We all know that the most popular sport in America is the professional football. And while (THANK YOU, LORD!) I won’t be deprived of my precious, precious Patriots this year, I was denied the pleasure of watching America’s second most popular sport unfold: the NFL offseason. Rather than following trades, scouring for available free agents, and putting together what always turns into dozens of fantasy football draft boards, I was forced to spend this offseason enduring the unspeakable horrors of spending time with friends and family. I may never be the same again.
But none of that matters now. The offseason is back, and with it is going to come a whirlwind of activity the likes of which we’ve never seen before. The NFL is going to try and cram 6 months of roster moves, trades, and signings into roughly 14 days. And I, like Frank the Tank at the beer bong, am ready.
With so much happening over the next few days, I thought it might help Patriots Nation if I highlighted some of the things I’m going to be paying special attention to over the next few weeks. Yes, I care about addressing the pass rush, and I won’t stop stalking Foxboro-area residences on the off-chance I’ll find a mailbox with “Rice” freshly painted on it, but I think those things can wait a few hours. The first thing that I’m going to be looking for this offseason is what the Colts do with Peyton Manning. And, more importantly, how the media decides to spin it.
More after the jump.I have no doubt that Manning is going to get a long-term, well deserved deal, and I also have no doubt that it is going to happen fairly soon. What I’m not so sure about, however, is how the media is going to handle their Manning crush if a deal doesn’t get done towards the beginning of the upcoming craziness. Around this time last year, one of the major offseason storylines was the contract situations of the NFL’s two best players. Both were entering the last year of their contracts, both were looking for a long term, lucrative deal, and both were crucial to their respective team’s continued success. Strangely, despite their identical situations, the way their contract futures were portrayed by the media couldn’t have been more different. There was a time when you couldn’t kill time at work on any major sports website without having to sit through some numbskull blathering on about how a certain quarterback is upset with the organization, the team was being characteristically cheap, and the rift between player and coach was growing bigger with each contract-less day. Meanwhile, a few hundred miles west, owner and another certain quarterback were both getting ready to roll up their sleeves, put their heads together, and make sure that everything remained sunshine and rainbows.
(If you can’t decide which of these scenarios represented Brady and which represented Manning, please go back to your Jets blog and talk more about signing Asomugha. It’s gonna happen, honest.)
And that was the gist of it; no matter where you looked, Tommy B was mad at his front office for giving him the ol’ scroogie while his counterpart was doing everything he could in these trying times to keep his team afloat. What came out of that mess was Tom Brady getting a 4 year, $72 million dollar contract that made him the NFL’s highest paid player. As for Manning…he played out the rest of the season, hurt his neck (probably from watching all those big game-clinching interceptions get returned the other way), and got slapped with the franchise tag. And the media just continued on, acting as if they never dragged Tom’s beautiful, flowing locks through the mud.
Now, here we find ourselves, one VERY long year later, and there’s still one kiddie left in the pool. Apparently Bill Polian’s sleeves are still up, because Manning hasn’t gotten a contract. And as he goes in for his second neck surgery and his preseason status remains in question, I for one am very curious to see how the media spins this one. Will they stick to their guns and spout out some puffery about Manning and his constant team-first attitude? Or will they start to wonder when the hell the Colts are going to pay the man who has been singlehandedly carrying his team into the postseason every year? I have a pretty good idea about what kind of articles I’d be reading if it was a franchised Brady going in for neck surgery while the Patriots’ wallet remained shut, and the part of me that hates the Colts (aka the part that starts at my heel and ends at my head) wouldn’t mind seeing some feathers ruffled over in Indy.
So that’s where a good portion of my focus will be over the next few days. In case you happen to blink at all in the coming weeks, fear not. I’ll be back soon with other Fun Things to Watch this offseason – hopefully right after I read my first article about how the Colts are a bunch of tightwads who aren’t rewarding their franchise player for all his service and that he’s starting to turn against his head coach.