Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NFL thoughts on a Tuesday

I know, hold back your excitement. It's blogs on consecutive days. Call me inspired by Brett Favre.

Yes, I have ripped Favre for his on again, off again, "am I playing, or retiring," fence-riding in the past, but the consecutive games played streak came to a halt in, of all places, Detroit, for a Vikings home game.

For posterity, I will point out that the Minnesota-NY Giants game scheduled for Sunday, Dec 12, 2010, was moved to Detroit after the roof at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, wilted under heavy snows and high winds. The building was unusable, and the NFL moved the game to Detroit, and rescheduled it for Monday, Dec. 13.

Even with the delay of over 30 hours, Favre still was unable to get his body well enough to take the field. He was inactive for the first time in 19 seasons, and possibly in his entire NFL career (couldn't find anything on his early playing days in Atlanta). So, Favre falls 3 games shy of 300 straight starts, but the 297 number will likely hold up for a very long time, if not all time.

Let's put this in perspective with a little timeline. When Favre's streak began, it was September 27th, 1992. Miley Cyrus hadn't been born yet, and Nick Jonas was 11 days old. "Unforgiven" won the Oscar for Best Film, and Jay Leno was just over 4 months into his first run as host of the "The Tonight Show" (I'm glad Conan is back on, by the way).

Recent college graduates have never known an NFL without Brett Favre. Those same people are likely unaware that Favre played 2 games for the Atlanta Falcons, before going to the Green Bay Packers, where it all began.

As Panther fans know, the QB position is not an easy one to play. They have seen their QB's struggle this season, and even Jake Delhomme struggled in 2009. Favre played at a very high level for much of his career, only tapering off in the last 5 years. His longevity is something that is hard to fathom. All we can do is appreciate it, and applaud it. Favre's career, this time, appears to be over. It would stand to reason he has nothing to come back and play for. But we'll be watching out for the drama next August, just in case.

Other NFL news, NY Jets strength coach Sal Alosi has been suspended for the remainder of the season, for tripping Miami Dolphins special teamer Nolan Carroll. To Alosi's credit, he owned up to it without hesitation. Video replays show the trip clearly, he couldn't refute it. Why did he do it? Even he doesn't know. In the end, the NFL and the Jets made the right move by suspending him, and not firing him (although that could come later). Alosi is a 9 year NFL coach, 8 of those spent with the Jets. Before this weekend, had you ever heard his name? I'm not sure he was even part of "Hard Knocks" this pre-season. My point is, the guy doesn't have a history of this. He's not a guy that causes trouble. He made a mistake, that luckily, didn't cost anyone their season due to injury. I understand the outcry, but they handled it. He's been punished, let's move on.

Speaking of moving on, the outrage over Michael Vick autographing a glove for Tashard Choice following heir Sunday night game in Dallas is mind boggling. Really? Let's point out, the signing of a glove is small potatoes to some of the things I have seen on the field after games. Jerseys have been exchanged (NFL authentic jerseys aren't cheap. If you have ever priced them out, you know). It happens. Whether it be for personal collections, or charitable donations, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Choice told reporters the signed glove was for a family member. Pretty cool deal. I don't get why people were so upset by this whole thing. Is it that a player got a star player's autograph on the field? Is it because it looks like Choice was bowing down to the QB that beat his team? Or maybe it's this.

Maybe people are so upset that Michael Vick has a job in the NFL, that Vick signing anything but apology letters is a waste of ink.

Is that you? If so, I weep for you. Michael Vick has gone through several phases of his NFL journey. First, he was Vick the scrambling QB. Not much on accuracy, but he could break contain like no other. I once said he was a running back that took snaps. He was the blueprint for the Wildcat package.

Then Vick became the villain. The guy that ran with the wrong crowd, used his millions to finance an illegal dog fighting operation, even going so far as to kill dogs that didn't perform in the ring. Heinous crimes. Personally, I despise Vick for that phase of his life. His entire life would suffer as a result, as he went to prison. He served his time. He tried to rehabilitate.

The third phase of the Vick NFL experience is what we are watching now. A guy that has stayed out of trouble. A guy that tried to reach out to show those that despised him (like me), that he has changed. How much he has changed, only he knows. What I see is a guy trying to be a model citizen off the field, and a good football player on it. He's been better than good on the field. He has never thrown the ball this well in his career. My wife even commented Sunday that this isn't the Vick she saw before. He's gone from superb athlete playing quarterback, to pretty good quarterback. He's still a gifted athlete, but now he is playing the position about as well as he ever has.

I hate the middle portion of the journey, but I have to give credit where its due. Vick is making a believer out of me that some people deserve a second chance. Vick is taking full advantage of this one, as a player and as a person. Give the hate a rest.

Mike Solarte

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