their own. Because I’ve been there before and I’ve seen what it does to a family and friends. There are many people around you that want to help, whether it be a close, personal friend or a hotline.

Chris Cornell was a family man and loved the people around him. His death was surely tragic and big loss for the world of music. He was an extraordinary talent that touched many musicians lives and he will be missed immensely.

Is Kaepernick a Good Fit Anywhere? Serious Question…

I probably don’t need to remind you of what happened during the preseason last year with Colin Kaepernick… but for all intents and purposes, it’s somewhat necessary when dealing with the situation at hand.

In 2016, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick gained national attention when he began kneeling in protest during the singing of the United States national anthem before the start of games, motivated by what he viewed as the oppression of black people and other non-white races in the U.S. His actions prompted a wide variety of responses, including additional athletes in the NFL and other U.S. sports leagues protesting the anthem in various ways. Others who didn’t agree with him would scrutinize him, including active soldiers and veterans alike.

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Head coach Chip Kelly named Blaine Gabbert the starter over Kaepernick before Week 1. This wasn’t because of politics, but simply because Gabbert showed more promise over the, at the time, controversial quarterback making national headlines. Fast forward five weeks, and it was announced Kaepernick was given the starting job against the Buffalo Bills and it remained like that for the rest of the season. On October 13, it was announced that he and the 49ers restructured his contract, turning it into a two-year deal with a player option for the next season.

Kaepernick finished the season with decent numbers despite having no weapons on the offensive side. He racked up 2,241 passing yards, sixteen passing touchdowns, four interceptions and added 468 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. On March 3, 2017, he officially opted out of his contract with the 49ers, an option as part of his restructured contract, therefore making him a free agent at the start of the 2017 league year.

So now he’s on the market and some teams may or may not feel indifferent about signing a quarterback with a specific political agenda.

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He wants to play, but so far no one has shown interest. The reason is due to two factors: his politics and the fact that he has a 59.8 completion percentage.

People are speaking out in support of Kaepernick that teams won’t sign him solely due to him speaking out against injustices against African-Americans in the United States. On the other hand, some people fail to see that no one wants a to sign a quarterback for whom you’d have to change the offense. Especially since he’s given up hope of being a starter for another team, signing a quarterback with 58 career starts isn’t exactly ideal for most teams.

It’s not a matter of politics that is keeping Kaepernick on the edge of his seat, waiting to be signed. It’s a matter of his playing ability and how he’s performed in the past, regardless of what he did pre-game on the sidelines. Granted he didn’t exactly have any offensive playmakers in the past couple years that could have helped him get better numbers. What’s important to remember is that this is not a matter of politics, but simply football.

Sports and politics have proven to not mix well and the league and its organizations are doing all that they can to remain out of the political spotlight. If a team were to sign him, then that spotlight is going to be cast on them, which is something they want to avoid.

A potential spot for Kaepernick could be Seattle since a system with a running quarterback fits the mold of what he does at the position. With only a couple more weeks until teams start OTA’s, Kaepernick is left to wait while other teams continue to stall signing him.

 

 

 

The Red Sox and Orioles Brew Up Controversy

Already a month into the 2017 season, Major League Baseball has made some standout headlines: “Judgement Day in the Bronx”, “Nats Showing Early Dominance”, and “Cubs’ Bats Failing to Follow Historic Season”.

America’s pastime shows promise for an exciting rest of the season. But for two franchises, the headlines have grown more controversial throughout their bout.

The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles have developed a rivalry filled with vicious wild pitches and unnecessary racial slurs in only a month. How’s that for a headline? With both teams a couple games out of first place in the AL East, the animosity between the two has skyrocketed to an intense level.

On April 21st, Orioles’ Manny Machado overslid second base attempting to break up a double play and caught Boston’s Dustin Pedroia’s calf with his spike. Had Machado purposefully meant to do this, hand him an Oscar for his acting ability. By all accounts, it looks as though it was an accident and he even tried to help Pedroia after the contact. The Red Sox second baseman would leave the game early and sit out the next three.

Pedroia defended Machado’s slide saying it was legal and that playing at an intense level like that is natural. As captain of the team, he ordered his fellow teammates to show no signs of retaliation towards Machado or the rest of the Orioles organization.

This whole situation could’ve blown over like it was nothing, but instead, hostilities began to escalate.

The following game, Machado was targeted with three straight inside pitches by Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez, failing every time. Later in the game, reliever Matt Barnes (an alumni of my high school, believe it or not) chucked a fastball right behind his head, leading to an ejection and Barnes’ four game suspension.

But it doesn’t stop there…

Baltimore’s closer Zach Britton fired a random shot at Pedroia’s leadership ability, saying, “If he can’t control his teammates, then there’s a bigger issue over there.” Pedroia said addressed his comments saying that he is entitled to his own opinion and that it’s time to move on from the situation.

But guess what? You’re probably right if you hypothesized that all the fuss didn’t find an ending. The Orioles/Red Sox game on May 1st at Fenway Park proved to be a turning point.

Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy plunked Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, who both had nothing to do with the overlying situation. In the outfield, however, Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was the victim of, what he claimed to be, racial slurs thrown at him, alongside a stray bag of peanuts.

“I got called the n-word a handful times out there,” Jones said to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “It’s unfortunate that people need to resort to those types of epithets to degrade another human being. I’m trying to make a living for myself and for my family.

Boston Police escorted the 34 antagonizing fans out of the ballpark. Both the Red Sox organization and Mayor Marty Walsh apologized to Jones, calling the fans’ behavior “inexcusable.” Walsh chimed in saying, “We are [all] better than this.”

Jones was greeted with a standing ovation from the Fenway faithful during his first plate appearance the next night.

Despite this, the team-wide personal vendetta against Manny Machado continued when Chris Sale fired a ball behind his head. A heated Machado summed up the entire situation in a post-game interview with just two words: “fucking bullshit.”

On May 3rd, Orioles starter Kevin Gausman was ejected from the game after beaming Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts with an off-speed, rogue curveball to open the bottom of the second inning. To top it off, more racist remarks were heard during the performance of the national anthem which was sung by a Kenyan woman.

So, it goes without saying that the Red Sox/Orioles series this season has taken a turn down an unnecessary path. Will all this commotion continue when they face each other again in June, August, and September?

Both league commissioner Rob Manfred and chief baseball officer Joe Torre have had to step in now like a principal disciplining two misbehaving students to put an end to all this madness; enough is enough.

But what about the discipline that’s needed to ensure that racism stays out of the ballpark?

Controlling a player’s on- and off-the-field behavior is one thing; simply giving a suspension could either reduce the chance of it happening again or only fuel a player’s motive to commit the same act. Controlling a random fan’s actions in the stands, though? That’s a whole other ballgame. No pun intended.

The end result of this whole debacle still remains to be seen. Fans need to remember that their role is to support and cheer on their team no matter what. Sure, you can boo and jeer and hiss all you want at the other team; even an occasional “you suck” can be permitted at the discretion of the stadium’s rules and regulations. But when a line is crossed like on Monday night, something has to be said.

Imagine the six year old kid attending his first Red Sox game that day and hearing much more than what they would consider “potty mouth”. Their parents must be livid that they were exposed to that, especially in a friendly atmosphere like the one at Fenway Park.

It seems as though society still has many steps to take in showing any shred of tolerance. Sports is about a display of athleticism; it’s been years since race has played a role in how a player received a reaction from the crowd. We’re past that era and some fans still need to get that relayed to them.

Let’s stick to baseball and move forward.