Category: NFL (Page 2 of 7)

It Took a Pandemic

The Covid-19 crisis has forced all our churches into changes and adjustments. Some of these changes we don’t like and we’ll do away with them as soon as we’re able. Individually packaged communion kits and taped-off pews fall in this category. Other adjustments, we’re learning, are really beneficial for us as a faith community and will remain a part of our practice together long after this pandemic is past. These include the virtual Word & Prayer and the Central podcast. Some of the changes we’ve wanted to implement for a long, long time but, for a variety of reasons, we just haven’t been able. We’ve wanted another option for our “pew pad” system of checking church attendance. We’ve wanted to move our communion meal to after the sermon, instead of before. We’ve wanted to experiment with offering boxes around the worship center instead of passing collection plates. But we’ve never been able to make those moves until now. The pandemic has allowed us the opportunity to make the desired change. And it’s working really well.

The same thing is happening in sports. And it’s beyond wonderful.

Major League Baseball has been wanting to expand the Designated Hitter rule to the National League for more than 20-years. They’ve taken small steps toward this over the past two decades by combining the American League and National League offices and umpires into one entity. They’ve established interleague play as a normal part of every season. But the “purists” have never been allowed to jazz up the on-field product with a universal DH. Until now. When baseball gets going again on July 23, every game will be played with the DH. It’s being touted as a one-time, special-circumstances kind of experiment. But we’re all going to see that it’s so much better this way and it’ll stay forever.  When your team’s down two runs with two outs and you’ve got two on, you’ll be guaranteed your pitcher is not going to come to the plate.

Same thing with requiring all pitchers to face a minimum of three batters. No more bringing in a reliever to face just one single batter to get to the lefty to buy some time for the set-up man who’s a righty. No more waiting and waiting for the endless parade of relief pitchers to warm up to face one batter each. And putting the first batter on second base to start every half-inning in extra innings is a brilliant move. They’ve been doing this in the minor leagues forever. It’s like starting a team at the 25-yard-line in overtime of a college football game. It’s going to add so much excitement. There’s an element of sudden death now: one base hit scores a run.  That’s actually more sudden death than in football where you can see the overtime game-winning field goal coming for days.

There’s a similar thing happening in the NFL where fans and players for decades have been wanting to cut the number of preseason games from four or five each summer down to one or two. Well, now the NFL has cut the number to two for this season only and the players association is angling to get it down to zero. I believe they’ll get it to one or zero for this season so when they make it two preseason games in 2021, it’ll feel like a true compromise with football fans being the big winners. And it’ll stay.

Every last one of these rules changes has been proposed before. They’ve all been suggested, debated, and defeated. There have been lawsuits and documentaries and campaigning and polling and research. The owners and players just haven’t been able to pull the trigger for the sake of the games and the fans. They’ve never been able to get these common sense measures approved and in practice.

Until now. It took a pandemic.



About Last Night

Contrary to what it feels like today in Amarillo and the entire panhandle, Texas Tech DID NOT win the Super Bowl last night. That was a professional football team from Kansas City, Missouri.

Patrick Mahomes played his worst game as an NFL quarterback last night and still won the Super Bowl and was named the game’s MVP. That doesn’t give the rest of the AFC much hope for the next ten years.



Cowboys and Texans

Before I get to a couple of sports points, here’s a first-day-of-school picture from Valerie and Carley who began classes yesterday at Oklahoma Christian University. This first-day selfie was taken before the tornado sirens interrupted dinner last night and forced them into storm shelters during the “inland hurricane.” Of course I phoned both of them early, way before their scheduled 9am classes, to sing “School Bells” and to say, “Work hard, learn a lot, be sweet.” I think they still appreciate that. Maybe.


Ezekiel Elliott is into the fifth week of his holdout, he is yet to sign the latest contract offer from the Cowboys, and I’m not sure where this is headed. There’s so much wrong with this stalemate between the NFL rushing champion and Jerry Wayne — so many weird twists, he-said-she-said stuff, and timing questions. But isn’t that just like the Cowboys? Nothing will ever make sense, it’ll all go against every football maxim and norm, it’ll blow up in the most agonizing way possible, and somehow Jerry’s Death Star will still sell out every Sunday and he’ll still make a jillion dollars and they’ll still go 8-8.

Jerry postures by claiming you don’t need a rushing champion to win a Super Bowl. How in the world would he know?!? He’s never won a Super Bowl without a rushing champion / league MVP and the last time he did that my two daughters at OC in the above picture weren’t even born! Since then, he hasn’t even won a single divisional round playoff game!

The Cowboys have reportedly made an offer to Elliott that is worth between what Le’Veon Bell and Todd Gurley are making, so somewhere between $53-60 million or $13-14 million per year. That would make Elliot the second highest-paid running back in the NFL. And he hasn’t said ‘yes.’ Who’s giving Ezekiel advice? He’s not in the last year of his contract; he has two years remaining. If he holds out the whole season, who’s going to trade for him or sign him to more money next year? If he plays this year and somehow he wins the league rushing title again and the Cowboys go a conference championship game for the first time in a quarter-century, wouldn’t he be in a much-better bargaining position?

This isn’t at all like Emmitt Smith holding out in 1993. Smith had only one year remaining on his current deal, he was a Super Bowl champion and MVP, and the Cowboys had the pieces around him to legitimately win another couple of titles. None of that is the case with Elliott. Ezekiel Elliot has been involved in more league investigations than playoff appearances.

And — people are forgetting this — after the Cowboys went 0-2 during Emmitt Smith’s holdout, he was in the best bargaining position imaginable. And the NFL’s all time greatest running back wound up signing the same deal the team had on the table all along.


I feel like I have to remind people at least once a year that I am not a Cowboys fan. I stopped rooting for the Cowboys when Jerry Wayne fired Jimmy Johnson and replaced him with Barry Switzer at head coach. I am a Houston Texans fan. It’s like rooting for the JV. It’s brutal. I mean, how bad does your organization have to be if you’re an irrelevant football team in Texas? I cheer for the Texans as a protest against Jerry Wayne and to spite ridiculous Cowboys fans. And it’s terribly lonely. It’s awful. I’ve made the five-dollar bet every year with our Central youth minister — Tanner in the past, Josh now — that Houston will finish with a better record than Dallas. And I’ve won that bet four out of eight years. But they’re just as bad as Dallas. No divisional playoff wins. For almost two decades, the same level of success as the Redskins and the Bills.

Now Lamar Miller is out for the year after tearing his ACL on his first carry of the preseason and they’re refusing to pay Jadeveon Clowney. The only intrigue or suspense for me this year will be in which team, Dallas or Houston, goes 9-7 and which team goes 8-8. Just like last year. And the years before.



NFL 100

By far the most entertaining thing that happened last night. More creative than anything I saw in the commercials. More “wow” factor than the halftime show. And definitely more inspiring than anything that happened on the field in Atlanta. I might argue that, other than Peyton Manning’s lines during the over-produced CBS opening, it was the ONLY entertaining part of the Super Bowl.



Giants Win!

Well, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham won the contest of commercials during last night’s Super Bowl, a significant contribution to what was a good weekend for the NFC East. The Eagles won the championship by knocking off the heavily-favored Patriots in a delicious upset. The Redskins made headlines by seriously upgrading their QB position with Alex Smith.

And, on a national scale, the Cowboys continue to be irrelevant.

Does Jeffrey Lurie raising the Lombardi Trophy on national TV do anything for Jerry Jones? This is your division, Jerry Wayne. And you’re not even in the conversation.



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