I say the same thing every December but I think it's fitting the regular season wraps up this time of year. Because for me, the NFL season is sort of like Christmas: Tons of anticipation and then it seems to be over before I know it.
Part of the fun in writing this column I know I'll get to share some thoughts with folks like yourself who love football as much as I do. And that strikes me as a very good thing. I've had a blast throwing out my goofy observations this season. And I've smiled at the emails from people telling me they've thought some of the same things as they were watching the games.
As I wrap up the regular season in this Week 17, I've pulled up some of the more interesting things I remember seeing during the year. It's my sincerest hope that you've enjoyed reading this column 10% as much as I enjoyed writing it. We'll do it again next season. If you've got thoughts and ideas on how this thing can be better, or just want to yell at me about my preseason Leonard Fournette ranking, feel free to shoot me a line at Bryant@footballguys.com.
Here's to Football,
FROM WEEK 1
For all the jokes, don't sleep on the Browns. This team can be good.
Time Is A Flat Circle...
A live look at Brett Favre as Aaron Rodgers was carted off...
At one point Sunday night, Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky motioned for the crowd to be quiet. In Green Bay. Son, that's not how it works at Lambeau.
And when you see this during a play, it can't result in a 5-yard loss. Ever.
The Internet was full of hot takes over Khalil Mack.
FROM WEEK 2
This is sports to me. And part of why James Conner is my favorite player this season.
After a promising start to his college career at Pitt, Conner was diagnosed with Stage 2b Hodgkin Lymphoma. That's cancer.
Conner started chemotherapy but never gave up. In this picture, he's wearing a surgical mask to guard against infection during practice.
You know the story. Conner recovered fully from cancer. In his first game back at Pitt, fans paid tribute to his toughness with masks of their own.
And now he's the starting running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rock on, James Conner.
JuJu Smith-Schuster knows how to make an entrance.
Ryan Fitzpatrick could do no wrong Sunday.
Started with this:
Then did his best Brett Favre impression during the game.
Then grabbed wide receiver DeSean Jackson's outfit and finished with this...
Jackson loved it saying on social media: “I love it Fitz you wear it better than me,” he wrote in another post. “WHEN YOUR QB WEAR YO FIT TO AFTER GAME PRESS CONFERENCE LMAO SWAGG AND THE JEWLS ”
Le'Veon Bell's holdout seems to have no end in sight.
Antonio Brown is tweeting about a trade.
Hang in there Steeler Nation.
I'm not sure why, but for some reason, Sports Illustrated felt compelled to compare Vontae Davis to Kyle Orton. As if retiring the day after the season ended was comparable to retiring at halftime of the second game of the season.
I can't go with them there.
But if you've read this column before you know I never pass up a Kyle Orton mention and the chance to post his Farewell Denver video.
Before you yell at me, it's not really Orton...
FROM WEEK 3
You know the party's on when the Police Department joins.
Even the Cleveland Sewer Folks were in.
As someone who makes a living predicting what will happen on the field, games like Buffalo - Minnesota point me back towards Al Michaels' famous line: "Nobody knows anything".
Here's how the Bills were looking at Survivor Pools across the country.
Yeah, this is pretty much how we drew it up...
FROM WEEK 4
I'm going to leave this one right here...
Last week it was Baker Mayfield.
Now Mitchell Trubisky...
With 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter and a 19 point lead, Doug Marrone and the Jaguars decided to go for the two-point conversion after their touchdown. Marrone said, "The chart said go for two".
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles on his coach's decision: "I just work here"
This one-handed business is getting ridiculous. Now defensive backs are snagging no-look one-handed interceptions? Rock on, Eric Murray
For as long as I can remember, the "Kobe Don't Flinch" GIF has been the epitome of cool.
I feel like my whole life's been a lie.
Thanks, Sports Illustrated...
FROM WEEK 5
Ndamukong Suh with a different take on how to tackle the quarterback...
Another Sunday. Another Cam Newton outfit.
At this point, it's starting to look like he's just playing Mad Libs with his closet.
If I'm Newton's agent, I'm getting on the phone with the people who make these Dress Up Playsets with the magnetic interchangeable outfit pieces. Here's one for Elvis.
Money in the bank.
Hockey Note - Hats off to Bud Light for the Pit of Misery sponsorship on the Penalty Box in Dallas.
I'm just going to leave this one right here...
Michael Bennett's shoulder pads never get old.
I wonder what Dick Butkus thinks.
In this age of the Salary Cap, even the best teams have holes.
And I'm good with that. I love the parity in the league.
This is what the end of a honeymoon looks like.
My wish for you: May you be as happy as Von Miller here.
FROM WEEK 6
Luke Kuechly Voice:
Yup, that's me. You're probably wondering how I ended up in this situation...
Sometimes, what you really need is a bunch of dancing tyrannosaurs with a marching band...
Michael Gallup might be a wizard...
Every person on the Rules Committee:
Our friend Doug Farrar had it right.
Will Ferrell as Ben Roethlisberger never gets old.
FROM WEEK 7
Be careful what you ask for.
Purdue coach Jeff Brohm and his Boilermakers shocked the college football world Saturday upsetting Ohio State. If you followed Brohm through his playing career, you may not be surprised. Throwback to this classic from his XFL playing days.
On a serious note, this was a bittersweet scene. Tyler Trent a Purdue student, who is in hospice battling aggressive cancer, did everything he could to get to the game against Ohio State and his last wish was to beat Ohio State. They not only beat Ohio State but they destroyed them.
Sean Payton asking Drew Brees if they should go for it on fourth down is everything I love about Football.
Melissa Stark with composure.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson said this most recent loss meant the pressure was now off his team.
Dez Bryant on Twitter is fun. It seems he's resigned himself to not playing and can instead focus on staying salty.
Burfict with the flop.
Isn't it always like this?...
You've seen the Peloton bike ads.
Needles56 is thinking the exact same thing I'm thinking.
You know Randy Moss loved this.
USA Today had a sweet list of Touchdown Celebrations.
None better than Olympic Long Jumper / NFL Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin's.
"Hey Odell, we traded Eli."
That's pretty mean.
Thanks to Bleacher Report for that one
FROM WEEK 8
New York Giants backup quarterback Kyle Lauletta was arrested this week after recklessly driving his car.
The crew at NFLMemes identified the arresting officers.
That's pretty funny.
I love this guy guessing the NFL Logos. When he starts off with New England as the "Russian Spies" you know it's going to be good. I think my favorite part is how pleased he is with himself at the end.
This might be the only way to slow down Tyreek Hill.
Washington tackle Trent Williams is one of the best players in the game. But can we slow the roll a little about a 310-pound guy taking out a 190-pound Janoris Jenkins? This was mostly physics.
Adam Thielen is open even when he's covered.
Parenting is about Teachable Moments.
FROM WEEK 9
The Browns are looking for a new head coach to develop Baker Mayfield.
Somewhere in Arizona...
Thanks to NFLMemes for that one.
The NFL relaxed their celebration rules and that's been fun. We've got a long way to go though before we get to the CFL.
Some teams can't handle a power rush game. Others can't defend the deep ball. The University of Texas seems unable to handle coaches rocking the "Business In The Front And Party In The Back".
And a reminder you're not always on top of the Food Chain. And to not taunt alligators. As if you needed a reminder...
Apparently Duke Johnson Jr GMs, Hue Jackson actually did hate you.
This explains some of those Christian McCaffrey runs.
New England wide receiver Josh Gordon downplayed the fact he played after popping back in his dislocated finger. "I guess it's like a freak accident, nothing too crazy," he said. "One of the slant routes, I think some pressure fell on it and it dislocated, so I popped it back into place a couple of times during the game. It's fine."
Predictably, the internet freaked out.
Torry Holt says "Hi".
It's a beautiful game of inches.
Unless you're a Browns fan here. Then it sucks.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Mo Salah are two of Soccer's greats. Performing at their elite level requires a ridiculous amount of talent.
Sculpting statues of elite soccer players apparently requires less talent.
Some of the Red Sox players visited Gillette Stadium Sunday night before the Patriots game. The line of the week was Red Sox utility player, Brock Holt shaking hands with Bill Belichick in the locker room before the game asking him, "You gonna put pants on?"
Golf Note for this Week.
Meet Bryson DeChambeau.
ESPN reports DeChambeau won the latest PGA Tournament on Sunday in Las Vegas, despite "ripping part of his hand off," the night before.
"I was freaking out,'' he said, according to ESPN. "I ripped part of my hand off, which is nice."
Naturally, someone "ripping part of their hand off" requires more detail.
From Sports Illustrated: "DeChambeau was invited to the Golden Knights hockey game Saturday. There, he "rang the siren" ahead of the third period. When he looked at his hand, he had a blister."
He said he rang the siren too vigorously, which caused the blister.
DeChambeau found himself in quite the pickle.
"So now I'm like, 'Wow, I'm really in some doo-doo, not in a good place,''' DeChambeau said. "Essentially tried to put some lotion on just to moisturize it a little bit again.''
When lotion wasn't enough, he eventually resorted to the drastic measure of taping his hand. DeChambeau said it was manageable, despite some moments of pain.
Again, Torry Holt says "Hi".
And no, this isn't a macho thing where the sport with the most injuries rules. That would probably be Hockey or Rugby or MMA. The "Won the tournament after ripping part of his hand off" thing just caught my eye.
Save yourself the angry email, Spalding.
Big move in Detroit for initials. As far as I know, it's the first time an AA has been replaced by ZZ.
FROM WEEK 10
Yeah. I'm twelve.
Zay Jones. Still a wizard.
From the "Not So Fast, My Friend..." Department:
I certainly would not call these "hilarious", but clearly, it looks like the NFL didn't think this one all the way through...
I'm going to make this a Valentine's card.
Cody Parkey might not have a job next week. But let's be honest, hitting the goal post four times is pretty impressive.
Twitter can be mean sometimes. 2013 Twitter can be cruel.
Bell after seeing that tweet:
Mike Leach is a National Treasure.
Of course, Leach turned it into a Burt Reynolds tribute.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel was asked about running the same trick play as the Patriots.
And last thing...
We've all been here. Truth be told, I kind of live here...
Saints coach Sean Payton was asked about destroying the fire alarm in the Visitors Locker Room Sunday.
Payton said, "Destroyed would be a little bit sensationalist. Clearly we were having issues with a fire alarm. I just needed the noise to stop."
I don't know, Coach. I think I'm ok going with "destroyed".
Thank you, Internet.
FROM WEEK 11
The Citadel beat Alabama Saturday...
In the Coin Toss.
Which leads me to the coin toss story of the year so far.
Soccer referee David McNamara in the UK found himself without a coin to toss before a recent game. He improvised and instructed the two captains to play a game of rock/paper/scissors.
The Football Association did not see it this way. They suspended McNamara for three weeks for the atrocity.
In a show of solidarity, soccer referees across grassroots matches in England starting using rock/paper/scissors ahead of their games.
"A lot of us were thinking of David," referee Ryan Hampson told BBC Sport. "We wanted to show solidarity."
Hampson said players had requested rock/paper/scissors before he took control of the match in Lancashire.
Again, the powers that be were not impressed:
"We can't condone anyone deliberately breaking the laws of football," Ref Support UK chief executive Martin Cassidy said. "However, we understand hundreds took part.
"Two wrongs don't make a right. Referees are law-enforcers and not law-breakers," a Southern Sunday League spokesperson told the BBC. "This action is unprofessional, and it brings the game into disrepute."
Jordy Nelson has to be asking himself what he's done.
The inside scoop on the Gruden - Carr dustup Sunday.
It's a beautiful game sometimes. Even the formations.
Jaguars mascot Jaxson de Ville with the hex on James Conner.
Long Time readers know I love Jaxson de Ville. Curtis Dvorak, the man inside the suit, retired a few years back but he set the bar for mascots.
Including the time he jumped off the lights and beat up Tim Tebow.
And don't yell at me Grampa, I know that's not Tebow...
Josh Richardson threw his shoe.
And every hack on the internet like me made the same Austin Powers joke.
Because we're all twelve I guess. I'm ok with that.
Teddy Bridgewater killing it on the locker room dance floor.
Recency Bias is a real thing.
FROM WEEK 12
The City of New Orleans is on pace to have their lowest murder rate in 30 years.
Thank you, Drew Brees.
Thanks to NFL Memes for that one.
Buffalo Bills: Let's go.
I told you a couple of weeks ago Zay Jones is still a wizard.
Phillip Lindsay, I've got my eye on you too...
I hope your post-dinner family football game went better than it did for this dad trying to put his son on lock-down.
Aditi Kinkhabwala with the NFL Salary Structure in one post:
I don't know much. But I know the Bills should make their Throwback uniforms their regular uniforms.
Baker Mayfield with the awkward post-game "handshake not a hug" for Hue Jackson.
Afterward, Mayfield said he didn't like Jackson going to a rival team.
They say one of the most important traits for a quarterback is a short memory. Usually meaning things like it's best to move on from a bad play. Mayfield's showing All-Pro ability in the memory thing forgetting the transfer to Oklahoma from Texas Tech.
When Mayfield was reminded of the move from Lubbock to Norman, he quickly explained to us: that was different.
Soccer coach Diego Maradona with my favorite post-game interview of the week.
Live look in on Bill Belichick watching this:
While I'm on Belichick, Von Miller with a classic post-game presser.
FROM WEEK 13
I find comfort in this...
Unstoppable. I can't wait for Odell Beckham Jr to try this in a game.
Yes. Todd Gurley hates your fantasy team.
On the other hand, stop being greedy.
You already knew Rams punter Johnny Hekker was cool.
With the No Look Hold, he's moving into Stone Cold status.
A few weeks back we saw Andy Reid declining Jared Goff's input...
This week, Bill Belichick gave Adam Thielen a similar message.
I like the scripted touchdown celebrations as much as anyone. But I love David Moore with the casual "Macarena" on the bench.
I'm with Jay Busbee. How'd you like to be Mike Vrabel with your team driving for the game-winning field goal and look down the sideline to see this...
FROM WEEK 14
The NFL Sunday:
Darrell Waltrip lost his keys at the Titans game.
A few thoughts there.
1. I have no idea why I find that so funny.
2. I fully realize most don't.
3. I'm not even sorry about it.
4. At all.
Hang in there fellow Old Dudes. This guy made a 54-yard field goal Sunday.
Plus about a zillion before Sunday.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Jalen Ramsey.
Adam Humphries with this week's version of "These Guys Make A Lot Of Money. These Guys Earn A Lot Of Money."
Bonus points for holding on to the ball.
I'm not sure what it is about Kansas City and hacking jerseys. I wrote this back in Week 1.
Jerseys are expensive. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Sunday we saw this.
And looking back at Week 1, I couldn't help but wonder how much fun Fitzmagic would have been this time of year...
Because Yukon Cornelius never gets old.
I plead guilty to laughing at my own tweet here.
Another angle of tight end/safety Rob Gronkowski trying to make the tackle.
Patrick Mahomes II, you're still kind of ridiculous.
An even better angle:
The real angle:
FROM WEEK 15
Melvin Gordon III apologized to his Fantasy GMs.
As one who still regularly says "San Diego" Chargers, you're not going to hear me saying much here.
Although the look on Tedy Bruschi's face is worth watching the video.
Besides, no need for me to say anything when Russell Okung dropped the mic thanking Hunter Henry after the win.
Oh, those tricky Colts...
We've talked a lot about ESPN's BoogerCam blocking fan's view.
But Santa Bear is a whole different level.
Andrew Luck may be my favorite player right now.
JuJu Smith-Schuster hit up a tailgate before Sunday's game.
On the other end of the "How Much They Love Me In Pittsburgh" scale, here's Le'Veon Bell.
To be fair, the "like Pittsburgh or hate the Pats" demographic is most of America.
Wrapping with one of my favorite sports stories. And one I tell here often.
History lesson time. Heading into the last day, a doubleheader, of the 1941 baseball season, 23-year-old Ted Williams' batting average was .39955. He could have sat out the meaningless last two games of the last day and his average would have rounded to the hallowed .400 mark.
From the sabr.org article: "In his autobiography, My Turn At Bat, Williams recalls Joe Cronin telling him, 'You don’t have to be put in if you don’t want to. You’re officially .400.' Ted reports his reaction: 'Well, God, that hit me like a ***damn lightning bolt! What do you mean I don’t have to play today?'"
But you probably know the story. Williams put his .400 mark at risk and played. Both games. And went 6 for 8 finishing the year at .406.
How that applies to you and me is simple. I feel pretty safe in saying we're not going to hit .400 in the majors. But we all get to walk to the plate every day and take some swings. Take yours.
That'll do it for 2018.
I want to thank all the folks who sent me funny things they saw this year. You guys rock and you make my job easier. And thanks to all of you for the kind words throughout the season - you humble me. Sincerely.
This may be the last Random Shots of the year but Lord willing, I'm not going anywhere. You can always reach me by email at email@example.com. Stay in touch with us on Facebook by clicking "like". And you can keep up with me on Twitter or keep up with my non-Football stuff here on Instagram.
I realize I've often strayed from sports and climbed on the soapbox maybe a bit more than I should. I intentionally left most of those off this collection as most of the rants were more a context thing. But not to be too dramatic about it, I felt like we sort of went through the 2018 season together. There were tough moments. And plenty of light moments. It wasn't all fun, but I think I can say it's been good to be together.
I'm completely down with Ram Dass who said: "In the end, we're all just walking each other home at night." Thanks for walking with me.
Peace and Grace to you.