2017 NFL Draft Expectations

With the Final Four set for this Saturday, it marks the soon-to-be closing of the NCAA basketball tournament, and brings along the ever-exciting Opening Day of the MLB and the heated up tension of the NBA going into the playoffs. It’s a never-ending cycle of major sports events that come and go every year.

At the end of the month of April, however, essentially starts the NFL season with the 82nd annual draft on the 27th, held in front of the stoic Philadelphia Museum of Art. Being one of my favorite events of the month, I enjoy seeing which players will go where and whether they’ll make a positive impact on whatever team they land on. Unfortunately, some players will end up being labeled busts within two years of playing.

Despite all the animosity, there are many things I look to see: how much Roger Goodell is booed, how uncomfortable the draftees get when Goodell tries to embrace them on stage, how loud Mel Kiper will get on the panel, and what draftees are waiting on the edge of their seat to have their named called surrounded by their families. With that said, here are my notable picks of the 2017 NFL Draft (note: this is not the order of the draft. They are simply the specific picks that I believe will have the most impact within the respective franchise).

  1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett (DE), Texas A&M

For the Browns to draft another quarterback would only add to the list of problems they already have, especially since Brock Osweiler is practically fighting for the starting spot. With Garrett posting astronomical numbers for a player his size at the Combine, he’s what Cleveland needs as a pass-rusher, upgrading their defense. Cleveland often focuses on their offense too much when they need to simultaneously focus their attention on improving their defense. That’s where Garrett fits the mold.

2. Chicago Bears – Jonathan Allen (DE/DT), Alabama

The Bears were projected to pick a quarterback with this selection. However, after signing Mike Glennon to an absurd contract and kicking Jay Cutler out, the QB spot has been filled. Allen is the best player available at his position and would fill a huge gap on the defensive line across from Akiem Hicks. Despite the concerns with his shoulder, Chicago cannot pass up on talent like Allen’s.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette (RB), LSU

Adding talent around Blake Bortles would very much improve their offense. I’ve said before that the Jaguars could very well be a dark horse one season and become a contender. After signing defensive keys in Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler, Jr., Fournette is best running back prospect available since Adrian Peterson. Although his 2016 season was lackluster due to an injury, his tape from the 2015 season showcases some of the best talent ever displayed. For Jacksonville to select him would add to a budding backfield alongside Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon.

4. New York Jets – OJ Howard (TE), Alabama

Alabama keeps cranking out “first rounders” left and right every year, and Howard is one that is very unique. He didn’t get the ball in his hands nearly enough this past season. But when he does, he is explosive and makes big plays. If Fournette is not available by the time the Jets get to select, I can see them going in this direction. They’ve been trying to sign tight ends during this offseason, so it is seen as a need, and Howard could provide the team with some much needed play-making ability.

5. Cincinnati Bengals – Dalvin Cook (RB), Florida State

He posted poor numbers at the combine… big whoop. That shouldn’t take away from his excellent vision of the field and his high-level production. Jeremy Hill has posted disappointing numbers these past two seasons while Giovanni Bernard cannot handle the full-time responsibility as the main running back. If the Bengals like Cook enough, I see them taking him.

6. Cleveland Browns – Mitch Trubisky (QB), North Carolina

Oh wait,… sorry, it’s Mitchell. Mitchell Trubisky. Because, apparently, that’s a very important thing to factor into this player’s ability. My fault. Anyways, if the Browns go defensively with Garrett for the first pick in the draft, this selection could possibly happen for the 12th overall pick. He does fit Hue Jackson’s scheme well, and could very well still be available come time for Cleveland’s second pick in the first round.

7. Indianapolis Colts – Reuben Foster (LB), Alabama

Yet another Alabama “first rounder”. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Colts’ linebackers suck. There’s no other way to put it. They haven’t been able to cover tight ends and pass-catching running backs out of the backfield, so Foster will be a much-needed upgrade. Although he made some news after yelling at a hospital employee, this debacle isn’t expected to affect his draft status that much. And it shouldn’t; if you want to see how much he wreaks havoc on the field, go to YouTube and you’ll see why.

8. Tennessee Titans – John Ross (WR), Washington

Okay, yes, the Titans did acquire a wide receiver during this offseason, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be enough. Tennessee made great strides last year posting a 9-7 record, placing second in the AFC South. They fell short, however, when their main asset, Marcus Mariota, ended the season on the injured reserve. When he comes back, he will need some weapons, and Ross will be the playmaker. After breaking the combine 40-time record, he’ll be able to go the distance every time he touches the ball.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Christian McCaffrey (RB/WR), Stanford

He predictably stood out at the combine by not only posting good numbers, but also showing a passion for the game. That’s what Tampa Bay has been looking for in their players as of late. They desperately need a running back, and McCaffrey fits that description. I did see him going lower in the draft after he skipped out on the historic Sun Bowl, but the combine turned that around.

10. Miami Dolphins – Jabrill Peppers (S/LB), Michigan

He played a total of nine positions last year, both offensively and defensively. I repeat, nine. Any position you put him in, he will do the job that he is expected to do. After a tremendous combine, I see Peppers adjusting well to a professional environment with the fortitude to succeed and help whatever team he lands on. For Miami, in order to compete against New England, they need all the help they can get.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers – Deshaun Watson (QB), Clemson

It seems like a longshot, but there’s a lot to take into consideration when it comes to this pick. Big Ben has been hinting at retirement quite a bit during the offseason. He will play this upcoming season, but after suffering from injuries from time to time, the end of the Roethlisberger era in Pittsburgh may be closer than you think. The last time a team had future Hall of Fame quarterback retirement drama was Green Bay. Remember that? Out with Favre, in with Rodgers. Something similar could very well happen again, especially since Landry Jones isn’t the ideal quarterback you want leading your team. Watson has to go somewhere within the first round, given his ability and “wow” factor at his position. This move could potentially be a huge storyline for the NFL, and for the Pittsburgh franchise.

This upcoming NFL Draft flaunts big names; some that could possibly leave a long-lasting impact on a team. Like I said, these were the points that I think could make a difference in the progression of certain teams. I’d like to see all of my predictions come true, but even that is a longshot, especially after last year with the Laremy Tunsil scandal shaking up the entire projected order of the draft. Either way, it looks to be an exciting time for football and these young players’ futures.

Mr. Ball, What Are You Doing?

If you haven’t been keeping up with the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this year, you’ve most likely witnessed the major losses of both Villanova and Duke in the round of 32, Kansas shockingly falling to Oregon in the Sweet 16, and the impressive run made by seventh-seeded South Carolina who will play Gonzaga in the Final Four on April 1st. If you haven’t been keeping up with all this madness, you’re probably about as un-American as President Trump who didn’t fill out a presidential bracket this year, breaking away from tradition.

However, there’s one team that’s been getting a lot of attention even before the tournament started. The UCLA Bruins not only had an impressive run in the tournament, losing to Kentucky in the Sweet 16, but worked out a 31-5 season, finishing third in the Pac-12 conference. Lonzo Ball, who has just declared for the NBA Draft this June, has put together a very notable stat line for a freshman, averaging 14.6 PPG, 7.6 APG, and a 67.3% FT percentage. Besides an unremarkable performance against Kentucky for his last game, NBA teams have been keeping a watchful eye on him throughout his college career.

Unfortunately, it’s not Lonzo that has been getting the attention from the media that he deserves. It’s his father, LaVar.

If you search up his name on Google, a lot of news stories will come up about his controversial statements to reporters and in the media. However, my favorite is what comes up for his Wikipedia page: “a whole lotta nothin'”. He began his rampant journey through media coverage by exclaiming in March that his son was better than both Steph Curry and LeBron James, two of the most dominant players in professional basketball today. On March 14th, he said, “Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.”

Quite a lot of talk coming from someone who, back in their “heyday”, averaged 2.2 PPG at Washington State. What was Jordan doing back during his “heyday”? Averaging 37.1 PPG, earning MVP awards, working his way towards becoming the greatest basketball player of all time… the rest is pretty much history.

It’s almost cringe-worthy to watch LaVar Ball deliver these outlandish comments and wonder where all this confidence comes from. Apparently, according to a SportsCenter Featured piece on the Ball family, it runs in the family.

All of this criticism towards the family seems similar to those shows, like “Dance Moms”, where the parents will push their kids into the spotlight and subsequently gain attention to themselves. It stops and makes you think, “What if I was raised like that?”

Besides dancing though, there are some parents, like LaVar Ball, that are a bit too vocal when it comes to their children and the sports they play. Maybe it’s time to step out of the spotlight and let your kids take it from there. Your “heyday” is over, and now some professional players are beginning to take note of what LaVar is saying, especially NBA All-Star John Wall who says that him and other players will punish Lonzo for his “daddy’s remarks” come time for him to play in the NBA. Better watch out.

At the end of the day though, Lonzo is well aware of what his father has been saying. All he’s focused on is what he does on the court. It’s a smart move, but after a while, he’ll definitely have to take his dad off his high horse. Don’t know how difficult that’ll be, but it’ll surely be another media debacle and debate waiting to happen.

The Intelligence of NFL Players

The National Football League is full of players who come from various backgrounds. All of them, however, had to go through years of schooling before making it big time, whether that means two, three, or a full four years of university learning. Maybe even five year, which is what Brandon Weeden did at Oklahoma State before being drafted by the Browns in 2012.

No, players can’t simply be drafted out of high school like some MLB and NBA athletes are. Going from high school football to the marquee NFL is way too big of an adjustment for a high school player to humanly adapt to.

So, scholarships are handed out left and right to recruit top-performing high school football stars so they can attend the well-oiled machines of Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Michigan, etc.

But it’s what these athletes do with these extraordinary offers that they shouldn’t be passing up on; they’re meant to be student-athletes, not the full-time jock only stereotyped to be the playmaker on the field and a party maniac off the field (ex: everything Thad Castle did in Blue Mountain State).

Recently, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Jameis Winston, has received criticism after being a guest speaker at a St. Petersburg elementary school. The remarks that he made in front of the children there were not quite the proper message that he was trying to convey. Here’s the video:

Winston later said that this was “poor word choice” and not at all what he was trying to say. He was attempting to have one individual in the crowd, who was a young male, get involved after being distracted.

Fellow players and coaches say that this was a mistake on Winston’s part and that he has definitely learned from it. They all know Winston to be highly motivational and a huge asset to the team as a leader. He’s one of the main reasons why Tampa Bay had a winning season for the eighth time since the new millennium, finishing 9-7 and placing second in the AFC South behind Atlanta.

But on hot take shows like First Take and Pardon the Interruption, analysts of both shows have said that the elementary school should’ve done its research before having Winston come and speak.

While attending Florida State University, despite having successful on-the-field achievement, his off-the-field conduct was far from admirable. Being the subject of many allegations and scandals, including vulgar comments, shoplifting, and a sexual assault accusation (for which he was later proven innocent), the target has been placed on Winston for quite a while.

However, this should in no way create any questioning of the intelligence level of NFL athletes. They are not dumb, stupid, ignorant, dimwitted, pea-brained, or whatever way you want to put it. For having to learn so much information (plays, formations, routes, defensive shifts, coverages, etc.) and play one of the hardest sports in the world, the level of intelligence is at an all-time high for NFL superstars.

Not only has Winston become the youngest player ever to receive a Heisman trophy and claim the title of a first overall draft pick while at FSU, he also maintained a 3.4 GPA as an exploratory major (meaning that he was so interested in a variety of topics that he couldn’t decide on a specific major).

What Winston did was a mistake, which is what a lot of major league athletes have admitted to committing. What matters is what they learn from it and how they move forward. And no, Winston is not dumb. Saying that should be insulting to other players, like him, who worked hard to get where they are.

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Eric Berry, cornerback for the Kansas City Chiefs and now the highest paid cornerback in the league, received the 2015 Comeback Player of the Year Award after taking time off to go through a huge amount chemotherapy for his diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While attending the University of Tennessee, he maintained a 3.7 GPA as a psychology major and also interned at several places of medicinal practice, including a dental surgeon where he learned how to perform a root canal surgery (he could still perform one if he needed/wanted to).

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Projected first round draft pick, Deshaun Watson out of Clemson, possesses all the essentials of a quarterback that any NFL team within the first 10 picks this year needs. He has the dynamics, the athleticism, and consistency that will only improve teams like the Buffalo Bills, where Mel Kiper Jr.has projected Watson to go in his latest mock draft (updated on Feb. 15th). He also has stayed out of trouble while attending school, maintaining a GPA of 4.0 and above and receiving a degree in communication this past December. Any team would be lucky to have him.

Before you start questioning the intelligence of NFL players, or any athlete for that matter, do your research and check the facts. You’ll most likely eat your words because of what you find. Athletes from all walks of life may dedicate themselves to the game and their craft, but they are aware of the importance of getting a proper education, and that’s one thing that makes a huge difference in how they perceive themselves and how the media sees them.

Power of the Podcast

In the ever-changing world of journalism, methods to get the news out to the world, whether it be data, cold hard facts, and analyst opinions, has spanned across multiple platforms. A somewhat new and growing platform has come in the form of a podcast, and it’s come to be a very powerful tool for not only journalists, but for people to offer their takes on the world either realistically or satirically. Me being me, the satire is what gets me hooked.

Now I’ve recently taken up an interest in listening to podcasts on a daily basis. Any of them dealing with sports can be found on my queue. When I found out that some of my favorite shows like Pardon the Interruption and First Take had their own podcasts, I was excited for more content. Unfortunately, their daily podcasts are just recordings from that day’s show. In a way, it’s somewhat beneficial to me if I miss the show that day.

One of my favorite podcasts is Pro Football Talk Live with Mike Florio. Florio, from NBC Sports, hosts the show every day and offers his insights on the league alongside his statistics guy waiting with baited breath to correct any mistakes. He also features players and other major names in sports broadcasting that add to the authenticity of his reports. The way he breaks down the game and, especially now, offseason moves pre-combine and -draft is very thought-provoking, giving listeners an extremely intellectual look at the odds and ends of professional football.

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Another podcast that I’ve become fond of is The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan, a comedian and color commentator for the UFC, is someone that, just like me, wants to learn about people and their perspectives and what they do with their lives. Given the different backgrounds of guests that he brings on the show, there is much more to learn than just what their names are and where they’re from. Just yesterday, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was on the show blowing my mind with all these discoveries and theories about the cosmos. Rogan said his brain was starting to hurt because of the things he was saying, and I can’t help but relate. It was just that interesting. And I can say that I’ve learned quite a lot from the guests that he’s brought on the show.

Barstool Sports has developed quite a cult following through their satirical take on sports. I’ve fallen in love with everything they do; the way they interview guests, asking ridiculous questions, is probably the most brilliant approach to a journalistic-type platform. It may be nonsense, but it’s that damn good. My favorites from them are Pardon My Take and Barstool Rundown. Both shows have given me the laughs for hours and that’s why these guys are my favorites so far. Granted, I may be a fake fan for just starting to listen to them, but it’s all whatever to me. They hooked me in with their beautiful flag that I want oh so badly. I mean, look how perfect it is:

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Recently, Pat McAfee, former Colts punter, left the NFL to join the brand, too. How awesome is that? Not only is he one of the most chill players to ever hit the turf, but to have someone who’s had experience playing a professional sport in the office will help their name heading towards the future. And that’s definitely something that they’ll need…

During the Super Bowl festivities week this year, Barstool Sports were banned from partaking in any activities in and around the complex at NRG Stadium in Houston. They had to set up their stage at another location and conduct their interviews with celebrities and players in noisy local bars and restaurants. When Goodell was asked about this at a press conference, he made no comment.

As much as it is a very nonsensical form of journalism that Barstool is running, a platform that has developed a young, cult following that has brought along a new audience to appreciate the world of sports deserves some form of credentials. Any positive attention brought to American professional sports is much better than the criticism that it receives daily.

Podcasts are becoming a more modern route for journalists to release their information to their audiences. It steers away from print and broadcasting, and can instead be listened to during your daily commute, your shift at work, or anything during your daily routine for that matter. It makes it easier for people to get the information you want to hear without having to sit down in front of a TV or divert your eyes towards a newspaper. Take a listen once and a while, and you may find a podcast online or through the iTunes store that best suits you.

 

The 2017 Grammy Awards: What Just Happened?

Last Sunday was the first Sunday without football since September, and it was probably one of the most difficult things to endure for those 24 hours. I kept seeing tweets on my timeline from Patriot-based accounts saying, “Exactly one week ago…” featuring shots of Edelman’s catch, James White crossing the plane, Brady hoisting his fifth Lombardi Trophy… you get the picture.

However, one of the few things I enjoy that comes after the NFL season are the award shows that have the opportunity to take up the Sunday night primetime slots. And this previous Sunday happened to feature my most favorite: the 59th annual Grammy Awards on CBS.

This year was a very interesting year for music: the emergence of stream-only artists, the frequent push to express political stances, and the contest to see which song can make the loudest, most annoying electronic noise that people can tolerate (see examples: “Closer [feat. Halsey]” by The Chainsmokers, “Gold” by Kiiara, “Starving [feat. Zedd]” by Hailee Steinfeld & Grey, “Let Me Love You [feat. Justin Bieber]” by DJ Snake, etc.). Granted, these were good, highly popular songs that I do enjoy listening to, but these sounds can get to be too much after a while.

Either way, this past Sunday brought together some of the biggest names in music to celebrate the gift that affects our lives in so many ways; that which enlightens our senses and directs us into another world that only we can feel for ourselves. All the winners, nominees, performers, and presenters made the show one to remember. But there’s a lot to be said about the night, so here are the ups and downs of what this year’s Grammy Awards had to offer.

  1. Everything Adele Did

Adele opened up the show with a powerful performance of her hit song, “Hello.” How ironic. I love Adele; I think she’s got one of the greatest voices in music today and has undoubtedly shown how much emotion and love she puts into her work.

The way she paid tribute to the late, great George Michael was extremely elegant. The way she stopped during her performance to start the song over, not wanting to mess it up for him, was absolutely courageous. It takes guts to do something like that on live TV. Plus, it’s an awesome thing to hear her swear in her cliché, graceful cockney accent.

That was a definite up. But here’s a down…

Adele took home three major awards that night, including Album of the Year (25), Song of the Year, and Record of the Year (both for “Hello”). She beat out Beyoncé in all three of these categories. During her acceptance speech for AOTY, she took the time to thank Beyoncé who was sitting in the crowd. She renounced her win and stated that Beyoncé should’ve won for her nominated album, Lemonade. She even broke off a piece of the award to share with her.

Are you kidding me? You’re really going to kiss up to her like that? No. Don’t do that. As a matter of fact, screw that. This was your moment to revel in your achievement and be happy and you wasted it thanking someone who had nothing to do with your success. You have your production company, record label, managers, and accompanying musicians to thank for this. You did this with them and you should be proud of them and yourself. I don’t understand why everybody kisses up to this diva for ridiculous reasons. I don’t understand. But I’ll touch upon that later…

2. twenty one pilot’s Acceptance

twenty one pilots (there’s a reason why it’s typed like that) are a very unique band from Columbus, OH. Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun have accumulated a very specific type of fanbase with their musical themes that touch upon depression, struggle, and mental illness. Before accepting their award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their song, “Stressed Out”, they took off their pants and took to the stage. What a funny story it played out to be as to why they did that…

It’s inspiring to many about how anybody can do anything. It’s possible if you surround yourself with good people. Sure, that whole bit was very different and strange to some, but that’s what makes twenty one pilots so great; they’re different, and the direction they’re taking music is interesting to say the least.

3. Ed Sheeran’s Performance

After being absent from the internet (and from the world for that matter) for eight months, Ed Sheeran finally emerged from what seemed like a time vault. He didn’t use his phone and traveled the world so that he could take some time to himself and write new music. Two new singles released on January 6th, 2017 to promote his upcoming album, ÷, set to be released in March. One of them, “Shape of You”, was performed Sunday night with Sheeran making the loops of the track during the intro of the song. He controlled the loops and other instruments on stage with pedals at his feet. He didn’t even use in-ear monitors to hear what he sounded like. It was captivating to see how talented he is and how much work he puts into his music.

4. Lukas Graham & Kelsea Ballerini Collab

Stop. That was awful. Who approved of this to go live? Don’t ever sing those two songs together ever again.

5. Beyoncé’s Performance

“Do you remember being born?” …What the f*ck do you think my answer to that question is? (special shoutout to Barstool Rundown)

I thought I was high while watching this performance, with the weird interpretive dance played in fast-motion in the beginning of it. Granted, it was somewhat of a solid performance based on the message she was trying to convey, being that it was about women’s empowerment. But she took forever to open her mouth to start singing; she took ten minutes.

Why do we choose to deify this person? Why is it that everything she does is a spectacle to people, especially her fans? Fans think she’s everything, a queen, a goddess, mother nature… no she’s not. She could’ve pooped on stage, and everybody would think it’s the greatest thing to ever happen. She’s a singer people; get it through your heads.

Also, why do we obsess over her being pregnant? Why does she keep ramming her pregnancy in our faces all over social media and to the world? WHO THE HELL CARES? She’s acting like she’s never been pregnant before. People are glamorizing the fact that a WOMAN is PREGNANT with CHILD/CHILDREN. Last time I checked, this is a natural occurrence that happens everyday. What makes her so different than any other mother that’s given birth? Hell, my mom gave birth to me. Let’s put her on a pedestal. And then do that for every single mother in the world. Beyoncé being pregnant is nothing special. Y’all need to chill and reevaluate your life to see how much time there’s been wasted obsessing over “the queen B.”

6. They Did Chance So Dirty

Chance The Rapper took home his fair share of hardware that night, winning Best New Artist (despite being around since 2012), Best Rap Album (Coloring Book), and Best Rap Performance (“No Problem”).

During his acceptances for both Best New Artist and Best Rap Album (in which he beat out both Kanye West and Drake), they started playing him out with the music, signaling for him to wrap up and get off the stage. That’s honestly so sad for an artist whose album was just the first streaming-only album ever to win a Grammy.

Chance doesn’t sell his music; he streams it across platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and other services like them. He makes all his money through tours and merchandise sales. He also is not under any record label; he is an independent artist. I guess, maybe, the music industry doesn’t like this. Music is meant to be bought according to them. For Chance to be doing something different and foreign to them is going against everything that they stand for.

Then why do so many people love him? I’ve seen him before and he is an amazing performer and puts on one hell of a show. What he’s doing is great, releasing his music for all of the world to hear and promoting his Christian beliefs through rap music in an appropriate way. He shows love for all and the world. He’s probably got one of the biggest hearts in the music industry, so for the Grammys to do that to him was saddening to me.

Oh yeah, and his performance later on that night was spectacular:

7. Botching Metallica & Lady Gaga’s Performance

This is especially heartbreaking to me.

First off, Laverne Cox,… learn how to read a f*cking teleprompter. You completely neglected to introduce one of the most iconic bands in history. You only announced Lady Gaga. Ridiculous.

When I first heard that Metallica was going to perform with Lady Gaga at the Grammys, I was a bit thrown off. I really didn’t know what to think with her being somewhat out of her element, but I kept my hopes high knowing that whatever she does performance-wise, she’d definitely bring it.

The song starts playing, which is Metallica’s “Moth Into Flame.” Fire is roaring, guitars are blaring, heads are whipping back and forth… yup, typical metal atmosphere. I love it.

Come time for Metallica frontman, James Hetfield, to start singing, his microphone isn’t working. Seriously? I can understand technical reasons, but with the direction music is going towards nowadays, it’s like they’re leaving bands like Metallica who write, and perform, and produce all their music on their own to be part of an alumni community. For a band to still be going strong from the 1980’s well into their 50’s, they could’ve gotten better treatment.

The performance cleaned up, however, with both artists finishing off the song in great fashion. All mics worked, Gaga stage-dived (which was awesome), and the world was given a performance of a lifetime with two icons at the helm.

8. Bruno Mars’ Tribute to Prince

Wow, this performance was great. I don’t even know a good way to put it.

Last April, the world lost a musical genius in Prince. Mr. Symbol left behind a legacy of how much music can create a movement. It was only right to have proper tribute for “His Royal Badness.” What a perfect part for Bruno Mars to play.

Bruno had already performed earlier in the night and was outstanding. However, this was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen him do live. With guitar in hand, he did Prince’s classic “Let’s Go Crazy,” and how could you not with that song?

Absolutely amazing. I didn’t know he was that skilled with the strings.

Greatness: Can it Be Debated Any Longer?

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If you weren’t watching Super Bowl LI on Sunday, what in the hell were you doing? For a game to gain not only national attention and viewership, but also international, nothing else on television during that timeslot was more important. That’s why stations will purposely not try to outdo the big game and put on something that’s “background noise.” Let’s face it, you just can’t compete with the Super Bowl.

Well, if you missed it, quick recap:

The Patriots embarked on the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, trailing the Falcons 28-3 at the end of the third quarter, to win in overtime (a Super Bowl first) 34-28 and earn their fifth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history, and Brady and Belichick’s fifth together as a QB-coach duo.

At first, the game looked in favor of the Falcons, aiming for their first NFL championship win in franchise history. Matt Ryan, the league MVP, along with offensive weapons in Devonta Freeman (who made impressive runs) and Julio Jones (who made extraordinary, game-changing catches throughout), took control of the game early, leading 21-3 at halftime. Not to mention the defense who were dominating with Grady Jarrett sacking Brady three times and Robert Alford returning an interception for an 82-yard touchdown.

Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, AKA Blount Force Trauma, made a huge mistake turning the ball over on a fumble leading to one of the Falcons’ scores. For a player to do that who’s known for running the ball with power and flattening people, Patriots fans were only left to look on with heartbreak.

The Falcons played an absolutely amazing game; their high powered offense and ever-improving defense were poised to deliver Atlanta their first championship since the Braves won the World Series in 1995. They just forgot to take one factor into account: Tom Brady.

Brady had been in that situation before; being clutch in these types of scenarios is one of his specialties. With catches by his receivers, especially one by Julian Edelman which looked almost impossible to bring in, the Patriots offense had awoken. Danny Amendola and James White both grabbed a pass for scores, with two successful two-point conversions. Dont’a Hightower made a huge play on defense forcing a fumble off of Matt Ryan, turning over the ball to the New England offense, creating a huge turn in the win probability chart of the game. What Brady did in that last quarter going into overtime physically demonstrated to the world, to a large-scale audience why he is one of, if not, the greatest quarterback to ever play the game of football.

Arguments and debates have gone on for years about who is the best at different positions. At wide receiver, candidates include Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, and Terrell Owens. At running back, names like Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and Jim Brown grace the list. At quarterback, however, one name has cemented itself, as of this past Sunday, at the top for many years to come, and it may be a while before it changes. Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr., from San Mateo, CA is a name that will be remembered forever.

The past couple mornings after the big game, I’ve been watching way too much ESPN and sports-based television shows. One of the many topics they’ve been discussing is if Brady can finally be called the GOAT, the greatest of all time. While I’ve been sick of listening to the incessant, never-ending banter on ESPN’s First Take and FOX Sports’ Undisputed, they all agree and have made valid points as to why Brady takes the cake.

Of course, Touchdown Tommy is among a heavy amount of company in his field: Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, etc. What does Brady have that they all don’t? Answer: he is the only quarterback to win five Super Bowls, all of them for one team.

But wait, there’s more…

Four Super Bowl MVP awards (most ever), two league MVPs, 12 Pro Bowl Selections, 14 division titles (most ever for a QB), 9,094 career playoff passing yards (most ever), 63 career playoff touchdown passes (most ever), 25-9 playoff record (best all time), seven Super Bowl appearances (most ever), 2,071 career Super Bowl passing yards (most ever), 15 career Super Bowl touchdown passes (most ever),… do I need to keep going?

By the looks of this list, it can only keep going and going and going… you can compare him to the Energizer bunny.

Okay, maybe I’m a little bias. For those of you who know me, you know how much the Patriots are a part of my life. Every Sunday in the fall, when I’m not somewhere on Long Island or some random location in New Jersey playing rugby with my university club team, you’ll find me in front of the television watching the Pats catching any little shred of football I can that day. Even during rugby games, my focus is in two places at once: what we’ll do to win this game we’re playing right now and what the score of the Patriots game is (only if they’re playing while I’m playing).

But what can’t be denied is what’s on Brady’s resume. I mean, love him or hate him, you better damn well respect him.

Kraft said it best when he accepted the Lombardi Trophy Sunday night; after all that’s transpired over the past couple years with the Patriots and Brady, this Super Bowl win was definitely the sweetest, and it was one for the history books. Brady has endured a scandal, a suspension, and his mother falling ill leading up to the game. It almost seemed like this was going to be his revenge tour this season. But to clear up any tension, Brady wasn’t performing out of hate, but out of love: love for the game, love for his family, love for his team and fans.

Super Bowl XLIX - New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks

And can we just take note of how classy it was for Brady to shake Commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand after winning rather than just blowing him off? I see no hate there.

A lot of people can argue the failures that Brady has went through in his career. Yes, he’s lost two Super Bowls to the Giants. Yes, Peyton Manning has a better record against him in the playoffs. People love to see Brady lose, and for a guy who’s been winning at almost everything, I can see why people are not too fond of him.

Greatness isn’t measured by losses and failures. Muhammed Ali lost fights in his career, and he’s still regarded as the greatest boxer who ever lived. Michael Jordan failed multiple times, and he’s still the greatest basketball player to ever hit an NBA court. Wayne Gretzky lost a couple games, and he’s still considered the greatest hockey player to ever skate on NHL ice.

What’s different between all of them and Brady? What’s causing people to consider them great and Brady’s legacy remaining on the fence? People expressed their hatred for all those athletes and they’re still considered legends. Why are you not giving Brady the credit he’s earned?

Brady has got the competitive heart, pure grit and determination, an everlasting knowledge of the game, and the will to win and do whatever it takes. It’s incredible what he’s accomplished, and if there’s any doubt and you still need more proof, just keep watching because he’s not done yet.

As I watched the last play that night where James White dove to cross the ball over the plane of the end zone, among my brothers in my fraternity, I can remember hugging the select few of us who were Patriot “faithfuls” who, all game, were gripping our stomachs and hearts with worry. It was a moment of exasperation turned to relief that I will never forget.

But then I started to think and reminisce on what led to this point. A lot of “what if’s” popped into my head: what if Brady was never a Patriot? What if Drew Bledsoe had never gotten hurt during that game against the Jets in 2001, introducing the nation to what would become “the Brady era”? What if the Patriots didn’t pick him for their sixth round, 199th pick? Would the Patriots still be the laughing stock of the league like they used to be? Where would we be?

What did the organization see in him? Was it that his last career college game at Michigan where he defeated Alabama in the Orange Bowl? Was it his ugly looking run in the 40-yard dash? Was it his average-looking, unathletic body that would not meet today’s standards for a successful NFL player? What was it?

Well, whatever it was, it sure as hell worked off in the long run.

My Top 10 Go-To Workout Songs

If you know me well, you’d know that I work out on the regular. I call it a hobby of mine. When there are days that I’m not able to go to the gym, I feel… well, not myself. So, I try to go every day. For as long as I’ve been hitting the gym, running the track, or even riding on the bike, I’ve tried to find the best music possible to psych me up for the workout routine ahead. I’ve made countless playlists in the past that seemed fitting for a while, until I got tired of them. That is until I spent three hours on a weekend morning making, in my opinion, an ultimate playlist on Spotify that would do nothing but get me in the right zone. 210 songs later, I think I did a pretty good job. Without further ado, here are my top ten go-to workout songs:

1. Disturbed – “Down With the Sickness” (2000)

I know my mom will agree with this song… (just kidding, she’s not a fan of this one)

I’ll start off being basic and including this as one of the first songs on this playlist. But how can you not get hyped to this song? Being one of the band’s most known and most popular tunes, it has been used as an entrance theme for most sports teams, including the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Dallas Cowboys, as well as many MMA and UFC fighters. Once the drums kick in and the David Draiman, the lead singer, wails his famous “ooh-wah-ah-ah-ah” staccato noise, you can’t help but feel like you’ve entered a completely different state of mind. While the lyrical content of this song is a bit touchy, it’s definitely a huge hit among gym-goers.

Favorite line: Looking at my own reflection / When suddenly it changes / Violently it changes / There’s no turning back now / You’ve woken up the demon in me

2. Eminem – “‘Till I Collapse (feat. Nate Dogg)” (2002)

Again, I’m being basic by including this song. But c’mon, people have to agree with this one. I normally don’t listen to rap when I workout, but this one had to be listed. Another very popular song played at sporting events, Eminem’s last track off of The Eminem Show tells you to keep going no matter how bad you want to stop and give up. He demands that you search within yourself for the will and intestinal fortitude to reject these feelings and push out one last set or rep. Don’t stop until you’ve reached your limit. But then again, do you even know what your limit is? That’s for you to find out on your own.

Favorite line: When you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up / But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength / And just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up / And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face

3. Shinedown – “Cut the Cord” (2015)

This band’s most recent album, Threat to Survival, received mixed reviews from critics. Some said that it had “a complete lack of substance” with choruses that “are rarely memorable” (personally, I disagree with this statement) while others said the album “proves that Shinedown still have plenty of gas left in the tank” after years of performing. This song is the ultimate evidence of that last remark. This hard rock headbanger will get the blood flowing and will keep you moving. Brent Smith, the lead singer, described the song as “a wake-up call reminding us all that we can control our own destiny by finding the courage and tenacity to destroy whatever it is that’s holding us back.” And boy, will it wake you up.

Favorite line: Cause agony brings no reward / For one more hit and one last score / Don’t be a casualty, cut the cord

4. Metallica – “Enter Sandman” (1991)

Batting cleanup on my list is my favorite band of all time, Metallica. While often overplayed, it’s a crowd favorite at concerts and has become a staple in the history of the iconic heavy metal group. When James Hetfield, lead singer and rhythm guitarist, begins the opening riff, you know it’s about to go down. New York Yankees fans can attest to this, knowing that when this song started to play, legendary Mariano Rivera was about to come out of the bullpen, seal the deal, and get the win. Thus making this a perfect song to include on your next playlist.

Favorite line: It’s just the beasts under your bed / In your closet, in your head

5. Jay-Z & Linkin Park – “Points of Authority / 99 Problems / One Step Closer” (2004)

When this collaboration album, Collision Course, came out, it opened a passageway for artists who want to dare to be different and experiment with elements outside of their genre. These two artists paired well and complimented each other in the same manner. Most people know the “Numb / Encore” mashup from this EP, but it’s the mashup featuring Linkin Park’s two Hybrid Theory singles and Jay-Z’s Black Album hit that take the cake in terms of getting you into the right zone for working out.

Favorite line: But ain’t nothin’ sweet ’bout how I hold my gun / I got 99 problems, bein’ a bitch ain’t one

6. G-Eazy & Borgore – “Forbes” (2015)

I know, I know… “Why Ian? Why dubstep?” Listen to the song first before you say anything. Israeli DJ Borgore and rapper G-Eazy teamed up in mid-2015 to release a new song classified under the genre of “trap”. When I first heard this song, the bass drop blew me away, as well as it did when I showed it to friends. It leaves you simply saying “…woah.” I’m usually a heavy guitar and drums kind of guy when I work out, but I just have to make an exception when putting this song on the list.

Favorite line: Look, mama, I made it to Forbes *insert massive bass drop here*

7. Disturbed – “Meaning of Life” (2000)

Yet another Disturbed song to appear on this list, but this one is not as well known as the first one mentioned. This track brings the band’s debut album, The Sickness, to a close in the most perfectly fashionable way to demonstrate their genre. Looking past the lyrical content of this song and letting the rhythm flow through you is only going to help you during your workout. Especially since David Draiman is screaming “Get psycho!” throughout the tune. I guess you should do what he says.

Favorite line: I can feel the blood, flowing through my veins / Spilling on my soul / And now the hunger’s getting bigger

8. Linkin Park – “Hit the Floor” (2003)

There are always a couple treasures hidden on albums that get no recognition due to lack of airplay or promotion. I have a habit of finding these types of songs, and this is one of them. When you think Linkin Park, would you even think to mention this song? Probably not because you probably have never heard it. Their sophomore album, Meteora, continued their nu metal campaign which went on to slowly fade away to their current alternative electronic rock sound. Before their experimentation, however, they secretly put this on the album for only the true fans to hear and enjoy. And in my case, use on my playlist.

Favorite line: I know I’ll never trust a single thing you say / You knew your lies would divide us but you lied anyway / And all the lies have got you floating up above us all / But what goes up has got to fall

9. Velvet Revolver – “Slither” (2004)

Most famous for its instantly recognizable opening bass riff and its unmistakable guitar riff that will send shivers down your back, it is arguably the hard rock supergroup’s signature song. Their debut album, Contraband, featured this lead single which went on to win a Grammy in 2005 for Best Hard Rock Performance. Most people say that this band was merely a combination of Stone Temple Pilots and Guns N’ Roses. To me, this group made lead singer Scott Weiland’s legacy even greater because it added to the level of work that he put out.

Favorite line: When you look you see right through me / Cut the rope, fell to my knees / Born and broken every single time

10. Limp Bizkit – “Crack Addict” (2003)

Don’t worry, this song is not about drugs. Bringing our list to an end is the ever popular rage rock group, Limp Bizkit. I’m mostly putting this song on here to give lead singer Fred Durst a mention because I know it’s been a while since anybody’s said his name. This last track was set to be released on their fourth studio album, Results May Vary. However, it did not appear. It was later released as an available download through their MySpace page (here’s the part where I laugh at the fact that this band is so old). If you’re a true headbanger and you appreciate a hardcore song to workout to, this is the tune for you. Warning: song cannot be found on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, or Pandora. You’ll have to download it illegally like the rest of us.

Favorite line: I’m a crack addict / That’s right I’m a crack addict / You heard me I’m a crack addict / I’m addicted to crackin’ skulls when punks start static! / It’s time to panic