Fall is in the air—so are a hell of a lot of changes in the NFL.
Le'Veon went from worst to first, Dan Quinn is out of job, and like college athletes, sports journalists apparently aren't allowed to make money from sponsorships. Meanwhile, coronavirus is running in the background, taking out teams before opponents even get the chance.
Here are the oofs and ahhs in this week's edition of Shots Taken.
The NFL Is Done With The Rona, But The Rona Isn't Done With The NFL
Coronavirus has been a headline for the entire year, and it's still making NFL headlines in a season that's chugging along despite an outbreak that may have officially killed the Patriots dynasty.
Meanwhile, the Colts are coping with four false positives, rushing to reopen their facility before their Sunday game against the Bengals. But with false positives and confirmed cases, the Rona is on the brink of a full-on takeover.
In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus has knocked out half of the Titans roster, it's taken out the Patriots' best players on offense and defense, and it's switched around nine bye weeks and seven weeks of scheduling. Sure, infected players are being sidelined as teams move forward, but there's going to be more cases, and there is only so much rescheduling teams can do. What happens, for example, if the Patriots see even more cases, or the Steelers experience an outbreak and need another bye week?
Moving the Chains with Ashmere | COVID in the NFL www.youtube.com
While discussions of a bubble seem unrealistic for the NFL, perhaps they'll be a two-week hiatus that allows everyone to quarantine. Maybe players will have to shuffle into a controlled hotel environment for the second half of the season. Whatever they decide to do, coronavirus will be running in the background like the virus that took over your Windows computer.
The Bell Now Tolls For Kansas City
If you're not first, you're last.
While there is some truth in Ricky Bobby's wisdom, it's still early in the season, and we don't quite know who's taking home the Lombardi this year. But we do know who isn't taking it home (the Jets) and who did last year (the Chiefs). We also know that in a matter of days, Le'Veon Bell just jumped from last to first by getting cut by the Jets, then signing with the Chiefs.
Kansas City, #ChiefsKingdom, thank you for the opportunity 🙏🏾 let’s go! https://t.co/6aEY9GaoA7— Le'Veon Bell (@Le'Veon Bell)1602804165.0
It almost seems like there should be a rule against the Chiefs accumulating so much talent, but no, the Jets may have ruined everyone's postseason chances by letting them snag the former Steelers star. While Bell's woes began over contract negotiations, he's slated to only make $690,000 with the Chiefs with the opportunity to make up to $1.69 million.
The best part of it all? Bell is being treated to a revenge game opportunity against the Jets in Week 8. Here's to hoping Bell can rebuild his reputation by swerving, stiff arming and straight-up shaming the Jets defense.
After Quinn's Departure, Will The Falcons Finally Take Flight?
The only surprising thing about Dan Quinn's dismissal from the Falcons is that it took this long to execute. Liz Roscher of Yahoo Sports summarized Quinn's tenure as "six years on the job, two winning seasons and one memorably painful Super Bowl appearance", the worst part being that his team hasn't had a winning season since 2017.
A letter from Dan Quinn to the city of Atlanta. https://t.co/2QSoHtbDxI— Atlanta Falcons (@Atlanta Falcons)1602691211.0
The Falcons lost that Patriots Super Bowl, they lost Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, and they haven't been the same since. After an eerily-similar repeat of their Super Bowl loss in Week 2 against the Cowboys, the calls to fire Quinn were louder than ever, yet Quinn and GM Tom Dimitroff were given three more weeks to redeem themselves. With Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Todd Gurley and Calvin Ridley, there's no reason that the Falcons couldn't have won one game—well, besides coaching.
If players win games and coaches lose them, then perhaps the Falcons still have a chance to salvage their season without Quinn leading the charge.
Ian Rapoport Gets Cut Down For Endorsing Manscaping
In some football-adjacent news, prominent NFL reporter Ian Rapoport has been suspended by NFL Network until October 22nd for something racy he shared on his Instagram… an ad for Manscaped.
Manscaped, which specializes in full-body hair trimming options for men, has employed a highly-effective viral marketing model by getting celebrity endorsements in the spaces men typically frequent—on podcasts, social media and in the sports world. Rapoport was one of these celebrities, but apparently he didn't get clearance from the network to share the endorsement on his social channels, thereby violating network guidelines.
https://t.co/jdN1GceONW— Ian Rapoport (@Ian Rapoport)1602299332.0
While Rapoport said he respects and understands the network's decision and is "deeply sorry for his mistake", it brings about an interesting discussion about how sports journalists, like athletes, may be limited in the ways they can make money through their celebrity. Already-shrinking newsrooms have been slashed by COVID cuts, and though Rapoport likely isn't affected by this, there shouldn't be anything wrong with trying to earn a side hustle in an impoverished journalistic landscape—even if that means Rapoport breaks the news on the best way to, uh, mow the lawn.
This week, the league's greatest quarterbacks had a chance to battle it out: Tom Brady took on Aaron Rodgers in a surprise blowout win, while MVP candidate Josh Allen lost to Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.
The lesson to be learned here is don't count those MVP votes before Week 6 (and never, never slander Tom Brady before a big game).
As Ferris Bueller might say: The world of sports moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around at least once a week, you could miss it.Here we'll review what you might have missed in the past week all in one place. Why spend hours scrolling through Twitter to catch up on the news you want? We've already done that for you, so remember to check back every Monday to get your dose of weekly sports review.
Week 5 Vibe Check - Apologies for my Apple repair-induced vacation last week. For those curious, my offline picks kept me afloat at 3-2, while waiting to hear exactly how much a new keyboard for a MacBook costs.
The Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Arizona Cardinals all chipped in for me, but the Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars nearly cost me letters "Q" through "T."
What did we figure out this last week? Well, Tom Brady's favorite number is four and like I've been saying all year, "THE BUCS AREN'T THAT GOOD." Meanwhile, down in Atlanta, the Panthers once again showed us that they ARE a competitive football team by smacking down the Falcons so mercilessly that Dan Quinn got the ax. You could've gotten pretty good odds on his firing. Or if you're like me, you lost money for the second time that Adam Gase hasn't cleaned out his office yet.