Saturday, May 31, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: 1st Round Pick By Pick Analysis

Originally published May 8th, 2014

Analysis of the First Round of the NFL Draft, pick by pick, as the action happened tonight:

1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
Considered to be the most explosive and talented defensive lineman coming out of college in 20 years. He spent his college career as a defensive end, now he will be playing a blitzing outside linebacker in the Texans 3-4 Defense. Houston’s Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennell has experience utilizing players with unique talents and putting them in position to be successful. Clowney will be as great as he wants to be, he has all the skills to be a great Blitzer in the NFL.

2. St. Louis Rams – Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn)
Perfect selection by the Rams; Robinson was a physical and athletic presence in college. Robinson is a great athlete and he was part of the Auburn Tigers team that had the best rushing offense in college football last year. The Rams have made a major upgrade to their offensive line.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles (QB, Central Florida)
Bortles has the highest ceiling of any Quarterback available in this year’s draft class. He has all the intangibles to be a Pro Bowl level talent in the NFL. Bortles also is a quick learner and will adapt to the NFL game quickly. In the NFL you must have a good starting QB in order to be successful and Bortles is exactly what they needed.

4. Buffalo Bills (traded by the Cleveland Browns) – Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
Watkins is the most dynamic offensive player in this years draft. The Bills were in desperate need of explosive offensive receiver and Watkins is projected to be immediately a starter next season. Watkins is a multi-dimensional player who can run all the routes as a receiver and also can return kicks and punts. The Bills offense just got a major upgrade with Watkins.

5. Oakland Raiders – Khalil Mack (LB, Buffalo)
Although he only began playing football his senior year of high school, Mack is a very talented and instinctive defensive player who plays with great intensity. The Raiders lost Lamar Houston to free agency but Mack has the potential to be a better player than Houston! He is a playmaker on defense and can make an immediate impact in 2014.

6. Atlanta Falcons – Jake Matthews (OT, Texas A&M)
Matthews may not be a flashy talent like Greg Robinson but he has excellent blocking technique and footwork as an offensive tackle. He fills an important need for the Falcons as they look to protect their franchise Quarterback Matt Ryan. Matthews is the son of NFL Hall of Fame Offensive Lineman Bruce Matthews, pretty good bloodline.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
Evans was the number one target of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel when they played together in college. Evans is a big play receiver with great hands and will be a great compliment to the Buccaneers star receiver Vincent Jackson.

8. Cleveland Browns (traded by Minnesota Vikings) – Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State)
“The rich get richer” in Cleveland as the two-time All-American Gilbert will join Pro Bowl Corner Joe Hayden creating one of the top cornerback duos in the AFC. Gilbert has great ball skills, in college there were many times Gilbert ran the route of the receiver better than his opponent. Gilbert is also a very good kick and punt return so he has value there also. The Browns defense got an upgrade with this selection.

9. Minnesota Vikings (traded by Cleveland Browns) – Anthony Barr (LB, UCLA)
Barr is an explosive football player who has great potential but he is still raw in the instincts department. He is athletic enough to play either outside linebacker or pass rushing defensive end in the NFL. New Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has a great defensive mind and he will find ways to get the best out of Barr so he can make an impact on defense.

10. Detroit Lions – Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)
Ebron has excellent hands and athleticism. He is an average pass blocker so don’t expect the Lions to use him often on running plays. Expect the Lions to use him paired with Christian Fauria in many two-tight end formations. Ebron also is a good route runner and can stretch the field or be a safety valve for Matthew Stafford in Detroit.

11. Tennessee Titans – Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan)
Lewan is a very physical Offensive Tackle and fits well with what the Titans want to do offensively. His athleticism is underrated and he is the type of aggressive lineman Titans new Head Coach Ken Wisenhunt has been successful with as both an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL.

12. New York Giants – Odell Beckham (WR, LSU)
Beckham is a speed receiver who is a great route runner, a rare combination. Excellent pick by the Giants to give their QB Eli Manning a proven commodity to join this offensive. Beckham can line up in the slot or on the outside; his versatility will allow him to make an immediate impact for the Giants in 2014.

13. St. Louis Rams – Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh)
Another case of “the rich get richer”; Donald showed in college he has the ability to both rush the passer and stop the run. His strength and quickness make him a major problem for opposing offenses. Donald joins a defensive line with two super talented defensive ends (Long and Quinn) which makes the Rams defense even better. Donald might not put up gaudy stats in the NFL his first season but his impact will be felt.

14. Chicago Bears – Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
Great fundamental cornerback who can play any corner position the defense needs him to. Fuller has good instincts and will fit in well with the system Chicago run while he will be mentored by two Pro Bowl corners: Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State)
Shazier is a versatile linebacker who is instinctive and explosive at the point of attack. His closing burst on the ball carrier is second to none in this year’s draft class. The Steelers run a 3-4 defense so it is possible Shazier potentially could play all four linebacker positions for the Steelers. Great selection by Pittsburgh.

16. Dallas Cowboys – Zack Martin (OL, Notre Dame)
Martin has excellent fundamentals and has the footwork to be able to play any of the five offensive line positions. With the amount of money invested in starting QB Tony Romo the Cowboys know they need to protect their investment and Martin is a smart pick to allow them to do exactly that. Martin played Offensive Tackle in college but the Cowboys will probably have him play the Guard position, allowing Martin to maximize his great footwork and leverage.

17. Baltimore Ravens – C.J Mosely (ILB, Alabama)
Mosley is the top Inside Linebacker prospect in this year’s draft. He has excellent instincts in pass coverage and stopping the run. He is a natural leader who has great potential to be a Pro Bowl caliber player in the NFL. Mosley is also an excellent tackler and has shown great pursuit to the ball carrier.

18. New York Jets – Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville)
Pryor is a physical, hard-hitting Safety with great range and underrated pass defender. In college it seemed like he was not utilized correctly at certain times during his time at Louisville; that will not be an issue with the defensive savant, Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan. Pryor has the opportunity to make an immediate impact in 2014 for the Jets with the defensive scheme that Ryan runs.

19. Miami Dolphins – Ja’Wuan James (OT, Tennessee)
James was a very consistent Tackle in college and displayed excellent fundamentals during his collegiate career. The Dolphins biggest need on offense was to protect their starting QB Ryan Tannehill and James will help do that for Miami. James also has great footwork and does not get enough credit for his ability to seal the edge on running plays.

20. New Orleans Saints (traded by the Arizona Cardinals) – Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State)
Cooks fills a major need for the Saints; they need a guy who can go deep or make a play on the bubble screen play. Cooks has great instincts in space and has excellent quickness for a guy with his size. Cooks didn’t play in a “prolific offense” in college so his best football is still ahead of him and with superstar Quarterback like Drew Brees the sky is the limit for Cooks.

21. Green Bay Packers – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
Dix has great ball skills in pass coverage and is an underrated tackler. Dix has great instincts and he has the skills to be an impact player in the NFL. The Packers needed to upgrade their secondary to keep up with the high-powered offenses of their rivals in the NFC North division. Dix fills the need for the Packers and this is a great fit for both player and team.

22. Cleveland Browns (traded by Philadelphia Eagles) – Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
The Browns were expected to draft a Quarterback in this year’s draft after the past failures of previous regimes. Manziel will bring something that the Browns have never had at Quarterback: a playmaker. Manziel does not always make the best decision on every play but he will do whatever it takes to win. Manziel has the desire to learn and improve his craft as a QB and the Browns need a guy who can make an impact immediately for them on offense.

23. Kansas City Chiefs – Dee Ford (DE, Auburn)
Ford is an excellent pass rusher who is explosive to the ball. Not sure how the Chiefs plan on utilizing Ford since they already have 2 Pro Bowl Pass Rushers (Tamba Hali and Justin Houston). Usually teams build depth in the later rounds, not the first round. I have Ford ranked as one of my top defensive prospects in this draft I just hope he does not get “lost in the shuffle” in KC.

24. Cincinnati Bengals – Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State)
Dennard is more than a talented Cornerback, he is a great defensive football player. He is excellent at using angles to not allow receivers to make clean catches. He is a tough, hard-nosed player who can both play the run and the pass. He is a plug and play talent for the Bengals in 2014.

25. San Diego Chargers – Jason Verrett (CB, TCU)
Verrett is a tenacious defensive player who has good instincts and can play either the outside corner or nickle corner. He is versatile player who can play both man and zone defense easily. At TCU, Verrett played for a defensive minded coach who helped him maximize his skills. The Chargers got a solid player who will help their pass defense in 2014.

26. Philadelphia Eagles (traded by the Cleveland Browns) – Marcus Smith (LB, Louisville)
Smith is a great fit for the Eagles 3-4 Flex defensive scheme. Smith is a versatile linebacker who can be used as a three down player or situational. Smith is not a flashy star but he is solid, all around football player who good selection by the Eagles for what they need.

27. Arizona Cardinals (traded by New Orleans Saints) – Deone Bucannon (S, Washington State)
This selection is a great fit for the Cardinals. Arizona needs a Strong Safety who hits hard, tackles well, can play in pass coverage without being a liability. Bucannon has good ball skills and is great on closing on the ball carrier.

28. Carolina Panthers – Kelvin Benjamin (WR, FSU)
Benjamin is a raw talent who has a high ceiling. He has great hands, can change direction quickly for a man his size. He needs to work on his route running but he has all the skills and potential to be a number one receiver/target for his team. Benjamin has shown the willingness to put in the time and work to get better.

29. New England Patriots – Dominique Easley (DL, Florida)
Easley is an explosive defensive lineman who is coming off an injury so there was very little hype around him. If not for an injury he could have been a top ten pick. The Patriots get a player who has great strength and quickness, can throw offensive lineman around on his way to the opposing quarterback. Easley will not be expected to start immediately so he has time to get back into football shape and learn from the veterans. Teams in the AFC East should be nervous about the future with Easley and Chandler Jones coming after their quarterbacks.

30. San Francisco 49ers – Jimmy Ward (S, Northern Illinois)
Ward is a Free Safety who has great coverage skills and hands. He has instincts that cannot be taught; he has great ability with his speed and quickness to close distance quickly. Ward has the opportunity to not be forced to start immediately, allowing him to put on some more size to his slender frame and he can learn from great veteran defenders.

31. Denver Broncos – Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
Excellent coverage skills and tackling ability. Roby has high level talent but needs to be more consistent. He uses his great speed and leaping ability to make up for his lapses in coverage. Roby has a high ceiling and has the chance to learn from a Pro Bowl CB Aqib Talib to become a more consistent defender.

32. Minnesota Vikings (traded by the Seattle Seahawks) – Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
Bridgewater is a very talented Quarterback who has great pocket presence and very accurate thrower. He is one of the most NFL ready Quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. The Vikings needed a starting quarterback who can step into a high level NFL offense and not be overwhelmed. Bridgewater has the maturity, composure, and work ethic to be successful in the NFL.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Top 10 Quarterback prospects

With all of the talking heads debating about who should be drafted where, I want to give you “the reader” an objective, no hype, no drama analysis of the players I consider the top ten quarterback prospects and why I have them ranked where they are.  These rankings are based on my scouting notes for each player:

1.  Blake Bortles (University of Central Florida) 6’5” 232 Lbs.

Analysis: Has best upside of any of the Quarterbacks in this years draft; absorbed instruction and playbook like a sponge.  Very good decision maker in the pocket, whiling to hang in and take a hit from the defender in order to make the right play down field.  Good accuracy on deep ball, great leader.

Comparable to: Bortles is a combination of Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Tannehill.  He is sturdy and moves well in the pocket like Big Ben; is athletic and quick learner like Tannehill; also similar arm strength to Tannehill, has Roethlisberger’s accuracy.


2. Derek Carr (Fresno State University) 6’2” 214 Lbs.

Analysis: Has the highest Football IQ of the Quarterbacks in this year’s draft; he called many of his own plays in college and orchestrated an offense with multiple formations.  Great leader and communicator with teammates; excellent mechanics and arm strength.

Comparable to: Carr is a combination between Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco.  He has mechanics similar to Matt Ryan but arm strength and deep ball touch comparable to Flacco.  Carr is tough like both Ryan and Flacco; Carr also brings out the best in his teammates like Ryan does.


3. Zach Mettenberger (Louisiana State University) 6’4” 224 Lbs.

Analysis: Big Arm, solid all-around Quarterback who can make all of the NFL throws.  In college he ran a Pro-style offense under the coaching of long time former NFL Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron.  Mettenberger has shown the willingness to learn and to grow with instruction.  Great footwork and solid mechanics.  Does not force the fall often, which limits his potential for turnovers.

Comparable to: Mettenberger is very similar to a young Carson Palmer.  Both guys stand tall in the pocket, doing a good job evaluating the defense pre and post-snap; both quarterbacks have underrated arm talent and can make all the throws.


4. Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M University) 5’11” 207 Lbs.

Analysis: Good arm strength, can make all the NFL throws.  Doesn’t go through progressions post snap very well.  He is a playmaker so he does not always make the “safe” play, instead trying to make the big play down field or force it into the End Zone.  Excellent mobility in the pocket and great throwing on the run.  Manziel has show willingness to work on his craft which is a positive sign that he is teachable at the NFL level.

Comparable to: Manziel is comparable to Robert Griffin III; both players have similar arm strength, accuracy, mobility in the pocket and are playmakers.  Like Griffin, Manziel must learn to avoid taking big hits and avoid the zealous desire to “make the big play” and instead make the sure play.  Both Quarterbacks are intelligent and are willing to learn in order become better.


5. Teddy Bridgewater (University of Louisville) 6’2” 214 Lbs.

Analysis: Excellent pocket presence, does a good job at sensing the rush post-snap.  He is a great leader who is able to elevate the play of his teammates and put them in a position to be successful.  Good arm strength, very accurate short to intermediate routes but needs enough time in the pocket to make accurate deep throws.  He is good rolling to his right and throwing but as trouble rolling to his left and throwing across his body accurately.  Has a good football IQ and is willing to put in the work to become the best he can be at his position; very high ceiling/potential.

Comparable to: Bridgewater reminds me of a young Tom Brady.  Both players are natural leaders who elevate their teammates and bring out the best in them.  Both Quarterbacks have very good post-snap instincts and are fluid maneuvering the picket while under pressure.  But just like Brady, Bridgewater can be rattled by heavy, blind side blitzes that disrupt his timing.


6. Aaron Murray (University of Georgia) 6’0” 207 Lbs.

Analysis: Great pocket presence and delivery on all throws.  Mentally and Physically tough Quarterback who has underrated arm talent and athleticism.  Can run multiple offenses and has the intellect to be able to adapt based on coaching demands and skill of players around him.  In college was not always put in the best position to succeed and he at times tried to do “too much” instead of staying within himself.  Hard worker, very driven, prototypical “first guy to arrive, last guy to leave” player that coaches love.
Comparable to: Murray is comparable to Russell Wilson.  Both Quarterbacks are natural leaders who adapt to the talent around them.  Both guys have underrated arm strength, accuracy and mechanics.  Both players are considered “undersized” but play tall in the pocket.


7. AJ McCarron (University of Alabama) 6’3” 220 Lbs.

Analysis: Excellent pocket presence, good but not great arm strength yet is able to make all the NFL throws.  High football IQ and is a true leader.  He is driven to win and is not interested in putting up “great stats”.  Very saavy pre and post snap, seeing progressions very well.  Great decision maker, does not force anything, not prone to make turnovers.

Comparable to: McCarron is very similar to Alex Smith.  Both players have good arms, great accuracy and a surprising deep ball.  Both guys work well within the system and because they have high football IQ are very adaptable to their situation.  Both Quarterbacks are not flashy so their skill sets tend to get overlooked.  McCarron is not as athletic as Smith but has better pocket presence.


8. Stephen Morris (University of Miami) 6’1” 213 Lbs.

Analysis: Talented Quarterback with a very good arm and can make every NFL throw no matter what the defense is throwing at him.  There are durability concerns with Morris but he has great potential and is an underrated passer.  His athleticism and down field vision allow him to be a playmaker if the situation calls for it but Morris is not a flashy player.  Performs under pressure well and a great competitor.

Comparable to: Morris is comparable to EJ Manuel.  If you go back and compare game tape of Manuel and Morris when they were in college you see many similarities it their pocket presence, arm strength, ability to make throws under pressure, and competitive nature.  Both players do a good job at going through progressions while avoid pressure on third down.


9. David Fales (San Jose State University) 6’1” 212 Lbs.

Analysis: Great arm, quickest release of all the Quarterbacks in the draft.  But he knows he has a great arm and tries to force the ball into spaces when he has other options available.  Good pocket presence, is not afraid to take a hit after the ball has been released.  Despite his gaudy college stats when he played high level defenses (for example, versus Stanford last season) he over thinks plays and doesn’t make a decision quick enough.  Needs to learn to trust his instincts the same way he trusts his arm.

Comparable to: Fales is a “Poor Man’s” Jay Cutler.  Both guys have great throwing arms, and they know it; which means they force throws sometimes.  But with maturity and the right coaching staff, these guys can really excel.  Fales has a quicker release than Cutler on his throws and has better touch on the deep ball. 


10. Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech University) 6’6” 248 Lbs.

Analysis: Still raw talent wise as a Quarterback.  Excellent arm, very strong and tough.  Footwork and mechanics need refining; takes too long to read defensive coverage sometimes.  His college statistics would be better if his receivers didn’t drop passes or run poor routes.  Wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line and will do whatever it takes to win.  Needs to improve pre and post snap blitz recognition.

Comparable to: Thomas has Ben Roethlisberger’s size and toughness while having Geno Smith’s potential and inconsistency.  Thomas needs to work on his mechanics and footwork just like Geno Smith was inconsistent in college.  But Thomas is tough and has a great arm like Roethlisberger.  If Thomas is drafted by the right team he could develop into a solid, productive starting NFL Quarterback.

2014 NFL Draft: Top 3 Things To Watch For

The first round of the NFL Draft will be here in just a couple days and I want to prepare you for what to watch for (without having to  watch twenty Pre-Draft specials on TV!).  Here are Three Things to Keep an Eye out for in the 2014 NFL Draft:


1. The Johnny Manziel Effect

This year’s class of Quarterbacks are not considered “Franchise Quarterbacks” but there is still many quality and talented signal callers.  Texas A&M Quarterback and Trendy Superstart Johnny Manziel is the domino that will affect all the other quarterbacks in this draft.  Projections are that Manziel could go as high as the 2nd overall pick all the way down to 26th overall!  Many teams are in need of a Quarterback: Jacksonville Jaquars, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals and the St Louis Rams are considering drafting a QB.  Now there are 3 players who are projected as potential 1st round selections: Manziel, Blake Bortles, and Teddy Bridgewater.  But there are a slew of guys who project as productive starting Quarterbacks in the NFL: AJ McCarron, Andy Murray, Derek Carr, Zack Mettenberger, Connor Shaw, and Jimmy Garoppolo.  So the reality is that there is depth at the Quarterback position in this draft and teams do not HAVE to take a QB in the 1st round, allowing for the potential for Manziel, Bortles and Bridgewater to be waiting around while teams load up on talent at other positions.


2. Excellent Depth at Multiple Positions

Extending what is discussed above is the fact that no matter what your favorite team needs, there are multiple players available that project to be successful in the NFL.  A team like the New York Giants needs help on the defensive line.  You look at the list of Defensive Tackle and Defensive End prospects, I count ten DT’s and fourteen DE’s that could become productive NFL players!  So do the Giants have to draft a Defensive Lineman in the first round?  No, they can be selective and pick who they think is the best fit for their team.  The Tennessee Titans need to draft the Running Back of the future with the departure of Chris Johnson.  Looking at the list of Running Back prospects, I see the potential of SEVENTEEN guys who could be productive NFL players.  So if your favorite team doesn’t draft a specific need in the first round, don’t freak out, there is depth of talent to go around this year.


3. Draft Position Movement

Every year in the NFL Draft there are teams that trade pick slots to move up and down.  This year will be exceptionally interesting because there is a handful of player that are coveted by teams.  You have teams like the Buffalo Bills, Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins who have a dearth of picks so they may be open to moving down to accumulate picks in a very deep talent draft.  You also have those teams that make an extreme move up or down the draft all predicated on whether a specific prospect is available or was already drafted.  For example, when the Atlanta Falcons back in 2011 moved up to 6th overall to select Julio Jones the Falcons gave up a boat load of picks to move up.  But the Falcons believed that Jones was worth giving up all of those picks.  On the other side of that coin was the San Diego Chargers in 2001 when they traded away the 1st overall pick and with the picks they got in return, they drafted two future Hall of Famers: Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Why I Love Sports: From "We Could Be King" to Donald Sterling

This weekend I was watching the film "WeCould Be King", a documentary that follows the difficult circumstances of Philadelphia High School students who are involved in the football program. In Philadelphia there was a "doomsday" budget approved that shut down public schools while hundreds of people lost their jobs. Meanwhile students from Germantown High were forced to go to their rivals' school: Martin Luther King Jr High School.

What was significant about this documentary is that it embodies why I value sports so much, especially for young people. "Student-Athletes", as they have been labeled, are working the equivalent of full-time jobs: 6-7 hours of school Monday through Friday, followed by 2 hours of practice, then on the weekends they have games and/or homework to work on also. In all levels of academics, students are prepared for the real world. You have to get to class on time, you learn to deal with good/bad supervisors; meanwhile you have responsibilities to yourself and your teammates to maintain a certain level of Grade Point Average AND perform on game day! You learn how to work with and without people, you are held to a higher standard than other students, all the while having to deal with whatever personal issues that may come up each day.

So this bogus idea that bureaucrats on the Philadelphia School Boards and in multiple levels of government where cutting back funding for sports, music and other extra circular activities is disgraceful. They would rather take away productive outlets for students time, keeping them out of trouble, than constructively balance a budget? The reality, as the documentary points out, that students who do not get involved in after school activities are 57 percent more likely to not graduate than those who are involved in sports, music and other clubs. Chew on that point for a minute: FIFTY-SEVEN PERCENT more likely to be drop outs!

The point I am getting to is not a political one, but about the merits of athletics. Sports amplifies and accentuates the realities of the world around us. In sports you learn the values of working hard, working with others, deadlines, structure, rules, finding one’s strengths and working on their weaknesses in order to be successful. We need all of these skills to survive in the real world of business and personal life. Is that coach or referee unfair? Well so is that boss you can’t stand at the job you need to pay the bills. Having to work with different types of people in order to be successful in the game? You have to deal with similar people everywhere in life. You have to compete to play for your team then you have to compete with your opponent. There is similar competition in the business world as well.

On the flip side of the sports world paradigm you have the Donald Sterling/Los Angeles Clippers fiasco in the NBA. We see how the adage "Money Talks" has great influence over that situation. It has been known for over a decade about Donald Sterling prejudice in his business operations as a landlord kicking out minorities living in his properties and the racial discrimination suit by former Clippers executive Elgin Baylor. So why is the NBA pushing him out now? Because big businesses are suspending their advertising dollars involving the LA Clippers and the NBA. We see this at many levels outside of sports; boycotts and protests along with lobbyists and campaigns influence public reactions and business decisions.

So in the end, if you "hate sports" or think "sports are stupid" then what you really dislike is reality. Sports is an in-your-face, grandiose display of the world around us absorbed into the live performance of athletics. Sports is a catalyst for social change, like Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Baseball, paving the way for the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. Sports forces us to question stereotypes, like 5’6" Doug Flutie winning the Heisman Trophy in the 1980’s and having a long professional football career. Sports puts a spotlight on medical and health issues, like the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Baseball or Concussions' long term effects on mental health in Football and Combat athletes. It was sports that helped many cope with the tragedies of 9/11 as people had a medium to channel their patriotism and national resolve. And last but not least, thanks to collegiate sports tens of thousands of young people get scholarships to go to college each year; many of those same youth cannot afford a college education and are given that opportunity thanks to athletics.

So here’s to the Sports World, affecting change in the lives of so many for over a century. This is why I love Sports.