Categories
Sports Strength

Why Lamar Jackson Should Win MVP, Again

The reports of Lamar Jackson’s death are greatly exaggerated. After a summer of unnamed NFL execs crowing this, finally, will be the year that Lamar Jackson gets “figured out,” it’s obvious that Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are unsolvable. Through the first six weeks of the season, Jackson’s 8.7 yards per passing attempt rank fifth in the league and his 6.1 rushing yards per attempt are tops in the NFL. At the risk of being reductive, Lamar Jackson is a more efficient passer than Tom Brady and a more dynamic runner than Derrick Henry.

But because Lamar Jackson does so much, he’s unfairly knocked for not doing everything—he can’t win from the pocket and he can’t lead a comeback and he’s a system quarterback, his critics bleat. Conversely, nobody cares that Derrick Henry doesn’t throw for 3000 yards a year or that Tom Brady can’t run the inverted veer. 

This year, though, Jackson has been methodically putting old canards to rest—he’s led three comeback wins and his 1686 air yards are the second most in the league. Most impressively, he’s acted as the suture that’s held a battered Baltimore Ravens team together during their 5-1 start. Even without Ronnie Stanley (their All-Pro left tackle) or their top three running backs, the Ravens’ offense is the NFL’s seventh highest scoring unit. 

In this sense, Jackson functions as almost a gridiron version of James Harden, a one-man offensive system that can thrive regardless of the surrounding personnel. Just as Harden wills points into existence through optimized shot selection and sheer resolve, Jackson cripplingly destabilizes defenses with his running ability. His offensive linemen get more push at the line of scrimmage against defenses unaccustomed to the Ravens’ unorthodox ground game; his backs have an inherent numbers advantage in the run game because teams must commit defenders to spying on Jackson; his receivers enjoy free releases since defenses are so concerned with stopping the run. Even when Jackson isn’t at his sharpest, the Ravens offense succeeds because of the conditions that Jackson creates. During Sunday’s rout of the Chargers, Jackson had his worst passing and rushing game of the year and the offense still racked up 34 points. Jackson isn’t a system quarterback—he is the system.

Additionally, Jackson places so much stress on defense at all three levels that teams are inherently handcuffed against him. They can’t play man coverage, lest they risk turning their back on Jackson. They can’t line up in dime, lest they get mauled by the Ravens’ larger personnel groupings. They can’t blitz or else Jackson will simply outrun any pressure. Accordingly, Jackson dictates the terms of engagement to his opponents—he doesn’t need the pre-snap clairvoyance of Tom Brady because he robs defenses of their complexity. 

As such, the concern-trolling about Jackson’s pure passing ability has always been misguided: Jackson isn’t a pure passer, but he’s still the NFL’s best and most valuable player.

He’s great because he’s good enough.

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NFT Sports

The NFL Partners with Dapper Labs, the Creators of NBA Top Shot

About a year ago, Dapper Labs shook up the NFT landscape by launching NBA Top Shot. The platform that Top Shot introduced a new economy, mering sports and NFTs. And the ripple effect can be felt all the way into the National Football League.

What is NBA Top Shot?

NBA Top Shot is an NFT (non-fungible token) marketplace that lets users buy, sell and trade NBA moments. These moments are packaged highlights of players hitting 3 pointers, buzzer beaters, and other exciting video clips. These highlights are packaged together into a specialized trading card that users can interact with. On the platform, users can check the prices of their items, look at rarity and see what the last sales for their items were. They can also purchase more packs—some of which are limited releases or limited to specific players. Packs are like trading card packs; they are opened and permanently destroyed to reveal the moments inside. Packs are purchased through the platform and can then be opened by the user.

What Network Is Top Shot On?

Unlike a majority of other projects and NFTs, this project is actually located on Flow blockchain as opposed to being on Ethereum. The Flow blockchain is a blockchain that is designed to be proof of stake. Proof of stake is when users stake or lock their crypto in order to earn rewards/interest and help support the network, which helps it act more efficiently and minimizes the carbon footprint. 

https://nbatopshot.com/listings/pack/d41a48ba-4e8a-4cef-b7d5-f484424a789c
NBA Top Shot

Who Made NBA Top Shot?

The creator of NBA Top Shot, Dapper Labs, was established in 2018 as a company that focuses on delivering blockchain-based experiences. They cater to an audience that does not come from a primarily crypto background.  

Their mission statement states:

“But for this [blockchain] technology to realize its real-world potential, it needs to, y’know, be used. By people. Real people, in the real world—not just industry insiders and early adopters.”

Blockchain technology has been a very niche small group that has slowly grown in popularity. 

Dapper Labs has already inked deals with huge brands both in and out of the crypto/blockchain sphere. It helps that their CEO helped build one of the first NFT projects, Cryptokitties. Dapper Labs has become a pioneer in the space, with a growing market share due to their connections and friendliness with users that are not initially super knowledgeable about crypto. While you can use popular crypto like ETH, Bitcoin, and stable coins, you can also use a credit card to purchase packs on the platform. And with some packs being sold for $9, it’s more accessible for people who want to dip their toes in the water instead of chasing pfp (profile picture) NFTs like CryptoPunks that are worth more than most houses, with the current floor price being 107 ETH or more than $300,000.

Most people do not even know what the ‘F’ in NFT stands for, and that affects adoption. NBA Top Shot and Dapper Labs have engineered a platform that enables users to trade and interact with NFTs without them needing months and months of experience in the space.

Professional sports leagues like the NBA have driven people into Top Shots that may have otherwise never looked at NFTs. Sports card collectors and other hobbyists have been part of an industry for decades that relied on the human/in-person element of card trading. That includes going to shows, showing off new card pulls, and of course going to the card shop 

The pandemic has limited the ability for collectors to meet in person to trade and pick up new packs and boxes of packs to open. With NBA Top Shot completely online, this had let long-time collectors feel the rush of opening new packs and flipping cards all from the comfort of their house. As this new streamlined method became more normalized, users began to look at other NFTs to flip.

What should we expect from the NFL version?

And now that excitement has started to trickle into other sports. In recent memory, DraftKings has created its own marketplace of NFTs of prominent athletes across multiple sports. But that marketplace as it stands is focused on individual athletes from multiple sports.

Today it was announced that Dapper Labs is going endzone deep into the gridiron.

It’s too early to guess exactly what the platform will look like. But we can use NBA Top Shot as a great guide. There may be specific packs and release special seasons and historic game collections. Top Shot is releasing a version of 2005-2006 Dwyane Wade, so it stands to reason that the NFL will dip into its archives of decades of spectacular plays and historic moments from the immaculate reception to Tom Brady’s seventh ring. Or maybe they’ll even have player-specific packs for legends like Warren Moon or whichever rookie becomes the next league MVP.

Just this past Sunday we had a game end with an NFL record-breaking field goal. Imagine opening a pack with this amazing moment.

Sorry Lions fans.

If you want to talk about this with other NFL NFT fans be sure to join our Discord, and if you want to be in the know for future NFT insights, be sure to follow our Twitter.

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Sports Strength

Which NFL Team Has The Most Super Bowl Wins?

If you’re an avid football fan, you might have asked yourself at some point: which NFL team has the most Super Bowl wins? After all, some teams have had more success on the gridiron than others; and championship runs can be hard to come by. When it comes to most Super Bowl wins, the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are tied for the most in history, each hoisting the Lombardi Trophy six times.

Point to the classic single-elimination format of the playoffs as a reason why so many different teams have won NFL Super Bowls, thus, why we haven’t seen dynasties the rate at which we’ve seen in the likes of the NBA or NHL.

After the Super Bowl era started in 1966, we’ve seen a total of 20 different teams win the big game; combined with endless chip-and-dip get-togethers. I had the pleasure of listing the 10 teams with the most Super Bowl wins in NFL history.

New England Patriots: 6 Super Bowl Wins
(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady embraces Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft (R) after winning 03 Super Bowl XXXVI 03 February, 2002 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams 20-17.

Over the last two decades, the New England Patriots have been incredibly dominant and vastly hated by opposing fans. At the start of 2002 though, the Patriots had zero Super Bowl championships and were underdogs, even with head coach Bill Belichick and a young Tom Brady.

That year, however, the Patriots shocked the world in defeating the heavily favored St. Louis Rams, aka, “The Greatest Show of Turf” in Super Bowl XXXVI. Their victory against Kurt Warner and Co. would spark the greatest dynasty run that the NFL has ever seen. They managed a combined record of 28-4 during the seasons they won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004, while going 17 straight seasons with ten wins or more from 2003 to 2019. Even though they lost the 2007 Super Bowl to the New York Giants, they steamrolled the league en route to a 16-0 record in the regular season.

Their latest Super Bowl triumph came in 2018 against the Kansas City Chiefs, but their most impressive Super Bowl win has to be that 25-point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in 2016.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 6 Super Bowl Wins
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL – FEBRUARY 01: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Mike Tomlin and Dan Rooney look on after defeating the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Steelers defeated the Cardinals 27-23.

As the 7th oldest franchise in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most historic teams in not just football, but in professional sports. Steelers fans had to wait 42 years until the team won their first Super Bowl in 1975.

After that, however, they were able to win four Super Bowls during the next six seasons while putting together arguably the best football team that has ever been assembled. The team was coached by Chuck Noll and featured numerous Hall of Famers including quarterback Terry Bradshaw, cornerback Mel Blount, linebackers Jack Ham and Jack Lambert, and defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene.

Their most recent Super Bowl victory came at the expense of the Arizona Cardinals in 2009 and was capped off by a game-winning touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes. 

San Francisco 49ers: 5 Super Bowl Wins
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29 JAN 1995: SAN FRANCISCO LINEBACKER KEN NORTON JR. CELEBRATES AFTER THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS VERSUS SAN DIEGO CHARGERS IN SUPER BOWL XXIX AT JOE ROBBIE STADIUM IN MIAMI, FLORIDA. THE 49ERS DEFEATED THE CHARGERS 49-26

The San Francisco 49ers have featured some of the most legendary players to play in the National Football league. Cornerback Ronnie Lott, quarterbacks Steve Young and Joe Montana, and wide receivers Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens are some of the greatest Niners of all-time. The pinnacle of their success as a franchise started in 1981 when they won their first Super Bowl, and their latest Super Bowl win came in 1994.

Head coach George Seifert won 98 games and led the franchise to two SuperBowls between 1989 and 1996, while Bill Walsh won 92 games and three Super Bowls between 1979 and 1988. For me, their most memorable championship was Super Bowl XXIII in 1989 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Joe Montana threw a game-winning back touchdown pass to receiver John Taylor in that game and is one of the most memorable plays in NFL history.

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Super Bowl wins
Stephen Dunn / Allsport
30 Jan 1994: Dallas Cowboys defensive linemen Leon Lett (right) and Jimmie Jones celebrate after Super Bowl XXVIII against the Buffalo Bills at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. The Cowboys won the game, 30-13.

Famously known around the NFL as “America’s Team”, the Dallas Cowboys won their first Super Bowl in 1972 against the Miami Dolphins. Bob Lily’s sack on Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese is one of the greatest plays in Cowboys history and helped clinch Dallas’ first-ever Super Bowl championship.

Their latest Super Bowl win came against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1996 and capped off Dallas winning three Super Bowls in four seasons during the ’90s. Quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman anchored all of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl triumphs. Other notable Cowboys include Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Jason Witten, and of course their famous president, general manager, and owner since 1989, Jerry Jones. Wade Phillips, Bill Parcells, and Jimmy Johnson are a few notable coaches in Dallas Cowboys history as well.

Green Bay Packers: 4 Super Bowls
Brian Bahr /Allsport
26 Jan 1997: Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Packers won the game, 35-21

In terms of Super Bowl victories, the Green Bay Packers have four to their name.

However, they’ve won nine pre-Super Bowl NFL titles, more than any other team, that included two runs of three straight NFL titles during the early 1930s and mid-1960s. Hall of fame head coaches Earl Lambeau and Vince Lombardi were the two men at the helm during those eras in helping the Pack win 11 NFL championships. The Packers won the first official Super Bowl during the 1966-1967 season, and then again in 1967. Quarterback Bart Starr was the MVP in both of those victories.

Soon-to-be Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers and current Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre spearheaded the Packers’ next two Super Bowl runs in 1997, and 2011. Rodgers ended up being Favre’s successor and will likely be considered the best quarterback in franchise history when it’s all said and done. Sorry Brett that’s my hot take.

New York Giants: 4 Super Bowl Wins
Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes /Allsport
25 Jan 1987: Wide receiver Phil McConkey of the New York Giants celebrates making a touchdown against the Denver Broncos during Superbowl XXI at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The Giants won the game 39-20.

If the New England Patriots were Superman, then the New York Giants were its kryptonite. The Giants famously beat the 16-0 Patriots in 2008 to win their franchise’s third Super Bowl, a game that quarterback Eli Manning would win MVP. Four years later, not only would the same teams meet again, but the Giants would win by the same margin, and Eli would once more win the MVP. Those Giants teams were also led by Michael Strahan, Antonio Pierce, Justin Tuck, Plaxico Burress, and Jeremey Shockey. Wide receiver David Tyree is responsible for the famous helmet catch during the 4th quarter of Super Bowl XLII that extended the Giant’s game-winning drive.

The Giants’ first Super Bowl win came during 1987 in a victory over the Denver Broncos. The team was led by Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells, and quarterback Phill Simms, who won the MVP award.

Denver Broncos: 3 Super Bowl Wins
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31 Jan 1988: Denver Broncos wide receivers Ricky Nattiel, Mark Jackson, and Vance Johnson (l to r) celebrate during Super Bowl XXII against the Washington Redskins at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California. The Redskins won the game, 42-10.

The Denver Broncos are next on the list with three Super Bowl wins during the Super Bowl era, including back-to-back triumphs in 1998 and 1999. Those Broncos teams were absolutely loaded with Hall of Fame talent that including quarterback John Elway, running back Terrell Davis, wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, and tight-end Shannon Sharpe.

In 2016, the Broncos would be on top of the pro football mountain once more after they’d defeated the Carolina Panthers for their franchise’s third Super Bowl. The Broncos were led by one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Peyton Manning, and Linebacker Von Miller, who won MVP of Super Bowl 50 in 2016.

Washington Football team: 3 Super Bowl Wins
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26 Jan 1992: Quarterback Mark Rypien of the Washington Redskins celebrates during Super Bowl XXVI against the Buffalo Bills at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Reskins won the game, 37-24. Rypien was named the game”s MVP.

The Washington Football Team were crowned the Super Bowl champions in 1983, 1988, and 1992. Head coach Joe Gibbs coached those squads and has won more games than any other coach in the Washington Football team’s history.

Oddly enough, each of those teams was led by different quarterbacks: Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien. Other notable players include running back John Riggins, cornerback Darrell Green, and wide-receiver Art Monk.

Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders: 3 Super Bowl Wins
Getty Images
22 Jan 1984: The Los Angeles Raiders celebrate after Super Bowl XVIII against the Washington Redskins at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Raiders won the game, 38-9.

During the Super Bowl era, the Raiders reigned supreme in the NFL for the first time in 1977. That team had an all-world front office in coaching staff led by General manager Al Davis and Head Coach John Madden. Wide Receiver Fred Biletnikoff won Super Bowl MVP and highlighted a team that was also led by offensive linemen Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, and quarterback Ken Stabler.

Their latest Super Bowl success would happen in 1984. While the franchise would be under the same ownership in Al Davis, Tom Flores took over the head coaching helm from John Madden. Those teams had a mean defense anchored by defensive ends Howie Long and Greg Townsend who would combine for 23.5 sacks during that season.

Indianapolis Colts: 2 Super Bowl Wins
(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – FEBRUARY 04: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates winning the Super Bowl XLI qith a score of 29-17 over the Chicago Bears on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Rounding out this list are the Indianapolis Colts, having won two Super Bowls in franchise history, as well as two pre-Super Bowl era NFL championships. The first came in a three-point victory over the Dallas Cowboys in 1971, while their latest Super Bowl win would come 36 years later in a 12-point victory over the Chicago Bears. Known as the Baltimore Colts in 1971, the Colts were a team that was led by linebacker Chuck Howley, tight-end John Mackey, and quarterback Johnny Unitas.

Quarterback Peyton Manning led his Colts to a 29-17 Super Bowl win over the Bears in 2007, while winning the game’s MVP award as well. He was helped by wide receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, tight-end Dallas Clark, offensive lineman Jeff Saturday, and head coach Tony Dungy.

Categories
Sports Strength

Which U.S Professional Sports Team Has the Most Championships?

What’s better than being crowned the best at what you do? I’ll tell you. Doing it again, and again, and again. Some American sports franchises have had to struggle for decades to win a single championship, while others have triumphed multiple times. Of all the teams in American sports history, the New York Yankees have won the most championships, with 27 World Series titles.

Major League Baseball: New York Yankees (27 World Series Titles)
Getty Images
26 Oct 1996: Closer John Wetteland of the New York Yankees celebrates with teammates after Game Six of the World Series against the Atlanta Braves at Yankee Stadium in New York City, New York. The Yankees won the game, 3-2.

The Yanks have built a culture that expects to compete for the World Series every season. After their first title in 1923, the Yankees had three notable dynasty teams that would help win 26 more championships. From 1936-1939, the Yankees when won four consecutive titles, and from 1949-1954, they won five in a row. Those teams were managed by Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel and were led by legends like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, and Yogi Berra.

The next dynasty came during the late ’90s, when they won World Series titles in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000. Those teams were managed by Joe Torre, and led by Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, and Bernie Williams.

In 2009, Jeter, C.C Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, and Mark Teixeira helped New York beat the Philadelphia Phillies for their 27th title, a series that I was glued to the television for as a 13-year old Yankees fan.

If you ask me, their most impressive championship came in 1996, when they beat the defending champion Atlanta Braves. Atlanta went up 2-0 in the series but the Yankees battled back and won four straight.

National Hockey League: Montreal Canadiens (25 Stanley Cup Championships
B Bennet / Getty Images
1991: Montreal Candiens head coach Pat Burns looks on from the bench during an NHL game against the Philadelphia Flyers circa 1991 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Montreal Canadiens won their first Stanley Cup in 1919, and have been around longer than the NHL itself. Much of Montreal’s success points to its dominance in the 1950s, 1960’s and 1970s. They won six Stanley Cups between 1950-160, including four consecutive from 1956-1960. Those teams were coached primarily by Joe Blake and featured players like Jean Bèliveau, Henri Richard, and Claude Provost.

During the 1960s, they won the cup in 1965, 1966, 1968, and 1969 as Richard, Serge Savard, Jacques Lemaire, J.C Tremblay, and Yvan Cournoyer highlighted those teams.

Finally, their most recent dynasty began in 1971, as they’d go on to win six Stanley Cups during the ’70s, including four straight. Larry Robinson, Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, and Bob Gainey were key players during that era. 

National Basketball Association: Los Angeles Lakers ( 17 NBA Championships)
Bud Symes/AllSport/ Getty Images
Center for the Los Angeles Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at the Los Angeles Lakers 1988 Championship Parade

One of the most historic and successful franchises in all of sports are the Los Angles Lakers. George Mikan, who is considered the NBA’s first dominant big man led helped LA win four of the first five NBA titles, marking the first professional basketball dynasty we’ve ever seen. Those teams also featured Jim Pollard and Vern Mikkelsen.

In 1972, NBA logo icon Jerry West, along with Gail Goodrich, Elgin Baylor and Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, led the Lakers to an NBA record 33 -game winning streak and won the championship that same year. In 1979, they drafted Magic Johnson and would soon find its most successful run of form to date. Along with Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and James Worthy, Magic led the “Showtime” Lakers to five championships during the 1980’s.

During the early 2000’s, head coach Phil Jackson, center Shaquille O’Neal and shooting guard Kobe Bryant started a new era in Lakers dominance when they won three consecutive titles in 2001, 2002 and 2003. After O’Neal was traded to the Orlando Magic in 2004, Bryant became the alpha dog and led the Lakers to back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.

NBA: Boston Celtics (17 NBA Championships)
NBA.com
Larry Bird and Kevin McHale high-five during the 1986 NBA Finals

Presumably inspired by the dominant run of the Lakers, the Boston Celtics reigned supreme during the latter years of the 1950’s and throughout the 1960’s in the NBA. Led by Bill Russell, , John Havlicek, Sam Jones, Bob Cousy, K.C Jones and Ed Macauley, the Celtics won eight consecutive NBA championships in 1959 and and 1966. Russell, who served as player-coach from 1966 to 1969, would win five MVP’s and set the record for most rebounds in a game with 49.

In 1978, Boston drafted arguably the most popular Celtic of all-time in Larry Bird. Bird, along with Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson, led Boston to title runs in 1981, 1984 and 1986, while stirring up a heated rivalry with Magic Johnson and “The Showtime Lakers.”

Celtics fans waited over 20 years for their next championships, which came in 2008. Head coach Doc Rivers, and a “Big Three” of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen defeated Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in six games that year.

National Hockey League: Toronto Maple Leafs (13 Stanley Cups)
(Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – MAY 7: Mats Sundin #13, Bryan Berard #34, Dmitri Yushkevich #36 and Lonny Bohonos #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1999 Quarter Finals of the NHL playoff game action at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canad

Like the Celtics-Lakers in the NBA, the Maple Leafs-Canadiens are one of the most historic rivalries in the NHL. Toronto were crowned with their first Stanley Cup in 1918, while their most recent Stanley Cup succession 1967.

In between that time, they had two dominant stretches, one coming in the late 40’s when they won three straight titles, while the other came during the early 60’s, when they won the whole thing in 1962, 1963, and 1964. Mats Sundin is the all-time leading goal-scorer for the franchise.

National Hockey League: Detroit Red Wings (11 Stanley Cups)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings stands next to the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl with Bill Daly, deputy commisioner of the NHL (R) after the Red Wings, after the Red Wings defeated the Stars 4-1 in game six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 19, 2008 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

The Canadiens, Maple Leafs, and Detroit Red Wings are a few of the original six teams that made up the NHL between 1942-1967.

The Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup in 1936, and won four consecutive titles between the years 1950-1960. Right winger Gordie Howe, who is considered by some as the greatest NHL player of all-time, partnered with star-studded goalie Terry Sawchuk to help Detroit dominate the 50’s.

In 2008, they would face-off against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. That Red Wings team won that series in six games, was anchored by defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom, and lead on the attack by Henrik Zutterberg , who was the 2008 Stanley Cup MVP.

Major League Baseball: St. Louis Cardinals (11 Championships)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Trevor Rosenthal #26, catcher Yadier Molina #4 and David Freese #23 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after the Cardinals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 in Game Six of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on October 18, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri.

When the St. Louis Cardinals won their first championship in 1886, they were actually known as the St. Louis Browns. They became the Cardinals in 1900, and had to wait 26 years until their first World Series Championship triumph in 1926, beating a New York Yankees team led by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Right-fielder Billy Southworth, Shortstop Tommy Thevenow, First Baseman Jim Bottomley, and starting pitcher Pete Alexander anchored that team to help defeat the Evil Empire.

The last Cardinals championship came in 2011 when they defeated the Texas Rangers. Lance Berkman, Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter and World Series MVP David Freese played huge roles in that series. 

Major League Baseball: Boston Red Sox (9 World Series Championships
(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
The Boston Red Sox celebrate after winning game four of the 2004 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 27, 2004 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Red Sox defeated the Cardinals 3-0 to win their first World Series in 86 years

From 1903-1918, the Boston Red Sox were a dominant baseball franchise. They won five World Series championships during those years. Those squads were led by The Great Bambino, aka Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, and Cy Young. Their most notable championship run happened during 2004; which is the year they broke their 86-year drought without a World Series. That year, they came back and won from a 3-0 series deficit against arch-rival New York Yankees in the American League Championship series, becoming the first baseball team in the history of the game to do so. Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martinez came up huge for Boston during that title run.

They’d go on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series that year, but beating my beloved Yankees in seven game is what made that postseason run extra special for the Red Sox.

Yuck, next.

Major League Baseball: Oakland Athletics ( 9 World Series Championships)
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Pitcher Dave Stewart #34 of the Oakland Athletics delivers a pitch during a game against the New York Yankees in the 1990 season at Oakland Alameda County Stadium in Oakland, California.

Between the years 1903 and 1954, the Oakland Athletics franchise were residing in the city of brotherly love, and were formally known as the Philadelphia Athletics. They won their first World Series in 1910, and would go on to win titles in two out of the next three seasons during the early 1910’s. The organization has seen an influx of some of the greatest players that the game has ever seen, including Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Mark McGwire, and Tony La Rusa.

The franchises most recent championship came in 1989, when Oakland swept the San Francisco Giants. Henderson, the all-time leader in walks, runs, stolen bases and leadoff home-runs in baseball, was featured on that 1989 championship team, and might be the greatest A’ of all-time.

Starting pitcher Dave Stewart won World Series MVP in 1989 after pitching a complete game shoutout in game 1. In 2005, en-route to winning 103 games, Oakland went on the 5th longest streak in MLB history while winning 20 games in a row.

Major League Baseball: San Francisco Giants (8 World Series Championships)
(Photo by MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images)
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) raises the 2014 championship banner in left field after mounting a horse on his way to deliver the banner to center centerfield before their home opener against the Colorado Rockies

The Giants were based in New York from 1903-1957, and won their first of five World Series championships as the New York Giants in 1905. Right-hander Christy Mathewson pitched three games during the World Series against the Philadelphia Athletics that year, and did not allow one single run in 27 innings of action. 11 years later, they set the MLB record for most consecutive wins with 26. The Giants most recent World Series championship was a seven-game thriller against the Kansas City Royals in 2014, marking their third title during a 5-year stretch. Starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner was electric and won MVP of the series, joining the company of baseball’s elite after clutch performances in Games 1, 5, and 7 on short rest. Bumgarner has a career 0.25 ERA in World Series games, good for the greatest mark in the history of baseball.

Major League Baseball: Los Angeles Dodgers (7 World Series Championships) 
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers holds the Commissioners Trophy after the teams 3-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game Six to win the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 27, 2020 in Arlington, Texas

The Dodgers played in Brooklyn under seven different nicknames before they became the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1958. Their first title was won in 1955 in seven games over the New York Yankees, as the team was carried by Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Johnny Podres, and Carl Furilo. Additionally, 2nd baseman Jackie Robinson is notorious for breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball, becoming the first African-American to play in the big leagues in 1947. Additionally, without the the emergence of veteran Negro-league superstars Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson during that time, the young Jackie Robinson might’ve never had his shine.

LA’s latest World Series championship came in 2020, in a series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. All-Star center-fielder Mookie Betts was named MVP of the series. 

National Basketball Association: Chicago Bulls (6 NBA Championships)
Jonathan Daniel /Allsport
Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls celebrates after game six of the NBA Final against the Utah Jazz at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Jazz 90-86..

The Chicago Bulls dominated during the 1990’s as their success rested on the laurels of arguably the greatest to ever do it in Michael Jordan. Jordan had Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, and B.J Armstrong, to help win the Bulls their first championship in 1991, but they didn’t stop there.

The Bulls won again in 1992, and 1993. After Jordan took a hiatus from basketball during 1993 and 1994, Chicago three-peated again in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman, and Ron Harper were key additions that supported the star-studded duo of Jordan and Pippen during the late 90’s.

I’d say their most impressive finals performance was the 1997 series against Utah. The Jazz, led by John Stockton and Karl Malone, came back from a 2-0 series deficit to force a game 5. That game is remembered as the famous “flu game”; the game in which Jordan was visibly sick and had to be helped off the court by teammates going into timeouts. Nevertheless, Jordan dropped 38 points in a Chicago victory as the Bulls would go on to win the Finals in six games. 

National Basketball Association: Golden State Warriors (6 NBA Championships)
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry and MVP Andre Iguodala celebrate after their team defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 to win the 2015 NBA Finals on June 16, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Warriors played in Philadelphia from 1951-1962, and won their first championship as the Philadelphia Warriors in 1956. Neil Johnston and Paul Arizin led those teams and are a few of the greatest players in franchise history. During the early 90’s, “Run TMC” a play-on with 80’s Hip-Hop group “Run DMC” was the nickname for the trio of Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway, and Mitch Richmond. Although they never won a championship together, they’re one of the most iconic trios in NBA history, and one of my favorite NBA teams ever.

Finally, a new era of bay-area dominance was brewed in 2015 when the 67-win Warriors, led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala defeated LeBron James and the Cavaliers to win the organization’s 4th NBA championship. That same year, they put up the 2nd best winning streak of all-time when they won 28 straight games.

The emerging backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson quickly became known as “The Splash Bros”. With the addition of Kevin Durant two seasons later, Golden State would go on to win two more championships, back-to-back in 2017 and

National Hockey League: Chicago Blackhawks (6 NHL Championships)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after teammate Patrick Kane #88 scored the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 and win the Stanley Cup in Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Wachovia Center on June 9, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Blackhawks have only won the Stanley Cup six times, but they’ve been dominant over the past 10 years with three Stanley Cups over that time-frame. Their first championship came in 1934 when they beat the Detroit Red Wings, clinching the series during a double-overtime victory in game 4. Their latest championship came in 2015 when they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. Stan Mikita is probably known as Mr. Blackhawk, and is arguably the greatest Chicago Blackhawks player of all-time. Patrick Kane might be 2nd on the list of all-time greatest Blackhawks, and had that classic game-winning OT goal against the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup in 2010, which broke my heart as a semi-Flyer fan that only shows up for the playoffs.

National Hockey League: Boston Bruins (6 Stanley Cup Wins)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Rich Peverley #49 of the Boston Bruins celebrates his third period goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 23, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup all the way back in 1929 when they swept the New York Rangers in a best-of-three series. Wingers Harry Oliver and Dit Clapper, along with centers Bill Carson and Dutch Gainor scored goals for the Bruins in that series, while 25 -year old goalie Tiny Thompson allowed zero goals in 120 minutes of play. They won their most recent championship when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games during 2011. Brad Marchand , Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder were monsters on the attack in that series and really carried the team. As for other notable Bruins, Defenseman Bobby Orr is not only a great Bruin, but is considered one of the greatest hockey players in NHL history. Fellow Defenseman Eddie Shore, along with centers Patrice Bergeron and Phil Esposito are other great players in Boston’s history on the ice.

National Football League: New England Patriots (6 Super Bowls)
(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady embraces Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft (R) after winning 03 Super Bowl XXXVI 03 February, 2002 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Over the last two decades, the New England Patriots have been incredibly dominant and vastly hated by opposing fans. At the start of 2002 though, The Patriots had zero Super Bowl Championships and were underdogs, even with Bill Belichick and a young Tom Brady . That year though, the Patriots shocked the world and defeated the heavily favored St. Louis Rams, aka, “The Greatest Show of Turf” in Super Bowl XXXVI. Their victory against Kurt Warner and Co. would spark the greatest dynasty run that the NFL has ever seen. They managed a combined record of 28-4 during the seasons they won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004, while going 17 straight seasons with ten wins or more from 2003, to 2019. Even though they lost the 2007 Super Bowl to the New York Giants, they steamrolled the league in route to a 16-0 record. Their latest Super Bowl triumph came in 2018 against the Kansas City Chiefs, but their most impressive Super Bowl win has to be that 25-point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in 2016.

National Football League: Pittsburgh Steelers (6 Super Bowls) 
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL – FEBRUARY 01: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Mike Tomlin and Dan Rooney look on after defeating the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Steelers defeated the Cardinals 27-23

As the 7th oldest franchise in the NFL, The Pittsburgh Steelers are known as one of the most historic teams in not just football, but in professional sports. Steelers fans had to wait 42 years until the team won their first Super Bowl in 1975.

After that however, they were able to win four Super Bowls in the next six seasons while putting together arguably the best football team that has ever been assembled. The team was coached by Chuck Noll, and featured numerous halls of famers including quarterback Terry Bradshaw, cornerback Mel Blount, linebackers Jack Ham and Jack Lambert and defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene.

Their most recent Super Bowl victory came at the expense of the Arizona Cardinals in 2009, and was capped off by a game-winning touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes . 

National Basketball Association: San Antonio Spurs (5 NBA Championships)
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Manu Ginobili #20, Tony Parker #9, Patty Mills #8 and Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs celebrate on the bench in the closing minutes of Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals

After the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan in 1997, they became the epitome of winning, class and consistency in the NBA throughout the 2000’s. They won the 1999 NBA Finals under Head coach Gregg Popovich. Popovich, and with a team led by Duncan, David Robinson, and Avery Johnson.

Their true domination started during the early 2000’s though, when they won the NBA Finals in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Those teams were led by Pop, Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli. After a seven-year title drought, San Antonio got another chance to add to their trophy case, and did so in defeating the Miami Heat and their “Big 3” of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, while avenging their gut-wrenching loss to Miami in 2013.

National Football League: San Francisco 49ers (5 Super Bowl Championships)
(Photo by Rich Pilling/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers Joe Montana in celebration against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 24 at the Louisiana Superdome.

The San Francisco 49ers have featured some of the most legendary players to play for their franchise. Cornerback Ronnie Lot, quarterbacks Steve Young and Joe Montana, and wide receivers Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens are some of the greatest niners of all-time. The pinnacle of their success as a franchise started in the 1981 when they won their first Super Bowl, while their latest Super Bowl win came in 1994. Head coach George Seifert won 98 games and led the franchise to two SuperBowls between 1989 and 1996, while Bill Walsh won 92 games and three Super Bowls between 1979 and 1988. For me, their most memorable championship was Super Bowl XXIII in 1989 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Joe Montana threw a game-winning back touchdown pass to receiver John Taylor in that game, and is one of the greatest plays in NFL history.

National Football League: Dallas Cowboys (5 Super Bowl Championships)
Photo credit should read ROBERT SULLIVAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman signals touchdown 31 Jan during the fourth quarter Super Bowl XXVII. Aikman and the Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills to win the game 52-17.

Famously known around the NFL as “America’s Team”, the Dallas Cowboys won their first Super Bowl in 1972 against the Miami Dolphins. Bob Lily’s sack on Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese is one of the greatest plays in Cowboys history and helped clinch Dallas’ first ever Super Bowl championship. Their latest Super Bowl win came at the expense of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1996, and capped off Dallas winning three Super Bowls in four seasons during the 90’s. Quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman anchored all of the Cowboys Super Bowl triumphs. Other notable Cowboys include Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Jason Witten, and of-course their famous president, general manager, and owner since 1989, Jerry Jones. Wade Phillips, Bill Parcels, and Jimmy Johnson are a few notable coaches in Dallas Cowboys history as well.

Categories
eSports Gaming

Subnation and Seiler Team Up to Educate NFL Players on esports

Today’s pro athletes know there’s more to life than just making insane amounts of money and spending it all on frivolous things. The young sports greats we constantly cheer for are smarter with their income and usually make worthwhile investments that benefit more than just them. In the case of pro-NFL personalities, the growing trend of notable players dipping their toes into the esports arena is an intriguing one.

Tennessee Titans guard Rodger Saffold birthed his own esports business venture RISE Nation. Jay Ajayi, a former running back for the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles, signed on with Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union organization to become a member of their eMLS League Series One esports team. And NFL legends Steve Young and Jerry Rice have made a concerted effort to open learning centers that teach the youth living in underserved communities all about esports and so much more. It’s clear that esports efforts such as those point to NFL players’ continued interest in all things pro gaming.

Gaming and esports media holding company Subnation and financial wellness firm Seiler Financial Education Consultants have clearly taken heed of this growing trend, which is why they’re looking to help even more NFL players gain a better understanding of the esports realm. Both companies are doing so by holding the first annual Players Symposium, which will take place over the course of three days and emanate from the new Resorts World Las Vegas I property. From July 6th to the 9th, 100 current NFL pros will converge upon this invite-only conference to attain the know-how needed to better one’s business acumen. The Players Symposium won’t just be about getting schooled, however – everyone will get to participate in a 16-team esports tournament and compete for $50,000. So along with learning about marketing, cryptocurrency, finance, and esports, that huge lineup of NFL athletes will also get to unwind and compete on the sticks.

Some of the players in attendance include LA Chargers Running Back Austin Ekeler and Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Plus Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling will be on hand to be one of the Players Symposium’s many speakers – his inclusion comes as no surprise since he launched his own esports team and lifestyle brand, Trench Made Gaming. Los Angeles Chargers Running Back and Gridiron Gaming Group Founder Austin Ekeler will also be in attendance to offer some words of wisdom regarding the thriving world of esports and gaming culture as a whole.

Doug Scott, Co-Founder and Chief Managing Director of Subnation, spoke on the widening knowledge of today’s sports athletes when it comes to amassing different streams of income. “Whether it be requesting their salaries in cryptocurrency, launching esports teams or participating in health and wellness start ups, professional athletes are expanding their purview and getting involved with innovative business ventures off the field,” said Doug. “We created the Players Symposium to educate athletes on what’s new and next, while exposing them to the companies and entrepreneurs that are disrupting the tech, media and entertainment world.”

In the case of sponsors for the Players Symposium, Alienware, The Ben Moss Group, Dreamseat, Eleve Health, and Voyager have signed on to show their support. Stephen Ehrlich, Voyager’s Co-founder and CEO, commented on his company’s excitement in regards to getting behind this beneficial endeavor. “Voyager is proud to support the first Players Symposium to help educate these outstanding pro athletes about one of today’s most extraordinary wealth-building vehicles, cryptocurrency,” Stephen said. “Voyager is the ideal digital asset platform to help these athletes meet and exceed part of their long-term financial goals with crypto. With over 60 digital assets, interest offerings as high as 10%, and an easy-to-use app, Voyager is the crypto platform for champions!”

The first installment of the Players Symposium has all the makings of an annual event that could create a new array of NFL players that will dive headfirst into esports and help it continue to prosper.

Categories
Entrepreneurs Grind

GaryVee Talks To Pro Athletes About How to Make An Impact

If you saw the “30 for 30″—then you already know the story.

“By the time they have been retired for two years, 78 percent of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress; within five years of retirement, an estimated 60 percent of former NBA players are broke.”

Former Tennessee Titan, Derrick Morgan, is looking to change that.

Last Friday, Morgan spearhead a financial conference called “I AM Nation.” It included guests speeches from the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk and Anthony Pompliano.

“Life is only about access. And the great mistake of athletes is not going aggressive enough, to make relationships in the cities where they have played,” Vaynerchuk had to say when speaking at the event, emphasizing the need for personal connections.

In addition to increasing financial literacy, Morgan, and a slew of other current and former athletes, are hoping to also make an impact. They’ve laid out their priorities as capital, community, and culture.

When players are in the primes of their career, financial strategy and investing are rarely discussed in the locker room. The event was made to provide a forum for players to learn, network, and open that conversation.

The “I AM Nation” group has put together quite the team. The roster includes Josh Childress, Byron Jones, Stephen Tulloch, Winston Justice, Justin Forsett, EJ Manuel, Vincent Fuller, Kevin Byard, and Spencer Paysinger.

These players’ backgrounds are all different. Some of them have already dabbled in entrepreneurship and others are just getting started. Either way, their involvement is helping diversify the investment space.

At the event, the conversations revolved around NFTs, real estate, cryptocurrency, and stock trading. Each subsection was given a speaker dedicated to providing valuable information for the group.

“[Athletes] are playing in real cities, with real die-hard fans. Football is one of the great passions of our society.  And because of that passion, you can access some really influential people, who will take a meeting with you, who will say yes to doing business with you” Vaynerchuk emphasized.

The event united the focuses of Morgan’s vision, by bringing capital, community, and culture together.

Categories
Sports Strength

The 12 Highest Paid NFL Coaches Right Now

Many factors go into making a great football team: The players (obviously), the management, the strategy, and, maybe most importantly, the coaching. In the NFL, there is a certain upper echelon of coaches that have either led their team to a Super Bowl, are on an upward trajectory, or are at least being paid like they are. If you’re reading this, then you might be wondering who the highest-paid NFL coach is, and the answer would be the New England Patriots’ own Bill Belichick, who earns an impressive $12 million annually. 

Belichick isn’t the only one making big bucks by coaching in the NFL. In fact, he is followed very closely by a select group of coaches that have all had varying degrees of success on their own terms. Some have won Super Bowls, and some are just starting, but one fact is certain: They’re all making big money. Here are the 12 highest-paid NFL coaches in the league right now.

1. Bill Belichick-New England Patriots
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Contract: $12 Million/Annually

The highest-paid coach in the NFL, Belichick certainly gets money like he is the best in the league because, well, he is. A winner of six Super Bowls with the Patriots, he has had a storied career with the franchise leading them to an unparalleled era of success in the NFL. He and the GOAT QB, Tom Brady, helped drive the Patriots to become a true dynasty, one of the greatest in sports history.

With his $12 million paychecks, Belichick has amassed a sizable net worth thanks to this success and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.

2. Pete Carroll-Seattle Seahawks
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Contract: $11 Million/Annually

The head coach of the Seattle Seahawks since 2010, Pete Carroll, has had a very successful career with that franchise, including a Super Bowl victory in 2013. The Seahawks under Carroll also appeared in the Super Bowl in 2014, but they fell short of a win when he called for a pass play on the goal line in the final minute that was intercepted by the New England Patriots; a call that has been publicly derided to no end ever since.

3. Jon Gruden-Las Vegas Raiders
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Contract: 10 Year/$100 Million

It was a staggering contract for Jon Gruden when he was announced as the head coach for the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders. Gruden was coming off of a stint as the color analyst for Monday Night Football, so the fact he was able to garner such a deal was a shock to many.

4. Sean Payton-New Orleans Saints
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Contract: $9.8 Million/Annually

Sean Payton has been the head coach of the New Orleans Saints since 2006 and has amassed an impressive career coaching record of 152-89. He also has a Super Bowl victory under his belt, leading the Saints to a title in 2010 when they defeated the Indianapolis Colts.

Payton was extended by the Saints in 2019 for another five years, so the franchise has confidence in him and believe he gives them the best chance to win another title.

5. John Harbaugh-Baltimore Ravens
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Contract: $9 Million/Annually

After a successful career as a defensive and special teams coordinator, John Harbaugh was hired by the Baltimore Ravens to be their head coach in 2008. Since then, Harbaugh successfully led the team to a Super Bowl victory in 2013 when he defeated his brother Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers.

Harbaugh signed a four-year extension in 2019, keeping him with the Ravens until at least 2022.

6. Matt Rhule-Carolina Panthers
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Contract: $8.5 million/Annually

Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule is the newest entry on this list, having only coached in the NFL for one season. However, before the 2020 season, Rhule was the coach that every team that needed one wanted to hire, and his salary is evidence of that.

While his first season as the Panthers head coach underwhelmed (they finished with a 5-11 record), Rhule has the potential to rebound in 2021.

7. Sean McVay-Los Angeles Rams
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Contract: $8.5 million/annually

Once thought of like the NFL’s “golden boy”, Sean McVay became the youngest head coach in league history when the Rams hired him at the age of 30. Many of his players were (and some still are) older than he is, but he has established himself as one of the best coaches in the league, leading the Rams to a Super Bowl appearance in just his second season.

8. Mike Tomlin-Pittsburgh Steelers
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Contract: $8 million/annually

Mike Tomlin has been the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2007, and if you can believe it, is just their third head coach since 1969. He’s had a great amount of success since taking the reins, boasting a 153-86-1 record, but despite this, he remains underpaid when compared to other coaches that have his pedigree.

9. Andy Reid-Kansas City Chiefs
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Contract: $8 million/annually

One of the most experienced head coaches in the league, Andy Reid has been a the helm of two different teams since 1999. Firstly, he was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles until 2012, and even though he brought the team six division titles, five trips to the NFC Championship Game, and an appearance in the Super Bowl, the Eagles elected not to extend him.

He was promptly hired by the Chiefs, where he has also had a ton of success, including two Super Bowl appearances and a victory in one of them.

10. Bruce Arians-Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Contract: $8 Million/Annually

Bruce Arians is one of my favorite coaches in the league for a variety reasons. He’s incredibly progressive in terms of hiring (all of his coordinators are black and he’s also hired two female assistant coaches as well) in a league that’s known for being backwards in that area.

He was hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019 and set out to turn the franchise around. And turn it around he did, he brought the team its second Super Bowl victory in just his second season.

11. Ron Rivera-Washington Football Club
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Contract: $7 Million/Annually

As a head coach, Ron Rivera enjoyed a successful stint as the leader of the Carolina Panthers from 2011-2019, which included a Super Bowl appearance, where the team fell short of a victory. Following a rough start to the 2019 season, Rivera was fired by the Panthers in December but was promptly hired by the Washington Football Team in January 2020.

Playing in a lackluster division, Rivera led Washington to the playoffs despite finishing with a 7-9 record. Off the field, Rivera was also battling a cancer diagnosis throughout the season, but being the fighter that he is, he missed zero games and only three practices.

12. Kliff Kingsbury-Arizona Cardinals
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Contract: $5.5 million/annually

Kliff Kingsbury has had an interesting career as a coach thus far, with many having thought that he was perfectly content working in the college football space. He served as the head coach of Texas Tech from 2013-2019 but was not retained by the school at the end of the 2019 season.

Upon leaving Texas Tech, he was hired by the University of Southern California to be their offensive coordinator, but he ended up interviewing with the Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets for their head coaching jobs. He took the Cardinals job and, after two seasons, has a 13-18-1 record.

Categories
NFT Sports

NFTs Are NOT Dead, According to Jack Settleman

I Promise… NFT’s Are Not Dead

I’m not sure people understand how early on we are in this NFT movement. 

The total Top Shot market cap is at 605 million dollars. 

At one point, it was over a billion dollars, so naturally, people are showing concern.

Did I mention that we are early?

Clearly, the public perception is that NFT’s are dead. But I am here to tell you they are not. We are seeing a pullback. We are seeing similar reactions to the dot.com era, where 99 percent of websites failed. But the one percent that survived (Amazon, Google) became monsters. 

Quick reminder, we are early. 

What is important is that NFT’s, celebrity cash grabs are gone… which we’ve been saying. But the tech of NFT’s is going to be the thing of the next decade. As of now, all people know are the youtube clips they are watching. But we are still so early, people don’t understand what this wave can be.

The general idea from Top Shot fans is that it re-engaged them with the NBA. Who captures your attention? That is what matters. The MLB does a terrible job with it. The UFC is making a Dapper Labs product… and is asking you to pay for the viewing experience and give them your time. With the NFL, they own Sunday and Monday… but even our generation watches RedZone. Once again, the tech and utility of NFT’s are an attention and engagement capture. 

Over the next decade, the competition will be over people’s time and attention. 

To finalize things, we are super early in this. It could be five years before we see the fruits of NFT technology.

Categories
Sports Strength

Jordan Fuller Talks Sports Psychology, Getting Stronger, and Family

When you play football at THE Ohio State… and then play in the NFL, you do a lot of interviews and answer a lot of questions. 

The prompts get old and repetitive, but for the most part, the athletes are gracious enough to answer without too much attitude, even though I am sure that they are uninterested. 

Jordan Fuller is no exception. For every question asked, he gives a thoughtful response.

Even the questions that he gets asked over and over, like ‘what is it like playing with Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald?’ or, ‘what was it like to intercept Tom Brady twice in the same game?’

“Yeah I get it asked a lot,” he laughed. “It’s all good though.” 

Fuller has dedicated a good portion of his offseason to his mental training. Of course, when you are in the early stages of your career, you need to get stronger physically. But he also realized that the mental fortitude needed to be as much of a focus.

ONE37pm: How does the body feel now compared to last season? The body is still growing. 

Fuller: “I definitely feel like I am getting stronger. As a rookie, I found out other things I need to work on. Strength, mobility, and overall wellness. My mental. I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a person too. The body feels great. Mentally and spiritually.” 

ONE37pm: So many players have committed to seeing a sports psychologist. Is that something you have dabbled in? 

Fuller: “I wanted to delve into speaking things into existence. And I have, I feel like I am in a good place.”

With the high-stress nature of football, there is a yin and yang to the mental approach of the sport. He explained how going too far on one end can be costly. 

“Get into your zone. Having enough stress so the adrenaline is pumping, but not too much to where it paralyzes you. You wanna get there on command. I’m not there yet, but I am trying” Fuller says.

ONE37pm: Which way do you lean, the pumped up side or chill side?

Fuller: “I’m a thinker, so I’ll be on the more stressed side. So sometimes I need to scale it back. Understanding that nothing is good or bad, don’t make judgments in the moment cause it wastes time.”

Fuller dove deeper into those early judgments. 

“Living with regret. That’s what I hate. The way I approach workouts, games… I hate that. Why wouldn’t I give it my all? That’s what motivates me. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, I hate that” he explains.

Fuller’s awareness is really impressive. He understands his strengths and accepts some of his weaknesses. But his biggest focus is changing HOW he views his weaknesses.

Fuller: “My strengths… I’m smart. I’m consistent. I try to be a good teammate and be another coach on the field. But a lot of times, people won’t see that with the naked eye. There are a lot of things I will bring to the table. Maybe I’m not the quickest or the strongest… there are a bunch of other guys who have that on me. But talking to the psychologist, he reversed that thinking. At Ohio St., as a Freshman, it was a really big jump for me. That might have scarred my thinking a little bit. Thinking like, ‘man, these guys are way better than me.’ My thinking didn’t make sense. I just got in my head sometimes. 

ONE37pm: You make it sound really easy, but there is no way that is the case. Changing your thinking also means changing years and years of habits. So how do you rewire that process?

Fuller: “The other thing I am working on is being present. A little bit of meditation to center myself. Taking a few deep breaths and understanding that a lot of my worries aren’t real or things I can control.”

Needless to say, Jordan Fuller does not sound like your typical 23-year-old. 

ONE37pm: So many people talk about the cliche “welcome to the NFL” feeling or moment. But since you came from Ohio State and your entire family is full of superstars…was that still the case for you? 

Fuller: “In training camp, it might have happened. I was playing with the ones (starters)… blah blah blah. But then I got a pick or something and I said, ‘yeah, I am supposed to be here.’ 

Then we played the Cowboys, with a ton of big names. But then like the first play of the game, I made an assisted tackle with Jalen Ramsay on Amari Cooper. I feel like God sent that knowing that I needed it. Once you get that first hit, you’re good.”

ONE37pm: When you do these interviews, and you do 1,000’s of them, what do you want to be asked? 

Fuller: “Honestly, I want to be asked about other people that I care about. Whether it is my family or a teammate who had a great game. I don’t want to be like, ‘look at me.’ 

I am big on family. The people I am close with… My dad played at TCU. My brother was drafted by the Falcons, and he is one of my best friends. He’s into coaching, and I’ve gotten to watch him grow. Obviously, my mom is one of the best backup singers of all time. My little sister has grown into her own. My brother married into the Holiday family, if you know Jrue, Justin, and Aaron. I’m living rent-free because of Jrue and Lauren right now. She’s the real superstar. Real deal. Great, great people. For real. 

They’ve poured so much into me. It’s been really dope. Being surrounded by excellence has pushed me further. They are the reason why I am so motivated. I definitely think I have the best family in the world.”

That’s the kind of person Jordan Fuller is.

Categories
Sports Strength

The 20 Best NFL Free Agent Wide Receivers

Every offseason in the NFL, fans put their plans together for how they would spend their team’s available salary-cap space. Free agency is a great way to plug holes in a roster with veterans who have, for one reason or another, shaken loose from their old teams.

This year’s wide receiver class was not the strongest in recent years at the top, but it was deep. With most teams dealing with extremely limited finances and a reduced salary cap stemming from a loss in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were a flurry of short term contracts given out by general managers who were seeking depth and value at the position.

The list below ranks the best available free agent wide receivers heading in to the offseason, where they landed, and their outlook for the upcoming 2021 season.

1. Allen Robinson – Tagged by Chicago Bears
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Allen Robinson has been an absolute star in the NFL, even though he has been paired up with some of the worst starting quarterbacks since entering the league. 

Blake Bortles. Chad Henne. Chase Daniel. Mitch Trubisky. Nick Foles. 

Will the Bears drafting Justin Fields finally be exactly what Robinson has sorely needed to take the next step and get the respect he deserves? It should be fun to watch. He received the 5th best PFF ranking in the league in 2020 for all wide receivers (88.4) and almost never drops a pass. The Bears franchise tagged him, but they would be wise to lock him up long term sooner than later. 

2. Chris Godwin — Tagged by Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Chris Godwin is one of the top receivers in the game, catching 65 balls for 840 yards and 7 touchdowns in just 12 games in 2020, while boasting a 90.7 PFF grade. In 2019, he had 1,333 yards and 9 touchdowns and has dropped only four passes in three seasons.

The Bucs franchise tagged him during the offseason, but much like Allen Robinson, they should look to give him the long term deal that he is looking for. 

3. Kenny Goladay – Signed by New York Giants
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Kenny Golladay signed a massive four-year, $72 million dollar contract ($40 million guaranteed) with the New York Giants, joining a returning Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram on what could be an explosive offense.

Golladay is known as one of the top deep threats in the game, ranking 4th in the NFL in deep receiving yards over the past three years. Giants young quarterback Daniel Jones throws a nice deep ball, so this signing should do wonders for his development.

4. JuJu Smith-Schuster – Signed by Pittsburgh Steelers
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JuJu is a polarizing player who seems to have taken a bit of a step backwards during the last two seasons. In 2018, he caught 111 balls for 1426 yards and 7 touchdowns and appeared to be on track to become one of the best wide receivers in the entire league.  An injury shortened 2019 season in which he only played in 12 games resulted in a massive dip in production (42 catches, 552 yards) and was followed by a relatively subpar 2020 campaign (97 catches 831 yards) that was more memorable for TikTok antics than big catches. 

With that said, he has all the tools and motivation to have a huge season in 2021, as the Steelers gave him just a one-year “prove-it” deal. Expect a renewed focus and big things from JuJu in 2021. 

5. Will Fuller IV – Signed by Miami Dolphins
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Fuller could not have possibly left the Houston Texans at a better time, with the Deshaun Watson mess taking center stage in his former city. He joins a Miami team on the rise, but he comes with quite a few question marks. 

Last season was Fuller’s best as a professional, putting up a career high eight touchdowns in just 11 games before being suspended for six games due to testing positive for PED’s. That suspension will carry over through week 1 of the 2021 season. Were the PED’s partially responsible for the breakout season? Only time will tell. 

Either way, Fuller is an emerging young wide receiver that should have a chance to flourish with the Dolphins young signal caller, Tua Tagovailoa. 

6. Corey Davis – Signed by New York Jets
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Corey Davis was selected 5th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft and never lived up to the pre-draft hype. However, in his final season in Tennessee, he had 65 catches for 984 yards and five touchdowns in what was his best season as a pro. 

During the offseason, he signed a 3 year, $37.5 million dollar deal with the New York Jets and looks to become a star under the bright lights of Broadway with Gotham’s newest “savior” quarterback Zach Wilson, who they drafted second overall in the 2021 draft. 

The Jets haven’t had a 1,000 yard receiver since 2015. Will Davis break that streak?

7. Antonio Brown – Signed by Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Brown resigned with the Bucs on a one-year $6.25 million dollar contract this offseason after a bizarre string of incidents that began with forcing his way out of Pittsburgh and being traded to the Raiders, forcing his way out of Las Vegas and signing with the Patriots–where he was released after just one game–and then signing with Tampa Bay, ultimately helping them win a Super Bowl. 

His talent on the field is undeniable, but he comes with so much baggage. I wouldn’t be shocked if he has a big year in Tampa this season, and would also not be shocked if he gets himself in trouble again and winds up playing just a handful of games. 

Brown is coming off of a procedure to repair a torn meniscus, so it’s not quite certain when he will get back on the field yet. 

8. Curtis Samuel – Signed by Washington Football Team
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Curtis Samuel joined the Washington Football Team in the offseason, signing a three-year $34.5 million dollar deal and joining fellow Ohio State alumni “Scary” Terry McLaurin to form quite a dangerous wide receiver room. 

Samuel caught 77 passes for Carolina last year for 851 yards including three touchdowns in what was a bit of a breakout season. He also carried the ball 41 times for 200 yards and two touchdowns, illustrating how versatile his skill set is. 

Newly signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will look to impart some “FitzMagic” in that Washington offense, and they could be one of the more improved teams in football. This will be a fun team to watch in 2021. 

9. John Brown – Signed by Las Vegas Raiders
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Brown signed a one-year $3.75 million dollar deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, his fourth team in five years, the last two of which he spent in Buffalo. Last season for the Bills, he played in just 9 games due to injury issues but in 2019 he had his best season as a pro, tallying 72 receptions for 1,060 yards.

In Las Vegas, Brown joins Henry Ruggs, Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller in what appears to have the makings of quite an explosive offense. 

“The biggest factor was, I had to think about my career,” Brown said shortly after his signing. “I actually turned down more money to come here. I felt like it was the best decision for my career, so I had to put everything else aside and had to try to decide what would make me happy at the end of the day.”

10. Marvin Jones Jr. – Signed by Jacksonville Jaguars
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Jones Jr. signed on to play with the up-and-coming Jacksonville Jaguars who will be led by mega-prospect Trevor Lawrence and coached by Urban Meyer. He joins a loaded offense, boasting emerging wide receivers DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault, a running backs room including star rookie running back Travis Etienne and James Robinson, as well as the intrigue of newly signed tight end Tim Tebow. 

How will all of those pieces fit together? It will be interesting to watch. Jones nearly topped 1000 yards in Detroit last season. If he can replicate those numbers in Jacksonville, they have a really good chance of surprising some people. 

Best of the Rest:
11. TY Hilton – Signed by Indianapolis Colts
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TY Hilton is a Hall of Famer. Many people will try and argue with that statement, but take a look at the man’s numbers! He has 608 catches for 9360 yards and 50 touchdowns in his nine year career. He signed a one-year, $10 million dollar deal to remain in Indianapolis this offseason, and will likely crack the list of top 50 most receiving yards of all-time at some point this season, passing A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker in the process. 

12. Nelson Agholor – Signed by New England Patriots
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Agholor had a sneaky good season for the Raiders last year, totaling 48 catches for 896 yards and five touchdowns, boasting the highest yards-per-catch in the entire league. He is projected to be the Patriots number one receiver this season, which is not exactly a positive for New England. They could be an absolute mess this year, with an unsettled quarterback situation and a lack of talent at the skill positions. Bill Belichick has his work cut out for him.

13. Larry Fitzgerald – FREE AGENT
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Larry Fitzgerald is a sure-fire Hall of Famer and one of the greatest to ever play the game. He remains unsigned, but there have been rumblings that he may consider playing his final season in his hometown of Minnesota for the Vikings. That would be bizarre, to say the least. It would be a shame if Fitz were to suit up for another team after 17 years in Arizona, but Tom Brady was the quarterback of the Bucs last season, so I suppose anything is possible.

14. Keelan Cole – Signed by New York Jets
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Keelan Cole sign a one-year $5.5 million dollar deal with the New York Jets, joining fellow free agent wide receiver Corey Davis to completely revamp a wide receiver room in dire need of some fresh talent. Known as a solid route runner and for his versatility, he will be a welcomed addition to Gang Green as they look to surround new quarterback Zach Wilson with some weapons. 

15. Sammy Watkins – Signed by Baltimore Ravens
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Watkins signed a one-year $5 million dollar deal with the Baltimore Ravens and will give another speedy weapon for former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson to utilize in what appears to be a scary offense that is headlined by another speedster in “Hollywood” Brown and young star running back J.K. Dobbins. Can he stay healthy though? Watkins has played in fewer than ten games in three of the last five seasons. 

16. Emmanuel Sanders – Signed by Buffalo Bills
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Sanders has been a part of some prolific offenses in his 11 year NFL career, including the Ben Roethlisberger led Steelers (2010-2013) and the record breaking Peyton Manning led Broncos, and now steps in to Buffalo to catch passes from emerging star quarterback Josh Allen after signing a one-year $2.8 million dollar contract. However, he won’t be asked to carry the load, as Buffalo has Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis already in the mix. You can never have too many weapons, and Sanders will be a veteran addition capable of making big plays in big games. 

17. Adam Humphries – Signed by Washington Football Team
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Humphries joins fellow wide receiver Curtis Samuel as another addition to the Washington offense, signing a one-year contract in March. The oft-injured former-Titan gets a fresh start with Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was his quarterback for two years in Tampa Bay, where he posted his best season as a pro (76 catches, 816 yards, 5 touchdowns). 

18. Alshon Jeffrey – FREE AGENT
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Jeffrey remains unsigned after four injury plagued and underwhelming seasons in Philadelphia. He played in only seven games last season for the Eagles, catching just six passes. With only 12 combined starts the last two seasons, Jeffrey will likely have to accept a one-year prove it deal just to get on a roster. 

19. Danny Amendola – FREE AGENT
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Amendola, like Jeffrey, remains unsigned and is fighting an uphill battle just to get on an NFL roster after catching just 46 passes for 602 yards last season for Detroit. The odds are high that we have likely seen the last of Amendola in the league, but with an expanded season and injuries, you never know. 

20. Tyrell Williams – Signed by Detroit Lions
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Williams signed a one-year $6.2 million dollar contract with the Detroit Lions, pairing with new quarterback Jared Goff after the Lions traded franchise signal caller Matthew Stafford to the Rams earlier this offseason. The former Raider missed the entire 2020 season due to a shoulder injury, but had a promising 2019 campaign in which he caught 42 passes for 651 yards and six touchdowns. He is somehow currently number one on the Lions depth chart at wide receiver, a group that also starts Breshad Perriman and Kalif Raymond, which is underwhelming to say the least. The Lions are going to be historically bad this season.