Biggest stars not in the headlines this season
In case you haven’t noticed, which is virtually impossible, Peyton Manning has gone to TV commercials full time.
Adrian Peterson and J.J. Watt are injured. Aaron Rodgers is struggling. Todd Gurley’s breakout rookie season looks like a mirage. Megatron is gone. Russell Wilson has been gimpy. Darrelle Revis has been mediocre. Tony Romo has been invisible. Too many of the NFL’s headline grabbers aren’t in the news, or aren’t producing the kind of plays and drama football fans crave. With all the consternation about TV ratings for NFL games being down, with everything from the presidential election to the Colin Kaepernick-inspired anthem protests being blamed, maybe pro football is a bit star-crossed because it doesn’t have a lot of its stars being, well, stars.
NFL supporters like to say it’s the uniform and the tradition and history of teams that make the game such a slam-dunk attraction. The counter-argument is simply that with such national teams as the Raiders, Giants and Dolphins being non-contenders so often in recent years, why didn’t viewership disappear then? No, it’s about the stars. Arguably the biggest luminary in Roger Goodell’s league is Tom Brady. He sat out the first four weeks thanks to Goodell’s suspension of the Patriots quarterback in the deflated footballs saga. Watching Brady take vengeance on the league office by way of New England’s opponents has been one of the few compelling plots thus far.
Sure, there are others. The way Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott have taken hold in Dallas has been front-page worthy.
“There is no question that Dak and Zeke, there is no question they’re inspiring the rest of the team,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “This game is a lot about that.” How about Lorenzo Alexander’s career year in Buffalo after nine seasons as an NFL journeyman?
“I thought he could do a lot of roles for us,” Bills coach Rex Ryan says. “But I had no idea that he was still the same player, but he might be a better player. How it happens, I’m not sure.
“I know one thing, it’s hard work and his dedication and all that. He’s an outstanding teammate, too. He serves all the credit.”
Great story, yes. SportsCenter material in this age of glitz and memes? Probably not.
It’s unfortunate that as the sports world has become a major part of the instantgratification, 24/7/365 social media environment, what is happening with the big names is of primary interest. Almost exclusively.
So heading into a weekend of games, there’s more focus on Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab and LeSean McCoy’s potential absence than on the emergence of Vic Beasley Jr. as a sacks threat, or Dennis Pitta’s valiant return to the field.