Welcome to the Wednesday War Room, where your favorite Yahoo Sports NFL writers weigh in on the most serious and critical NFL topics of the day. Read on for how you can join in. Today, we’re talking dynasties and misfires. Onward!
1. Both the NBA and the NHL have just crowned champions that could be considered dynasties. However, dynasties in the NFL tend to be short-lived … with one exception. What’s your take on football dynasties? Good for the sport? Or do you prefer (enforced) parity?
To me we’ve had the best of both worlds in a way. We’ve had two relative interloper teams — the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons — make Super Bowls and become fan favorites in recent years. Throw the Seattle Seahawks into that mix, too, if you want. It’s great to have teams that traditionally have been also-rans who are now NFL powers, and all three teams have to feel they’re contenders this year. Plus, we’ll get the one or two more unexpected contenders that rise up out of nowhere. That quality still very much exists in the NFL, much more so than in other major sports, I feel.
We also have one pretty dominant dynasty in the New England Patriots. Yeah, there’s a good deal of fatigue with them for sure. But it’s also good to have the enemies that everyone loves to hate. They’re the big, bad bullies on the block, and when they lose games it’s a big deal. There’s also the historical aspect of it all, and I love comparing teams across generations, even if it’s a pretty fruitless exercise. This gives us the best of both worlds. We’ve got one titan, a handful of other tried-and-true heavyweights who contend every year and then the remaining lot of teams that can produce surprises every year.
The Patriots are something of an outlier, because even though they are a legitimate dynasty — five Super Bowl rings does indeed constitute a dynasty — they’ve done it with only two constant figures. What’ll be interesting to see is what happens to the Pats, and the league, once Belichick and/or Brady departs. Building a perpetual championship contender is so hard in today’s NFL, you can’t help but admire what the Patriots have done, even as you wish that they would have some more consistent competition (come on, AFC East, you’re guaranteeing New England at least five wins a year every year). Watching Godzilla smash a city is fun, but watching Godzilla fight King Kong? Now that’s art.
It’s a no-win. When there’s a dynasty, people complain the league is boring. When there’s parity, people complain about the lack of great teams. But in general, I’d rather see more teams sharing the glory. As much as I respect the Patriots and what they’ve done, how fun would it be for a team like the Oakland Raiders or Kansas City Chiefs to finally get back to a Super Bowl? When more teams feel like they have a legitimate chance to win it all, the league is better.
2. Jets QB Christian Hackenberg tagged a reporter with an errant pass this week. What’s the closest you’ve come in your days on the beat to being part of the action, so to speak?
My greatest reception ever was at a Notre Dame pro day. It was the year Tyler Eifert was coming out. He was running routes, and Bengals tight end coach Jonathan Hayes (who played a dozen years in the league) was watching right near me. Whoever was throwing passes that day, I forgot who, kind of air-mailed an out route and I was completely dialed in on the play; I can only assume by Adderall had properly kicked in by that point. So the pass is coming and I think, “This is my ball.” And sure enough, the pass skips past the outreached arms of the receiver and one-hopped right to me. Pure instinct: I flipped my notebook to my right hand and caught the damned thing with my left hand. Take that, OBJ. I got a few “whoas” from the assmbled media, but the best reaction was from Hayes, a pretty stoic guy. We looked at each other briefly right after it happened, and he just nodded. That was all I needed. I can only assume he gave me a 7th-round grade from that one play.
I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid scraps on the football practice field, aside from getting my phone slapped down when I tried to film a fight in practice. My worst other-sport contact came when I was interviewing former Braves manager Bobby Cox. We were sitting in the Turner Field dugout prior to a game, while the Braves were taking batting practice, and I noticed Cox edging slightly away from me. Right as I picked up on that, an errant throw from the infield rocketed into the dugout and straight off my shin. Hurt like a [redacted], but you don’t show pain in front of Bobby Cox. Had a fine-looking bruise for a week, though. Favorite part of the story remains that Cox was such a baseball Jedi that he could sense the play was breaking down in the field and moved out of the way to let me take the hit. I love that ol’ guy.
Never came close. Here’s why: Whenever the action got anywhere near me, I turned into George Costanza during the fire, bailing out no matter who I had to shove out of the way to do it. There was no way I was going to end up as a viral video.
Previous War Rooms:
• Was the Bears’ Trubisky debacle the worst draft flub ever?
• Five ways to make the NFL on TV a better broadcast
• Which out-of-work quarterback would you pick to run a new team?
• What’s the greatest NFL touchdown celebration of all time?
• Which NFL player is the next to become an international superstar?
• Which teams are facing the worst quarterback problems heading into 2017?
There you have it. Weigh in with your own thoughts below. Got ideas for future questions? Email us and you might just find your name in lights.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.