2017 NFL Preview: 5 Stories to Watch

NFL FootballThe NFL is back for another season as the beast of a machine that is the National Football League ploughs ahead for another year.

In North American sport there is no bigger league than the NFL as they are the masters of the sports world in this region of the world.

Last year they made a total of $14 billion in revenue making it their most profitable season ever and increasing their totals by $900 million.

The revenue makes them the largest league in North America with the biggest TV deals and more attention than anyone else.

When the NFL season begins there really isn’t anything else going on in the world of sports as Sundays become a day of football leading up to the biggest single-day sporting event in North America.

It has expanded to points that nobody saw coming when they first started as a little league playing a good but not overly popular sport.

Now they are the biggest thing in North America but like anything with success comes more issues and many more problems.

The more the league has grown the more people are looking into the league and the more eyes that are on the league the more likely things will come up that aren’t necessarily the best.

For the NFL things were always pretty good as the league continued to grow because people loved the sport and the characters that played the sport.

It took a special type of person to put themselves through that type of punishment but nobody really understood the type of punishment that the players were actually undergoing.

That is where things really began to change for the league as the NFL was rocked by the findings of doctors that found a connection with the punishment of football and brain damage.

The league was hurt even worse when players began to claim that the league had known about this connection for years and actively attempted to hide the truth.

Concussions in the league began to become a serious story and more former players came out showing the damage that the sport had done.

Many struggling to live a normal life and others suffering so bad that they succumbed to the deepest depressions and committed suicide.

Study after study has now been released showing a connection leaving little debate the only debate left is the actual number that have been affected as most of the brains studied are studied because of the likelihood of brain damage.

It has caused a change in the love of the game and the NFL is noticing it as the violence that once sold the game to fans is now one of its biggest issues.

The league still tries to distance itself from the claims and prefers not to refer to it at all as it has been the biggest black eye on the league ever.

The concussion is was only the start though as the once infallible league was now a league that could be challenged.football-sidebar

After the claim that they had hidden the effect of concussions came out the league looked vulnerable and looked like they were simply protecting their own interest.

That has led to a lot of issues in recent years where fans and players alike have begun to challenge the league.

It is no longer just trusting what the league has said but rather questions why the league is saying what it is saying.

Ever since the revelation about concussions and brain damage the league has seemingly been dealing with scandal after scandal.

There are issues of racism, individuality, safety and so much more that the league has been dealing with for years.

Every year it is a new issue and although every year they continue to grow in terms of revenue they also continue to struggle with the amount of people watching.

TV ratings have steadily gone down in the last few years as the league deals with these issues and loses fans.

Now they enter a new season where the money they are bringing in will be bigger than ever but the fan base will continue to fall.

There are any number of issues and stories that could help or hurt especially based on how they will be handled.

That is where the NFL stands as they are bigger than ever but also in the middle of an era that will determine the future of the league.

losangeles

The NFL is the biggest league in North America but unlike so many of the other big leagues, they were lacking in one of the biggest markets in the region. Los Angeles is one of the top two media markets in the USA and with two teams already in New York, the NFL was lacking on the west coast. That changed last year when they moved the St. Louis Rams to the place where they were originally created. Although their stadium won’t be ready for a few years the Los Angeles Rams took over the Coliseum for their first season. The move was a big one as football was finally back in one of the biggest markets in the country but the sport had failed there before and it had a lot to do with the lack of fans that came out. The fact that the Rams were not a good team last year wouldn’t help that issue but this year things might get even tougher. The San Diego Chargers decided to exercise their option to move alongside the rams into a new stadium that is currently under construction. The Los Angeles Chargers will begin playing in Carson this year, essentially placing two teams in the L.A. area for the foreseeable future. With one of the biggest issues being the love of the game from the fans in Los Angeles, many are wondering how smart it is to split the fan base in two. Especially with the Chargers moving from not too far away and likely already having a fan base in the area. Both teams will compete for the fans in one of the biggest cities in the world but for years football hasn’t worked because nobody seemed to care. If one team struggled to pull fans how will two teams fare? The answer will begin to be answered this season as two teams will play in the area trying to find their way in one of the toughest markets to solve. The NFL is gambling big on these moves and after a lack lustre first year from the Rams where excitement gave way to a terrible season. The Chargers have not been a lot better and whether or not they can solve the issues of L.A., just like the Rams, is dependant on just how good they can be as a once empty market is all of a sudden crowded.

brady

If there was any question about just how good Tom Brady is it should be just about answered by now after his fifth Super Bowl championship. Last year was slightly different though as Brady didn’t just go out and play a regular game to take the win he completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. Down 28-3 after the first half, it seemed like the Patriots were in for another upset as the Falcons were ready to take their first Super Bowl. The Patriots then began to climb back shutting down the Atlanta offence while Brady led his team to 31 second half points taking his fifth title. It might have just been his most impressive Super Bowl championship of his career and it came at age 39. He might still have his limitations, he still is nowhere near as mobile as other quarterbacks in the league, but he will still go down as the best quarterback in the history of the game. This year he begins things in a new place as he will start his 2017 season as a 40-year old quarterback. It has been spectacular what he has done through his 30s to become the top QB in the game but there is an old saying “Father Time is Undefeated.” In life 40 is a somewhat scary age for some but it is still not a very big number. In sports 40 is essentially five years past retirement age as 35 tends to be the time when most players see their time ending. 40 is the time when the few quarterbacks that have made it past 35 hit a wall where their performance drops off. It has been that breaking point for some of the greatest players in the game and now Brady faces that wall. There are clearly no signs of decline in his game as he is still sitting on top of the league. He has been preparing for this day for a long time changing his eating and training habits very early in his career with the express goal of playing into his 40s. By itself five Super Bowl wins is enough to make him the greatest but defying that age issue that has taken out the best in the world might just change the game. If Brady can be as effective this year and into the future, everyone will look to his regimen to extend their careers which might change the length of a career.

falcons

The Patriots walked out of Houston with a big win and continued their reign as the best team of the last two decades. The Atlanta Falcons walked out with their reputation intact as well as they left the Super Bowl as the best team that continues to come up short. For years the Falcons have been one of the best teams in the league with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones packing an amazing offensive punch. Despite their ability on the field, they have consistently fallen short whether it be in the playoffs and now in the Super Bowl. This year things are not just the usual disappointing season though as they left the Super Bowl on the wrong end of the greatest comeback in the history of the game. The Falcons had a massive lead heading into half time and if they came out with the same fire they could walk away with one of the most lopsided wins in Super Bowl history. It wasn’t to be though and the Falcons took the loss unable to score a single point in the second half while allowing 31 points by the Patriots. It will be known as one of the worst collapses in NFL history but the most challenging thing about it could just be this season. The Falcons are back for another year with a massive cloud hanging over their entire team. Plenty of people were blamed for the loss including offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan who made some questionable play calls in the second half. He is no longer there though as he moved on to coach San Francisco this season. What will remain are the biggest names including Matt Ryan. The quarterback has a lot of question to answer over the last few years as many consider him one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He has never been able to get it done though and so his legacy will always be tarnished. With this latest collapse where he was unable to score in the second half is only going to tarnish that legacy more especially if he can’t get a Super Bowl title before his career is over. How the team reacts is going to be a big story as they look to change everything by winning a Super Bowl and creating one of the best stories ever. If they can’t win they will forever be known as the team that blew their chance at a title.

AP RAMS 49ERS FOOTBALL S FBN USA CA

Things have not been going well for the league when it comes to the relationship between management and the players. Financially things have never been better for either side but the money issue, as much as the players will continue to argue that they want a bigger piece of the pie, is not what has gone south over the last few seasons. What has really hurt the relationship is the deterioration of the trust between both sides. There had never been an amazing amount of trust between the two as the players have always had a bit of a suspicion about what the league is doing. The introduction of the concussion issue convinced most players that they were right in their suspicion that the league was hiding things from them. It also convinced the players that when it comes to the decisions being made the interests of the owners will always come first. The concussion issue was just the beginning of things though as a new issue has risen after last year. That was the year where Colin Kaepernick decided to take a stand against inequality int eh USA. The young quarterback had recently started to get more involved in his community and more outspoken about racial issues in the country. He took a stand by taking a knee last year deciding to kneel during the anthem. The league never took an official response but the fans sure did, many claiming that it was disrespectful to those who fought and died for the country. Kaepernick stayed strong stating that it had nothing to do with service men and service women but rather the inequality that exists in the USA. He vowed to continue to kneel until the inequality was fixed, which essentially meant there was no end to the protest in sight. Many players joined in throughout the season choosing similar or different ways to show their support of the cause. In the off-season, Kaepernick found himself without a job and as the season begins he still does not have a contract. For some players, it is a conspiracy in that the league is purposefully keeping the trouble maker out of the league by agreeing not to sign him anywhere. It seems more likely every time a job opens up and instead of taking Kaepernick, who might not be a superstar but has talent, they take a different QB. The result will likely be more protests this year as more players join the protest with Kaepernick still sitting on the sidelines as players become more outspoken and bolder in their defiance of the league’s usual personality restrictions.

weednfl

The NFL has a reputation with a nickname to go along with it as they are known as the No Fun League. That reputation has come from the league’s constant limitation on self-expression from the players. For decades the league knew that in order to be successful they needed to be family friendly. That meant that the personalities of the players were not necessarily the best to put out there to the public. Most players, especially when the league began to grow, were a little rougher than the people tend to like. The language and drugs and drinking was not the image that the league wanted to portray. Instead, they began to limit the exposure that players received and in order to become bigger, the players had to adjust themselves. The league turned into one where players gave canned answers and never showed their personality to the outside world. That has begun to change though as players are realizing that the key to becoming a bigger name is to show the personality. That is the fight that is currently happening as the players are trying to express themselves and the league is trying to keep their wholesome image. A big part of that is a new debate that has risen up over the past few years. That would be the debate regarding the use of marijuana by players. For the NFL the drug is still a banned substance because it is still a banned substance on the federal level. More than that though the NFL keeps it as a banned substance because there are still people who believe that smoking weed is the gateway to so much more and that it is still evil. The studies about the drug have changed things a lot though as there is more evidence than ever that marijuana can be helpful to players more than it could hurt. A lot of players see the help it could provide, specifically to replace opioids in pain relief. With opioids becoming a serious problem the players want to be able to use marijuana as a replacement. Of course, not all players would be allowed to regardless as only a few states have legalized marijuana but with things beginning to change players are hoping to see a change. The league will certainly have a fight on their hands as they hope to keep their image but keep the players happy, which is something they have struggled to do for years.

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