I settled in front of the television on Sunday night and stopped to watch a few minutes of a meaningless NFL pre-season game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans. I quickly lost interest.
Maybe it was sometime the two teams began installing the wave of NFL hopefuls fighting for a roster position; maybe it it was the fact that two middling teams were playing; or, maybe it was the latest issue of Sports Illustrated distracted my short attention span.
Despite my waning interest in the National Football League, it was hard not to notice all the interesting storylines bubbling up as the regular season approaches. The draft, the drama and the deals this off-season makes for an intriguing debate, and that’s a good thing for the NFL, a business that has had no shortage of bad press in recent years.
So what’s new this season?
TOM BRADY is 42. Does it matter? He’s shown no signs of slowing down. Twenty years after arriving in New England as a sixth round unknown draft pick from Michigan, Brady has played in nine Super Bowls and has led the Patriots to six titles. Love him or hate him, Brady is still something to see.
ANDREW LUCK announced his retirement just days before the Indianapolis Colts season opener against the San Diego Chargers (Sunday, September 8). Hello, Jacoby Brissett!?
KYLER MURRAY. No pressure, right? Drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, Murray is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, first team All-American, AP College Football Player of the Year and Big 12 Player of the Year. He comes to Arizona with high expectations and a big paycheck. Murray signed a fully-guaranteed four-year, $35 million deal with a signing bonus over $23 million.
ANTONIO BROWN. A man and his helmet. I have never seen so much drama about a piece of equipment in all my life. But, that’s Antonio Brown and, part and parcel, the Oakland Raiders. Win or lose, the cast of characters assembled in Oakland — from Jon Gruden down — will be fun to watch.
JASON WITTEN. After one season in the broadcast booth, Witten is back in a Dallas Cowboys uniform to scratch his competitive itch. Witten signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal that could increased to $5 million with performance incentives.
ODELL BECKHAM is a Cleveland Brown. His screeds against his former team and ownership will lead to one of two outcomes: He is a complainer or a truth-teller. The new feature story on the Browns (and Beckham) in SI is worth a read.
ELI MANNING or DANIEL JONES … or both. The 2019 season may not bring results in the win-loss column for the New York Giants, but it will likely answer the question about the elephant in the room: When will the Giants turn the page on the Manning era? Publicly, the Giants brass says it is committed to Manning, but the Giants first-round pick Daniel Jones’ preseason performance has created some debate. If the Giants don’t win games, expect a change in direction.
What storylines’ have caught your attention? Post your comments and thoughts below and continue the conversation below. Thanks for your support.