With the owners’ lockout looming over the NFL like a dark cloud, franchises need to come up with alternative solutions for the upcoming season. The 2011 Draft is just around the corner, and if the top college players start to back out, teams will have to look elsewhere to fill their rosters. This sudden turn of events doesn’t leave much time for scouting, so nearby, hometown talent will be at a premium. With that in mind, our good friend Shaggy Lewis presents to you his own literal mock draft, full of “players” who can sell tickets without all that pesky “talent” or “practice” that current NFL players demand.
1. Carolina Panthers – Michael Jordan: Air Jordan will unretire AGAIN but he won’t ever step on the field, taking over as GM because he possibly couldn’t do any worse.
2. Denver Broncos – Tim Allen: Allen’s presence will help keep Tim Tebow on the straight and narrow, in fear that Allen will rat on him for the slightest indiscretion.
3. Buffalo Bills – Bruce Noland: Buffalo will look to “Bruce Almighty” as the franchise’s savior, asking for nothing more than to be sent back in time to the early 90s and a stiff wind at the end of Super Bowl XXV.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – Marge Schott: Despite being 82 and dead, the former Reds’ owner has enough hatred for all of her non-Caucasian opponents to be quite a ferocious tackler.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Stephanie Meyer: Even though the “Twilight” author doesn’t bring much to the playing field, Meyer’s idea to change the franchise’s name to Team Kurt might just be enough to get the former QB to return like a…phoenix.
6. Cleveland Browns – Drew Carey: Although the bespectacled funny man has had a recent weight loss, the Browns are really just hoping opponents will think he is the ghost of Brian Burlsworth, and flee in terror.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Danny Glover: Glover is a low risk investment, as early on in training camp, the 49ers will find out if he’s Pro Bowl quality or simply too old for this (expletive).
8. Tennessee Titans – Dolly Parton: Oh, Tennessee Tit-AN-s. Sorry, I misread that.
9. Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones: With QB Tony Romo suffering a broken collarbone, Jones is now free to draft himself and become the team’s owner, GM, head coach, quarterback, scout, and hot dog vendor.
10. Washington Redskins – Barack Obama: Drafting Obama probably won’t lead the Redskins to a Super Bowl, but he can ensure they have the exact same record for the next four seasons.
11. Houston Texans – Chuck Norris: Chuck Norris will not walk to the draft podium. He will simply appear, and suddenly Roger Goodell will have his own concussion problem.
12. Minnesota Vikings – Prince: Minnesota is banking on the 5’2″ Prince sharing work with Adrian Peterson and being able to hide behind the offensive line, undetected by the defense.
13. Detroit Lions – Henry Ford: Detroit will ask Ford to rebuild the Lions and inspire the city, primarily with a offense that hands off 10 times before the last player makes a run for pay dirt.
14. St. Louis Rams – Harry Caray: Embracing its history as a baseball city, St. Louis takes the opportunity to steal Caray back to his original home. Caray will agree to be paid entirely in hot dogs.
15. Miami Dolphins – Horatio Caine: Like an all purpose coach on the field, the crime scene investigator will be able to decode the opponents’ entire game plan with one swab of DNA.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars – D-Von Dudley: Dudley’s history as a professional wrestler means he fits every requirement for the Jaguars: athleticism, at 6’1″ and 280 pounds, and a hyphen, between the D and the V.
Today is part 1 of 2 where we discuss the unrecognized national holiday this weekend that is Super Bowl Sunday. Today, we’ll talk football and tomorrow we’ll discuss the other reason people tune in — commercials and marketing.
Super Bowl XLV: Sunday, Feb. 6 in Arlington, TX
Favorite: Packers by 3
How They Got Here: The Steelers (14-4) beat the Baltimore Ravens 31-24 in the divisional round before defeating the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game 24-19. The Packers (13-6) beat the Philadelphia Eagles 21-16 in the wild card round, then leveled the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round 48-21, and won the NFC Championship by beating the Chicago Bears 21-14.
Impact Players: Steelers — QB Ben Roethlisberger, S Troy Polamalu, LB James Harrison
Packers — QB Aaron Rodgers, LB Clay Matthews, CB Tramon Williams
Review: It goes without saying that not many people had the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that didn’t even make the playoffs last year with their starting quarterback coming off a sex scandal and 4-game suspension, and the Green Bay Packers, a team who came into the season with severe questions about their offensive line protecting their QB who had only two season earlier replaced a legend (Brett Favre), making it to Dallas this weekend. But here we are, with a 6-seed wild card team from the NFC that has the aura of defying the odds and a 2-seed from the AFC that many people feel got lucky because they didn’t have to play the New England Patriots.
The way these teams made it here are fairly similar: defense and clutch quarterback play. While many people will refuse to admit it, even the quarterbacks (Pittsburgh’s vilified Ben Roethlisberger and Green Bay’s sudden golden boy Aaron Rodgers) are similar in the way they’ve had to overcome difficulties this season — Roethlisberger faced sexual assault allegations filed by a young woman in Milledgeville, GA that resulted in a four-game suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy (not to mention a PR nightmare) and Rodgers faced public questions about his ability to inherit the Favre throne after struggling in his first season and being eliminated in the wild card round of last year’s playoffs.
Plus, the teams are two of the most storied in NFL history: the Packers building their legacy by winning the first two Super Bowls under Vince Lombardi and the Steelers winning the most Super Bowls in league history (6-1). The teams rely on a fast, physical defense to create turnovers and make big plays which brings back memories of glory days past. With all that take into account, it seems only fitting that these teams should eventually square off when it matters the most.
Who to Watch For: As for the Steelers, that’s easy. It all rests on the shoulders of their QB. He’s big, strong, mobile, and experienced having won two Super Bowls already (beating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL and the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII). If Roethlisberger can stay upright and not make any mistakes, his defense should handle their end and he can have the comfort of no pressure to score.
For the Packers, the answer may surprise you…Tramon Williams. The Louisiana Tech walk-on made a name for himself this post season with three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. He put on his big boy pants at the right time of the year and has got the attention of opposing quarterbacks, elite quarterbacks, to throw away from him. Look for Roethlisberger to test him and Williams to rise to the occasion.
Who should win: It’s the old adage of experience versus youth. The Steelers have 25 players on their roster who have played in the biggest game of them all, while the Packers have a mere 2. Both teams have proven they can blow out their opponents, withstand a comeback, and play against adversity. The real X-factor here is momentum. The Packers seem to have it, believing they’re a team of destiny while the Steelers seem nonchalant, almost entitled to be there.
Who WILL Win: In this scenario, I think swagger and experience overwhelms momentum and an underdog mindset. Look for the Steelers to win in a close, defensive game 21-13.