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This weekend, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will enshrine their Class of 2019.

The eight-man class will be made official at the Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony, set to take place in Canton, Ohio on August 3.

For the second year in a row, a trio of first-ballot candidates – Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed and Champ Bailey – will be inducted into the Hall. That threesome will be joined by Ty Law and Kevin Mawae. In addition, the Hall will be adding defensive back Johnny Robinson from the seniors committee, as well as Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and personnel executive Gil Brandt from the contributors list.

It’s a defense-leaning list, with four defensive backs to go with an offensive lineman and a tight end.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 11 June 2019 16:32

Three-down renown: A 2019 CFL preview

It’s June. The sports landscape is in flux. Baseball is in full flower, but both the NBA and NHL have just crowned their champions, bringing their respective seasons to a conclusion. And while the NFL is a year-round sport in many ways, we’re definitely in the league’s largest lull right now.

But all is not lost! There’s football being played! And not just Women’s World Cup football … although it is an international game.

The CFL’s season kicks off on June 13, with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats playing host to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. All told, each team plays 18 games in 21 weeks; the whole thing wraps up with the 107th Grey Cup, to be played in November at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.

The Canadian game has its quirks and differences from what we see on Sundays in this country, but it’s those quirks and differences that make it fun to watch. It’s a fast-paced, wide-open game that offers plenty of action and excitement.

And if you’ve ever considered that you’d like to give the CFL a try, but can’t seem to find the games to watch, fear not: a new broadcast agreement means that ESPN and ESPN+ will be making every single league game of the season available on one platform or another. No more barriers to entry – just settle in and get your football fix.

Here’s a quick look ahead to the 2019 CFL season.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 01 May 2019 10:18

Some brand-new New England Patriots

Another big chapter of the National Football League’s future unfolded this past weekend in Nashville.

The 32 NFL franchises landed in Music City for the 2019 NFL Draft, where over the course of three days, teams selected the players they hope will lead their respective organizations into the future. Team presidents, general managers, coaches and owners pored over stat sheets and tapes, looking to separate the cream of the collegiate crop from the chaff, all in an effort to put themselves in the best possible position to move forward toward a championship.

The draft isn’t always as exciting in New England as it is in other places – two decades of Patriots success has led to less-than-optimal selection slots as a rule, although that hasn’t stopped them from making some solid picks.

That said, the early consensus is that this has a chance to be one of the better draft hauls of the Belichick era (for whatever that’s worth – see the caveat a few paragraphs down). Rather than go with their usual tactic of trading down and stockpiling, the Pats apparently liked what they saw in the Class of 2019, selecting 10 players in all. And it’s a far-from-typical group to boot, but really, when have the Patriots ever been conventional?

Will all of these players succeed? Of course not. Hell, a good chunk of them may not even make the team at all. But hey – we’re talking about the reigning Super Bowl champions here. They don’t need to hit on every pick. Still, expect at least a couple of these additions to make a splash.

Let’s meet the new guys.

(Obligatory annual caveat: This is not an effort to grade the Patriots draft class. Literally nothing has changed about any of these players except that they have been given an opportunity to potentially make an NFL roster. As to whether any or all of them cash in on that opportunity, well … I can’t say. And neither can anyone else, no matter how authoritative they sound on TV or on the internet. Grading a draft that just happened is nonsense; a worthless exercise. This is just an introduction.)

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 27 March 2019 14:33

A Gronking to remember

A New England Patriots legend has decided to hang it up.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has announced that he will be retiring from football after nine seasons in the NFL. He made his decision public via Instagram on March 24.

Despite a playing career that lasted less than a decade and featured numerous extended periods of injury, Gronk’s legacy is undoubtedly secure. He will take his place among the best to ever play the game, with numbers that ensure a Hall of Fame jacket despite his truncated time in the league.

Published in Sports

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced their Class of 2019.

The class will include eight men in all. For the second year in a row, a trio of first-ballot candidates – Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed and Champ Bailey – will be inducted into the Hall. That threesome will be joined by Ty Law and Kevin Mawae. In addition, the Hall will be adding defensive back Johnny Robinson from the seniors committee, as well as Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and personnel executive Gil Brandt from the contributors list.

Published in Sports

Back in September, 32 NFL teams began a journey that they hoped would end with a trip to Atlanta and an opportunity to lift the Lombardi Trophy as the victors in Super Bowl LIII.

After 16 games in the regular season and some hard-fought contests in January, the field has been whittled down to just two. The New England Patriots – back for the third year in a row and for the ninth time in the 21st century – are set to face off against the Los Angeles Rams, who haven’t been to the big game since they lost to these same Patriots back in 2002.

This rematch is to be played 17 years to the day after that one, a New England victory that would prove to be the first championship of the team’s dynastic run.

Obviously, these aren’t the same teams that faced off on February 3, 2002. However, two very important figures from that long-ago Patriots squad remain. Quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick are still here, continuing to build on the astonishing legacy (nine Super Bowls, eight straight AFC Championship appearances and 13 total) that they’ve spent the past two decades burnishing.

On the other side, we have the Rams, representing the new guard in the NFL. Head coach Sean McVay is just 33 years old – half the age of his opponent. Quarterback Jared Goff is 24 years old and in his third season; he was just six years old when Tom Brady entered the NFL. They’re a young and hungry group predicted by some to be the successors to the Patriots atop the football world, but they haven’t won anything yet.

So what’s going to happen?

While I’m not one to give too much credence to the necessity of experience, the reality is that this Patriots team has been in this spot A LOT. Meanwhile, just about everybody on the Rams sideline is new to this kind of big game pressure. Will that make a difference? Almost certainly. The amount of difference will likely determine who ultimately comes out on top here.

Still, it’s all about the matchups on the field. Let’s have a look.

Published in Cover Story

All told, it wasn’t that tough to predict what was going to happen in the divisional round. The top seeds won and advanced. Try as we might to talk ourselves into thinking otherwise (like I did with Philadelphia and Stella did with Indianapolis), more often than not, it’s a pair of one- and two-seeds playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

Stella and I both went 3-1 in our divisional picks. We were both right on the Rams and the Patriots, while I had Kansas City and she had New Orleans. This leaves me with a lead of a single game.

However, as we differ on both conference championship games, the possibility exists for her to leapfrog me and surge into the lead going into the Super Bowl.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 09 January 2019 14:05

Kibbles and Picks 2019 – Divisional Round

Not exactly an auspicious beginning to our NFL postseason predictions, but it could have been worse.

I managed a mere 2-2 record, correctly picking the Colts and Cowboys as Wild Card winners and whiffing on my Ravens and Bears guesses. However, Stella did even worse – her sole correct pick was the Chargers, missing on the rest of the games.

Published in Sports

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has released their list of finalists for the Class of 2019.

This list – trimmed from 25 semifinalists – will be subsequently cut to 10 and then to five on Super Bowl weekend. The final five will then be put to a yes/no vote with regards to their potential induction; it takes 80 percent on that final vote to achieve enshrinement.

The list of finalists includes all three ballot newcomers and a number of extremely talented holdovers.

Published in Sports

Man – where was this a month ago?

I had the best week of the season – for either of us – putting up a 14-2 record. I went five-for-five in head-to-head picks; Stella went 9-7.

And for all that, my sole reward is the fact that I cut her final margin of victory to nine. Sure, I got beaten in this Godforsaken competition again – for the fourth year in a row and for the fifth time out of six years – but at least it wasn’t by double digits this time.

Stella has once more dominated Kibbles and Picks with an adorable iron paw, illustrating to me the ongoing foolishness of engaging in this exercise. I am forced to admit yet again that my dog is better at picking football games than I am.

Final Standings

Allen’s season record: 154-100-2

Stella’s season record: 163-91-2

Published in Sports
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