Yesterday, I went through the NFL to look at teams that have QB issues/concerns which will need to be addressed in the offseason or the draft. So, let me begin today with a report about one of the QBs who just retired, and that retirement set some of yesterday’s “QB issues” in motion. The NY Post reports that ESPN is going to try to get retired QB, Philip Rivers, to sign on with ESPN as “an NFL analyst”. According to the current reporting, the idea would not be for Rivers to replace anyone in the ESPN Monday Night Football booth – – at least for now. However, as the NFL looks to open negotiations for renewals of its rights packages, one of the hopes at ESPN is an expanded package for that network perhaps to include more Monday Night Football doubleheaders.
Never having heard Rivers in a telecast, I have no idea if he would be a curse or a blessing to that profession. However, I am encouraged by this report in that it says that the suits at ESPN want to keep the Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick team together for another season. That crew had some bumps in the road early on, but they improved markedly by the end of the season. I have no illusions that they will make me forget Gifford, Cosell and “Dandy Don” Meredith, but they acquitted themselves very well in the last month or so of the 2020 season.
And speaking of Philip Rivers and his retirement, that seems to have generated a lot of sports radio segments and blog postings soliciting comments to ponder the question:
- Is Philip Rivers the best QB never to have won a Super Bowl?
As is always the case when this sort of question is posed, there is a cadre of the responders who belong to the school of thought that if something happened more than a year ago, it is not to be given “reality status” because it was only reported in hieroglyphics. More than a few callers on local sports shows and blog responders are confident that the answer to the question above is in the affirmative.
Let me take a crack at answering this by starting out with the following statement:
- Notwithstanding his lack of a Super Bowl ring, I believe Philip Rivers belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I hope that statement allows me to discard the label of a “Philip Rivers hater” – – because I am not such a person. Now let me say that he is not necessarily the best QB never to win a Super Bowl because of these four players from yesteryear – – listed alphabetically to preclude any debate about ordering among the four:
- Sonny Jurgensen
- Dan Marino
- Warren Moon
- Fran Tarkenton
Those four men are in the Hall of Fame and Rivers should join them in the Hall – – and then you can easily insert his name – alphabetically – onto that list of his peers.
In a sort of related NFL retirement announcement, tight end, Greg Olsen, announced his retirement earlier this week. He had toyed with retirement last year and did some work with FOX on XFL 2.0 games where he showed potential behind a microphone. Presumably, he will return to FOX in a football analysis role now that he has tried a comeback and once again decided that it is time for him to hang up the jockstrap.
There are reports that the Houston Texans are about to hire Ravens’ assistant coach, David Cully as they next head coach. If that comes to pass, that will fill all the head coaching vacancies for this year’s offseason, and it will make several things clear:
- Eric Bieniemy will be outside looking in at a head coaching job once again. I know the fact that he did not get a job or a job offer will usher in a chorus of shouts focused on “racism”. And it may indeed be nothing more than racism at work here. Or … maybe there is some other force at work here that no one knows about or has uncovered. After all, the final coach hired this year is a Black man and the team that hired Cully is one of the teams that had also interviewed Eric Bieniemy.
- [There is a case to be made that Robert Saleh hired by the Jets is also a minority selection – – but not necessarily a minority by NFL standards,]
- There are some surprising hires in this year’s coaching sweepstakes – – assuming the reports about David Cully and the Texans are correct.
- Of the seven new hires in the NFL, none of them have NFL head coaching experience. Only one of the new hires – Urban Meyer – has spent time as the head man at the college level.
- The Jets and Chargers went with “defense guys”. The Lions, Falcons, Eagles and Texans went with “offense guys”. The Jags went with a “college guy”.
I noted that none of these new head coaches has NFL experience. I do not want to make that into an unvarnished positive for teams that give a coach his first shot at the top job but consider this:
- If I asked you to name the best coaches in the NFL right now, I suspect you would come up with a list similar to this one:
- Bill Belichick – – had previous experience as a head coach when hired by the Pats in 2000.
- Pete Carroll – – had previous experience as a head coach when hired by the Seahawks in 2010. Also had a successful career as a college head coach.
- John Harbaugh – – had no previous experience as a head coach when hired by the Ravens in 2008.
- Sean Payton – – had no previous experience as a head coach when hired by the Saints in 2006.
- Andy Reid – – had no previous experience as a head coach when hired by the Eagles in 1999.
- Mike Tomlin – – had no previous experience as a head coach when hired by the Steelers in 2007.
My point here is that previous NFL experience is not always an indicator of a successful new hire. Fans surely hope that the 7 teams have chosen well with their new hires. History suggests that several of those hirings will not turn out the way anyone involved with the teams or the coaches would prefer. But for the moment, things are looking up around the NFL in terms of new coaches and new systems and all the cultures that will be changing around the league. Here in Curmudgeon Central, we will take a wait and see posture…
Finally, with the announcement of next summer’s induction class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame coming very soon, here is an anticipation from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“QB Peyton Manning, a first-time finalist, would seem a shoo-in for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer.
“Pundits predict a record number of audibles in his induction speech.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………