Too late the hero …

They came they saw and thought they would conquer , instead the heavily favored Carolina Panthers laid a monumental goose-egg as they were outplayed , outcoached and made to look ordinary in their loss to the Denver Broncos. For their part, the Broncos avenged their horrendous loss of two years ago, when they fell asleep at the wheel in their embarrassingly lopsided defeat to the Seattle Seahawks. Panthers’ quarterback , Cam Newton the presumptive League MVP was harassed all game-long by the Broncos’ defense, with Vonn Miller having an exceptional game , while being named Superbowl MVP.

Too late the hero

They came they saw and thought they would conquer , instead the heavily favored Carolina Panthers laid a monumental goose-egg as they were outplayed , out-coached and made to look ordinary in their loss to the Denver Broncos . For their part, the Broncos avenged their horrendous loss of two years ago, when they fell asleep at the wheel in their embarrassingly lopsided defeat to the Seattle Seahawks . Panthers’ quarterback , Cam Newton the presumptive League MVP was harassed all game-long by the Broncos’ defense, with Vonn Miller having an exceptional game , while being named Superbowl MVP. The resulting 24-10 win by the Denver Broncos, brings to an end one of the best seasons seen from an NFL franchise in terms of their defensive capabilities seen during the regular and postseason . Denver’s defense was exceptional and their play-making ability exhibited in the Superbowl was nothing short of spectacular.

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For Peyton Manning , the question remains, does he now bow out on a career-high , having won his second Superbowl or does he return for one more year with the Denver Broncos ? Certainly, he will be getting advice from his family and closest friends but I believe Manning also seek advice from Broncos’ Head of Operations and former quarterback John Elway , whose career with the franchise have been etched in Denver Broncos’ folklore. Denver came into this game as the overwhelming underdogs , but when it mattered the most, it was the defense who stepped up to the plate to make this victory all the more satisfying for their fans and the organization.

This off-season , I have no doubt John Elway , the front office and the coaching staff of Gary Kubiak will go about assessing the team’s needs in the run-up to the 2016 NFL Draft . With notable free agents on the roster who will undoubtedly be looking to get paid , one could reason , Elway will not be rushed into things concerning the Broncos’ roster and their off-season dealings. Having been the architect of this team , drafting and acquiring free agents to bolster the roster , adding depth to the team overall. It could be said , Elway should be taking as much credit for this success , as the players on the team.

There was a solemn note to this Superbowl with John Elway acknowledging words of appreciation for team owner Pat Bowlen who was unable to attend Sunday’s event. Bowlen has been the ever-present figure presiding over the franchise almost from its very start. Ill-health has taken its toll on this much revered owner and it seems only fitting that the Denver Broncos’ greatest player was the person offering Bowlen , his best wishes.

Carolina Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera , obviously disappointed with his team’s loss , was the first to acknowledge this was a learning experience for his players . In his post-game interview the coach praised his opponents while stating his team will get better and they have learned something from this loss. The disappointment on the faces of the Panthers’ players was there for every one to see and the gut-wrenching way with which they discombobulated, was all the more unbelievable. Mistimed efforts by the receivers , Cam Newton being harassed and pressured played a part in the Carolina Panthers’ downfall. Furthermore, with Ron Rivera’s coaching staff not adapting the to Wade Phillips’ defensive strategies have me wondering , did this have more to do with Panthers not figuring out they were going up against the NFL’s best defensive team during the postseason ? As good as the Denver Broncos were said to be defensively, Carolina through their sheer desperation simply had no real answer , their world came crashing down because they lacked composure and an unwillingness to change or battle their opponent head on.

With the result of the Superbowl now known , we will see how the NFL Draft pans out as the teams make their choices on Draft Day. The Tennessee Titans will have the privilege of making the first pick in the upcoming draft and it will be interesting to see the decision made by the Titans’ front office as they seek to fortify a roster around the skill-set of Marcus Mariota . The only way is up for the Titans after another disastrous season in the NFL and while Mariota was able to show signs of leadership and composure , when the surrounding cast appears to be nothing more than mediocre , then there is not a great which can be done and that was clearly the case for Mike Mularkey and his coaching staff . Mularkey replaced Ken Whisenhunt who had been fired earlier in the season after the Titans’ inauspicious start to their schedule . There are a litany of issues which needed to be addressed by the Tennessee Titans during the off-season and while one can only hope to see some signs of improvement from the AFC South based franchise, I am of the opinion they are likely to struggle again this upcoming season !

Over the last ten years the Dallas Cowboys have sought ride into the postseason on the shoulder of Tony Romo . Suffice to say, I believe Cowboys’ owner and GM Jerry Jones has spent way too much time hyping up the franchise while making a great deal of money over-charging fans for a rather mediocre product ! Romo’s postseason malaise have been well-chronicled along with his continuous excuses and the very fact he is no longer able to play a regular sixteen-game schedule . During this off-season the quarterback will once again be undergoing surgery, having re-injured his shoulder. Can we just say , if Romo were a race horse who repeatedly suffered the same injury , he would have been euthanized ? Head coach Jason Garrett , continually the ‘pet poodle’ of Jerry Jones , is simply proving whether or not he has on-field talent, slight or genuinely very good , he cannot get the best out of those players , much less truly indicate he has a modicum of coaching acumen. The losses suffered by the Cowboys this past season were as just as much the players’ fault as it was Garrett’s and his ill-prepared coaching staff’s .

I have never really been enamored with the Dallas Cowboys and this constant belief they are ‘ America’s Team’ . It is said , if you tend to spread the message long and loud enough , then people are likely to believe it. Well, I do believe the Cowboys alongside the New England Patriots are the most despised teams in the NFL , while also being the most hated in North American professional sports !

It would be a safe bet to suggest , when Tony Romo was lost the Dallas Cowboys during the season, their year was essentially over. Neither Matt Cassel or Brandon Weeden as Romo’s under-studies were able to get the job done as the team’s starting quarterback, replacing the Pro Bowl player . Cassel was never consistent enough and Weeden was simply out of his depth.

The losses suffered by the Cowboys this past season were as just as much the players’ fault as it was Garrett’s and his ill-prepared coaching staff’s. Dallas having finished their season with a 4-12 record will have the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. If their first round draft based on the team’s needs are anything to go by, then there is a very distinct possibility Jerry Jones will likely take a quarterback , but this purely based on speculation from my own perspective ! The Cowboys’ needs are vast and varied and given Jones’ inclinations , just about anything is possible. One can only hope this upcoming season the Dallas Cowboys will have their game faces on , rather than being dressed in clown costumes and performing like the NFL’s answer for ‘comedic relief’.

Not one to pour salt into the wounds ,but in the aftermath of another deplorable season if all the fans of the St Louis Rams can feel excited about is their imminent return to the greater Los Angeles area , then it is to their shame. Rams’ owner and eponymous billionaire and husband of Ann Walton-Kroenke , of the Walton family fortune . Stanley Kroenke , as the owner of the NFL franchise has presided over a disaster since he acquired the team and this move can and should be seen as nothing more than to take away your attention away from what has been another year of just incompetence from the top on down . Jeff Fisher and his coaching staff appeared lost and the players seemed to be lost all season long. There was but one bright spot to this team and it was the play of their rookie running back Todd Gurley . While others might be calling for the names of Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston for the NFL Offensive Rookie of The Year . To my mind , Gurley made enough of an impact to have outshone his contemporaries from the 2015 NFL Draft class ! Whether or not the Rams’ running back wins the award remains to be seen.

Jeff Fisher and the St Louis Rams never seemed to be in control of their own destiny from the start of the season , right until its very end and their 7-9 record was reflective of that very fact . Poorly led on the field of play, their quarterback play it has to be said , neither Nick Foles and Case Keenum were up to the task of leading this team.

Stanley Kroenke having bought a large parcel of land outside the town of Industry , California will now seek to build a stadium which will in all likelihood will be publicly financed, while the surrounding area for the stadium will be for commercial and residential use , all under the umbrella of one of Kroenke’s commercial enterprises. While the Rams’ fans in Los Angeles might not seem perturbed with the use of public funds to aid one of the richest men in the country with one of his whims, it plainly speaks to the ignorance of the fans of the NFL in general and their lack of economics. As to the NFL hierarchy , well with the move having been approved, this is one more feather in the cap for Roger Goodell , whose own image is in need of something positive . His leadership of the NFL has been one of the poorest in living memory and perhaps among those of his contemporaries within MLB (Bud Selig and Rob Manfred) , NHL (Gary Bettman), NBA (David Stern) and NASCAR (Mike Helton).

If the St Louis Rams’ season was said so monstrous , then for the Oakland Raiders theirs was simply dire and one where there was little of note to take seriously. Jack Del-Rio did all he could without their being anything to show for it at the end of the day. Now with team owner Mark Davis and GM Reggie McKenzie having met with casino mogul Sheldon Adelson , CEO of Sands Corporation the entertainment and gaming conglomerate with a major presence in Las Vegas , Nevada as well as throughout much of the Far East . Adelson proposes the building of a vast stadium for the Raiders , along with a mix of commercial and residential real estate . As to what the NFL will make of this all , given their given wish not to be closely involved with the gaming industry , is somewhat hypocritical , when one considers professional football is a major source of revenue for the industry. Something the league hierarchy is well aware of and lately, several influential owners have been pressing Roger Goodell to loosen his stance with regard to their being no association.

Personally, I believe the league and the gaming industry to be hypocritical , as are the laws which prohibit wagering on sports’ events around the country ! The US Justice System and the States Attorneys’ General have bigger fish to fry , than seeking to punish with impunity , the gaming industry and those who make a living from it.

Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie’s meeting with Sheldon Adelson also took in the local political dignitaries, along with senior members of the Las Vegas City Council . If their weight is thrown behind such a proposal , it will be interesting to witness how the NFL will seek to dissuade its members from allowing the relocation of the Oakland Raiders. While I have no problem with NFL franchises seeking to move , I do have a problem with team owners believing it best for municipalities , county or state governments to be at the beck and call when it comes to the financing of stadiums ! Less we forget , the NFL remains a tax-exempt organization , where only the teams , and the league’s employees are taxed. Bear in mind also, in 2014 , Roger Goodell’s salary exceeded $25 million dollars , and were he a player in the league that year, he would have been among the highest paid in the NFL . I am sure when the next CBA (collective bargaining agreement) meeting is due to take place between the union (NLFPA) and league hierarchy , the issue is likely to be raised by its leadership and Executive Director DeMaurice Smith . I mean is there any way Goodell can truly try and justify his salary ?

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Tophatal …….. 02/08/2016

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