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Did you blink? Well, you shouldn’t have…the NFL regular season is over and we’re already a few games into sports’ best post-season tourney, the NFL Playoffs. There were some incredible highs and lows. This season is chock-full of both.
Like any year, the NFL lost some of it’s finest gridiron warriors. Unlike any year, the NFL lost some of it’s finest gridiron warriors to horrific tragedies. Junior Seau, the All-Pro linebacker for the Chargers, Dolphins & Patriots committed suicide on May 2nd, with a gunshot to the chest. This sparked a greater discussion about how concussions are affecting players, especially after their gridiron days are over.
In one of the most horrifying events to play out in NFL history, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, Javon Belcher, murdered his girlfriend and committed suicide on December 1st, at the Chiefs practice facility. His suicide occurred in front of then-head coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli.
And finally, Dallas Cowboys nose tackle, Josh Brent, killed his best friend and Cowboys teammate, Jerry Brown in a drunk driving incident just a week after the Javon Belcher murder/suicide. Brent has since been indicted and faces 2 to 20 years in prison if he’s convicted of intoxication manslaughter.
The pre-season story of the year was dominated by the New Orleans Saints, dubbed “bouty-gate.” Allegedly, coaches and players of the Saints paid players for taking out key opponents during the game. The coach was suspended for a year, the defensive coordinator was suspended indefinitely and 4 defensive players received multi-game suspensions. But in a strange twist of fate, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hired his predecessor, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, to oversee the player penalties. In an unprecedented move, Tagliabue reversed the player suspensions! Here’s the final word on Bounty-Gate…
Another preseason mess was a labor dispute between the league and the NFL refs. The league thought they could get by with high school-level refs (college-level refs were already reffing the college football games)…boy, were they wrong! If you can’t even get the call right during instant replay then there really is no hope. Needless to say, the pro refs were immediately signed into their labor deal after this fiasco…
Despite tragedy, scandal, and incompetence there was still some incredible stories. The biggest story of the year were rookie QBs. Normally, rookie QBs sit out the first year and learn the game’s mechanics from the sideline…but not this year.
#1 pick Andrew Luck performed beyond expectations and earned a playoff spot after a 2-14 season the year before. #2 pick Robert Griffin III mesmerized fans (and defensive players) with his double-threat skills at making plays with his feet as well as poised pocket passing. RG3’s explosive play earned the Redskins their 1st playoff spot in 5 seasons. Seahawks 3rd round rookie QB, Russell Wilson, might’ve had the biggest hill to climb out of the stellar rookie class as he had to beat out a just-signed ($19.5 million, $10 million guaranteed) Matt Flynn. Like Luck & RG3, he carried the Seahawks into a playoff birth and has truly embraced his leadership role. Unlike Luck and RG3, Wilson moved on to the next round of Playoffs after beating an ailing RG3 last Sunday. Here’s a good rookie QB breakdown from the guys at NFL Live…
Remember the 2011 Colts? There’s a reason Andrew Luck is on the 2012 Colts…it’s because Peyton Manning didn’t play and the Colts were the worst team in football! A year later, Peyton dons the Broncos jersey and shows Denver fans there’s a new
Tebow Elway in town! 1 year removed and he’s the top of MVP considerations. Speaking of MVP considerations, Minnesota Vikings running back, Adrian Peterson became the 6th player ever to rush for 2000+ yards in a season and was just 9 yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson’s record of 2105 yards. So it’s a toss-up, do you choose the left-for-dead aging QB that won 11 straight games in a weak division or the punishing running back that nearly broke one of the NFL’s most prestigious records after a season ending ACL & MCL injury?
Detroit Lions Wide Receiver, Calvin Johnson, also broke Jerry Rice’s single season receiving yards record with a whopping 1964 yards! Those yards came courtesy of Lions QB, Matthew Stafford’s, record breaking 727 passing attempts!
And finally, we’d be remiss not to say our goodbyes to a NFL legend, Ray Lewis. He plans to retire after the playoffs this season. Here are some thoughts on his career, his life, and what kind of mark he left on the game…
Feel free to check out our NFL Collections of the best and worst of the 2012 NFL regular season! Also, please