An SI.com regular season tradition makes its summer debut, as we spin through the weird world of the NFL off-season to bring you a special edition of our Sour Rankings...
10. The “Stupid Off-season Injury Award” goes to...: Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis, who reportedly pulled his quad during a team-organized game of kickball.
“Everything that happens from the minute they walk in here until the minute they leave is under my watch,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said, according to The Palm Beach Post. “We do things strength and conditioning wise. We do things classroom-wise. We do things on the practice field. We do things for team building and everything runs through me.”
Look, fellas, next time just leave the kickball to the professionals. And by “professionals” I of course mean drunk college graduates with average athleticism playing in an after-work league.
9. Barry Sanders signed a urinal: The Pontiac Silverdome, former home of the Lions, has broken down into an apocalyptic-looking mess. An auction of the Silverdome's assets last year featured everything from section signs to filthy couches from the locker room.
Oh, and urinals, apparently.
Mike Kozan bought one said urinal for $23. He then somehow talked Hall of Famer and Lions legend Barry Sanders into signing it, bumping the item's value up exponentially. Kozan sold the autographed urinal for $3,000 earlier this month on eBay.
Still no bids on the Charles Rogers-signed toilet seat.*
*This is not a real thing.
8. The OTA hype machine: This is the time of year for coaches to let fly obscene amounts of praise for their players. No examples have better put that phenomenon on display this month than Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson singling out Brandon Weeden as “probably [the Cowboys’] most improved player” since last season.
“He just has a great understanding of the concepts, of the protections, calling the plays, all those things,” said Wilson of Weeden, via ESPN.com. “He’s made a big jump this year.”
Remember, that is 31-year-old Brandon Weeden for whom the light suddenly flipped on, a guy whose only start of 2014 ended with a line of 18 of 33 for one touchdown and two picks in a loss to the Cardinals. Despite his age, this is just Weeden's fourth NFL season, so perhaps there was room for improvement left.
He has been in the league for less time than Bears backup Jimmy Clausen, who somehow is just 27—could've sworn he made his debut against the Dallas Texans back in the '50s. Clausen also lost his lone start last year (20–14 to the Lions) and is 1–10 career as a starter. But, seeing as how it's the off-season, there could not possibly be another player offensive coordinator Adam Gase would rather have on the Bears' roster.
“I felt like he’d be perfect for what we were trying to do offensively,” Gase told ESPN's Matt Williamson.
Whatever you say, Adam.
7. Slipper cleats: When NFL players have too much time on their hands, volume I:
That's Redskins safety Duke Ihenacho, who earlier in OTAs also pulled off a far more impressive tape job, turning his cleats into Chuck Taylor lookalikes:
Solid efforts on both counts, although the leader in the clubhouse for fancy football footwear remains Brandon Marshall, for the “slipper cleats” he sported during a particularly cold game in Cleveland two years ago.
6. R.I.P. Manziel money sign: Because this is what the problem was last season ...
Hey, more power to Manziel if he can follow through on this new, matured persona he's trying to put forth, but his signature celebration was not what held him back. If anything, Manziel probably needs some of that swagger if he intends to swipe the starting QB job away from Josh McCown this season.
5. AFC finalists: Teams are free to hang just about whatever banners they want from their stadium rafters—sellout streaks, playoff appearances, etc. But the Colts had to know they would have more than a few jokes lobbed their way when they unveiled their latest “AFC Finalist” banner this off-season.
This is not a new development, either: Indianapolis already had 1995 and 2003 AFC Finalist banners from prior trips to the conference championship game. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine anyone from the players to the fans wanting to remember last season's 45–7 title-game drubbing at the Patriots' hands.
At least the banner is better than this:
4. AFL mascot award: Arena football is a much different game than the NFL, but one would think the league would draw a line at having mascots roaming the end zone. Guess not.
3. Tom Brady's rings: The Summer of Tom continues, with the Patriots quarterback set for his Deflategate appeal hearing this week. Better yet for Sour Rankings purposes, Brady has kept alive his status as a social media treasure trove. From New England's Super Bowl ring ceremony alone, there was this meme-able photo...
... plus several videos of Brady dancing.
Sure, we have to use the term “dancing” loosely, but the classic “white guy at a wedding” moves get a little scoring bump when they're performed whilst rocking multiple massive championship rings.
2. The Broncos' fart tax: Believe it or not, this is exactly what it sounds like—Broncos players apparently enforce penalties amongst themselves whenever someone on the roster passes gas. Von Miller explained why he has been heavily docked to The Denver Post's Nicki Jhabvala:
1. Michael Oher vs. The Blind Side: In 2013 Michael Oher allowed more sacks (8) and more QB hurries (42) than any other Ravens lineman, per Pro Football Focus, and he coughed up a team-high 26 hurries last year with the Titans despite missing five games. So, of course, he blames The Blind Side—the movie based on the story of his life leading up to the pros—for his decline.
“People look at me, and they take things away from me because of a movie,” Oher said. “They don't really see the skills and the kind of player I am. That's why I get downgraded so much, because of something off the field.
“This stuff, calling me a bust, people saying if I can play or not ... that has nothing to do with football. It's something else off the field. That's why I don't like that movie.”
Not even really sure where to start with this one. The Blind Side was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and Sandra Bullock took home Best Actress in a Leading Role, but I doubt any teams are using Quinton Aaron's depiction of Oher as game film. In the scene where Oher's character finally discovers he can dominate as a blocker, Bullock's character calls the coach on her cell phone ... and he answers, mid-game; a side judge also throws a flag and immediately announces a penalty on his own, without checking in with the head ref.
In other words, it is a movie.