In this day and age, the NFL is regarded as the most popular sports league in America as 35 percent of sports fans call the NFL their favorite sport, followed by Major League Baseball (14 percent) and college football (11 percent).
Most fans consider Pete Rozelle, the late former commissioner, to be responsible for the NFL’s immense popularity; however, over the last decade, the NFL’s success can be attributed to elite quarterback play.
When mentioning the NFL’s elite quarterbacks Denver Bronco’s Peyton Manning (age 38), Green Bay Packer’s Aaron Rodgers (age 30), New England’s Tom Brady (age 37), New Orleans’ Drew Brees (age 35), and Pittsburgh Steeler’s Ben Roethlisberger (age 32) are always at the top of every NFL analyst’s list.
Their résumés are impressive and illustrate why they are considered elite and so entertaining to watch.
Collectively, these five quarterbacks have eight Super Bowl victories, 13 Super Bowl appearances and 32 division title in the past twelve years. There have only been two years since 2002 when none of these quarterbacks were playing in the Super Bowl (Super Bowls XXXVII and XLVII). Not to mention, all five quarterbacks this season are in the top ten for most passing yards and touchdowns.
So what will happen to the NFL when they all retire?
Football fans everywhere should feel blessed to have had the privilege to watch these great quarterbacks in action on Sundays over the past decade. When they retire, the league will not be the same. Their successors have shown potential but they aren’t as consistent as the current elite quarterbacks.
Most NFL analysts believe that the quarterback position will continue to evolve from a pocket passer style of play to a dual threat style of play, meaning a quarterback who is a threat to throw the ball downfield and rush for big plays.
This dual threat style of quarterback play has been problematic for many defenses around the league as quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, and Robert Griffin III have all thrived in this new era of NFL football.
However, the NFL is a league of adjustments. As defenses have been able to figure out how to contain these dual threat quarterbacks, their style of play has been less impactful. This season, these dual threat quarterbacks are a combined 20-23-1 and none of their respective teams are a lock to make the playoffs, as all of the quarterbacks have struggled.
Of all the younger quarterbacks in the NFL, Indianapolis Colt’s quarterback Andrew Luck has shown the most potential in becoming one of the elite as he currently leads the league in passing yards and is second in touchdown passes. However, Luck is considered to be more of a pocket passer than a dual threat quarterback.
This dual threat style of play at first seemed like the future of the NFL but has proven to be less effective and not as enjoyable to watch for NFL plans.
The NFL will most likely still be the most popular sport in America but the switch from pocket passing quarterbacks to dual threat quarterbacks will diminish its overall popularity.
The city council meets to discuss the possibility of bringing a Major League Soccer team to Austin.
Austin may get its first professional sports team by 2020, as the City Council began discussing a possible Major League Soccer team Thursday.
Mayor pro tem Sheryl Cole sponsored a resolution, which passed 6-0, that states the city will work with the University, the Austin Aztex — the city’s United Soccer Leagues (USL) semi-professional team — and other stakeholders to determine whether an MLS team is possible. By 2020, MLS plans to expand from 20 to 24 operating teams, two of which have not yet been determined. Austin and San Antonio are two major contenders for a professional team in Texas, MLS commissioner Don Garber said.
“Expanding — that’s likely going to happen,” Garber said in a press conference. “Where that happens, when that happens, is something that remains to be seen.”
According to Garber, the league will conduct research to evaluate whether Austin has the fan demographics, soccer interests, potential ownership groups and stadium plan to successfully support an MLS team. Garber said ideally, a stadium should be located within the urban core of the city.
Aztex marketing director Jeffrey Burns said Austin’s high urban density makes the city a favorable candidate.
“We know that the MLS, and basically all soccer leagues, feel that having a stadium tied to an urban core is a very important part,” Burns said. “We know that basically you can get to any part of the city [in] 10, 15 miles. For a city of that size, that’s very reasonable, especially as road improvement projects and light rail improvement projects increase.”
James Morgan, a UT alumnus who spoke at the council meeting, said San Antonio may not be the best market for an MLS team because the location of its soccer stadium may not attract enough fans.
“The issue with San Antonio is that their stadium is an hour north of San Antonio,” Morgan said. “[Garber] has stated initially that he wants stadiums centrally located in the city. He’s found that there has been significantly higher success with teams.”
Morgan said Austin’s fan base is concerned with the city’s available facilities.
“[House Park, where Aztex plays,] is a multi-sport complex, and fans really like to be close to the action,” Morgan said. “They will gladly use the stadium that’s available, but I don’t know that’s necessarily what they want long-term.”
Burns said although Aztex will support the creation of a professional team in any capacity, he’s confident the team’s strong fan base and player competitiveness would make it a good MLS team. According to Burns, Aztex sent eight players to the MLS and was in the top-5 list of USL teams with highest game attendance in the team’s first two years.
“The fans are already here,” Burns said. “We’re just working with the tier and the stadiums that we have, and we’re doing a really good job with that.”
Burns said it’s too early to tell if a new soccer stadium should be built and where it should go. He also said the team has not yet begun conversations with the University.
“We know that the city of Austin has named [the University] as a stakeholder, and we look forward to talking to all parties that share a similar mission and vision,” Burns said.
Major League Baseball’s GM meetings take place next week in Orlando, Florida. On Dec. 9, the annual Winter Meetings will kick off in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. These next few weeks are some of the craziest in the baseball year. There is expected to be a flurry of free agent signings almost immediately. The landscape of the league figures to look quite different by Opening Day 2014. Here are three former Texas Longhorn players who are currently free agents.
JP Howell—Relief Pitcher
2013 team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Previous contract: One year $2.85 million guaranteed, with $1.75 million in potential incentives
Howell is coming off an excellent 2013 season in Los Angeles. The 30-year-old southpaw posted a 2.03 earned run average in 62 innings. In those innings, he surrendered just 42 hits and featured a solid 2.35 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s a lefty specialist, and there isn’t a team in the majors that couldn’t use one. He doesn’t have plus velocity—he generally hits about 87 to 90 mph on his fastball—but this can really sneak up on hitters because he does have a dazzling off-speed repertoire. He is looking for a multi-year deal, and I think he gets it for around 4 to 6 million dollars per year. It’s likely the Dodgers, with their limitless cash, will re-sign Howell.
2013 team: Cleveland Indians
Previous contract: One year $2.825 million, with $50,000 in potential incentives
Stubbs can be a decent asset to a contending team off the bench, but he won’t get paid much this offseason. In 2013, he hit .233 with 10 home runs and 45 runs batted in. So he’s got some pop and also has an ability to spray the ball to all fields to drive in runs. The glaring problem is his atrocious strikeout rate. In 430 at bats, he fanned 141 times—that’s a whopping 32.7 percent. He does take walks at a respectable rate of 10.2 percent.
If he wants a chance to start in center field, Cleveland is about as good a team as he can be on. Otherwise, he’ll be in the dugout most of the time. His career .310 on base percentage is just far too low to merit consistent time with any contender.
Brandon Belt—First Baseman
2013 team: San Francisco Giants
Previous contract: One year, $531,500
Belt is far and away the best former Longhorn player in the majors right now. For just over $500,000, the Giants got a tremendous bargain for Belt’s production last season. Last season, he finished with a .289 batting average in 509 at bats. He hit 17 home runs and drove in 67 RBI. His OBP was a solid .360, so he takes his fair share of walks as well. He was also effective defensively at first base.
He is a left-handed power bat, and many teams envy a hitter who brings that to the table. Now, if the Giants want him to stick around, it’s time for them to pay up—Belt more than deserves it. But he’s been given one-year deals for the last three seasons and may want to get out of San Francisco for a bit to test his interest on the market. With his 2013 numbers, he’s earned a more secure and lucrative contract, maybe in the neighborhood of two to three years, 5 to 7 million dollars per year. The Giants likely have the room to re-sign him if they choose to.
Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. His career numbers and impact on the game earned him an induction into Cooperstown the first time he was on the ballot. In 1997, 50 years after Robinson changed baseball forever, Major League Baseball retired his number 42 throughout the entire league.
There were 14 players currently wearing 42 when MLB decided to honor Robinson by retiring his number, allowing them to wear it through the end of their career.
In 2013, only one of those 14 are still wearing number 42 on the baseball diamond, Mariano Rivera.
Rivera was signed out of Panama City, Panama by the New York Yankees on February 17,1990 for $3,000. When the Yankees flew him to the states to get started on his professional career, Rivera had never been on an airplane, spoke no English, and by his own account, wasn’t even a pitcher.
He made his major league debut in a start against the Angels on May 23, 1995, giving up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings in a 10-0 Yankees loss. A few weeks later, he was sent right back tot he minors.
Rivera was recalled by the Yankees later that June and would go on to make six more starts that year. His first relief appearance came on August 1, 1995, and no one could have foreseen the greatness that was about to proceed for the next 19 years.
Led by his infamous cutter, Mariano Rivera would start his ascent in the Yankee bullpen, garnering Cy Young votes as the Yankee set-up man in 1996 and finally claiming the closer job in 1997. As the saying goes, the rest was history.
With a week left to go in his career, Rivera is the most dominate reliever in a century of baseball. His 652 saves are better than future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman’s by 51. Rollie Fingers had 341 in his 17 years, Dennis Eckersley had 390 in his 24-year career, and Goose Gossage had 310 career saves, and each of those greats are already in Cooperstown.
Known as the “Sandman” for his entrance song “Enter Sandman” by Metallica that plays through Yankee Stadium when he comes jogging in from the Yankees bullpen to get the final three outs, Rivera has been a transcendent athlete during his time in the Pinstripes.
He is the only player in Major League Baseball to record the final out in four World Series, doing it in 1998, 1999, 2000, and the 2009. Rivera closed out 16 postseason series, and is the only player to be named Most Valuable Player in a World Series (1999), League Championship Series (2003), and All Star game (2013). Rivera set the standard for closer efficiency in his role at the back of the Yankees bullpen, essentially doing it all with one devastating pitch.
The Yankees are arguably the most polarizing franchise in American sports, but one thing nearly everyone can agree on is a mutual infatuation with Rivera, who did it with class and a smile the entire time.
If Robinson hadn’t done what he did way back in 1947, there is a chance that the greatness of Rivera wouldn’t be a tale that we tell our children for decades to come. Rivera will be the last player to ever wear number 42 for a Major League Baseball team, and I’m sure Robinson couldn’t be more proud, smiling down on his number for the last time in this closing week of 2013.
Rivera may not have impacted the game in the same fashion as Robinson, but his presence will surely never be forgotten, and baseball will miss him. There isn’t a better player, or man, to close the book on number 42 for the last time.
Junior Corey Knebel was selected in the Competitive Balance Round A by the Detroit Tigers, 39th overall of the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft.
The junior from Georgetown closed for the Longhorns this season and led the team with nine saves and is second all-time in Texas history with 37 career saves. Knebel compiled a 3-4 record with a 3.38 ERA. Opposing batters hit just .179 against Knebel in 2013 and .175 against him over his entire career. While at Texas, Knebel compiled a 10-11 record over three years with a 2.07 ERA.
Incoming freshman Trey Ball was the only incoming freshman selected in the first two rounds of Thursday's draft. Ball, a pitcher from New Castle, Ind., was selected seventh overall by the Boston Red Sox.
After Buster Posey broke his fibula and tore three ligaments in his ankle in 2011, I expected Major League Baseball to take measures toward protecting their players and prevent what happened to Posey from happening to anyone else. However, as seen with the recurring bone-crushing collisions at home plate every year, the MLB has not acted.
This controversial topic gained steam this week after two current MLB managers and former catchers, Mike Matheny and Bruce Bochy, both stated their beliefs that MLB should ban the baserunner’s option to slam into the catcher at full speed when attempting to score a run. According to Matheny, Bochy and ESPN senior baseball writer Buster Olney, change to the rule is “not a matter of if, but when.”
Last year during Posey’s NL MVP campaign, Bochy told him to avoid blocking the plate at all costs because the Giants could not afford to lose the best hitter in their lineup. Posey got extremely lucky that his collision with Scott Cousins in 2011 did not have a more severe impact on his career. The Mets handled the situation similarly with their promising catcher, Travis d’Arnaud. Coaches decided to forbid him from standing his ground at home plate. He has already injured his knee once, and as a catcher, another injury would not bode well for the longevity of his career.
Player safety should take precedence over everything when it comes to the sports and entertainment business. Some might argue that collisions add to the excitement of the game and is a financial incentive because it attracts more fans, but I don’t buy that argument for a second. Catchers who support the proposition to ban collisions at home might ask their opponents, “Have you ever been blind-sided by a 220-pound athlete running at full speed?” Most football players sure have, and these collisions at home plate are horrifically similar to the jarring hits banned in football. I believe baseball should and will follow the NFL’s example but the time table of implementation is anyone’s guess.
I can’t help but wonder if Posey had not returned from his injury by winning the NL MVP or had he not returned to baseball at all, whether or not the MLB would have chosen to take action at that point. Perhaps in this case, the phrase, “...until someone gets hurt” could be translated to “…until someone’s career ends.”
Yesterday, Olney tweeted a very interesting side of the argument. The tweet read, “An evaluator I talked to loosely pegged the dollar value of one attempt at blocking home at $125,000, vs. '12 value of Posey to SFG -- $36m.” (via @Buster_ESPN)
Drew Bishop, manager of baseball operations and a former Longhorns pitcher, filed a memorandum Feb. 6 alerting Texas head coach Augie Garrido that he was dating a student employee in Intercollegiate Athletics.
"I do not have evaluative or supervisory oversight of her," Bishop, a 2008 graduate of UT, wrote to Garrido in a document obtained by The Daily Texan.
Bishop told Garrido he had reviewed the situation with Rich Burns, Athletics' assistant director for human resources, and it was determined there was no conflict of interest or any "other areas of concern under HOP 3-3050, Consensual Relationships."
Bishop's letter to Garrido came six days after The Daily Texan obtained correspondence between athletics director DeLoss Dodds and assistant football coach Major Applewhite regarding "inappropriate, consensual" relations with a student trainer during the week of the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.
Also, three days prior to Bishop's letter, the UT System Board of Regents announced a task force to review policies regarding student-employee relationships.
In October, women's track and field coach Bev Kearney admitted to an "intimate consensual relationship" with a student-athlete that occurred 10 years ago. Kearney resigned in January after learning the University was ready to begin the termination process.
According to a policy in the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures, instituted by UT in 2001, all relationships must be disclosed to appropriate members of the University.
“The University strongly discourages consensual relationships between supervisors and subordinates, teachers and students and advisers and students,” the policy states. A failure to report the relationship will result in “disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”
Recently promoted co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite and men’s athletics director DeLoss Dodds both released statements last Friday regarding “inappropriate, consensual” behavior with a student during the days leading up to the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. (Daily Texan file photo)
Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite engaged in “inappropriate, consensual behavior with an adult student” in 2009, according to a statement released by UT men’s head athletics director DeLoss Dodds on Friday night.
The incident took place during the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, when Applewhite served as running backs coach. The identity of the student was not revealed.
“Several years ago, I made a regretful decision resulting in behavior that was totally inappropriate,” Applewhite said in a separate statement also released Friday night. “It was a one-time occurrence and was a personal matter. Shortly after it occurred, I discussed the situation with DeLoss Dodds. I was upfront and took full responsibility for my actions. This is and was resolved four years ago with the University.”
According to a letter obtained by The Daily Texan through the Texas Public Information Act from Dodds to Applewhite dated Feb. 5, 2009, the department froze Applewhite’s salary for the rest of the year and required him to schedule an initial session with a licensed professional counselor.
“As we discussed, some of your conduct in Arizona during the Fiesta Bowl week was inappropriate and falls below the standards we expect of our coaches and staff,” Dodds said in the letter.
Applewhite’s admission comes on the heels of the resignation of Beverly Kearney, former women’s track and field head coach. Kearney admitted in October to an “intimate consensual relationship” in 2002 with an adult student-athlete in the track and field progra. The University placed her on administrative leave before notifying her in January that it was prepared to begin the termination process, at which point she resigned.
Dodds said in his statement released Friday that he believes the appropriate discipline was taken in regard to Applewhite.
“In determining appropriate discipline, we analyze the facts and circumstances surrounding the behavior and its relation to job responsibilities,” Dodds said. “Major fully accepted his discipline, including counseling. We have high standards for behavior and expect our staff and coaches to adhere to them in all aspects of their lives.”
Applewhite, a former Longhorn quarterback, joined the coaching staff in 2008 as an assistant head coach before being promoted to co-offensive coordinator in January 2011. He became the sole offensive coordinator after Bryan Harsin accepted the head coaching job at Arkansas State in December.
Applewhite said he and his wife, Julie, worked to put the incident behind them through counseling.
“I am regretful for my mistake and humbled by this experience,” he said. “I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment it has caused my friends, family and the University. I appreciate all of them. I’ve learned and grown from this and look forward to my work at Texas.”
Published on February 4, 2013 as "Coach pardoned".