The NFL’s injury problem is quickly turning into an epidemic, and there is no end in sight

You could see it on Tom Brady’s face last night. The frustration in his voice was obvious but he knew there was nothing he could do.

“I hate to see it, but it really is the only way defenders can hit now,” Brady said, according to WEEI. “I bet if you asked the players, they would really rather go high than low. I don’t think it’s dirty. I just think that is how football is played now.”

Brady was of course referring to the play that led to the injury of New England’s star tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronk suffered what is now known to be a bone-bruise on his right knee after getting hit there late in the fourth quarter. The point that was made last night during Tom Brady’s postgame press conference may not have been something that was physically said, but was still clear as day; the NFL has an injury crisis on its hands, and there is no end in sight.

The NFL is caught in what is called a “Catch-22”. Merriam-webster.com defines a Catch-22 as “a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule”.

Here’s the situation:

Over the last decade or so the NFL has been fighting lawsuits from former players citing negligence in the case of concussion safety. Former players are claiming that the NFL knew the dangers involved with playing football and the risks of brain injury that come with playing, but did not disclose this information to the players. After the 2012-2013 season where there were over 160 players who sustained head injuries, the league banned players from lowering their heads to deliver a hit in the open field. Here’s the rule as described in a March 2013 article from the latimes.com:

“The rule imposes a 15-yard penalty if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the crown (top) of his helmet when both players are clearly outside the tackle box. The tackle box is defined as an area extending from offensive tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage back to the end zone behind the line of scrimmage. Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler is not a foul.”

This is where the Catch-22 comes in.

With the new rule, players had to fundamentally change the way they were tackling. Rather than launching themselves head first, they had to figure out a new way to tackle offensive players who had only been getting bigger, stronger and harder to take down. So instead of going high, players began to go low, specifically at the knees.

Football is a violent sport with the object being, as a defensive player, to cause as much physical punishment as possible. This puts the NFL in an impossible situation right now with regards to player safety given the limits that have been set on how defensive players can play. The quality of play this season, more so than any other in recent memory, has been significantly worse due to the number of injuries sustained by the league’s top players. Jamal Charles, Carlos Hyde, Dion Lewis, Arian Foster, Le’Veon Bell, Joe Flacco, Julian Edelman, Jimmy Graham, Steve Smith Sr., Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin are just a few of the best players who are out for the rest of the season due to a lower body injury.

This is not a problem that the NFL can simply sweep under its rug like they tried to do with concussions. Fans, the media, and even the players themselves are noticing the drop in quality due to injuries/rules related to injuries and fear that it could be what dooms the sport. The following is an excerpt from a PBS Frontline report from 2013:

“Ravens safety Bernard Pollard tells CBS Sports that the NFL’s renewed emphasis on player safety is threatening the league’s future.

“’Thirty years from now, I don’t think it will be in existence,’ said Pollard. ‘I could be wrong. It’s just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going — where [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and everything else — there’s going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it.’”

In an article written on espn.com last Friday, Kevin Seifert wrote, “more players have already been placed on injured reserve because of confirmed ACL tears (38) than in all of 2012 (32) or 2011 (25), according to ESPN Stats & Information.”

Fans are more than aware of the injury problem at this point. According to a New York Post report from Sept. 2015, “The [NFL’s] latest Spending & Saving Tracker said 74.7 million Americans plan to participate in fantasy football this year, spending $4.6 billion, company spokeswoman Jane Di Leo said.”

With that many fans playing fantasy football, and millions more watching and rooting for players and teams on top of that, fans know all too well how many star players have gone down due to injury this year.

While these injuries have hurt the quality of play, it hasn’t stopped people from watching. According to a bostonglobe.com report from early Nov. 2015:

“Midway through this season, the trends suggest that ratings and viewership numbers will trump even last year’s. Thursday Night Football is up 6 percent in viewership this year from the same date a year ago, averaging 17.6 million viewers, up from 16.7 million last year. Overall, CBS is averaging 18.5 million viewers for its NFL telecasts, which would be the highest for the AFC game package in 29 years. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” continues to be a ratings behemoth, averaging 23.6 million viewers this season, making it the top-ranked program on television this fall. ESPN is averaging 13.2 million viewers for its “Monday Night Football” telecasts. So far this season, NFL games account for the top 10 and 19 of the top 20 programs on television this fall.”

The ratings have never been the NFL’s problem, as people are always going to watch football as long as it’s around. However, player safety has become a major issue in this league and more than just players are beginning to pay attention. In the same Frontline report, Days before Super Bowl XLVII (47), President Barack Obama told The New Republic that,

“I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football. And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence. In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much.”

With even the President saying that his concerns about the risk of sustaining an injury while playing football would be enough to keep his child from playing the sport, who is to say that millions of parents across America don’t share Obama’s sentiment?

It is time for the NFL to take a long and hard look at itself. The league needs to figure out how to protect its players, because what’s going on right now just ain’t cutting it. Maybe it starts at the youth level, where players first learn how to tackle. Maybe players are training too hard and wearing their bodies down. Or maybe players have just gotten plain old unlucky this year. Any of those are plausible reasons for why the NFL is going through this injury crisis. However one thing is certain, this is a problem that needs to be addressed and it isn’t going away any time soon.

 

Photo via baltimoreravens.about.com

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Ride the running game, James

Watching Penn State play against Temple two weeks ago was not a fun time for anyone. It wasn’t fun for Head Coach James Franklin; it wasn’t fun for Offensive Coordinator John Donovan; it wasn’t fun for running backs Akeel Lynch or Saquon Barkley and it certainly wasn’t fun for quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

Christian Hackenberg was sacked 10 times and threw more picks (1) than he did touchdowns (0). Temple Running Back Jahad Thomas rushed the ball 29 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Penn State Running Back Akeel Lynch (Jr.) ran the ball 10 times for 78 yards, however most of that production came from a 42-yard touchdown run. And Running Back Saquon Barkley only got one carry during the entire game and ran it for one measly yard.

Clearly James Franklin had some changes to make going into week two when Penn State would face the University of Buffalo. And changes he would make.

Penn State went to the running game against Buffalo, handing off the ball 39 times while throwing it only 27 times. This is a stark difference from week one against Temple, when the Nittany Lions ran the ball only 28 times and threw the ball 25 times. Big difference, right?

The real difference in week two, however, was whom Penn State was handing the ball off to. While Lynch (19 rushes for 46 yards vs. Buffalo) came into the season as the lead back, it was Barkley who really impressed. The true freshman running back had 12 rushes for 115 yards and a touchdown and gave the Nittany Lions the spark they needed to win their first game of the season.

Fast forward to this past Saturday night.

A night game at home, plus being the first conference matchup of the season made this game important enough as it is. The fact that Rutgers suspended so many of its players and its head coach put this game into must-win territory.

While Rutgers was severely undermanned, Penn State still needed to execute its game plan and carry over the positives from the game against Buffalo in order to earn its second win of the season.

James Franklin must have realized what he had in running back Saquon Barkley after his performance against Buffalo, as he fed the true freshman the ball 21 times for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Barkley, who initially had committed to Rutgers, changed his mind and picked Penn State as his home once James Franklin arrived in Happy Valley. Franklin is probably thanking the old gods and the new that Barkley picked the Nittany Lions over the Scarlet Knights, as the running back has run for over 300 yards in the last two games. Junior running back Akeel Lynch also ran the ball 10 times for 120 yards, which included a 75-yard touchdown run.

Clearly James Franklin has two very capable and explosive running backs, along with a talented yet struggling quarterback Christian Hackenberg (who hasn’t been sacked in two weeks by the way) and a dominant defense. These are the keys to Penn State’s two game winning streak.

Unlike against Temple, Hackenberg has had time in the pocket to throw and has only turned the ball over once, the running backs have rushed for 530 yards and the defense has only allowed 17 points.

This is how Penn State is going to win games. Run the ball. Don’t turn the ball over. Play good defense. Penn State is paying defensive coordinator Bob Shoop almost a million dollars a year to keep this defense as dominant as possible. A year and three games into his contract and he is keeping his end of the deal. Now its time for Franklin and Donovan to earn their contracts. Run the ball James. Run it.

New Season, Same Result For Nittany Lions

It has been over 250 days since James Franklin led the Penn State Nittany Lions to victory over Boston College in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

In front of a sold out crowd that was essentially a home game for the Nittany Lions, Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg was brilliant, going 34-of-50 for 371 yards and four TDs in a 31-30 overtime victory.

After the game Franklin addressed the remaining Penn State fans in the stands yelling, “You want to talk about culture? Look around, this is culture!” The crowd ate it up, exploding in a We Are Penn State chant.

It was an inspiring and powerful statement from the first year head coach, who was brought in to further improve upon the work that Bill O’Brien started the previous two seasons to turn this program around.

For the first time in three years, Penn State football looked like it was going in a positive direction.

Fast-forward to today and that feeling of positivity is all but extinguished.

Penn State fell to the Temple Owls for the first time in 74 years this past Saturday, losing 27-10. After the game the frustration amongst players, coaches and fans was palpable.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, I don’t need to tell you guys that. Its obvious to everybody,” said Franklin to the media after the game.

“We just need to [watch] the film, learn from it and were going to get ready for Buffalo,” a dejected Christian Hackenberg explained to the media after the loss. “I think we all need to look in the mirror and see what we can do better.”

Despite all of the heat that Franklin and Hackenberg will take leading up to Penn State’s home opener against Buffalo, neither deserve as much criticism as the Nittany Lion’s Offensive Coordinator John Donovan.

Donovan lacked creativity in his play calling and failed to make adjustments time and time again throughout Saturdays beat down.

The most glaring example of Donovan’s lack of creativity came at the end of the third quarter. With a 1:28 left, Hackenberg completed a short pass to the right side to Chris Godwin for eight yards. On second down Donovan dialed up the same playcall. This time however, Temple’s Sharif Finch easily recognized the play and picked off Hackenberg’s throw (which was going to the same spot). A play later, Temple scored and took a 17-10 lead, which they never gave up.

Donovan and Hackenberg’s miscues during that sequence were a microcosm of Penn State’s offense since Donovan took over the play calling last season.

In the fourteen games that Donovan has called the plays for Penn State, very little has changed. The wide receivers run short to intermediate routes that often make little sense given the situation and the run game has been non-existent (Don’t get me started on the endless screen passes either).

Don’t mistake this criticism as an angry Penn State fan using his blog to voice his dissatisfaction with how the team is playing. No, these are real concerns that people all over the country are agreeing upon.

And while Donovan been a disaster, James Franklin and the rest of his staff haven’t inspired confidence in their abilities either. Everyone knows how great a recruiter Franklin has been since he arrived at Penn State, but he has continuously failed to make in-game adjustments that ultimately cost his team the game.

Take this past weekend against Temple for example. After dominating the first quarter and taking a 10-0 lead, Temple’s head coach and former Nittany Lion, Matt Rhule, adjusted his defensive game plan. Rhule realized what everyone in the world already knew: Penn State can’t run the ball or protect the Quarterback, so drop everyone into coverage and dare them to move the ball down field. Franklin had no counter adjustment, and the offense fizzled for the rest of the game.

And then there is the offensive line. Christian Hackenberg was sacked 10 times on Saturday. To put that in perspective, he was sacked 44 times all of last season and after one game he is almost a quarter of the way there to surpassing that total.

This was supposed to be a group that would only improve after last season’s catastrophe. Instead, the offensive line took a step back in game one of the 2015 season. Hackenberg was constantly under duress in the pocket and while he is definitely responsible for some of the sacks that he took, he never had enough time in the pocket to allow his receivers to get down field and was sacked over and over again.

And that’s the heart of Penn States problem. They have a pocket passing Quarterback who excels throwing the ball down the field and utilizing his tight ends, and yet he only attempted two deep balls and targeted his tight ends only once.

Many believe that Christian Hackenberg can be the first overall pick in next year’s NFL draft. Unfortunately for him, he is playing in an offensive system that is not conducive to success given his skillset. And unless James Franklin, John Donovan and the offensive line figure it out not only will Hack not be a first round pick, but Penn State will struggle to reach the six win mark necessary to qualify for a bowl game.

After an offseason full of promise, 2015 has started off with more of the same from last year for James Franklin and Penn State. Its not too late for Franklin to make the necessary adjustments to put this team on the winning path, but he better start soon or else it will be more than just Donovan’s job that the fans and former players start calling for.

Addressing The Stupidity Problem In Professional Sports

If you stop and think about it and really break it down, professional athletes get paid every day to do the same thing that four year olds do on day-to-day basis: play games. Yes I obviously know it’s not that simple, calm down. But just think about it. At its most basic level, a professional sports league is a group of teams playing a game. LeBron is playing the exact same game that a 12-year-old kid from New York City plays after school each day. The only difference; LeBron gets paid millions of dollars to do so.

Now for an athlete to get paid in the first place, they have to sign a contract that was offered to them. In every job that requires you to sign a contract, all you have to do in order to stay employed and get paid is to follow any rules that your contract includes. That’s it. Really, that’s all you have to do. Just follow the rules and you’ll live happily ever after.

For professional athletes is a pretty fucking sweet deal they are getting. This is how I imagine a conversation between a player and a GM after the player signs a fat extension: “Boss, are you telling me all I have to do is follow these rules and I can make millions of dollars?” Yes, that is EXACTLY what they’re telling you. The GM wouldn’t even respond. He would just shake his head yes and that’s it. That’s how simple it is. Have you ever wished you could have a set of step-by-step directions that tells you how to make millions of dollars? That’s what these pro athletes are getting here. On top of everything, these rules also happen to be unbelievably simple to follow. Things like “Don’t get arrested” and “Don’t do drugs” top the list. Seems easy enough, right?

Now that we have established how easy it is for professional athletes to be and stay successful, we can talk about how dumb some of these players are when it comes to following these rules. And I say ‘dumb’ because honestly it’s the nicest way I can possibly put it when talking about some of these guys. For example, this past weekend the NFL was in the news for its players being really dumb. The news broke last Thursday on July 2 when the NFL handed out a multitude of suspensions, including some of the top players in the league at their positions. Antonio Gates, Sheldon Richardson and Rolando McClain were all suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. (Remember the “Don’t do Drugs” rule? Yup I was thinking the same thing don’t worry.)

To be fair, pro-athletes have been doing dumb shit for decades. Honestly a lot of the stuff people would consider dumb these days weren’t considered to be so back in the day. For example, Wade Boggs claims that he drank 100 beers the same day they had a game. Dock Ellis throwing a no-hitter while tripping on LSD is another example. To put those things in perspective, Pablo Sandoval was benched being on his phone during a game, and a few years ago the Boston Red Sox got a lot of heat for drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during a game. Really? People got upset over that? WADE BOGGS DRANK 100 BEERS THE DAY OF A GAME AND NO ONE BATTED AN EYE. I can understand funny stories like this. I honestly don’t even mind Sandoval using his phone mid-game. What I do mind is players doing things to get them suspended or hurt for multiple games that were ultimately avoidable/preventable.

For example this past weekend Jason Pierre-Paul decided that, as a professional football player, it was a great idea to buy a truckload of fireworks and personally set them off. That really wouldn’t have been that bad of an idea as it was the Fourth of July and people tend to set fireworks off that night…except for the fact that he’s a fucking professional football player and fireworks are dangerous as shit. As everyone is well aware of by now, one of those fireworks went off in his hand, causing severe burns and potential nerve damage in his fingers. The man was just franchise tagged by the New York Giants and there was a long-term contract extension offer for over $60 million on the table as well. Well, after fucking up his hand, the contract extension offer was pulled and JPP’s long-term future with the Giants is up in the air.

Nothing in the world pisses me off more than hearing stories like the one about JPP and his fucking fireworks or guys like Josh Hamilton who recently mixed up his cocaine and Vitamin-C (he probably thought they were the same thing). They have one job: Don’t do anything stupid. I mean goddamn, if I had the talent that JPP or Hamilton have, I would make it my priority in life to NOT fuck up. If the Giants walked up to me and said, “You’re really great at football so were going to pay you $60 million a year to tackle whoever is holding the football. All you have to do in order to earn that money is continue to produce on the field and don’t do anything stupid off the field.” Come on, man. If you give me $1 million and tell me its all mine as long as I don’t do anything stupid for a year, you can bet your ass I’m swimming in cash a year later.

It’s pathetic that so many of these grown men continuously fuck up time and time again. I’m sure Justin Pierre-Paul is a great guy and all, but when you start drawing comparisons to Plaxico Burress you need to stop whatever you’re currently doing and start doing the exact opposite. JPP is lucky that he didn’t lose a finger or two, and while he didn’t shoot himself like Plax did, it’s still an all-time bonehead move to blow up your hand with fireworks. Bottom line is, if you’re a professional athlete stop doing stupid shit. Hey pro-athletes, FYI: there are hundreds of guys grinding every day to make it big, and they would gladly take your place if you continue to be stupid. So, stop being stupid so we, the fans, don’t have to watch scrubs come in and replace your sorry asses.

The 2015 Mets Are the Most Mets Team of All-Time

The New York Mets have won four games in a row. As I typed that sentence I couldn’t help but laugh and think to myself, “This team just will not go away.” One would think that a four game winning streak following a seven game losing streak is a sign of a turnaround. A signal that the team can handle adversity, overcome it and thrive in its aftermath. And, you know, that very well could be what is going on here with the Mets. But I’m just really, really skeptical.
Since starting off the season 13-3 and going on that tease of an 11 game win streak, the Amazins have gone 27-34. It has been a rollercoaster of a season so far to say the least and, despite everything, the Mets currently sit 2.5 games out of first place in the NL East. All of this has led me to believe that the 2015 Mets are the most Mets team in the history of the Mets.
Just think about it. The team comes into this season with playoff aspirations, takes a series from a stacked Nationals team right out of the gate and then drops two of three from the fresh off a fire-sale Braves. The Mets then go on an 11 game win streak, but lose their captain and best player David Wright to injury (who is still out) in the process. The team then goes on a 27-34 stretch, which included a seven game losing streak followed by a four game winning streak and sent Travis d’Arnaud (twice) and Daniel Murphy to the DL in the process. Oh and our Gold Glove center fielder is playing through an elbow injury and our one offseason acquisition (Michael Cuddyer) has, pardon my French, played like a steaming pile of horse shit. Have you ever seen a stretch of play that varied, inconsistent and injury riddled? I definitely haven’t. However, this team just continues to stay relevant and keep you interested, yesterday’s game(s) being the perfect example of this.
If you were around to watch the Mets play yesterday, you were treated with almost two games worth of baseball. The Mets finished up Saturday’s rain shortened game, starting in the 7th inning and finishing in the 13th, after Lucas Duda won the game with a failed fielders choice to home plate. Then the real show began. Steven Matz, the highly touted pitching prospect that has been dominating AAA ball all season long, was finally called up. And boy did he live up to the hype.
Watching Matz was like something out of a movie. The 24-year-old southpaw started out his major league career by throwing the ball to the backstop, followed by letting up a leadoff homerun to Brandon Phillips four pitches later. After a rocky start, Matz settled down and retired the rest of the batters the next two innings. In the bottom of the second with the young lefty at the plate, Matz sent a ball to deep center for two-run double. It didn’t end there though. Matz singled in the bottom of the fifth and hit a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth. You almost forget that he’s still a pitcher who threw 7.2 innings while giving up five hits, two runs, three walks and six K’s. What. A. Debut. Its almost like the Mets’ pitchers are hitting better than our batters this season…Oh wait that’s exactly what it is.
One of the story lines coming into the game was that Matz, originally from Long Island, grew up a Mets fan and was finally living his dream and pitching for his favorite big league team. I get chills just thinking about what he must’ve felt after the game. Can you imagine putting on a show like that in your MLB debut for the team you grew up rooting for? Unreal.
So, last night was just another example of how up and down team this team is. Some days the team hits. Most days they don’t. And almost every day it pitches well. That’s what the 2015 Mets are right now and we’re all going to have to deal with it until Sandy Alderson grows some balls and trades for a veteran bat that can turn this fringe playoff team into a possible contender. Yes, I said contender. With this pitching, any team has the ability to be a contender. Its all going to depend on what Sandy does from now to the All-Star break to improve the lineup, and knowing these Mets, it’s going to be hell of a ride till then.

Making Sense of the Knicks Draft Picks

Don’t let the headline deceive you; I still don’t know how I’m going to make sense of last night, and I’m the one writing this article. The only lottery pick that went as everyone expected was the first one, when Karl-Anthony Towns went to the Minnesota Timberwolves, joining two former first overall picks in Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins. But I’m not here to talk about Towns or the Wolves or how Flip Saunders has acquired the past three #1 overall picks in the last 12 months.
I’m here to talk about the Knicks and honestly I’ve been stalling all day, trying to put this article off because I was still in shock from last night. You know that feeling you get when you watch Game of Thrones and then everyone dies in one episode? Yeah, that’s what I felt like after hearing “With the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select (Adam Silver Pauses for dramatic effect, knowing the words he’s about to utter would start a riot in the stands) Kristaps Porzingis, Cent…” I actually don’t remember anything after that point. I’m 99% sure I blacked out. It was inconceivable to me that Phil Jackson just drafted a 19-year-old, 7’1” Latvian project that won’t contribute next season. I, along with every Knicks fan actually at the Barclays Center, was letting blind rage consume my thoughts. Maybe it was the tease that was Okafor dropping to the Sixers, or that I think Emmanuel Mudiay is going to be the next Russell Westbrook. I just didn’t know. The picture to your left, which is of me, perfectly sums up how I felt immediately after the Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis. Yes, it was that kind of night.

My reaction to Porzingis being drafted by the Knicks

It has been almost 20 hours since the Draft started and I’ve had some time to sleep off the shock and think about the Knicks moves rationally and with a clear conscience. And, being perfectly honest, I actually love what the Knicks did last night. It’s not like me to completely flip my opinion on a class the day after the draft, but just hear me out. (I’m only breaking down the first round picks because who cares about the second round).
Kristaps Porzingis is at least almost a head taller than every other prospect in this draft, which I didn’t realize until I saw this picture:

Porzingis being tall

Porzingis being tall

Like holy fuck. This guy is only 19?? I mean I’ve suffered through 20 years of following four losing teams (Mets, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers, I don’t need your pity either), and I still take shit for going to Penn State (still hearing Sandusky jokes and I wasn’t even at the school when it happened). But if waiting two years for this Latvian gigantor to develop into Dirk 2.0 is what it’s going to take for me to see a team I root for win a title, then show me the dotted line. Porzingis can shoot from anywhere on the floor, is a decent shot blocker, and based off of the comments he’s made since being drafted, he is hungry. That right there is what sold me on this guy. This is an excerpt from Adrian Wojnarowski’s June 16 profile of Porzingis.

“The biggest thing for me – the thing that I think most about – is that you can get into the gym whenever you want here,” Porzingis told Yahoo Sports over dinner recently. “They give you a card, or a key, and in the middle of the night, if you want to work out, you just go to the gym and get your work in – and I think that’s amazing.
“In Europe, you don’t have that option. You can’t get your work in on a Sunday, because nobody is there. I think that’s one of the coolest things. This year, I didn’t have a place to play. I’ve got to talk to the GM, to talk one of the people who work in the arena to open the door for me. People don’t want to do extra work at the arena.”
So Porzingis laid awake in his bedroom in Sevilla, Spain, and thought to himself, “‘when I’m sleeping, someone else is working out.’ I’d think that I better get in my work the next day, because I’m already behind.”

The guy is HUNGRY. As Herb Brooks once said, “The legs feed the wolf, gentlemen.” Yes, historically, European players have not panned out unless your name is Dirk, Pau, or Marc. However if there is going to be a fourth great European player in the history of the NBA, Porzingis certainly has the mindset and drive to get to that point.

The Knicks entered yesterday’s draft with only one pick in total. Many felt that the Knicks needed to trade into the second round to help add depth to the roster, myself included. Well, Phil Jackson decided to one-up us and move into the first round instead. Jackson traded Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Washington Wizards straight up for the 19th pick in the NBA draft. And you thought Phil was delusional (still up in the air). The Knicks went out and drafted Jerian Grant, who in my humble opinion is an absolute beast. I picked his Notre Dame to make the National Championship game and followed the team religiously throughout the tournament and let me tell you, Grant can flat out BALL. What the Knicks got in Grant is a 6’5” point guard that can defend 1-3 and score from anywhere on the court. He’s very athletic and is a highly intelligent basketball player. Being at Notre Dame and staying until he graduated, he is much more mature than most players in this draft (22 years old), having played under Mike Brey for all four years (Side Note: The first four picks are all 19 years old). Grant brings an explosive mindset to the point-guard position in New York, who will create a nice 1-2 punch with last season’s breakout player for the Knicks, Langston Galloway.
I honestly was really upset with how the draft went in the moments following Porzingis’ selection, but I wont let 20 years of negativity and losing bring me down. I’m doing my best to look at the bright side of things and hopefully the rest of you Knick fans can do the same. And in all honesty, we were all mad (or still are) last night because Phil didn’t draft someone who can win now for us. And with reports of Melo being unhappy with how the draft went coming out, I can see how people are livid. However, if Melo really were THAT concerned with winning now, he would have left New York for Chicago or Houston last off-season. Instead he resigned and is holding the Knicks’ salary cap hostage. If he cared about winning he would have taken a discount so the team could sign respectable role players. Carmelo Anthony actually came out today and said he was pissed that Phil Jackson didn’t pick a player that would help the team win now. News flash Carmelo, NO ONE WOULD HELP THIS TEAM WIN NOW. Not one player in this draft would make this team a contender. Jalen Rose’s team needs for the Knicks last night was “Everything”. That, my friends, is when you know your team is shit. Hopefully this draft was the first step in the right direction for the Knicks, as their selections certainly have the potential to live up to their expectations. Then again, who knows? It’s the Knicks, what isn’t going to go wrong?

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Well, after hours upon hours of working to get this website or blog or whatever you wanna call it running, East Coast Egos is finally LIVE. Yeah that’s right you heard me boys and girls; WE. ARE. LIVE. Now before I say anything else, let me explain to you why you should even bother even reading this blog. Our contributors are college students from all over the country, however all of us have one thing in common: we all grew up somewhere on the East coast (hence the name if you haven’t been following along). Being college twenty somethings and avid sports fans, the majority of our time is spent watching sports and arguing to no end about the hot topic of the day. We all have been apart of one of those arguments before. Would you rather have LeBron or MJ? Is Odell Beckham Jr. already the best WR in the NFL? Should Pete Rose be allowed in the MLB Hall of Fame? You get the idea. With all of us growing up all over the East coast, we all bring our own unique voice to ECE. This gives us the ability to look at different stories from many different perspectives thus diversifying our content. Not all of our content is region specific however, as we give ourselves the freedom to tackle whatever topic we please.  If I want to debate hockey one day, I’m not confined to just talking about the NHL and can write about whatever I please the next day.  Our goal is to give our readers the diverse content that they desire.  We’ll argue to no end for our opinions and if you don’t like what we have to say then the door is down the hall to the left. And that’s what were all about here at East Coast Egos: we do the arguing so you don’t have to.

Jets tweak Marshall’s contract, raising more questions about Wilkerson’s future

Yes I know its pretty damn late, but this topic has been nagging at me for weeks now and I gotta say something about it. The New York Jets continued their offseason-spending spree this in early June, reworking the contract of star wide receiver Brandon Marshall. The team, according to ESPN.com, had promised Marshall after he was traded that they would retool his contract, giving him a chance to make $2.7 million extra over the next two seasons. The deal is full of performance incentives that can make Mr. Marshall a very rich man over the next three years and its all unicorns and butterflies over in Brandon’s World for now.

With the restructuring of Marshall’s contract, the Jets have topped off one of the busiest off-seasons in recent memory, with the team handing out new contracts to everyone and anyone not named Muhammad Wilkerson. That fact right there has a lot of fans very worried.

Now before everyone goes crazy, remember this: the Jets have Wilkerson under contract this season at a price of $7 million. That’s a very reasonable price to be paying for most quality players in the NFL, but Wilkerson isn’t just another quality player. Since joining the Jets in 2011, the player Jets teammates refer to as “Mo” has dominated his position. Since 2012 he has been elected to 3 straight All-Pro teams, and many consider him one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in the league (obviously behind J.J. Watt).

So what do we know? We know how good Wilkerson is and being only 25 years old (26 in October) he will only get better. We know that the Jets have him under contract for this season at a bargain price of $7 million – which is way under his market value. We also know that the Jets are absolutely stacked across the defensive line. However, what we don’t know is Mo’s future with your beloved New York Jets. There are many possible scenarios that could play out over the next year or so, but only two seem to make sense; 1) a franchise tag leading to a contract extension or 2) the team will cut ties with Mo and let him test free agency. I break them down below.

Scenario #1: Franchise Tag and/or Contract extension

After this season the New York Jets have options when it comes to Muhammad Wilkerson and his contract. The first option and most likely route the Jets will take would be to apply the franchise tag on him. By doing so, the Jets would be paying Wilkerson around $15 million in salary. What makes this contract situation so different then when the Jets were negotiating with Darrelle Revis in 2010 is that Wilkerson doesn’t have a clause in his contract that prevents franchise tags like Revis did. With the franchise tag applied, the Jets would be able to take their time with Wilkerson’s contract extension as the team currently has all of the leverage in these negotiations (Drafting Leonard Williams has a lot to do with this. More on this below).

 

Scenario #2: Cut ties

 

The Jets currently have all of the leverage in Wilkerson’s contract negotiations. After Leonard Williams fell to the Jets with the 6 pick, general manager Mike Maccagnan decided to pick the guy who many people believed was the best player in the draft shattering any leverage that Wilkerson had at the negotiating table. In getting Williams, who plays the same position as Wilkerson, the Jets now have options. If the Jets play this year out without giving Wilkerson a contract extension, they can cut ties with him after the season.

By allowing Wilkerson to hit free agency, the Jets would be left with Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison and Leonard Williams as their defensive line, and one cannot complain about a unit of that caliber. This is all under the assumption that Williams pans out and becomes the player that many believe he will be. However, if Williams has an average to below average season, it would give the Jets more incentive to apply the franchise tag or resign Wilkerson rather than let him walk in free agency.

There are many different ways this can go in the next year or so with Muhammad Wilkerson. Only time will tell on whether or not the Jets will give their stud defensive end the elusive contract extension that he so rightfully deserves. As of right now they have shelves the talks as Mo has established himself as the bigger man and decided to not only show up to the Jets’ mandatory mini camp but he will supposedly be attending training camp later this summer as well. One thing is for certain though—Big Mo Wilkerson is going to get paid handsomely by some team over the next two years.