Play by Play
Things are about to get far more fashionable in the National Basketball Association. No longer does a team sport “home” and “away” jerseys in the NBA. This year, Nike took over from Adidas as the sponsor, and designer of, the uniforms worn by each team in the league. Now, it looks like they will have a bit more choice, with four different jerseys. One such option is called the “Statement” jersey, which Nike released this week. While we might wear a festive scarf or chunky necklace to accent our own outfits, these guys now have an entire ensemble to help them stand out.
Some vacation with their family while it appears that others compete against them. In just the first two weeks of the football season, there have been two match ups that pit siblings or cousins against each other. The Bennett brothers (Martellus of the Green Bay Packers and Michael of the Seattle Seahawks) battled it out in Week One (win or lose, it didn’t really matter since they have both already won a Super Bowl). And then in Week Two, another Packer, Clay Matthews, a linebacker, had the job of literally running over his cousin Jake Matthews, an offensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons, en route to the quarterback.
And these two are not the only genetically gifted families in the NFL. Kyle and Chris Long not only both play in the league, and still keep a protective eye out for, even when competing against, one another, their dad Howie Long is a Hall of Famer, who played for the Oakland Raiders. Similarly, Eli and Peyton Manning both led their teams from the quarterback position, following in their dad Archie’s footsteps. In 2013 the two Super Bowl teams were led by their coaches, Jim and John Harbaugh, brothers who learned the trade from their father Jack. And then there’s newly drafted Pittsburgh Steeler, T.J. Watt, who will face off against his Pro-Bowl, hurricane fundraising brother, JJ Watt, on Christmas Day no less. Sorry mom.
A terrifying incident at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday has spectators and players alike evaluating fan safety. In the bottom of the fifth inning, a 105 mph foul ball, off the bat of Todd Frazier, flew into the stands hitting a 3 year old child. The surrounding fans leapt into action while both teams were left nearly frozen on the field, shocked and concerned for the child’s well-being. While her identity has not been revealed, she is “doing all right” according to her father. Some sports enthusiasts continue to believe extending the nets beyond home plate will interfere with the fan experience but following this, many, many others are on the safety bandwagon, encouraging every stadium to put fans first.
The Faces and Facts
5,694: Earlier this week, Major League Baseball blew past its record for total home runs in a season. The number only continues to climb, now reaching 5,770. That’s a lot of balls that now belong to fans.
10,000: Joe Thomas, the center for the Cleveland Browns, has taken 10,000 consecutive snaps (when he passes the ball back to the quarterback at the start of each play). To put this into perspective, that means he hasn’t missed a single play since he was drafted in 2007. 10 years without a sick day.
Kevin Durant (Basketball): Recent NBA Champion with the Golden State Warriors and former league MVP with the Oklahoma City Thunder. His move to the Bay Area last year came with a great deal of criticism, especially from Russell Westbrook (fashion icon and this year’s MVP), a teammate at OKC. This less-than-amicable split returned to center stage on Monday after Durant accidentally tweeted, or more aptly, didn’t realize he was tweeting from his official account, some harsh words about the Thunder players and staff. While he has apologized and admitted he “deserves” the ensuing jokes and trash talk, he still comes across as the world’s sorest winner.
Eddie Lacy (Football): A running back for the Seattle Seahawks (formerly a Packer) who recently opened up about his weight struggles. Teased by fans and teammates alike, it appears he has been unable to escape the criticism that came with his larger stature. His current contract actually has weight goals built in, attached to some significant financial bonuses. Talk about relatable. Even professional athletes, who could run circles around most people, battle with body image issues. Deemed inactive last week (meaning he was not one of the 46 players to dress for the game) he hopes to hit the field this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. A few other running backs to note, due to their stellar performances in the first two weeks:
- Kareem Hunt: A rookie playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, who has already tallied 5 touchdowns. After fumbling his first ever NFL carry, he went on to provide 21 points in the Chiefs week one victory over the Patriots.
- Le’Veon Bell: Now in his fifth year in the NFL, he had an outstanding 2016 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, despite a 3-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
- Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders: Arguably two of the best running backs of all time, who took center stage in the 1990s.
Most NFL teams have a 53 player roster, 46 of whom dress for any given game. That’s a lot of people and subsequently a lot of positions. Here’s a quick overview of the players with a tricks (I like to think about the jersey numbers) to help track them on the field. We’ll take a look at the offensive positions this week, with defensive to follow. While this breakdown isn’t 100%, it helps me as I’m watching the game:
Quarterbacks (QB): The leader of the offense, whose helmet is directly connected to the coach’s headset. They usually don a number between 1-19.
Wide Receivers (WR) and Tight Ends (TE): The players lining up on the outsides, who run short or long routes to try and get open to catch the ball. Jersey #s 10-19 or 80-89
Running back (Halfback) and Fullback (RB/HB or FB): The one, or two players who line up behind the quarterback. The ball is most often handed off to these players to run it up the field. They sport #20-49.
Offensive Linemen (#60-79): The center (C) is in the middle of the line and has the job of snapping the ball to the QB. On either side of the center are the guards (G) and then the tackles (T). They all have the task of blocking/stopping the defense from reaching the quarterback and/or the person running with the ball.
In college, this numerical distinction does not exist so it’s a total free-for-all!
Invictus Games 2017: Starting on Saturday the 23rd and running for an entire week, these games were started by Prince Harry in 2014. It is an opportunity for wounded, injured or sick members of the armed services to compete in all types of Paralympic sporting events.
Atlanta Falcons v. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan, quarterbacks and best friends, face off this Sunday. While often meeting after games to shake hands, it wasn’t until the 2015 Pro Bowl, after the first four QBs picked backed out, that their friendship really blossomed. Not only are their wives good friends, the two vacation and even play in a recreational sports league together. This bromance is set to face its first major hurdle at 1pm EST, with two undefeated records on the line.
New York Giants v. Philadelphia Eagles: One of the oldest rivalries in the business. Carson Wentz, in his second year, hopes to lead his Eagles to victory over Eli Manning, a seasoned QB with two Super Bowls under his belt, and the Giants. It seems that not a meeting goes by without some strange play that usually favors the Eagles. Will this game be the rule or an exception? Also airing at 1pm EST, it looks like you’ll have to choose which game to watch. Can’t go wrong either way.
The Social Hour
If it’s the person rather than the game in which you’re interested, reality television can offer you insight into the lives of a handful of professional athletes.
- Dancing with the Stars: Over 60 professional athletes have participated
- Eric and Jessie: Eric Decker plays in the NFL and his life off the field can be watched in full on the E Network
- Catching Kelce: Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs. While it only lasted one season you can binge watch on E
If you’re simply curious which athletes have made their way to the silver screen, here’s a substantial list!