- We may be squarely in NFL draft season, but the feuds between the current players are hotter than ever.
The remarkable heft of this NFL offseason and pre-draft news cycle seems to have aged us all a decade. Some real, consequential maneuvering has taken place since the start of free agency. Battle lines have been redrawn. Alliances have shifted, and people have said things that can’t be taken back.
One day we’ll look back and marvel at the NFL’s ability to create its own content, microwaving volcanic egos and personalities together like a bowl of forks. It sets the table for a year’s worth of appointment viewing, simply by existing the way it’s drawn up.
But let’s focus on the now. Since the end of the Super Bowl, the league that never rests has gifted us with new heroes and new heels, new reasons to like or loathe figures we might already feel passionate about. As basketball and hockey seasons reach their climax, and MLB launches a new campaign, the NFL has kept itself top of the news and social media feeds thanks to some juicy football feuds:
Here are our top five (so far):
1. Antonio Brown vs. Juju Smith-Schuster
There’s nothing like being the bystander for some good Twitter heat, especially one that so perfectly encapsulates the medium. On one side, an obnoxiously rich man reeling from perceived slights, spending his free time trying to get even online. On the other, a guy who seems not to even know why he’s being targeted, and wants to be left alone.
2. Aaron Rodgers vs. The World He Created
Whatever your opinion of the Packers quarterback and how he handled the fallout of a deeply reported piece from Bleacher Report about the deterioration of his relationship with Mike McCarthy, it’s hard to deny that he led us down this road a little bit. At the least, it’s a little late for stuff like this, no? His unhappiness was so evident, whether it was the mile-long eye-rolling on the field or the games of passive-aggressive press conference ping-pong. Now Rodgers has to play and operate in a world where the substance behind it all has been dug from underneath the surface and laid bare for the world to see.
3. Josh Rosen vs. the Cardinals
The 2018 first-round QB has turned up for Arizona’s offseason program amid all kinds of speculation about hsi future. If he does play somewhere else, there is always the possibility that we see a Rosen-Cardinals matchup at some point this year. But wouldn’t a poorly-executed pre-draft smokescreen almost be … more enjoyable to watch? It would be reminiscent of the Kirk Cousins-you-like-that-era in terms of general discomfort between a quarterback and the team that only kind of wants him, just with a brand new experimental coaching staff.
4. Dave Gettleman vs. Nerds
Somehow, the running back-drafting, Eli Manning-loving Giants have supplanted the Raiders as analytic football Twitter’s evil empire (and somehow the Raiders are now the champion of analytic football Twitter?) But what if Gettleman was right? What if continually treating the Giants like a perpetual one-player-away contender finally pays off in the kind of strange universal timequake that happens in sports every now and then?
5. The Browns vs. Decades of Nefarious Forces
It’s still too weird to view Cleveland as a playoff contender. So many of the Browns fans I’ve spoken to are approaching this season with a strain of cautious optimism previously unknown to man. As for the rest of you, guzzling down all that Baker Mayfield-Odell Beckham-Jarvis Landry Kool-Aid, you must be new here.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Who is Brian Burns? A name you want to read up on before draft day … Kenny Stills’ continuing journey, and education in turbulent times … Amid this quarterback regression, David Cutcliffe believes Daniel Jones will go in the first round.
1. The Cardinals’ workouts are underway. Josh Rosen is in the building.
2. Ranking the best pass-blocking offensive lines in football last year.
3. Christian Wade becomes the latest rugby/Aussie Rules/any other itineration of rugby that is going to get me yelled at by the game’s purists when I misidentify it, to try and make it in the NFL.
4. Can Josh Allen become the NFL’s next Khalil Mack?
5. Not a football story, but an important sports piece, and life piece, by Kyle Korver.
15 days until the NFL Draft. The one thing we need is a left-handed monkey wrench.
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