football | WYPR


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At the end of a relationship, it’s typical for one or both parties to take stock, to dust oneself off, as it were, and try to figure out what went wrong towards a goal of making things better the next time.

In some cases, with the passage of time, you might even consider the wisdom of patching things up and trying again.

If you think of the end of an athletic season in the same way you would a relationship, then, in the wake of Saturday’s desultory 17-3 loss to Buffalo in the AFC playoffs, the Ravens are doing a “where did it all fall apart” assessment of the situation.

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I want to start 2021 with a confession: I play the lottery.

Now, this isn’t an everyday thing. I don’t jeopardize my retirement or anyone’s college fund and I only play when the jackpots are especially large. But, like a lot of folks, I want to get rich fast.

Of course, I’m going about it all wrong. If I really want to make big bucks in a hurry  for doing nothing, these days I need to become an unemployed big time college football coach. 

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In the midst of the pandemic, Americans have been forced to find forms of entertainment that don’t involve getting in a car and leaving home. 

In the process, many have discovered, or rediscovered, the old fashioned family game and one of the more popular ones is Jenga. You know, the one where kids and their parents test their skill and nerve by trying to slide out wooden blocks without knocking over the whole stack. 

That game has become something of a metaphor for what the NFL is trying to do with its schedule as COVID-19 imposes its will on teams. 

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By all rights, Dak Prescott is the kind of guy that, in a sports context, I should hate.

For openers, he’s the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, a team on the very short list of teams that I despise, for historical and geographical reasons, and darn it, for common sense.

Prescott is quite talented, In four years in Dallas, he’s thrown for almost 16,000 yards and nearly 100 touchdowns. For that, he’ll earn about $32 million this year with the promise of likely $40 million next year, when he’ll be 28 years old.

So, add rich and gifted to young and handsome and famous and you have plenty of reasons for envy. And yet, I can’t hate Dak Prescott. In fact, in many ways, he’s a hero.


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If the people who run football had their way, you’d see their game not in terms of a mere battle between offense and defense, but rather in the context of another game.

The metaphor is that the players are pieces on a giant grass-covered chess board and the coaches are master tacticians.

The two featured strategists at center stage in Sunday’s Super Bowl, Eric Bieniemy of Kansas City’s offense and Robert Saleh, San Francisco’s defensive coordinator, were at the helm of dynamic units that held even the casual observer in thrall.

Was Alfred Lord Tennyson right nearly two centuries ago when he queried if it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

Or, posited in a 21st century NFL context, was the joy of the Ravens’ 14-2 season – the best in franchise history – worth the anguish that settled over Baltimore late Saturday night in the wake of the 28-12 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the divisional playoffs?