Melissa’s Monday Musings: What golf has over the NFL

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Welcome to Melissa’s Monday Musings, one of several regular columns from TFG 1.0 that we’re migrating to TFG 2.0. More on the column and a progress report on the site in a bit but first a lesson from a Masters for the ages.

In 1997 Tiger Woods absolutely crushed Augusta, winning the Masters by 12 strokes and forever altered both golf’s aesthetic and its preconceived lack of athleticism. Golf became cool to a younger generation and Woods’s mere presence caused television ratings to soar. Even potential challengers to Woods like British phenom Justin Rose, who turned pro in 1998 or Sergio Garcia who would prove a long-term nemesis, were relevant. Whether you were a fan of Tiger or not or like me a fan of Tiger pre-public disclosure of infidelity and a hardcore fan of all of his challengers after, there came an added benefit to also caring about players like Rose and Garcia.

As witnessed this weekend, golfers, as long as they don’t demolish their backs like Woods, have the opportunity to exist without a defined peak. Rose missed 21 consecutive cuts after turning pro and didn’t win his first Masters until 2013. Garcia famously finished second in four majors before finally yanking that monkey off his back Sunday. Bottom line from a fan perspective: it’s ok to deeply invest in your favorite golfer because you never know when he or she may resurface, even if they don’t meet find complete glory for almost 20 years.

Of course the NFL is the opposite. Only Tom Brady, James Harrison and a smattering of kickers play at a high level for more than a decade. Most players’ peaks, even the studs, last five-seven years max. But moreover once they start their decline they almost never reemerge as relevant.

This is hardly anything revelatory. The brutality of playing football is widely known at this point. But it doesn’t minimize the unhealthy ebbs and flows of being an NFL fan. We invest so much soul into NFL players, and in too many cases not give them another real thought in what seems like a nanosecond. Take a quick glance at your fantasy football roster from the recent past. Just four years ago, three of the top five players based on ADP (average draft position) were Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster. Foster is long retired while the other two remain unsigned. Sometimes a comeback sticks, like Chris Johnson’s second life with the Arizona Cardinals or Randy Moss finding the perfect system and quarterback in New England in 2007.

But those are the outliers. Typically in the NFL once you start declining you might as well be pushed down a black hole to irrelevancy. This is especially true at quarterback, the position that far and away has the deepest emotional impact on NFL fans. I, along with many others, act as a strong advocate for Colin Kaepernick and believe that a team should sign him based on his sheer talent and previous playoff success. But even in a perfect situation the odds of a complete rebirth are slim because the precedent just isn’t there. (Alex Smith morphing from draft bust to sometimes stellar game manager doesn’t count.)

The NFL is essentially a series of intense short-term relationships, none of which end satisfyingly unless the player you like is hoisting the Lombardi. How quickly we cycle through these players is just one of the harsh realties of being an NFL fan. Golf is known as the more mentally excruciating sport but at least fans aren’t forced to make five new emotional investments every other year. 

Tony! Tony! Tony! 

From skepticism about Tony Romo’s ability to learn how to articulate smart football thoughts into :15 second clips to outrage over Romo leaping past potentially more deserving analysts, the fervor over the newly retired quarterback’s new gig as the no. 1 analyst for CBS has been frequent and intense.

I have spent a lot of brainspace on this but I’m just not fired up. I respect Romo’s level of class and general demeanor. I’m happy to see to end of the bash Phil Simms on social media cavalcade, a traditional that had worn thin. I always watch the CBS game because it usually features the Patriots or Steelers and I play fantasy football. The entire Kardashian clan could be in the booth and I’d probably still watch. But I also understand the disappointment stemming from professional broadcasters that spend careers trying to achieve what Romo did just by playing some dramatic football.

The only certainty here is CBS’s ratings should be healthy in the early weeks of the season as everyone will want to see how Romo handles the pressure. Romo is a smart guy and smooth talker but let’s be real, the task at hand is pretty much analogous to playing a live NFL game with a broken collarbone.

Will Oaktown be Lynchtown?

The kismet element of Marshawn Lynch as a Raider is intriguing – Oakland born, played at Cal, a community hero. What a way to soften the blown of a Raiders franchise about to abandon its city. And it so happens the Raiders are in need of a running back.

But Lynch is 30 and averaged 3.8 yards per carry his last year. Given the strong running back draft class and aforementioned free agents like Peterson and Charles I don’t inherently see this as some dream fit. Also the Seahawks still own Lynch’s rights and as smartly explained by salary cap analyst Jason Fitzgerald, the Raiders would owe the Seahawks $2.5 million in rights fees, among other potential pitfalls with the contract. It all seems a little too high maintenance. However given how Raiders GM Reggie McKenize slowly steered the franchise in the right direction, his decision here should warrant inherent respect.

“I’m Just Here So You’ll Buy My Merchandise?”

Lynch is one of the most interesting cats to ever play the game. He can toggle between moods in an instant, something I witnessed at Super Bowl 48 when at a party I asked him about candy (engaging, smiley) and five seconds later he realized I was media (probably would have pulled out mace if handy). He’s as true to himself as they come and has displayed deft self-awareness as an entrepreneur. Lynch smartly trademarked Beastmode in 2008 and recently launched a brick and mortar store in Oakland selling Beastmode apparel. (Lynch has also trademarked “I’m Just Here So I Won’t Get Fined” and “Power Pellets,” his nickname for Skittles.)

I happen to be in Oakland at the moment and yesterday was in need of a travel stroller for my 2-year old. For some reason, Beastmode came up among the search results on Yelp. They don’t sell strollers (that would be weird) but I couldn’t help but parse through the reviews. I generally don’t care how athletes behave, as long as they keep their unwanted hands off others. That said I’m strangely fascinated by the disparity in experiences from Ben in Oakland and Ryan in Anchorage. (For the record, Beastmode does have a 4* rating.) It all seems so Lynch.

Ben

Ben: Hey man, as a a fifth generation Oaklander, i just want to thank you for everything you do for The Town.

Marshawn: *tips hat*

Ben: So thank you. *extends hand for handshake*

Marshawn: *reaches out hand, in a closed fist about three times the size of my own, adorned by glimmering pinky ring*

Ben and Marshawn: *fist bump*

Ben: *excitedly leaves store feeling like Marsha Brady after getting a letter reply from Davy Jones*

Ryan

Bad enough for my 1st review ever!!!

Our visit sucked! Marshawn was in the store and I am not sure why. He cursed in front of my 2 and 4 year old the whole time we were in his store. He treated us like NFL media members…even my toddlers!!!

The Beastmode store was the worst part of our trip, and Alaska Airlines lost my fiancés bag 5 days earlier! Unimpressed…I’m from Seattle and I am a huge Beastmode fan. I spotted his White Lamborghini parked out front of the Beastmode store in Oakland and I got super pumped! Same car that he parked with red velvet ropes and posted on social media… and it even had Washington plates.

We traveled from Alaska (my family of 4) excited to see the shop and hoping maybe he’d be there. I saw his “wheelie” video on SB Nation 3 days ago that took place in Scotland, so I expected to go buy some things and not see him…We hoped that Marshawn was gonna be there since I spotted one of his cars…he was there…and he was a deadbeat! I can’t even explain my family’s disappointment! We watched “Tanked” and “Bear Grylls” featuring Beastmode…we loved the shows!!! Talked about his “power pellets” (skittles)

We were in his store for almost an hour picking out clothes and chasing our kids around. He was on his phone most of the time. There’s a sign that says he’ll take pics with women and children…I asked him if he would take a pic with my fiancée and two boys, but he said, “I’m good!”

I know I seem disgruntled, but we actually bought a few things and spent $150. As we were walking out Lynch said, “did they buy hella?” This experience was just bizarre. I know he is a different dude, but this was so weird.

I am a season ticket holder for the Seahawks…this was a tough one to experience. Usually I side with players, but this was very unfortunate.

TFG Update

Relauching a website is both exhilarating and intense. We are approximately 2-3 weeks from the full relaunch. In the next week you will see a new logos and social media imagery that better reflect what we are all about – providing an engaging home for all type of females fans and normalizing the experience. No pink. No recipes. And definitely no WAGs!

We’re also working on launching a podcast, possibly a couple, because I like to talk and think I’ll be able to offer some fascinating guests with a unique view of the game. TFG will have a new look and enhanced functionality and a bevy of surprise contributors. Independence comes an intriguing level of malleability so we’ll be trying several new features. If they work, great. If they don’t, we’ll quickly pivot away. Overall quality writing and offering you content you won’t find elsewhere is our goal.  I sincerely appreciate the support as we continue to gear up and feel free to drop a note with any feedback.

Closing thoughts:

  • The Patriots visit the White House a week from Wednesday. In the aftermath of the Super Bowl six players said they won’t attend the ceremony. In unrelated news three of those players (Martellus Bennett, Chris Long and LaGarrette Blount) are no longer on the Pats roster. Perhaps the optics next week won’t look as strange as originally thought.
  • 30 current and former players participated in the Pro Football Arm Wrestling Championship in Vegas last week. The fact that the NFL is “looking into” this is beyond absurd. If you’re going to turn a profit in Vegas, you’re going to have to alter some policies. On a side note: please make arm wrestling part of the Pro Bowl skills competition.
  • I think it’s weird that we haven’t heard an ounce of interest in Jay Cutler beyond his backside.
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Melissa Jacobs

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