In one of the most active, exciting NFL off-seasons in quite some time, the 2008 free agency period gave all of those suffering football withdrawals plenty to whet their appetites... or at least it did for me. Please tell me I'm not the only one who suffers from football withdrawals.
What follows is a nice concise list of the 10 off season events which have the biggest potential to impact everything in which they’ve come into contact with. It's not a top ten because I figured it wouldn’t behoove me to try and rank things that haven’t happened yet and then try and pass it off as fact. History has a tendency to be unkind to people who try that sort of thing.
Brett Favre’s and Michael Strahan’s retirements
Why did I bunch these two retirements together you ask? Well, not only are their respective retirements likely to have a huge impact on their former teams, but they are also out of work at precisely the same time. And what do we know about NFL pre-game shows and recently retired players? That’s right, they facking love them!
Brett Favre and Michael Strahan are both the kind of people who have always tried to find the funny in life and I believe it would be a monumental moment should both of them land on the same pre-game show. It would change millions of American’s Sunday mornings for the better. Even if the two of them never team up, I'm confident at least one of them will try their hand in TV.
Pacman Jones to the Dallas Cowboys
Sure, the guy's off the field decisions have made many wonder if he’s somehow related to the Vick brothers, but try and take yourself back to when he was still playing football. He was electric, he made big plays and made everyone around him play better. He had such a natural ability playing the game of football, I was certain he would eventually become one of the best corners and all around playmakers in the league.
We all know what happened, but it seems a lot of people have forgotten just what he used to bring to the table. Although not until he suits up again will we see whether or not a year off making it rain has decremented his athletic ability or not.
Donte Stallworth to the Cleveland Browns
Yes, he was the third best receiver on his team last year, but he was the third best receiver on the best offense, behind two other wide outs who had all-decade type years. Even if Stallworth plays average by his standards, his presence on the field will open it up for Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards, or vice versa.
While his talent can only help the team, Stallworth’s multiple personalities/alter egos might have the potential to do some harm in the locker room. Do you really expect Jamal Lewis to stand by idly while Donte is speaking in third person, pretending he’s an alien?
Asante Samuel to the Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have taken some flack for not dealing Lito Shephard during the draft or in it’s aftermath. Now, they have three top-tier cornerbacks. True, there are only two starting positions at corner, but how is having three top-tier cornerbacks a bad thing? What’s the worst thing that can happen? They start a CB by committee trend? That would be a good thing! One gets tired, spell in the other one. The Eagles may be onto something here..
Alan Faneca to the New York Jets
I wish I was there when Thomas Jones first heard about the Faneca signing. I wouldn’t have been surprised in the least had he done a cartwheel, hugged the nearest person, then began pouring shots for everyone. He is after all the same guy who had one rushing touchdown last year. That’s right, just the one.
Although he was partially to blame, the Jets offensive line also played a key role in Jones’ failing his quests’ for six. Faneca was an integral piece in a Steelers offensive line that was great year in and year out and looks to fill one of the biggest weaknesses for the Jets last year.
Jared Allen to the Minnesota Vikings
Even if Allen ends up dislocating a knee cap (Is that even possible?) in week one, his impact on the Vikings and it’s nation has been palpable. Barring such a catastrophic injury, it’s hard to imagine a world in which Allen doesn’t take the Vikings' defense to another level. Now they have two of the best in the game on either side of the ball. Adrian 'All Day' Peterson on offense and Jared 'I don't have a cool nickname' Allen on defense.
And don’t worry Vikings fans, I’ve never jinxed a thing in my life. They aren’t even real, save for the legendary 'Jinx you owe me a Coke, bitch' gem. So you should be good.
Randy Moss returning to the New England Patriots
Had Moss taken the money and went to the Eagles, it very well could have changed the landscape of the entire universe.
1.) The Patriots lose Moss, Stallworth, and Samuel and drop from their former 'Elite' level down to the 'Well, they still have Tom Brady' level. This would have caused all who dislike the Patriots to throw all night celebrations, a la every single state that's not in New England. Vermont probably would have turned, too. Traitors.
2.) Having acquired a player of Moss’ caliber to pair with Donovan McNabb, Philly fans may have begun to think positive thoughts about the upcoming season. As we all know, that will probably never happen. Ever.
Michael Turner to the Atlanta Falcons
I actually subscribe to the belief that Turner, while a good back, will not live up to all of the hype. Not to mention it was bullshit, the Falcons didn’t try and roll the dice with J-Norwood, who has a ton of potential and just so happens to be on my fantasy team. If the Falcons QB situation plays out like it should next year, meaning... shitty (Barring a Matty Ice coming out party. Quick side note: What are the odds that Matt Ryan likes Natty Ice with a nickname like Matty Ice? Isn’t it an absolute certainty? Is Matty Ice selling Natty Ice on television not a genius idea? Is anyone still reading this?), than Turner will have a hard time maintaining his career 5.5 yards per carry with eight men in the box every play.
On the other hand, Turner could be the next big thing and have fantasy owners everywhere punching themselves in the nuts next November because they didn’t take him.
Chad Johnson staying with the Cincinnati Bengals
Apparently, Ocho Cinco has decided to take one for the team and actually participate in his team's offseason workouts. What a guy! No matter your opinion on this guy's ego and love of money, the man has skills and his participation in the Bengals' 2008 campaign can only bring good things. Unless he goes all 2005 T.O. on them and single handedly destroys their entire season. It should be interesting to watch..
Steely McBeam’s release by the Pittsburgh Steelers
Out of everything on this list, this is perhaps the most surprising. McBeam, regarded by some as the best mascot ever created was let go by the Steelers as we neared the start of the 2008 season. Everything about him was supposed to be symbolic about the city of Pittsburgh. The Mc was for the city’s Irish heritage and the Beam because Pittsburgh loves it some Jim Beam. Even the first name Steely is a reference to the city and it’s history with steel! Genius! Nothing says Pittsburgh like alcoholic Irish steel workers, after all.
How will the fans react to this? Either they will be calling for his return by week two, or the 98% of the city who are not Irish, alcoholic steelworkers will learn to live without such a polarizing, potentially homosexual mascot. Take your pick, but all kidding aside I think it’s safe to say: R.I.P. Steely McBeam, you truly were a legend.