DeAndre Hopkins’ Instagram story fuels rumors of where he’ll sign

Where will DeAndre Hopkins end up?

After a few months of speculation and trade rumors, the Arizona Cardinals decided to cut WR DeAndre Hopkins. According to Sports Illustrated, only the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs engaged in “substantive” trade talks with the Cards. The reason a trade didn’t go through, per Albert Breer, was Hopkins’ contract.

Technically, Hopkins hasn’t been released yet, according to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio — with no transactions listed Friday due to the holiday weekend — but it is expected to become official on Tuesday afternoon.

Hopkins will be a free agent, ready to pursue his next move. He’s too talented to be stuck on a roster that should be among the worst in the league in 2023. There’ll undoubtedly be suitors, Hopkins is one of the best wide receivers of his generation and still has much to offer to any team. He’s a contested catch monster, a red zone target, and an all-around star.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see 31 teams lining up to secure his services, but Hopkins will likely take time to know where the right fit is. He’ll turn 31 years old in a matter of days, so one has to imagine that a contending team will be high on his list of demands. He’ll have an idea of where he wants to go, but what do we think the best landing spots for him are?

Patrick Mahomes passes to Travis Kelce

Looking at this financially, at least at face value, you’d think this doesn’t make sense. The Chiefs have just under $1 million in available cap space and, well, Hopkins is going to command much more money than that. But the Chiefs have the option of restructuring Patrick Mahomes’ contract — something they were already considering doing — and that could create a little more cap to make it work.

Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes

Now that the financials are out of the way, let’s talk about the fit on the field. It makes the most sense. The Chiefs showed last season that they don’t need elite wide receivers to have the best offense in the league. Sure, they have Travis Kelce and he’s one of the all-time greats, but Mahomes’ wideout options last season were JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. If there’s room to upgrade and it makes sense, you can imagine Brett Veach and the Chiefs will be making calls.

It makes sense for Hopkins too. Mahomes would clearly be the best quarterback Hopkins has ever played with and he’d be joining the Super Bowl champions in the hunt to win back-to-back titles. Everyone wins. Except for the rest of the league.

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Another obvious pick here. The Bills’ offense stalled out a bit at times in the regular season and in their playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The blame showed be shared among all parties, but it’s clear that the Bills just didn’t have enough talent on offense to compete. The offensive line struggled and, as much as he would like to, Josh Allen can’t target Stefon Diggs on every play. Gabe Davis is a solid receiver, but he was banged up for most of the year and didn’t take the jump that many wanted.

The Bills were able to add Dalton Kincaid with the No. 25 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and seem likely to shift to more 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers) next season. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be targeting another receiver. It should be encouraged. Especially when that receiver is someone as talented as Hopkins.

Stefon Diggs

It diversifies their receiver portfolio too. Diggs is the deft, no-wasted-movement receiver with savvy route-running, Davis is the Z with over-the-top speed, and Hopkins could be their pure X receiver. It also means, that when the Bills have three receivers on the field, they can move them around in so many different ways. Per PFF, Diggs only lined up in the slot for 34.2 percent of his snaps in 2022, and allowing him to line up in the slot and work the space inside, gives the Bills something else to play with. And, of course, it gives Allen another player who can just go up and win contested catches. It’s an obvious pick because it would work so well.

Jameson Williams

Alright, let’s start mixing it up. The Lions have been the off-season darlings of the past two years, even if not everyone was a fan of how their 2023 draft panned out. They narrowly missed out on the playoffs last year and look like they’ve done enough to put themselves in contention for a postseason appearance in 2023. Most of the offense is returning, and the additions of Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta offer fresh blood.

They still do need another outside receiver, though — and not just because of Jameson Williams’ six-game suspension for breaching the NFL’s rules on gambling. Even before that suspension, the Lions needed another body on the outside. Amon-Ra St. Brown is an excellent receiver but most of his production comes as a slot guy. Outside of St. Brown, the Lions will be lining up with Josh Reynolds, Marvin Jones Jr., and Kalif Raymond as players they’ll be relying on for targets.

Detroit Lions HC Dan Campbell

Say no more. The Lions need Hopkins. He’ll give Jared Goff a reliable option to pass to and the mere presence of him lined up outside would open up more space for St. Brown. He has a gravitational pull that most receivers don’t possess. For the ball, and defenders. As an aside, sticking him in an offense designed by Ben Johnson, the Lions’ offensive coordinator, would be so much fun. They could also stand to throw a little more money at him than the Bills or Chiefs could.

Mac Jones (l.) and Bill Belichick

We’re drifting further and further away from guaranteed contenders and shifting towards the realms of teams who probably need Hopkins more than he needs them. It’s not a knock on the Patriots, who still have a sturdy roster capable of competing for a Wildcard spot in 2023, but this isn’t Tom Brady driving the bus anymore. It hasn’t been for almost four years. It’s a new team.

Bill Belichick

Thus, the pull is a little less, even with Bill Belichick at the helm. But a move for Hopkins is still plausible. Belichick is a known fan of Hopkins (who isn’t?) and the Patriots were a team whose name consistently came up when a trade was floated before the draft. And why not? The Patriots starting receiver trio is Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne, and DeVante Parker. Smith-Schuster is a nice fit in the slot, and Bourne can have moments, but adding Hopkins is a clear upgrade. He can do everything that Parker can but does it five times better. And he’s done it with quarterbacks less talented than Mac Jones.

Jones can still be the Patriots quarterback of the future, but if they want him to develop then they need to put him in a better position to succeed. Right now, the offensive line is okay, and the running game is good, but they need some real firepower at wide receiver. Hopkins is that guy. The only drawback, outside of them not being real contenders, is a quick look at who the Patriots’ offensive coordinator is. Go on, have a look. You’ll understand.

Kirk Cousins (l.) and Justin Jefferson

A final shot in the dark here, how about the Minnesota Vikings? They’re obviously still looking to contend in 2023 and it could be Kirk Cousins’ final year with the team, so why not push the chips in just a little further and add Hopkins? It’s unlikely, but it does make sense.

The Vikings have Justin Jefferson, the best receiver in the NFL bar none, and Jordan Addison currently projected to be the No. 1 and 2 receivers on the team, and then they have T.J. Hockenson, who will also command a significant role in the offense, and then K.J. Osborn as the teams third wide receiver. Osborn is a decent No. 3, too. So the Vikings aren’t short on receiving options and do have needs elsewhere.

Justin Jefferson

But the opportunity to pair Jefferson and Hopkins feels like something you can’t turn down. The amount of attention either, or both receivers, would command while on the field at the same time is incredible – and the benefits that would bring to the roster are clear to see. It would also give Addison, the Vikings’ first-round pick in 2023, a veteran mentor at the receiver position, but it would also give him more freedom to play as a slot receiver, using his immense ability to separate inside.

This probably made more sense before the draft, but it’s not something outside the realm of possibility. Offenses win games and championships, and adding Hopkins to an already strong offense would make them one of the best units in the league. Cousins’ play over the last few seasons has been solid enough too, but putting as many weapons around him as possible is the best way to get the best out of him. The Vikings’ offense could terrify opposing defenses.

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It’s the Chiefs.

Epic upsets, stellar QBs, and the most notable sports moments of the first half of 2023

Image for article titled Epic upsets, stellar QBs, and the most notable sports moments of the first half of 2023

Take a deep breath before I reveal a stunning fact, it’s almost June. Some of you were just pulling out the trusty snow blower and now it’s swimsuit season — I hope your diet went better than mine.

With the sports calendar nearly halfway over, there has been a full year’s worth of activity. Take a look back at some of the most notable sports moments from the first half of the year.

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Kirby Smart is sitting on top of the college football mountain in a way that no team has outside of Tuscaloosa. Well, at least since those two years with that team from Los Angeles that the NCAA has declared never happened. The Dawgs won their second-consecutive championship, and did so in dominating fashion.

Georgia lost 15 players to the NFL Draft in April 2022 and did not miss a beat. The Dawgs almost threw up that game in Missouri, but even with that loss, they would have gone to the SEC Championship Game. The rest of the schedule was a wash until New Year’s Eve. Ohio State put on its best performance of the season at Georgia’s second home in Atlanta, but hooked that 50-yard field goal right as the ball dropped in Times Square.

In the National Championship Game Georgia got back to kicking ass with a literal historic 65-7 shellacking of TCU in the title game.

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An MVP candidate during the regular season, but outside of Philadelphia respect was grudgingly granted to him as a star. During the playoffs the Eagles plowed through its opposition using their dominance at the line of scrimmage — and the San Francisco 49ers not having a quarterback physically able to throw a football in the NFC Championship Game.

In the Super Bowl, Hurts went toe-to-toe against arguably the greatest player in the history of the NFL and stuck with him play-for-play. This player — pulled at halftime of a National Championship Game for a true freshman — put the exclamation point on a spectacular season.

Jalen Hurts was one of the two best players in the NFL last season.

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The best player in the NFL. The MVP. While the Kansas City Chiefs were not doubted in the way that Travis Kelce wants the world to believe, there were certainly questions about Patrick Mahomes. Some defensive coordinator really wanted to get something off of his chest when he said that Mahomes played streetball, but also wasn’t chesty enough to put his name on it.

At one time the ABA was considered too playground, but modern NBA players have games much more reminiscent of Julius Erving and George Gervin than John Havlicek and Lou Hudson. The same way that Joe Burrow is far more like Patrick Mahomes than Peyton Manning.

Mahomes took it all last season. The MVP, the championship, and all of the grit points for playing two-and-a-half postseason games with that brutal high-ankle sprain. He is a player of the likes the NFL has never seen and deserves to be respected as such.

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It was a seismic event when 16-seed UMBC defeated 1-seeded Virginia in the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. The moment that sports fans didn’t think would ever happen, but still waited for with bated breath. That loss was so embarrassing that it served as the ultimate redemption narrative for Virginia’s 2019 championship.

The unthinkable happened again when Purdue lost to Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round. With the transient nature of men’s college basketball, we have come to expect upsets, but this is still only the second time that a 16-seed has advanced. Upsets may be common, but not this one.

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College basketball with actual star power. The National Championship Game was not as competitive throughout as the semifinal matchup between LSU and South Carolina. It was still able to give the sports-viewing public what is uncommon in the modern men’s game, true star collegiate basketball personalities in Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark. That is why this matchup was the highest-rated women’s college basketball game of all time.

Both stars fit hand-in-glove with their programs, and it was obvious the moment that the starters for Reese’s Tigers and Clark’s Hawkeyes were introduced. Clark fired away from behind the arc as best as she could to keep them in the game, but LSU was too much.

There was even a national dog whistle conversation about sportsmanship that followed. Reese and Clark brought the culture wars back to college basketball matchups. For those who pine for the 1980s and 1990s version of college basketball, the women have it for you.

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Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak might be the only record left that is considered unbreakable. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played for 20 seasons and scored 38,325 points in his career. Who would even have the longevity to approach that mark?

Enter LeBron James. His constant greatness from Year 1 to Year 20 allowed him to break the NBA record that no one ever expected to fall. There will always be a debate over who is better between Michael Jordan and LeBron. That record won’t bump Lebron to No. 1 in the minds of most Jordan fans, but it is an undeniable win over His Airness.

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From the Western Conference Finals to trading two starters and a first-round pick for Kyrie Irving and getting fined for tanking after missing the postseason entirely.

Watching the Mavericks struggle with last season’s team — sans Jalen Brunson — was one thing. However, a team unable to string together wins with both Irving and Luka Dončić was downright hilarious. Mark Cuban bet the farm on an unpredictable, undersized scoring guard who might not even re-sign with the Mavericks this offseason. Also, with the Mavericks’ depth weakened, their defense was atrocious. They struggled to stay in front of their own reflection.

The Mavericks got lucky last season when the top-seeded Phoenix Suns imploded during their second-round matchup. This season it was the Mavericks who put the spotlight on themselves with the Irving trade and melted.

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The alleged incidents at first were head-scratching — the fight, the mall, the mysterious laser. All curious, but nothing that could fully be substantiated. Then Morant decided to provide evidence beyond reasonable doubt of him being a knucklehead on camera when he flashed a gun not once, but twice on Instagram.

That’s when his safety first started to become a concern, because if anyone is going to suffer the tragic consequences that can come with brandishing a firearm, probability and systemic racism says that it will most likely be a man of Morant’s age and ethnicity.

Now with a wellness check being called for Morant after his cryptic “Bye” social media post, safety is really the only concern for this young man at this point

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In an NBA Playoffs lacking dominant teams, there is one playing 5,280 feet higher than everyone else. That sweep of the Lakers was hard fought, but also a moment when the Nuggets stuck their flag in the ground as the class of the NBA.

When healthy, their starting lineup has been as good as any in the NBA. On a true national stage against the NBA’s most recognizable franchise and face, the Nuggets put on a show. They dominated, they stumbled, they struggled, and through four games forced sports fans all over the world to acknowledge them as a special team.

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That damn hockey. No. 8 seeds advancing is far more common in the NHL than MLB and most certainly the NBA. Still, the Panthers didn’t qualify for the playoffs until the final moments of the regular season.

They then launched the President’s Cup curse at the Boston Bruins like the stinger from Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion. Next up was Canada, and this squad out of South Florida melted the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Back to the states they came to play the Carolina Hurricanes. It took five combined overtimes, for the Panthers to take a 2-0 series. They won again at home 1-0 in Game 3, and the rink in Sunrise, Fla. was rocking on Wednesday night.

The game was another barnburner with the Hurricanes appearing to send the game into overtime by scoring with less than three minutes remaining in regulation. Then came the shot heard ‘round Broward County. The Panthers took the lead on a goal from Matthew Tkachuk with 4.3 seconds remaining in the game.

The 25 best NFL players under 25 years old

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The NFL isn’t always a young man’s game, but there’s a new breed of talent emerging in a way we just haven’t seen before. The amount of players who are still relatively fresh in the NFL, but who are also among the best players in their position is growing, and it’s only fair to take stock of those players by ranking the top 25 players under the age of 25. Only players who are under the age of 25 when Week 1 begins are eligible — so guys like Jalen Hurts miss out by the narrowest of margins.

There are a few notable names who miss out, but that’s just a testament to the talent on show in the NFL right now. So, let’s kick it off with No. 25 and work our way to the top spot.

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Jevon Holland didn’t set the world on fire like he did in 2021, but he’s still the best young safety in the NFL. Holland did everything in Josh Boyer’s defense over the last two seasons. He blitzed the quarterback, notching 25 pressures and 5 sacks in two seasons, per PFF, he was a real player against the run and excellent in coverage as a deep safety, and occasionally in the slot. A switch to Vic Fangio’s defense might have him blitzing less, but his overall versatility makes him the perfect jack-of-all-trades.

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The justification for having Kyle Pitts over some of the names left off of the list is tough based on last season. Pitts played just 10 games before tearing his MCL and struggled even when he was healthy. Through the first 10 weeks of the season, Pitts was 14th among all tight ends in receiving yards, and 20th in catches, per PFF. Despite that, he should still be considered a gem. His physical traits are unmatched and 2021 gave us a glimpse of what he’s capable of. So many of his struggles were related to Marcus Mariota and his issues. Hopefully, we see the real Kyle Pitts in 2023.

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Wilson had an excellent rookie season in 2022 and won Offensive Rookie of the Year. His 83 catches and 1,104 receiving yards led all rookies and Wilson was inevitably the bright spot on a Jets offense that struggled with inept quarterback play. He’s explosive with the ball in his hands, a real elite separator, and one of the best young wide receivers in the game. The sky feels like the limit for Wilson with Aaron Rodgers under center.

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Diggs came under real fire in 2021. His 11 interceptions were the most in a single season since 1981, but he allowed over 1,000 yards in coverage and his swashbuckling, daredevil style of coverage had him caught out too many times. The talent was there, and with a little fine-tuning, Diggs was much better in 2022. He cut down on the penalties, and the yards allowed, while maintaining his physical style of play.

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We should still be talking about Terrell as one of the best corners in the NFL, even if he had something of a down year in 2022. But, for what it’s worth, being in that Falcons’ defense would affect anyone. He’s still a monster in man coverage and has 28 pass breakups through his first three seasons. Cornerback play is inherently volatile, so it will be interesting to see where Terrell lands on the spectrum of play this year.

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Terrell’s teammate, Drake London, cracks the top 20 after a solid rookie campaign. His production was hampered by some dysfunctional play from Marcus Mariota, but London still has all the makings of a receiver who can be one of the best in the league. He’s big, so he’s a natural X, but he can shake, and bake more than the normal 6-foot-5 receiver can, so you can see him like up as a big slot too. His 2022 production won’t wow you, but he’s so much more than that.

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Darrisaw is the first of a litany of offensive tackles to make the list. And the first of three from the 2021 draft class. Life in the NFL got off to a slow start for him, but 2022 provided a real glimpse of what Darrisaw can be. He’s big, athletic, and a real people mover in the run game. His pass protection is solid too, allowing only 20 pressures, per PFF. Paired with Brian O’Neill, he forms one of the better tackle tandems in the NFL.

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This might feel a little too high for some, but Phillips is an absolute dog. He had a breakout season in 2022, finishing with the fourth-highest pass-rush win rate among all edge defenders, per ESPN. His 70 pressures also tied Danielle Hunter for the sixth most in the NFL, per PFF. Phillips wins with an endless motor, a good array of pass-rush moves, and rare athleticism. He’ll be considered one of the top rushers in the league for years to come.

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Much like his Ohio State running mate, Chris Olave hit the ground running in 2022. His production didn’t quite match that of Wilson’s, but Olave also played in two games less. In that time, he still produced 72 catches for 1,044 yards and 4 touchdowns. It’s fair to assume that he would have led all rookies in yards if he played every game. Olave doesn’t win the same way Wilson — he’s far more refined of a route-runner and much more fluid in his movements. Both are stars in the making however you spin it.

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Higgins has been one of the NFL’s most consistent receivers since entering the league in 2020. He’s posted 1,000-yard seasons in back-to-back years and added 13 touchdowns during that time, also proving that he has the chops to be a No. 1 receiver and carry the load without Ja’Marr Chase. He’s a contested catch monster and a strong route runner given his size. And he’d be the best receiver on most other teams in the NFL.

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Spoilers: Jonathan Taylor is the only running back on the list. Taylor, when healthy, is the best running back in the NFL. He showed that throughout 2021, and while 2022 was a down year, he still posted 861 yards, and 4 touchdowns at an above-league-average clip of 4.5 yards per carry. Having a running back who is a home run threat as much as he is a consistent runner is a blessing. The offensive line and offense, overall, held Taylor back last season, but the threat of Anthony Richardson in the backfield could make life a little easier.

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Smith settled in nicely in his second NFL season. A drop-off in production was expected with A.J. Brown in the building, but Smith outperformed expectations by a long shot, posting 95 catches for 1196 yards, and 7 touchdowns, all improvements from his rookie year. His performances, as well as his ability to do just about everything as a receiver, were instrumental as the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl.

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Waddle gets the nod over Smith, but like another set of receivers further up the list, it’s a pick-your-poison scenario. An explosive athlete with some of the best run-after-catch abilities you’ll see. His 6.9 yards after the catch per reception led all wide receivers in the NFL, meaning once he got the ball in his hands, you were in for trouble. Waddle is a house call waiting to happen, but he’s so much more too.

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Sewell was pegged to be the next star tackle in the NFL when he was drafted in 2021. Generally, it’s hard for offensive linemen to hit the ground running, but Sewell has proven to be an exception. He’s been a stalwart at right tackle for the Lions, allowing just one sack in true pass sets — meaning non-play action, and screen passes — in 17 games, per PFF. Sewell is just 22 years old too. He’ll be a cornerstone tackle for the next decade at least and could make the shift over to left tackle soon.

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Slater was an All-Pro candidate in his rookie year with the Chargers in 2021 — if that’s not a testament to his quality then nothing is. Despite his 33-inch arms, Slater is one of the best pass-blockers in the NFL. He’s technically refined, an excellent athlete, and just as good of a run-blocker as he is in pass protection. He only played three games in 2022 due to injury, but he’ll be back to being among the premiere left tackles in no time.

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Lamb is a big-play monster, and despite receiving more attention from defenses in 2022, he had a career year as the Cowboys’ No. 1 receiver. Most of his work comes from the slot, but his shiftiness, and natural ability to separate despite not being the quickest receiver. He can work against man, against zone, and press coverage. Oh, and despite now being in his fourth year, Lamb is only 24.

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A center in the top 10? Sacre bleu! Once you get past the initial shock and start to think about it, it makes a ton of sense. He’s allowed only one sack and 28 pressures in his two NFL seasons, per PFF, and has walked into the best offense in the NFL, and seamlessly slotted in at one of the game’s toughest positions. He’s already the 1A or 1B of centers in the league too. That’s just not something many guys can attest to after just two years. Humphrey is special.

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The shift in Thomas’ performance from his rookie season to the last two years has been unprecedented. Thomas allowed 57 pressures and 10 sacks in his rookie season, and the verdict was in on him pretty quickly. He didn’t look ready to be an NFL tackle. But he’s put the work in and solidified as an elite left tackle — giving up just 39 pressures over the last two seasons.

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Lawrence is the prince who was promised. Big things were expected for the former No. 1 pick and, after a rough rookie season, Lawrence bounced back in a big way in 2022. He’s everything the NFL wanted and more. With a big strong arm, accurate, and incredible pocket feel, Lawrence is fast becoming one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks — and considering the hype, that’s an impressive feat.

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Per Mockdraftable, the best physical comparison for Tristan Wirfs is Trent Williams. Now, their play styles aren’t identical, but their impact over the last few years is. Wirfs has been on the Mount Rushmore of offensive tackles since stepping foot in the NFL and was tasked with the tough task of protecting Tom Brady. In that time, which amounts to three seasons, he’s given up just 41 pressures (including just five last year) and 5 total sacks, per PFF. Holy moly, the kid is good.

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The NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year clocks in at No. 5 on the list after just one season. Gardner was so good in his first year that he even had a case for Defensive Player of the Year. He led the NFL with 14 pass breakups and allowed just 361 yards in coverage despite being targeted 74 times, per PFF. He’s long, athletic, and incredibly battle-tested. Being this good after just one season is unheard of.

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How about being this good after two seasons? Okay, having Surtain over Gardner might rub a few people the wrong way, but cornerback is an incredibly volatile position. The fact that Surtain only got better after his rookie season — and became an All-Pro cornerback in the process is seriously impressive. He ticks every single box when it comes to what you want from a cornerback.

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Chase is another superstar who had a tremendous amount of hype around him coming into the NFL. So far, he’s cleared every hurdle and elevated himself to the status of league elite. In two seasons, he’s racked up over 2500 yards and 22 touchdowns in just 29 regular season games. He’s a big play threat, a dynamo with the ball in his hands, and an explosive yet refined route runner. There might only be one receiver better than him in the NFL.

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And it’s this guy. Chase versus Jefferson is essentially another “pick-your-poison” battle. Chase is the more explosive and dynamic receiver, while Jefferson is more nuanced, winning with shiftiness, crisp route-running, and deception. Through three seasons in the NFL, he’s totaled 4825 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns. Justin Jefferson catching the ball is as inevitable as death or taxes.

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Micah Parsons is a phenom of a player. Originally drafted as an off-ball linebacker/hybrid edge rusher, Parsons’ workload as a pass rusher heavily increased from 307 snaps in 2021 to 488 snaps in 2022 and, as a result, his impact was even greater. He led the league in pressures, per PFF, and his pass-rush win rate was the highest among all edge defenders. Parsons did it all while still occasionally dropping back into coverage. He’s an incredibly disruptive force in the NFL and should be coveted as the best young player in the NFL.

Patrick Mahomes, arguably the NFL’s top QB, fine with not being paid accordingly

Image for article titled Patrick Mahomes, arguably the NFL's top QB, fine with not being paid accordingly

Being the best quarterback in the NFL is always going to pay handsomely. That player will have one of the highest salaries in professional sports and also be able to cash in on prime endorsements. Whether the contracts are with Subway, State Farm Insurance, or the Kansas City Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes will always be greatly compensated.

When Mahomes signed his first contract extension prior to the 2020 season not only did he take a small, team-friendly discount, but he also inked it before the NFL agreed to new television deals in 2021. Three years after receiving that 10-year, $503 million contract, by average yearly salary Mahomes is the seventh-highest-paid quarterback in the league.

By the start of the 2023 season, Mahomes will likely be the NFL’s ninth-highest-paid quarterback. Rookie quarterbacks who turn into stars generally get their mega-contracts in the offseason prior to Week 1 of Year 4. That means Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert will likely soon be $50 million per year players. At Chiefs’ OTAs, Mahomes was asked about his current contract situation.

“You just want to do whatever to not hurt other quarterbacks whenever their contracts come up,” Mahomes told the media. “You wanna keep the bar pushing. It’s not about being the highest-paid guy. It’s not about making a ton of money.

“I’ve made enough money where I’ll be set for the rest of my life. At the same time, you gotta find that line where you’re making a good amount of money, but you’re still keeping a lot of great players around you so you can win these Super Bowls and you’re able to compete in these games.”

Patrick Mahomes has earned his money by winning the Super Bowl, MVPs

Keeping the Chiefs competitive and under the salary cap is not Mahomes’ responsibility. The franchise pays people good money to do that math. If the problem of assembling a roster becomes too great, then Clark Hunt can say at the next owners’ meetings that the league shouldn’t be placing restrictive limits on how much the franchises are allowed to spend on players.

Mahomes’ responsibility is to take care of his family. Financially, he doesn’t have to lift a finger to accomplish that for the rest of his life. That is a wonderful place to be in as a professional. He can choose to accept less money to be happier at work and the sacrifice will not impact his lifestyle.

A lovely Disney film, but Mahomes does live in the U.S.A. Being the best laborer in his industry does come with responsibility. Not only must he lead his team, but he has to demand a salary that maximizes the bargaining power of the rest of the NFLPA.

Assuming that he stays healthy, a one-of-a-kind talent like that not renegotiating his contract before it expires — especially after winning another MVP and Super Bowl — would harm negotiations for the rest of his NFL brethren. Without guaranteed contracts, players have to stuff every dollar they can into their pockets from their limited time inside the league’s money machine.

While Mahomes will probably enter the 2023 season as the ninth-highest-paid quarterback, don’t expect that to last too many more years. He certainly enjoys the strong roster that he goes to battle with on Sundays, however, he is a professional football player. This is not a health club league.

Not his teammates in the locker room, but also his teammates in the union depend on the guy with the bath bombs in the State Farm commercial to lead the way. The NFL is about more than touchdown passes, it’s about financial security.

NFL players should have a say in the new Thursday night flex games

Last year’s Thursday night games were atrocious

Earlier this week, NFL owners voted to pass the approval of flexing for Thursday Night Football games — given that Thursday hasn’t produced the sexiest of slates to quench the appetites of starving fans. With the decision, fans will get a better game to watch and Amazon Prime gets a product to entice more folks to switch over to their streaming services. Sounds like a win-win, right? Well, there’s only one problem. Players weren’t in the room when the decision was made.

This is why collective bargaining agreements are so important, even if this subject wasn’t even on the negotiating table.

With the new rule, between Weeks 13 through 17, the league can now swap a Sunday afternoon game for a Thursday night with a 28-day notice. The league is allowed two Thursday flexes per season, and no team can play on Thursday night more than twice.

A look at ESPN’s TNF schedule

Here’s a look at the current TNF schedule that ESPN put together, in a story in which they mentioned that Giants owner John Mara was opposed to the original version of the proposal because it was “abusive” to fans — not the players on the field who will have their routines, life schedules, and work weeks impacted:

  • Week 13: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
  • Week 14: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Week 15: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
  • Week 16: New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams
  • Week 17: New York Jets at Cleveland Browns

Jerry Jones weighs in

“This should show our fans and the media industry that we’ll do everything we can to make streaming on Thursday nights successful,” Jerry Jones said in the report. Notice who Jones did and didn’t mention in that quote. Last year, The Washington Post released a story called, “Thursday NFL games are here to stay. That doesn’t mean players like them,” as it explored the disdain that most players have for working on Thursday.

“It was just so awkward,” Devin McCourty told last month. “Because if you just play the Thursday night game and then you go back to a regular Sunday, to me, it becomes normal again. Like, ‘Alright, I’ll push through this and now, we’ll be back on a normal routine.’ Once you mess that up, I think it’s harder.”

Take all of this into account when the 2023 NFL season opens on a Thursday night when the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take on a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1992 — the Detroit Lions. 

The NFL is having another fake diversity program for coaches next week

Look at that smug face

No one fakes the funk like the NFL. Despite being investigated by New York and California Attorneys General for allegations of hostile workplace discrimination, racial and sexual harassment, and age bias, in addition to Brian Flores’s class-action lawsuit for the league’s alleged racist hiring practices when it comes to Black coaches — the NFL will hold a diversity program for coaches next week.

If there’s one thing this league has always been, it’s audacious.

According to the league, “the Coach Accelerator aims to increase exposure between owners, executives, and diverse coaching talent, providing ample opportunity to develop and build upon their relationships. In a change to the nomination process this year, clubs were able to nominate those from outside of their organization. The 40 participants this year are attending based on their high potential to be considered for a Head Coach position in the future. Sixteen of the participants will be returning from the May 2022 Accelerator cohort.”

“In the year since its inception, we’ve been encouraged by the positive response to the Accelerator from both club owners and participants,” wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We look forward to continuing to build on an incredible program that supports diverse talent.”

Jim Trotter already pointed out NFL’s track record when it comes to diversity

This doesn’t add up. I’m old enough to remember when NFL Media conveniently decided not to renew long-time NFL reporter Jim Trotter’s contract after he exposed Goodell at back-to-back Super Bowls for asking him why it was so hard for the league to do better when it came to diversity and hiring Black coaches and Black employees inside NFL Media’s newsroom.

“Why does the NFL and its owners have such a difficult time, at the highest levels, hiring Black people into decision-making positions?” he asked Goodell at the Super Bowl in 2022.

“And yet a year later, nothing has changed,” Trotter said to the Commissioner after listing some facts in February. “James Baldwin once said, ‘I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do.”

But now we’re supposed to believe the NFL is trying to increase exposure and create a pipeline for diversity?


And if that wasn’t enough reason to believe that next week in Minneapolis won’t be anything but a waste of time, the event is taking place during the league’s spring meetings. The last time the league’s brass got together like this back in March in Phoenix it was a reminder of just how white the NFL is, and the majority of the media who cover it.

The party gets serious at annual Bettingpalooza

Panelists at a sports betting conference in Secaucus N.J. predicted a quick rise in so-called microbetting, the type of rapid-fire bets made during a game on things like the result of the next at-bat or even the next pitch of a baseball game.

After the initial head-first dive into the markets, sports betting operators and states have come to an in-between space where unmitigated enthusiasm has consequences.

Take recent headlines, where Alabama coach Brian Bohannon was fired, numerous college players in Iowa are being investigated for sports betting, or in the NFL, where five players have been suspended for betting, or even in the MLS, where Max Alves is being investigated for allegedly receiving a yellow card in exchange for $12,000.

That was the backdrop when the SBC Summit was held at the Meadowlands Exposition Center last week in Secaucus, N.J. last week. The summit is the definitive gathering for those looking to get into sports betting as operators, or to provide stats, data, marketing, and thought leadership. It’s two days of panels and informal agendas; day drinking optional.

Sports Betting Conference grows up

The conference has grown up this year. In 2019, when sports betting was new and New Jersey was celebrating its sizeable role in overturning PASPA, there was an acreage of sports bars, booze, and big screens stretching across the showroom floor. Sports betting was going to be big fun. Seeing this space in 2023, with subdued brands and conversational spaces, sports betting has grown up. It’s not that the taps have been removed, but everything has been toned down and more polished.

Because after the optimistic party of the early days, it’s clear that sports betting isn’t simply entertainment. Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher iterated this when he discussed the consequences to college players, which included harassment and threats after losing a game on a magnitude of order more intense than in earlier eras.

“We need to make sure we’re informing and educating all our folks,” Steinbrecher said, “what are the pathways for dealing with this?”

Big fun is now serious business, but no one is shocked that gambling is going on in that establishment, casino, court, or locker room.

LSU, Caesars met with criticism after partnership

While sports betting has been legal for decades abroad, countries in Europe don’t have the sticky issue of college sports. Some gambling operators have partnered with colleges, such as LSU’s deal with Caesars, but there is the issue of directing gambling advertisements to under-aged students if you advertise on a college campus. After an email went out to all LSU students offering an incentive to gamble, both parties were criticized. Like drinking alcohol, sports betting is only legal for those aged 21 and older.

At SBC, one panel, in particular, addressed a real problem with targeting this demographic. Dan Trolaro, the VP of Prevention at EPIC Risk Management, noted that young college-aged men were more likely to engage in risky behaviors, and the same characteristics that might make someone good at sports, competitiveness, discipline, and goal-oriented focus, might draw them to addictive behavior as well.

“Some sports have more risk of addiction and infiltration from bad actors than others,” Trolero said. He later added, “We do a great job of educating about substance use disorders, vaping, cannabis…we need to start including gambling.”

As if Name, Image, and Likeness rules weren’t giving athletic departments enough to wrestle with.

But the downsides of sports betting were just a small part of this two-day panel conference.

The SBC Summit is a place where you can get afternoon donuts and morning beer, where the regulators are in suits and ties to be easily distinguished from the salesmen wearing dress casual and tan shoes.

And there was a lot of bullishness on the industry in other ways. With Draft Kings and FanDuel both getting into platforming content, one panel addressed the need to meet the casual fan and serve the hardcore fan. The difference between a traditional newspaper sports section and the Daily Racing Form.

“The reason that Amazon and Apple and telecoms are getting into sports is because sports is an ecosystem,” said Amir Gelman, GM and head of business for WSC Sports.

There are going to be more telecasts where the analysts are talking about the game through the prism of odds, in-game betting opportunities, and microbets. Think of it like the ManningCast, but directed at your wallet. A sample of the words being thrown up on these panels: optics, enhancements, value exchange, and barrage, but as a verb.

“The fact is that sports is the fuel that drives the media industry,” said iHeartMedia sports president Kevin LeGrett. “The challenge is that we as broadcasters have to convert that into revenue streams.”

And leagues have that issue as well. Take NASCAR, where Joseph Solosky is managing director of sports betting. He said that 80 percent of the bets on that sport are based on the winner. And in sports betting, that’s a limited option. His challenge is to get NASCAR’s platform partners to find bets that are the equivalent of the coin flip at the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile at the NBA, SVP of global media distribution and business affairs David Denenberg noted the success of the “first to 15” strategy, a simple wager that an NBA bettor can make in addition to the outcome of the game. Denenberg said it was about, “good content that’s not overbearing.”

They’ll be back next year with the new best tech, data, and shiny objects. Back for the donuts, panels, side meetings, and synergies. Because no matter the risks, sports betting is just getting started.

Bengals-Chiefs, Jets-Bills, and the most impactful 2023 NFL matchups

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh

The 2023 NFL season is set up to be a doozy. The schedule was released on Thursday night to much fanfare, and the best games of the season have already been picked out. However, the 2023 season is set to be impactful in a variety of ways. The narrative lovers will have a field day and the implications of some of these games could be wide-ranging and potentially change the way we view the league for 2023 and beyond. What are the most impactful games of the 2023 NFL season, though? Let’s dig in.

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This is what the New York Jets dreamed of when Aaron Rodgers declared his intent to play for the team all those months ago. Rodgers makes his long-awaited Gang Green debut against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football. Is there a more fitting place to start?

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The Bills are the current bar in the AFC East. They’ve won three consecutive division titles with relative ease. It might not have led to profound playoff success, but the East runs through Buffalo until proven otherwise. The Bills are looking to be more than just an excellent regular team. Sean McDermott isn’t on the hot seat, but this Bills team is too good to be bounced out of the playoffs in the Divisional Round for the third year. But the competition in the AFC is heating up.

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It’s a real opportunity for the Jets to send an early message on day one: there’s a seismic shift coming. The roster is good enough to compete with the Bills, and while the goal for New York is now the Super Bowl, they have to start somewhere. The Aaron Rodgers era begins against the Jets’ stiffest in-division rivals. Can the former MVP lead them to the promised land?

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This one slides in for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’ll be the first time in NFL history that a team will play two overseas games in one season. The Jacksonville Jaguars have been playing one home game a year in London for a while now, they’re essentially the UK’s team, but an extra game there is unprecedented.

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The Jaguars play their routine home game at Wembley Stadium in Week 4 against the Atlanta Falcons and, rather than heading back home, will spend the next week in London prepping to take on the Buffalo Bills at Tottenham Stadium as the defacto road team. Could this be a stepping stone for the NFL’s first international team? Probably not. But you never know.

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However, what really catches the eye here is that the Jaguars and Bills are both legitimate contenders. UK fans haven’t necessarily been subjected to bad games, but the fixtures have been short of marquee games. This one probably only exists because it’s the Jaguars are international regulars. But giving die-hard UK fans a real game between two of the most competitive teams in the NFL should be the norm moving forward. If it goes down well, we could see more big games overseas in the not-so-distant future. This could act as a catalyst.

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At first glance, this might not have the allure that one would expect when talking about the most impactful games on an NFL schedule. It’s been four years since the Texans had a winning record, and even longer (six years) for the Panthers. These aren’t two teams that are generally used to winning in recent times but that could all change in the next few years.

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This is the battle between the top two quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft: Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud (pictured). Young went No. 1 overall to the Panthers, while Stroud followed by going No. 2 to the Texans. Both quarterbacks will be hoping to change the fortunes of their franchises, and while this game won’t necessarily give us a good indication of who got the better end of the stick – we won’t fully know that for a couple of years – it’ll be a fun matchup between two talented quarterbacks and two teams looking to head in the right direction.

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In its totality, we could be looking at two of the future stars in the NFL going head-to-head for the first time. Young and Stroud (pictured) will likely be tied to each other in one way or another for their whole careers and the bragging rights start early. Could this potentially be a Super Bowl matchup one day? We won’t get ahead of ourselves, but Young and Stroud are stars in the making.

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Thanksgiving is synonymous with football. The two go hand-in-hand. The NFL has had three Thanksgiving games since the dawn of man, but the prospect of a Black Friday game has massive financial implications for the league. Amazon has exclusive rights to the game but will provide free access for all fans, with the broadcast streaming on Prime Video.

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It’s another opportunity for the NFL to put its stamp over another holiday and aligning with Amazon and Black Friday, a holiday that’s exclusively catered to buying items makes complete sense. The fact that no other pro sports have really grabbed the spotlight on Black Friday leaves a gaping hole to exploit too. Ratings will be through the roof, especially since the game is a supposed 3 p.m. Eastern start.

The NFL hasn’t traditionally played games on a Friday, but opportunities to expand the brand and tap into new markets like this don’t come often, and the league could reap the rewards.

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The Bengals and the Chiefs have faced off four times in the last two seasons, with two of those games being back-to-back AFC Championship Game bouts, with both teams winning one game apiece. This is the rivalry of all rivalries in the NFL right now. Patrick Mahomes vs Joe Burrow, Kansas City vs Cincinnati. The hottest rivalry between two of the best teams in the AFC and the NFL.

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The implications of this game this late in the season are bound to be huge. Both teams will surely be contending for the top seed in the AFC and unless one team dominates the regular season, the Chiefs and Bengals are bound to have close-to-identical records. If they do, this game could be for all of the marbles. A potential rubber match in the AFC Championship is on the cards, but how they get to that spot could really be impacted by this late-season matchup.

Everything in the AFC, who gets the first-round bye, who has a tougher route to the big dance, could be decided by this game.

In the battle of COVID vs. sports, evil vs. entertainment, sports won

Remember the bubble?

Now that COVID is officially over, and everyone can throw their masks in the trash, (Is that how this works?), it feels like a good time to declare that sports beat COVID. If you’re wondering who was keeping score, I was, and sports handily outlasted the virus — that killed very few, if any, athletes, and certainly no active figures of note — to the tune of 276-35. It was a bludgeoning.

The only real loss was the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments in 2020, because MLB, the NBA, NFL, NHL, and EPL never let science or contact tracing dictate whether it was “safe” to carry out a 17- or 72-game schedule (not including playoffs).

Where’s George W.’s “Mission Accomplished” banner? Let’s get Roger Goodell, Gary Bettman, Rob Manfred, and Adam Silver on a Helicarrier ASAP and unfurl that baby — without reservation this time.

::Nasally, condescending Anthony Fauci voice:: “You can’t hold an NBA Playoffs in a bubble!”

The NBA had the bubble

Hold my fucking beer. Not only did the Association turn Disney World into a QZ a la The Last of Us, they created ideal conditions for a fragile Los Angeles Lakers team to get, and stay, healthy enough to cruise to a title.

Yes, I know that there were rumors of an outbreak in the Phoenix Suns locker room during the Finals the next season, but they were just that: Well-reported stories after the fact. Even the players benefitted as random games missed due to health and safety measures conditioned fans to a new era of load management — a new normal, if you will.

Look at all the special sports moments during the pandemic that got fans, with very few reasons to exist other than their beloved teams, through hard and lonely times. Society needed a hero to break the endless cycle of masturbation and video games, and sports leagues were real-life Avengers.

The NFL carried on

The NFL played every game, and nobody died. (Coincidentally, someone almost dying on the field is the only way the NFL will cancel a game.) Sure, a wide receiver suited up at QB for the Broncos, but Denver sucked anyway. Tom Brady got another championship, and so did Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers, Liverpool, and Giannis Antetokuonmpo.

Big-time players and big-time franchises winning titles generate big-time revenue, and that’s a W for sports, and the people who obsess over them. It’s also further evidence that, despite being around for a nanosecond of this planet’s existence, sports matter and are vital to the fabric of the human experience.

Athletes pioneer the pandemic

As is America’s way, the sports industry pummeled COVID protocols into the ground, led by staunch coronavirus and vaccine critics like Kyrie Irving, Aaron Rodgers, and John Stockton. Irving navigated his way around needles like perimeter defenders, and was able to come out unvaxxed and vindicated by New York City’s mandates. He didn’t miss a home playoff game — this isn’t Canada after all — and the only clean bill of physical (and spiritual) health he needed was from his shaman.

It was a combination of crystals, Pat McAfee, and Ivermectin that got Rodgers through isolation, and he was able to win back-to-back MVPs in the process. Postseason showings, a messy divorce with the Packers, and public approval be damned, No. 12 is now living his best life on the streets of Manhattan as a new member of the New York Jets, free to cough and laugh on as many New Yorkers as he pleases.

Meanwhile, up in the Pacific Northwest, Stockton was conducting valuable research on the effects of the vaccine, and in the process exposed the risks of being vaccinated and educated. He galaxy-brained his way to the career assist record, and clearly retirement only sharpened that wit. He dropped dimes on epidemiologists in a groundbreaking (and I’m assuming now-removed) docuseries “Vaccines Revealed” on YouTube, and gave validity to all the other unofficial experts digging into the data that Joe Biden won’t share or acknowledge.

Did you know that the vaccine was causing instant death syndrome in college and high school-aged athletes across the country? John Stockton did, and it had nothing to do with the skyrocketing mental health crisis foisted upon young people because they just wanted to have a normal prom, college experience, or life.

A will to carry on at any cost

No one needs physical interaction with other humans unless the money they generate from doing so sustains billion-dollar industries that opted not to pay minor leaguers or stadium workers during the pandemic, or student-athletes ever.

Scott Frost and Nebraska football know how much the Cornhuskers mean to the state, the university’s bottom line, and the coach’s salary, so they sued for the right to go 3-5. As far as win percentages are concerned, that was his second-best year at his alma mater, and it’s a season, and team, no one in the Heartland will soon forget.

Outside of bars in rural Iowa, one could argue that no industry was more fearless and careless when it came to COVID than sports. Let’s get a bunch of sweaty people together to grind, bleed, and pant on each other, and then send them to hotels to spread COVID to their floozies in each of the nine cities on the 10-game road trip.

(And if you think that Danuel House was the only player who snuck women into places they weren’t supposed to be, you probably think Santa Claus could go to every home on earth, mask-free, and not catch COVID.)

Society could collapse in on itself, with Sofi Stadium at the bottom of the Pacific, and the NFL would still find a way to play the Super Bowl. So COVID and the rest of the haters can go suck a brick because everything is a competition, and sports, like the Big Baller Brand, has never lost.

2023 NFL Draft Winner and Losers

The Houston Texans got C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson back-to-back

The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft is over and Thursday proved to be one of the needle-moving days on the league’s calendar. Lamar Jackson finally got paid and several teams addressed some of their biggest needs ahead of next season. There were only 31 first-round picks this year (haha Miami) and teams picked almost as many running backs (two) as they did QBs (three). Whoever predicted that going into the first round would’ve been a psychopath. But here we are.

Some teams clearly made their futures better while others made decisions that are hard to comprehend. Here we’ll break down the biggest winners and losers from the NFL Draft. While everyone’s offseason isn’t over yet, not cashing in on the second biggest day on the NFL’s annual calendar means you’re behind the rest of the league. Let’s start with the most obvious loser from last night.

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Before the draft began, it was a matter of where the former Kentucky quarterback was selected, not if he had to spend an extra night in a Kansas City hotel. And now the mayonnaise-in-his-coffee-loving jabroni will at best go No. 32 overall. Instead of celebrating with his new team, he had to watch ESPN’s Pete Thamel give a report on how teams didn’t find him likable and others thought he wasn’t of the same skill level as Anthony Richardson and possibly Hendon Hooker.

Will Anderson Jr.

After losing out on the franchise’s single-pegged savior of Bryce Young to Carolina, the Texans “settled” on former Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud at No. 2. With the Cardinals heavily shopping the No. 3 overall pick, it was a matter of who jumped up to take the coveted spot, not if someone wanted to trade with Arizona. And Houston made the aggressive move to come up and get Will Anderson Jr., becoming the third team in the common draft era to have two of the top three picks in the NFL Draft. The others? Indianapolis in 1992 and Washington in 2000.

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Before Thursday night, the Lions looked like a franchise on the rise with the tilting power of the NFC North. And they reached heavily on both first-round draft selections. Jahmyr Gibbs and Jack Campbell are good players but specifically didn’t address where Detroit’s major team needs are. The Lions already had D’Andre Swift and David Montgomery at running back. Thinking that a trio will exist by committee is foolish. What a waste.

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The Ravens only had one first-round selection and used it to select Boston College WR Zay Flowers (pictured) addressing a major team need.

However, Baltimore won Thursday in general by locking Lamar Jackson into a long-term extension.

Now the 5-foot-10, 172-pound Flowers has one of the best quarterbacks in the league — and the highest paid — throwing to him and morale should be peaking for the Ravens.

The only winner here is cancer survivor Kyle Stickles, who got to announce the pick

The trade-down kings were at it again, this time fleecing a division rival. The Patriots traded back three spots from No. 14 and gave their pick to Pittsburgh, who selected former Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones. That’s clearly who the Jets had zeroed in on because they appeared beyond unprepared with their 10 minutes and reached heavily on former Iowa State linebacker Will McDonald, who might still be available going into the second round if it wasn’t for a New York blunder.

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The Eagles might’ve missed out on Bijan Robinson by two picks, which would’ve been a total break for the Super Bowl runners-up. Instead, they added two key defensive pieces who won two national titles at Georgia in Jalen Carter (pictured) and Nolan Smith. Carter’s off-field troubles are well-documented, but many had him as the most talented player in the draft. And Smith was on some teams’ radars around No. 16. Philadelphia continues to be the frontrunner in the NFC.

At least you should be free of Dan Snyder soon

Neither the Commanders, Giants, nor Cowboys had a particularly phenomenal first-round pick, with the strongest probably being Washington. How that trio plans on stopping the Eagles is beyond me. The division might get three playoff teams again this season because none of them are bad, but the rich got richer on Thursday night. And the only NFC East team of true value right now is in Philly. 

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Yes, it was a slam dunk. No, they didn’t mess it up and took an incredibly talented quarterback. The Panthers are oddly set up as the former owners of the No. 1 overall pick to cater to a rookie quarterback. Their defense is already good and Carolina signed Adam Thielen and Miles Sanders this offseason. Now just add one of the best game managers college football has ever since in Bryce Young into the mix. That’s a victory.

Who invited those guys?

How boring were portions of last night’s telecast? What the heck did the Jonas Brothers talking about their musical influences do to not put the audience to sleep? Saturday Night Live cast member Heidi Gardner and actor Eric Stonestreet starting off the show induced several yawns, only to be woken up by the annoying duo of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. You won the Super Bowl, we get it. The draft is in Kansas City. A rib-eating competition woulda been better.

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Being in the odd position of having a trusted quarterback and still owning the No. 1 overall pick worked well in the Bears’ favor. They traded back twice, once each with Carolina and Philadelphia, and still addressed their biggest need in securing former Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright (pictured), who will help protect Justin Fields from day No. 1. It is weird that Chicago got exactly what it needed from the first round of the draft. Now the Bears’ fans will brace for impact for when their front office messes it up.