July 28, 2017

Old Pros

Joe Namath is now 70. So is Gale Sayers.

It’s a bit odd to think of these football legends as being the same age. Sayers seems like a generation older than Namath, not a day older.

The memories of Gale Sayers are black and white. NFL highlights of the “Kansas Comet” are of him dancing through the mud at Wrigley Field, twisting, turning and sprinting his way toward another touchdown in a game that his Chicago Bears likely lost and certainly in a season in which they were left home at playoff time.

In Sayers’ seven seasons the Bears notched just two winning campaigns and no postseason appearances.

Namath, however, played in a splash of color, joy and success.

Clad in green with a carefree smile, our image of “Broadway Joe” is him lounging by the pool in Miami before leading the New York Jets to a shocking upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in Miami more than forty-four years ago.

It was his greatest and, some might fairly say, only glory. But it’s not fleeting. Like your girlfriend’s ass, it only grows larger as time goes by.

Namath also lives endlessly in his commercials, broadcasting and, um, acting. Remember him as “C.C. Ryder?” If he and Ann-Margaret had made a baby the kid would either be Queen of England or Prince of Google.

When the Chicago Bears won their first and, to date, only Super Bowl during the 1985 season they honored past Bears players who had never known such success, including Gale Sayers.

But on the day the Bears won that Super Bowl the biggest cheers in the New Orleans Superdome might have been for Joe Namath.

Before Super Bowl XX kicked off the MVP of each previous Super Bowl was honored on the field as a hit song from that year was blasted throughout the dome. The first honoree was Green Bay Packers legend Bart Starr who won the first two MVPs and the song was about as incongruous as a Speedo on a penguin – “The Age of Aquarius.”

Namath was next. The crowd went crazy and the song was as fitting as Namath’s smile was genuine – “Mrs. Robinson.”

Maybe if Sayers had played quarterback he would be remembered for a sunny day in Miami and not muddy days in Chicago.

Both Namath and Sayers began their pro careers in 1965. Namath was drafted by the AFL’s Jets and the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals and, we know, chose the Jets.

Sayers was taken by the Bears whom he chose over the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs who went on to play in the first Super Bowl, win the fourth, and remained a top team through 1971, Sayers’ last season in Chicago.

Namath, always living in the glow of that Super Bowl win, soldiered on with the Jets well into the 70s, enjoying some good seasons but mostly not so good as he battled injuries and played on bad teams.

In 1977, he went to the Los Angeles Rams and, fittingly, made his final appearance on a Monday night, after having played in the very first “Monday Night Football” game seven years earlier. On October 10, 1977 Namath’s Rams lost in Chicago to the Bears. He threw four interceptions including one to Doug Plank on what would be the last pass of Namath’s career.

By ’77 Sayers was already in the Hall of Fame.

Namath was inducted in 1985.

Joe Namath and Gale Sayers never met on the football field. Imagine if they had played on the same team. No. 12 drops back to pass, avoids a sack and zips a screen pass to No. 40 who dodges a tackle and sprints toward the goal line.

Sayers scores and is hoisted on his teammates’ shoulders. Namath kisses a cheerleader.

Such a moment would have played well in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Kansas. Joe and Gale live without it, though, likely thankful for the success they did have and the cheers they still hear.

They played football, went to college and made a living. They didn’t have to drive a truck, sling shit or fight in Vietnam.

They were two of the lucky ones. Lucky old men.

 

Peyton, Out of Place

Imagine Magic Johnson wearing a Celtics jersey, or Yogi Berra playing for the Dodgers.  How about Walter Payton with a “G” on the side of his helmet or Richard Nixon skinny-dipping at the Kennedy Compound?

More strange sights, actual ones, are ahead now that Peyton Manning is leaving Indianapolis to play for the Jets?  Dolphins?  Jaguars?  Chiefs?  Broncos?  Seahawks?  Pride of Southland Band?  Old number-18’s departure from the Colts was inevitable and it’s the right move for Indianapolis.  Only the late-great Al Davis would give a $28 million roster bonus to a soon-to-be 36-year-old quarterback with a bad neck and possibly no chance of growing a mustache.

The Colts might not be better off this season without Manning but, in the long-run, it had to happen.  If Indy only owed the four-time MVP, say, $10 million, and two potentially great quarterbacks weren’t available in the draft, and if the Colts didn’t have the number one pick, and if Curtis Painter didn’t have that cool hair well, then, Peyton should be staying put.  But things are far different.  It’s sad, it’s tough, but it’s necessary.  If Manning plays another three or four years or more at a Peyton Manning-level then the horse shoes will look like a horse’s ass.  But what are the odds that a guy who has been in the league since the Clinton years can continue to excel into Rick Santorum’s first term? (Joke! Just a joke! We all know Ron Paul is going to win.)

So where does Mr. Manning and his 54,828 yards, 399 touchdowns, fragile vertebrae and bruised ego go?  Do you think he’ll call Ryan Leaf for advice?  Maybe Peyton’s father, Archie, can engineer a deal with the Giants.  Whoops, too late, that was the deal for the other son and a damn good one for both Eli and New York.  So maybe, Archie convinces little Peyton to go to the other New York team, the Jets.  Is New York big enough for two Mannings? (Plus one Jeremy Lin?)  Next season’s Super Bowl will be played in New Orleans, which is where Eli and Peyton grew up.  The year after that it will be held at the Meadowlands.  A Manning v. Manning Super Bowl on their home turf.  Wow!  Chris Berman is already excited and the rest of us are already nauseated.

Speculation as to where Peyton will go will get more attention over the next few weeks than Ann Romney’s Rolex collection.  But whatever happens, it probably won’t feel as funky as we fear.  In 1973, the Colts traded Johnny Unitas to the San Diego Chargers.  In 1920, Babe Ruth went from the Red Sox to the Yankees.  Khloe Kardashian used to be a man.  Things change.  People move on, old storylines die, new ones emerge. And, just so long as Gregg Williams isn’t mad at us, we’re all going to survive.

 

 

Joe Namath Becomes First 4,000-Yard Passer in a Season (1967)

The New York Jets finished the 1967 season against the Chargers at San Diego Stadium on December 24, winning 42-31. Third-year QB Joe Namath completed 18 of 26 passes for 343 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. With his second consecutive 300-yard passing game (he threw for 370 yards in a loss at Oakland the previous week), he finished the year with 4,007 yards, a new AFL record (Washington’s Sonny Jurgensen bested his own NFL record with 3,747 yards that same season).

Namath thus became the first 4,000-yard passer in either NFL or AFL history, and the only one to do so in a 14-game season (the record was first broken by San Diego’s Dan Fouts in 1979). Including the Chargers game, he had six 300-yard performances and one of 400 yards during the season. In addition to passing yards, he also led the AFL in pass attempts (491), completions (258), yards per attempt (8.2) and, on the negative side for the second year in a row, interceptions thrown (28). His 26 touchdown passes ranked second.

Overall, the season was a disappointing one for the Jets. After getting off to a 7-2-1 start, New York appeared to be cruising toward the Eastern Division title, but three straight defeats, including a stunning loss at home to the lowly Broncos, knocked them out of contention. Injuries to running backs Emerson Boozer and Matt Snell had a significant effect, forcing the team to over-rely on Namath’s passing and, thus, setting the stage for damaging interceptions as a result. There were also weaknesses in both the defensive line and backfield.

Namath, naturally, was the focus. A celebrity as well as a much-hyped passer out of college, he couldn’t help but draw attention, and his skills were outstanding. At 6’2” and 195 pounds, he had size, plus a strong and accurate arm that was made all the more potent by his quick release. He read defenses well, was a charismatic team leader, and stood tough in the pocket while taking many a hard shot from opposing defensive linemen. At the same time, Namath was not yet a seasoned quarterback, and while he could put up big numbers, he could also be erratic and try to force passes into coverage. In a tie against Houston, he passed for 295 yards but gave up six interceptions.

Namath came into pro football with one bad knee, injured in college; it required surgery before he ever played for the Jets, and again in 1966. Following the ’67 season, he underwent surgery on his left, or “good”, knee. The resulting limitation on his mobility made him all the more prone to taking hits, yet he never missed a game because of injury in the five seasons prior to 1970 (after which time missed due to wear and tear increased significantly).

It helped that he had two excellent receivers to throw to: veteran flanker Don Maynard, who caught 71 passes for a league-leading (and career-best) 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns, and third-year split end George Sauer, who led the AFL in pass receptions with 75 and accumulated 1,189 yards with six scores.

New York ended up at 8-5-1 and in second place in the Eastern Division, a game behind the 9-4-1 Houston Oilers, who succeeded with a solid ground game and strong defense. Head Coach Weeb Ewbank, who had built a championship team in Baltimore over the course of five seasons in the 1950s, took some heat for the late collapse by the Jets, but all would be forgiven the following season.

 

Keith Yowell runs the blog Today in Pro Football History where this article was originally published on December 24, 2009.

 

Raiders 34, Jets 24

Yesterday, the Oakland Raiders had their home opener against the New York Jets in front of a sold out crowd.  This is another rivalry that goes back to the days of the American Football League and the last time these teams met, the Jets handed the Raiders their worst ever home loss with a 38-0 thumping.  Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez enjoyed himself so much that he had time to enjoy a hot dog on the sideline.  There would be no hot dog for Mr. Sanchez today.

The Jets won the toss and deferred.  The Raiders did not have Nick Miller back to return kickoffs  this time and that was cause for celebration for Raider fans.  This time, it was rookie speedster Taiwan Jones.  Jones took the opening kick and ran it back to the Raider 24-yard line.  Darren McFadden got the ball on the first play of the game and got five yards.   Then, the Raiders went to a quick no huddle formation and Raider quarterback Jason Campbell found rookie receiver Denarius Moore for 13 more.  The next pass was incomplete, but Jet cornerback Antonio Cromartie was flagged for pass interference.  That moved the ball to the Raider 42.  After a short run by McFadden, Campbell completed a 28-yard pass to tight end Kevin Boss.  Boss made it down to the  two yard line.  From there,  McFadden finished the drive with a two yard touchdown run.  Janikowski added the point after and the Raiders went 76 yards on five plays in just a little over two minutes.

On the opening drive for the Jets, Sanchez quickly hit Plaxico Burress for 17 yards and tight end Dustin Keller for 25 more.  However, they couldn’t get past the Raider 41 as the Raiders stuffed running back Shonn Green and Sanchez threw two incomplete passes.  They were forced to punt and the Raiders got the ball back at their own eight.  They didn’t fare much better on three plays and gave the ball right back to the Jets as Raider punter Shane Lechler booted a 57-yard punt to the Jet 29.

On the second play of this drive, Sanchez hit Tomlinson on a short pass that went for 74 yards.   The Raiders appeared to have Tomlinson corralled after he caught the ball, but two missed tackles sprung him loose and he bolted down the left sideline.  He was finally pushed out of bounds at the one by Raider safety Tyvon Branch.  On second down, Sanchez rolled out and took the ball into the end zone for the score.  Nick Folk added the point after and the score was tied at seven with 8:30 to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders took over at their own 20 and Campbell hit Moore for nine yards.  That set up an easy second and one from the 29.  However, the Jets were ready for the Raider running backs on this drive and McFadden and Michael Bush were both stuffed, forcing the Raiders to punt.  Lechler booted another punt that was taken by Jet return man Jeremy Kurley at his own 23.  He returned the ball all the way to the Raider 24 and put the Jets in excellent field position.  However, Sanchez was picked off in the end zone by Tyvon Branch to bring a quick end to a golden opportunity for the Jets.

Again, the Raiders could do nothing with the ball and ended up going three and out.  With 2:35 to go in the first quarter, the Jets took over at their own 16.  After a couple of quick runs by Green, Sanchez found receiver Santonio Holmes for 19 and then Raider cornerback Stanford Routt was flagged for pass interference.  That moved the ball into Raider territory and Green ran to the left for nine more yards as the first quarter came to a close with the scored tied at seven.  On second down, Routt was flagged again.  This time, it was for illegal use of the hands and it gave the Jets a first down at the Raider 19.  On second and nine from the 18, Sanchez hit Tomlinson in stride for an 18-yard touchdown.  Folk made the point after and that put the Jets up 14-7.

Taiwan Jones didn’t fare too well on his next kickoff return as he managed to only get to his own 13-yard line.  On second and 15, McFadden exploded up the right side for 17 yards.  Two plays later, Cromartie was flagged again for defensive holding and that gave the Raiders a first down at their own 30.  From there,  McFadden got the call again and ran off left tackle for 15 more yards.  He got six more to move the ball to the Jet 38, but tight end Brandon Myers dropped a pass on third down.  On fourth down, kicker Sebastian Janikowski was brought in to try a 56-yard field goal off the infield dirt.  He got all of it, but his kick ended up going wide right.  That gave the Jets the ball at their own 46.

Sanchez found Green for a gain of 15 and then found Derrick Mason for 11 more to bring the ball down to the Raider 23.  Green then ran for 11 more down to the 12.  But, from there, the Raider defense stiffened and the Jets had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Nick Folk.  That made the score 17-7 in favor of the Jets.

The Raiders got the ball at their own 15 and after a short gain by McFadden and a gain of nine by receiver Chaz Schilens, Darren McFadden brought the drive to a quick end with a career long 70-yard touchdown run.  Nobody could catch him as he sprinted up the left side of the field. That was a huge momentum swing for the Raiders.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders now trailed 17-14 with five minutes to go in the first half.

After the Jets couldn’t do anything with the ball, the Raiders got it back with 1:44 remaining at their own 14.  Michael Bush bulldozed his way for nine yards on first down.  Campbell then hit Moore for seven yards and a first down.  Three more short completions brought the ball to the 50 with 41 seconds to go.  A short run by Bush and two quick completions to Schilens set up Janikowski for a 54-yard attempt.  This time, there was no doubt as he blasted the ball through the uprights to tie the score at 17 at halftime.

The Jets set up shop at their own 21 to start the second half.  However, on second down, Green fumbled and the ball was recovered by Matt Shaughnessy of the Raiders.  But, defensive end Lamarr Houston jumped offside before the ball the ball was snapped, so the ball still belonged to the Jets due to the penalty.  After getting a break from the penalty, the Jets managed to move the ball to their own 40.  But, after a ten yard loss on a sack by defensive end Jarvis Moss the drive stalled and the Jets were forced to punt.

Starting at their own 20, the Raiders were looking to take the lead.  This was not the case as they had another quick three and out.  The Jets followed suit and the Raiders got the ball back at their own 28.  Another pass interference call on Cromartie moved the ball to the 41.  But the Jet’s defense was up to the challenge and forced another punt by the Raiders.

On a third and 11 from their own 19, the Raiders appeared to have stopped the Jets and forced them to punt again as a pass for Tomlinson was incomplete.  Stanford Routt was called for another penalty.  This time it was defensive holding and it gave the Jets a first down.  A few plays later, another penalty was called on the Raiders.  This time, it was a personal foul on Lamarr Houston.  That moved the ball into Raider territory again.  Green ran for three yards on first down and then caught a short pass for five more.  After an incomplete pass to Keller on third and two, the Jets decided to go for it on fourth down.  Instead of running it, Sanchez tried a pass to Burress and it was knocked away by rookie cornerback Chimdi Chekwa.

The Raiders took over at their own 37 and Campbell found receiver Derek Hagan for a gain of 15 to mid field.  On first down, McFadden looked as if he wanted to throw, but decided against it and ran for 23 yards down to the 27.  On the very next play, the Raiders used another trick play and Denarius Moore ran a reverse for a 23-yard score.  As Moore fell at the goal line, the ball popped out and an alert Rock Cartwright fell on it in the end zone.  However, the play was reviewed and it was determined that Moore had indeed crossed the goal line for the touchdown.  Janikowski added the point after and the Raiders went up 24-17.

Antonio Cromartie was having a bad day and it got worse on the kickoff.  Instead of the usual touchback, Janikowski sent a deep knuckle ball toward Cromartie.  He muffed it and it was quickly pounced on by Taiwan Jones.  This was the break the Raiders needed and they took over at the Jet 13.  McFadden ran for 12 as the third quarter came to a close.  On the first play of the fourth quarter, Michael Bush ran it in from the one to put the Raiders up 31-17.

With an entire quarter to go, the Jets still had plenty of time to right the ship.  The Raider defense bent a little on this drive, but they did not break.  Sanchez was sacked again for a nine yard loss by Jarvis Moss and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and they were forced to punt.  With just under 11 minutes to go in the game, the Raiders were looking to take some time off the clock.  That didn’t happen as the Jets forced a very quick three and out.  Lechler came through with a huge 67-yard punt and the ball was downed at the Jet’s seven yard line with 8:39 to go.

The Raider defense had been playing much better than they did in the second half last week at Buffalo.  That was until this drive started.  All of a sudden, things seemed to change.  It looked like the Raiders went to the prevent defense.  The corners were playing way off the receivers at the line of scrimmage and there was very little pass rush.  This enabled the Jets to go on a ten play, 93-yard drive in just a little over three minutes.  Sanchez found Burress in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown.  Folk made the point after to make it 31-24 and the Jets were right back in the  game with five and a half minutes to go.

This was the key drive for the Raiders.  On first down, Campbell scrambled for 10 yards to the 30-yard line.  Campbell then went deep for Darrius Heyward-Bey, but it was incomplete.  But, defensive holding was called on Calvin Pace of the Jets.  That gave the Raiders a crucial first down at their own 37.  On second and eight, Campbell scrambled out of the pocket and lofted a pass that was caught by Bush for a first down.  Bush almost broke away for a touchdown, but was tripped up by Bryan Thomas.  The Jets called their first timeout with 2:54 remaining.  After a short run by Bush, they called their second timeout with 2:48 remaining.  After another short run by Bush, the Jets called their third and final timeout with 2:43 to go.  On third and nine, everyone thought the Raiders would surely run the ball again to take more time off the clock.  Instead, Campbell put up a deep ball for Heyward-Bey that was incomplete.  So, on fourth and nine on the infield dirt, the Polish Cannon was brought into the game for a 49-yard attempt.  The kick was good and the Raiders led 34-24 with a little over two minutes to go.

After a 50-yard kick return by Joe McKnight, the Jets started out at their own 42.  Sanchez hooked up with Keller for gains of 11 and 33 yards.  The 33-yard completion brought them to the Raider nine yard line with time ticking away.  After incomplete passes to Keller and Burress, Tomlinson caught a pass and brought the ball down to the two.  On fourth down, Sanchez dove into the end zone for an apparent score.  However, the play was reviewed and the replay showed his knee was down before the ball crossed the goal line.  That gave the Raiders the ball and after two rushes up the middle by Campbell, the Raiders came away with a 34-24 win over the Jets.

This was a hard fought and much needed win for the Raiders.  With a gut wrenching loss at Buffalo last week, the defense played much better when they had to. They held the Jets to 100 yards on 25 carries and they had four sacks and bloodied the nose of Mark Sanchez.  The outcome of this game was much different than the last time the Jets came to Oakland.  This time, Sanchez got knocked around and didn’t have enough time to enjoy a hot dog.  But I am sure he will be able to find time to get an MRI on his nose.  Still, it wasn’t all bad for Sanchez.  He had a career high 369 yards through the air with two touchdown passes and one pick in a losing effort.

Darren McFadden definitely gets my MVP vote for this game as he had 171 yards on 19 carries and two scores.  Total up all the rushing yards and the Raiders ran for 234 yards on 32 carries.  That’s a little over seven yards per carry and  it’s the most yards rushing the Jets have allowed since Rex Ryan took over as head coach.  The offensive line did another incredible job.  They opened holes for the running backs and protected Campbell admirably.  Campbell had an efficient game as he went 18 for 27 for 156 yards with no touchdowns or picks.  He spread the ball around to seven different receivers and his longest completion of the game was 28 yards to Kevin Boss.

The New England Patriots are coming to Oakland next week and just like the Raiders, the Patriots are coming off a tough loss to the Buffalo Bills.  They blew a 21 point lead and Tom Brady was picked off four times.  The Raider defense better be ready for an all out assault from Brady and all of his weapons.  Tackling still needs to improve and the stupid penalties on third down need to be eliminated.  But, that’s next week.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

Book Review: Tales from the New York Jets Sideline

The Jets are 2-0 with a +32 differential heading into Week 3. Does that mean they are headed toward relatively foreign territory? Or does it set their fans up to be “tortured, teased and tantalized” like Mark Cannizzaro writes in Tales from the New York Jets Sideline?

Jets fans have seen it all, a sprinkling of success notwithstanding. This week, let’s look at the players, coaches and fans of New York Jets lore.

Read this book because:

1. While Bruce Coslet, Rich Kotite and Bill Belichick might leave you going “huh?” Bill Parcells and Rex Ryan remind you that there’s reason to hope.

It was 1990. The Jets had just suffered a 30-7 setback to Buffalo. Rather than say nothing at the postgame press conference, Coslet decided to say next to nothing via a postgame teleconference in his office. Coslet said that because the Buffalo game was a Monday night contest, he had to start gameplanning as soon as possible. Also that year, Coslet closed the press room doors and asked the media to turn off tape recorders. We’re still talking about it without the aid of recorders 20 years later.

Rich Kotite’s boys of ’95 remind one of President Andrew Jackson’s jolly and sometimes juvenile bunch. Kotite brought his buddies on board, and tales of suds are part of his staff’s legacy today.

Bill Belichick didn’t even get through his Jets introductory press conference before he bolted for the Pats. A handwritten note on crumpled paper said it all: Belichick was resigning “as h.c. of the n.y.j.” (97, Tales)

Bill Parcells didn’t stay long, but he did take a 1-15 team to the brink of the Super Bowl within two seasons.

Like Belichick, Rex Ryan also left his mark at his introductory press conference. Unlike Belichick, he stayed past it. “With all the cameras and all that, I was looking for our new President back there. You know, I think we’ll get to meet him in the next couple years anyway,” Ryan said. OK, then. (180)

2. Curtis Martin can’t help but hold your attention. The same can be said for Keyshawn and Chad Pennington for different reasons.

A young Martin had just come upon his grandmother’s murder. In the midst of the unthinkable, Martin asked his mom, “If you get sick, who is going to raise me?” Somehow the two would go on. Martin grew up as a “knucklehead” before he went on to become one of the greatest Jets. Perhaps his beginnings are the reason he put Parcells in a state of disbelief. Martin’s teammates had just voted him MVP in 1999, an award Martin owed all to his mentor. (84)

Who can forget Keyshawn Johnson’s “Give Me the Damn Ball?” Not the greatest Jet of all. “I’ve never approved of talk going outside the framework of the team…” Joe Namath said. (120)

After nine wins in his last 12 games, it was hard to shake the promise of Chad Pennington. But Jets fans were shaken after Pennington was lost for the 2003 campaign.

3. Wherever the team goes, fans are there with their feedback, Herm Edwards said. No matter if that’s at the scene of an accident.

Boomer Esiason tried to take the high road and stop his car after a horrible game in 1994. Esiason saw a rear-end collision on his way home and figured he would help the woman involved. The woman was groggy but soon recognized the QB. Boomer had barely confirmed that she was OK before she said, “You guys suck. How did you lose that game?” (31)

No doubt that would be the question on my mind too. If you can identify, or if you just want a chuckle, pick up Cannizzaro’s collection.

 

Sam Miller is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he worked with various teams in sports information and received the Freedom Forum – NCAA Sports Journalism Scholarship for his achievements. At the University of Illinois, Miller regularly wrote feature stories about the football team. He has also served as communications intern for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate. Prior to that, he worked as a communications intern for USA Basketball and as an associate reporter for MLB.com.

 

Mark Sanchez Just Saved the NFL

Perhaps it’s a new and refreshing breed of player, but New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez has likely saved the NFL from fan backlash against the lockout. He also just boosted his jersey sales and made some new fans for himself and his team.

As reported today, Sanchez has offered to restructure his contract and make LESS money if it means the team can sign some key free agents as well as Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. The Jets have since signed Holmes to a five-year deal. No report on whether or not the NFL would let Sanchez actually restructure his deal.

Sanchez, a third-year player, is a striking contrast to many NFL players, including Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Brady is the highest paid player in the league and Manning has made headlines all summer about reclaiming the title of highest paid player once his new contract is resolved. I guess it shouldn’t surprise anyone then that these two children were also key names in the suit that brought the lockout. Regardless of whose fault the $9 billion mess belongs on, Manning and Brady exemplify personal benefit over team benefit.

Sanchez wants to win a Super Bowl. Manning and Brady want to compete with each other on the terms of their contract. I also find it interesting that Manning spent the summer whining about his neck and not being able to see a specific therapist until a lockout agreement was reached. Sanchez understands the team concept and he knows the New York Jets will win the Super Bowl this year, not New York Mark Sanchez.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Isray has stated several times over the course of the summer that Manning will be the highest paid player in the NFL even if the terms of the lockout agreement present some minor roadblocks.

“He is going to make more than Brady,” he said.

This is top priority? It is so important for Manning to make more than Brady that it has to be said out loud? Is it just me or when already mega millionaire players need their ego boosted by contract terms, they always seem to disappoint. Ask Boston Red Sox fans how Carl Crawford is working out. Brady hasn’t done much since they lost the Super Bowl after the 16-0 season. (Though he does complain a lot when he gets sacked.) Manning, 35, coming into his 15th year in the league, has a neck injury that is not even healed yet and he is reportedly going to miss some or all of training camp. The Colts want to spend all of their money on him?

Whether or not Manning is ready for the season, you can be sure he’ll take a snap in week 1. Because after all, Manning is more interested in chasing down Brett Favre’s numbers than he is in winning a Super Bowl. Winning a Super Bowl means he would have to share the spotlight. In just three years, Sanchez understands what’s at stake and what’s more important.

Said Sanchez, “whatever we need to do to win, it’s on.”

Retirement Doesn’t Seem to be an Option for Brett Favre

The Brett Favre rumorville has started turning and to be honest, yes this year, I am somewhat surprised. I did not think after his concussion last season that he’d want to return for a 21st season. But you know what? I hope he comes back and a team gives him an offer.

I’m in the minority I know. And had Favre hired a PR manager during the last several years, perhaps the “will he or won’t he” saga would not have been front page news, which made him look like a buffoon. But the fact is, at least for me, football is more entertaining with Favre on the field. I don’t think he’s ready to hang up his cleats and despite last season’s mess, his skills as a quarterback are still pretty much intact.

In 1998 and 1999, while with Green Bay, Favre threw 23 interceptions. In 2005, he threw 29. It is clear by now that interceptions don’t define Favre’s ability. They define his playing style. The fact is Favre has developed an interesting playing cycle over the years. He either sucks or he’s great.

In 2001, he had a QB rating of 94.1. It dropped a few points the next year and then he stuck around 90 for 2003 and 2004. In 2005, the calls for his retirement began when he threw those 29 interceptions and had, at the time, a career low 70.9 QB rating. He ticked his rating up 2 points the next year and then was back in Favre form his final year with the Packers.

The New York Jets was not a mistake, at least on the field. His indiscretions aside, Favre brought new life to the Jets and I maintain his biggest mistake with the Jets was not coming back for a second year. Had Favre returned, there is no doubt in my mind the New York Jets and Favre would be Super Bowl Champions. (I have always wondered if that is lost on him.) Until his arm injury, the Jets were nearly unstoppable and Favre played flawlessly. The turnaround game for the team that year was when they got blown out against the San Diego Chargers on a Monday night and Favre spent the game throwing dink and dunk passes which clearly helped him figure out the offense.

Then 2009. Revenge is a wonderful motivator and Favre clearly got it. He destroyed the Packers and posted a career high of 107.2 QB rating which was the first time he hit 100 for a season. Just imagine had his ire against the Packers receded and he gave the Jets those numbers that year. But once again, the roller coaster of his career dropped the following year thanks to injuries and a depleted offensive line and receiving corps.

It could be argued that Favre is in line for a high profile season. Then again he may fizzle, which if he does return and posts a new career QB rating low, then maybe that’s what he needs mentally to realize his time is up. One more touchdown last year or one less interception, Favre’s QB rating would not match his career low set in 2005.

Quarterbacks have up and down years. Once they reach a certain age, the “too old” drum begins to beat but when other 20-something’s consistently throw up duds excuses are always handed out. Give Favre an offensive line that actually protects him and a couple of receivers who can catch, it would not surprise me if Favre has a 90+ year, if indeed he returns and a team picks him up.

If Favre is truly mulling another season, his best approach is to offer himself as a starting mentor. The streak is over so there is no pressure to keep him playing if he gets injured and/or if age does begin to show in his playing ability. If he can begin the season as a starter and be a teacher to a young backup than any team looking for a veteran should consider picking him up.

Since Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez seems to only play well when the game is on the line or Coach Rex Ryan is threatening to bench him, maybe Favre can return to New York to be the thorn in Sanchez’s side that keeps him playing well the whole season.

On second thought, I’m not sure his wife Deanna would OK that move.