Football's not for the weak


Football's not for the weak

I've been spending the last couple of weeks listening to the comments being made surrounding the New Orleans Saints and their bounty program.

First, let me say that to intentionally try to hurt someone isn't what the sport is about. However, every time a player steps onto the field, he expects to hit, as well as get hit, as hard as humanly possible.

I played football from the time I was 10 to 26 years old. I can't count the times a coach said things along the lines of, "take his head off", "punish him", "let him know he is going to get hit", "make him afraid to come across the middle", or simply, "knock the living s out of him". That wasn't only told to me when I got older, it was from the beginning until the end.

I'm not sure people understand the mentality of the game and the people that play it and coach it. Football, in many ways, is surrounded by a barbaric attitude and atmosphere. It's about ego, manhood, and machismo to the one hundredth degree.

My biggest change in the game came in college. I played wide receiver at the University of Arizona (was cut by 2 NFL teams, played in the old World League and part of a season in the CFL). Every freshmen that arrived on campus was a star in high school, but from the minute you arrive to the program it's made clear you are nothing until you prove yourself.

It might begin with making you sing at lunch or dinner in front of everyone, or making you pick up an upperclassman's dinner tray or carrying pads after practice. It's a right of passage to see how you handle being subjected to various degrees of humiliation. I've seen this lead to fights, or for those who refuse to follow the "tradition", be outcasted. They may call you names or give you an unflattering nickname. Yes, it's childish, but it's the nature of the game.

The atmosphere is like a constant mental and physical warfare. Players will tell you they are faster, stronger, and flat out better than you. Everybody is fighting for a starting spot and the jealousy and fear of not being "the guy" is a part of it all. Some guys try to crush your spirit, or as we would say, " take your heart" with words and play on the field.

It is not a sport for those weak in the mind. I've seen locker room fights--coaches go after coaches and coaches go after players--that's just the way it is. However, it's our family and we all end up as brothers in time. When I think about it, the whole thing is a bit psychotic.

My sophomore year, I ran a route over the middle during 7 on 7. The ball was overthrown but the safety came up and knocked the hell out of me during a non-contact period. I received a nice cut under my chin.

During the next play, I went in for payback. I ignored the play and went straight for the safety and laid his a out. He never saw me coming. Just to strengthen my point, I did it the next play and the coaches didn't say anything. They knew what it was all about. He and I are friends to this day, further proving my point is that things get handled differently in football than in the typical work world.

If you don't play the game as hard as possible, you will get hurt. Every time I caught a pass or ran the ball I felt like guys were trying to kill me. I expected nothing less.

The words of a coach never made me play harder or differently. When a coach said go kill the son of a b, nobody ever thought he meant it literally. It's football talk. Anybody who has played at a major college or in the NFL has heard it. If they say they haven't, they are flat out telling a lie.

Football is the all about proving yourself. Nobody is given anything and that's what makes the sport great. You earn your teammates' and coaches' respect by what you do on the field. I think most people would be appalled by what a lot of coaches and players say on a field or in a meeting, but it's just the atmosphere and it will never change.

NFC North: What Bears fans should be watching in Week 3

NFC North: What Bears fans should be watching in Week 3

Chicago Bears fans will get to enjoy a stress-free Sunday in Week 3 with the Bears playing Monday night against the Redskins. They'll have an opportunity to do a little advanced scouting of the NFC North, too, with all three division rivals in action Sunday afternoon in games that, unfortunately, may not present the biggest challenge.

The Packers (2-0) face an opponent familiar to the Bears when they welcome the Broncos to Lambeau Field. Green Bay is a heavy favorite (7.5 points) and based on what Denver revealed in Week 2, Aaron Rodgers should be more than capable of scoring enough points to give the Packers' top-tier defense enough of a cushion to beat up on Joe Flacco and the very average Broncos offense. 

The Vikings (1-1) have arguably the easiest game in Week 3 against the Raiders (1-1) at home. Oakland was one of Week 1's surprise winners over the Broncos, but they came back to earth a bit in Week 2's loss to the Chiefs. Expect a rebound performance from Kirk Cousins and the rest of Minnesota's offense. The Vikings are the biggest NFC North favorites of the week; they're projected to win by nine points or more.

The Lions (1-0-1) have the most challenging game of the three as they'll travel to Philadelphia to face the 1-1 Eagles. Detroit was an upset-winner over the Chargers in Week 2 and very easily could be 2-0 had they held onto their lead in Week 1 against the Cardinals, but they simply aren't talented enough to expect much of a fight against Philadelphia, one of the NFC's Super Bowl favorites. The line is pretty close, however. The Eagles are only favored by 4.5 (at home). 

How many yards will Mitch Trubisky throw for vs. Washington?

How many yards will Mitch Trubisky throw for vs. Washington?

The 2019 NFL season is still very young with only two weeks in its rear-view mirror, but the talking points surrounding Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky are starting to get really old. He's been the subject of relentless criticism because of the offense's slow start and while some concerns regarding his development have merit, most of them are the product of impatience.

For example, the lazy suggestion that Trubisky is a bust because his 2017 NFL draft classmates Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson, both of whom he was drafted ahead of, are already league superstars is just wrong. Players evolve and develop at different speeds. Trubisky is the only one of the three on his second head coach and is only just now beginning to develop timing with his receivers, all of whom were added to the team via free agency or the draft last season. Neither Watson nor Mahomes have had nearly as much turbulence and turnover as Trubisky through three seasons. And that matters.

It also matters who a quarterback faces from week to week. Trubisky's 2019 season started against two of the NFL's better defenses in Green Bay and Denver, so his poor stat line is a combination of his below-average play meeting above-average defenses. It's tough for a young quarterback to get out of a slump when he's battling top-tier pass rushers and quality secondaries along the way.

Fortunately, he'll get his first big opportunity to put up quality stats against the Redskins Monday night; Washington is one of the NFL's worst defenses right now, including against the pass.

But Bears fans are still somewhat skeptical about Trubisky's ceiling in Week 3. A matchup like this should make a 300-yard game within his reach. Maybe even a couple of touchdowns. But according to a recent poll I ran on Twitter, Bears fans don't see it coming out that way.

The majority of fans (36%) think Trubisky will end the game with somewhere between 200-249 yards, which by today's NFL standards is very (very!) average. If you factor the 29% who think he won't even reach 200 yards, you end up with 65% of Bears fans thinking Trubisky won't reach 250 yards and, in theory, could struggle to even hit the 200-yard mark.

That's pretty surprising, considering the numbers the Redskins have given up in Weeks 1 and 2. Carson Wentz threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 against and Dak Prescott sliced them up for 269 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. There's no reason to think Trubisky can't have a game similar to Prescott's, assuming Matt Nagy dials up the right plays to put him in position to succeed.