Categories
Sports

Desmond Ridder is Ready for “Demon TIme” 

People say that quarterback is the most difficult job in sports. This isn’t entirely true: quarterback might be the most difficult job in the world. Each week, only 32 men get to be a starting NFL quarterback—and, to be charitable, only about 12 of those guys are good at it. There are more astronauts orbiting Earth up in the International Space Station than there are active Super Bowl-winning starting quarterbacks in the NFL. If you rounded up every rostered quarterback who has won MVP, they’d still be outnumbered by the living people who sat in the Oval Office. As such, drafting a quarterback is nearly always an exercise in blind faith, something closer to astral projection or dumb chance than any kind of comprehensible undertaking.

Still, Desmond Ridder, the record-breaking University of Cincinnati quarterback and presumed Atlanta Falcons quarterback of the future, has made success look fairly rudimentary. He’s good in such classical and obvious ways that it’s almost impossible to imagine him ever being bad. His scouting report reads like a feverish Mad-Lib of football cliches. At 6’3, 211 pounds and running a 4.52 second 40 yard dash, he has all the measurables that you need to succeed in the National Football League. A high-character locker room guy, he profiles as a plug-and-play starter after he wowed scouts at the combine with his football IQ. He’s a gamer. He’s a winner. With a  22-2 record over his last two years in school, he can make all the throws that pro quarterbacks need to be able to make.

But more than his right arm which can huck a football 50 yards on the fly, more than his legs which make him the fourth-fastest quarterback of the last decade, more than his brain which solves complex defensive fronts like the Monday crossword, Ridder’s greatest strength is his capacity to effect change. To watch him play football is to watch the process of evolution. 

“I hope my legacy,” Ridder said, “is that I leave every place better than when I found it.”

On the most immediate level, Ridder’s tenure at Cincinnati was defined by the program’s vertiginous ascent. Prior to Ridder assuming the starting job as a redshirt freshman in 2018, the Bearcats seemed poised to drift off into obsolescence. Following the dissolution of the Big East in 2013, the Bearcats slunk off to the American Athletic Conference, a hastily assembled hodge-podge of schools whose only commonality is that they were all orphaned by conference realignment and they’re all in America. Worse, the team stunk, slouching through consecutive 4-8 seasons in 2016 and 2017. Buried by the ignominy of losing, that 2017 season laid the invisible underpinnings for future success. 

“I got there the same year as Coach Luke Fickell,” said Ridder. “As soon as he got there, it was all about being tough and nasty and really developing that blue-collar, chip-on-your shoulder mentality. And so that’s what we have built ever since I got there in 2017, creating that culture as a gritty program that doesn’t care about the outside noise and just keeps our head down and gets better every year.” 

By the time Ridder took the reins in 2018, the Bearcats had thoroughly internalized their gravel-chewing, hard-hat identity and buffaloed the rest of the conference. During Ridder’s freshman and sophomore seasons, Cincinnati went 11-3 and 11-2 respectively, reaching the back-end of the national rankings by the end of each season. Ridder and Fickell had created something special, albeit not overwhelmingly so; finishing 18th in the country is certainly an accomplishment, but it’s hardly an enduring one—history doesn’t redound with the glories of the 17th runner-up. Come Ridder’s junior year, though, Cincinnati simply stopped losing, shedding their plucky upstartness and unleashing widespread annihilation in its place.

“In my early years at school, we were chasing Central Florida because they were the top dogs,” said Ridder. “The next year, we were chasing Memphis and lost to them in consecutive games at the end of the year. In 2020, we win the league. And last year, we defended it and made the playoffs. We had that target on our back; we knew that we were going to get everyone’s best. It became a point of pride: we never wanted to lose again.”

After narrowly losing the 2021 Peach Bowl to Georgia, the Bearcats were the undisputed best team in a Group of Five conference entering the 2021 season. Over the next 13 games, they established themselves as the undisputed best team in the history of any Group of Five conference and strong-armed themselves into the College Football Playoff in the process.

Suddenly, the Bearcats had SEC-caliber—if not NFL-caliber—talent at every position. As the Bearcats rolled through the American, their practices became the true proving ground. Ridder matched wits with Ahmed “Sauce” Gardner, a lockdown cornerback who the New York Jets picked with the fourth pick in the draft; wide receiver Alec Pierce (53rd pick, Indianapolis Colts), matched-up with Coby Bryant (109th, Seattle Seahawks), the 2021 Jim Thorpe Award winner; Alabama transfer running back Jerome Ford (156th pick, Cleveland Browns) contended with a prospect-laden front-seven led by defensive end Myaji Sanders (100th pick, Arizona Cardinals)  and linebacker Darrian Beavers (182nd pick, New York Giants). Overall, Cincinnati boasted nine NFL Draft picks, the third most of any college.

“People criticized us because we didn’t play top competition and all that,” Ridder says, “but we were going up against top guys every single day at practice. Just being around each other gave the team a boost.”

As such, Ridder is possibly the most consequential figure in the University of Cincinnati’s 203 year history as the school prepares to join the Big 12 in 2023. There’s no real logistical or geographical reason for the Big 12 to want to add Cincinnati. Not even six years ago, the Big 12 rejected an earlier Cincinnati bid because an urban Appalachian outpost with a lean history of athletic success (their dance team is the only program to win a national title in the last 60 years) is a curious fit for a conference that’s primarily sprawled across college towns on the Plains. But now Cincinnati is good enough at football that  everything else is fungible. 

“Ridder has been the face of the Bearcats program as it has become a national program,” says Clayton Trutor, the editor of Down the Drive, SBNation’s University of Cincinnati blog. “He’s combined on-field production with a comfort in being the first person people think about when they think about Cincinnati football. I would suggest that Cincinnati becoming a member of the Big 12 would not have happened without the Ridder-driven excellence of the past few years.”

From a purely budgetary perspective, joining the Big 12 is a boon. As an AAC member, Cincinnati collected about $6 million in conference revenue in 2020; the Big 12 is projected to distribute approximately $369 million to each school over the next eight years, a little over $46 annually.

Through the end of the decade alone, Cincinnati will rake in hundreds of millions of extra dollars by simply switching conference affiliations. Already, the school has begun to toss around their newfound financial heft, lavishing Fickell with a $35 million contract extension through 2028  and approving plans to build a $70 million indoor football practice facility. By resuscitating Cincinnati’s foundering football team, Ridder functionally became one of America’s biggest benefactors of a public university, indelibly shaping the topography and tenor of Cincinnati’s future; he turned a diminishing program led by an insurrectionist into a shining exemplar of college footballing excess and success. 

Naturally, Cincinnati’s glow-up runs parallel to Ridder’s individual rise. Despite the fact that he’s always been equipped with the physical profile and confidence of a blue chip prospect, he’s never had the pedigree to show for it. Whereas blue-chippers have their every movement and stray thought chronicled by wannabe-Twitter Zapruders, the recruitment of an unranked quarterback in Louisville doesn’t command that same frenzy; there isn’t much documentation of Ridder’s recruitment besides a barren profile on 24/7 and a short write-up in a recruiting wire service announcing his commitment to Cincinnati. A two-star recruit according to Rivals, Ridder was prepared to commit to Eastern Kentucky until a last-minute workout earned him an offer from Cincy.

“Almost exactly six years ago, I worked out with the Cincinnati receivers coach,” Ridder says, “and it went pretty well, so he said that he wanted to come back and bring Zac Taylor, who was the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator at the time.”

The problem, Ridder says, was that the follow-up workout was on the same day as the Kentucky Oaks, a race the Friday before the Kentucky Derby that’s an unofficially official holiday for Louvillians. 

“That Thursday, the night before Oaks,” Ridder continues, “the Cincinnati coaches told me that I had to get a group of receivers together to throw to the next morning. I had to scramble to find guys, but I was able to do the workout that morning and then went to grab food and get dressed before heading to Churchill Downs. Like four or five hours later around 1 p.m., I get a call from Coach Tuberville [the then-Cincy coach and current US Senator], but I’m in the middle of the infield, which is a crazy, loud place. The quietest place near me was a porta potty, so I went in there and Cincinnati offered me a scholarship. I got one of the biggest calls in my life in a porta potty.”

Once at Cincinnati, Ridder was able to manifest his potential into tangible production. He was always big and fast and scrappy, it was simply a matter of fusing the component parts of his game into a coherent whole.

“When I met him, he was just a gangly, lanky kid and the athleticism and speed really came around as he grew into his body,” said Will Wolford, Ridder’s high school coach and a former NFL offensive lineman. “Today, even, he shaves, but not much. More than that, he’s a winner, which has nothing to do with all the measurables he has, but has everything to do his heart, mind and guts. He has certain physical gifts and he’s a smart kid who loves to work. What’s a better combo than that?”

Initially, Ridder played with an unpredictable, undomesticated streak, backing himself into corners and then leaning on his rare gifts to bail him out. “He was a guy that stepped in poop and turned it into gold,” says Trutor. “He had a way of converting third-and-seventeens that couldn’t be explained.” In Ridder’s sophomore season in particular, he ran aground on the level where talent alone could sustain him—that year, he completed a meager 55.1% of his passes and threw nine interceptions against just 18 touchdowns, all the worst marks of his college career. Frustrated by his lack of individual production, fans called for him to be benched, even as Cincinnati reached the AAC championship game and won the Birmingham Bowl. 

Nonetheless, he achieved a greater understanding of the nuances of quarterback-dom as an upperclassman and emerged as an NFL prospect as a result. First, he fully weaponized his athleticism and rushed for 12 touchdowns in 2020, the high-water mark in the AAC that year. Next, he progressed as a passer, tossing for 3,334 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2021. This was the idealized version of what Ridder could become, aggressively hunting downfield plays, but informed by a tempered, professional sensibility.

Ridder’s grind is evident in his play. While the Patrick Mahomeses of the world look like they were born to play quarterback, there’s a studied, deliberate quality to Ridder’s game. He’s a quarterback not by birthright, but by hard work. 

And to some, that’s precisely the problem. By most normal measures, Ridder is a first-round quality quarterback, but Ridder ultimately slid all the way to the middle of the third round; Kenny Pickett, a short-fingered wheeler-dealer type, was the only quarterback to hear his name called on the first night of the draft. To be sure, Ridder isn’t a perfect prospect; upon closer study, he has visible warts. Namely, he has a strange tendency to totally whiff on some throws, which has raised concerns about his accuracy. When Ridder misses, he misses, alternately airmailling makeable throws or spiking them into the dirt a few yards in front of his target. More damning, there’s a sentiment that he just doesn’t have that special it that all great quarterbacks share. 

“He’s just not a very natural processor and not a very natural thrower,” an anonymous NFL quarterback coach told The Athletic. “He’s pretty robotic. He looks like a really good athlete who said, ‘I want to play quarterback.’ He trained hard at it and got good at it in college, but the things that Desmond’s not good at are more talent-based than they are skill-based.”

Nonetheless, this kind of old-school, gut-based eye-balling of prospects’ strengths and weaknesses is increasingly falling out of style in favor of a more advanced, data-driven line of thinking.

“Ridder is the clear-cut number one guy in this class,” says Sam Mestel, the founder of Evoluxion Analytics, an analytics company that provides draft consulting to NFL teams. “He looks sloppy when he throws, but that’s not a huge issue; people said the same thing about Justin Herbert. Our expected points added model has him in the 96th percentile as a quarterback prospect—the comparison for him would be Colin Kaepernick in that they were both initially underestimated, but could kill you with their speed and solid deep ball.” 

With the Atlanta Falcons, Ridder seems uniquely well-positioned to succeed. Although he most likely won’t start immediately, the infrastructure and schematic vision is already in place for him to thrive when he does. Specifically, he’s exactly the kind of mobile quarterback that Falcons coach Arthur Smith covets. Even before knowing he would be a Falcon, Ridder named Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota as “some of the guys I kind of model my game after.” Now, he’ll be backing up Mariota while playing for the coach who was the offensive coordinator that unlocked Tannehill’s potential in Tennessee. 

Even greater than Cincinnati’s growth from an also-ran to a powerhouse or Ridder’s gridiron metamorphosis from a skittish freshman to a celebrated senior, though, is the mental one that Ridder undergoes before each game. 

Off the field, he’s roughly as grounded and measured as a person who can anchor the a-block of drive-time football radio could possibly be; this is why Coach Wolford says that he’s a “great kid from a great family” or why Trutor describes him as “exactly the kind of guy you want representing your institution.” To be sure, Ridder is confident— “I was always gonna be a professional athlete in something,” he says, “football, basketball, baseball, cricket, it doesn’t matter”—but that just comes with the territory of playing quarterback.

“If you don’t believe in yourself,” Ridder says, “you’ve already lost. So much of the game is mental. To actually go out there and execute, you need to make sure you and your teammates are mentally and emotionally ready to perform your best.”

Similarly, more than his awards or draft stock, he cites the birth of his daughter in April 2021 as the most clarifying and orienting force in his life. 

“When you become a dad,” Ridder says, “you learn how to be selfless, you learn to put everything aside for another person. Having a daughter has really made me lock in and realize that everything I do, I do for her.”

Nevertheless, the nice-guy girl-dad vision of Ridder quickly evaporates by kickoff each weekend. When it comes to football, he never stops talking—more precisely, he never stops talking shit. Before Cincinnati’s road win over Notre Dame, Ridder famously predicted that the crowd noise wouldn’t be an issue because “it shouldn’t be loud for long.” After the game, he ran to the Cincinnati supporter’s section and defiantly waved a school flag as Notre Dame Stadium emptied out. During the pre-draft process, he allegedly laid out to NFL teams how he planned on taking their veteran quarterback’s job. There’s a little bit of Tom Brady in him, the duality between the clean-cut frontman that we see during the week and the competitive psycho that we see on the weekend. 

“It’s like a flip of a switch,” Ridder says. “When I step on the field, it’s straight demon time.”  

How do you set your internal clock to demon time?

“Lots of preparation—and smelling salts.”

But amidst all this hype, amidst the upheaval that accompanies going from a high-schooler taking calls in a porta-potty to a father on the cusp of the NFL, Ridder isn’t stressed. This, he says, is the result of what he’s worked for. Through his constancy and clarity of purpose, he’s naturally a transformative force, but he himself is unmoved.

“I am who I am,” he  says. “For me, nothing’s really changed–it’s the outside world’s perception of me that has.” 

Editor’s Note: Desmond Ridder is represented by VaynerSports, a sports agency owned by Gary Vaynerchuk.

Categories
Sports

Boye Mafe Is the NFL Draft’s Most Athletic EDGE

Every player in the NFL Draft is an elite athlete; that’s why they’re in the NFL Draft. Still, even within this ultra-selective subset, there are levels to this shit. At one end, are the heaviest offensive linemen and the pokiest quarterbacks who make up the Draft’s least explosive players. Then, at the other, is Boye Mafe.

An edge rusher from the University of Minnesota, Mafe is among the most physically impressive players in this—or any—draft class. Even amongst a deep, talented corps of defensive linemen, Mafe is nearly peerless. Although at 6’5, 261-pounds, he’s not quite as heavy as other linemen, he moves with disturbing speed. He’s faster (4.53 second 40 yard dash) than star wide receivers like Keenan Allen (4.71) and Cooper Kupp (4.62); he can jump higher (38 inch vertical) than Pro Bowl running backs Dalvin Cook (30.5 inches) and Le’Veon Bell (31.5 inches); he can bench press more (21 reps) than linebackers like Shaq Barrett (16 reps) or Darius Leonard (17 reps). In other words, there are a wide variety of basic physical tasks that a football player needs to perform and Mafe does them all better than just about anybody alive. 

At Minnesota, Odafe was certainly productive (he had seven sacks last fall), but not overwhelmingly so. Instead, Mafe’s NFL potential stems not from who he is now, but who he could easily become. Just as raw prospects like Jaelan Phillips and Odafe Oweh emerged as two of the best pass-rushers in last year’s class, Mafe could become a fearsome player once he adds some polish to his promise. Slated to go in the back half of the first round, Mafe is the draft’s most enticing project.

Last week, Mafe sat down with ONE37pm to talk about his pre-draft preparations, fishing and spending a year in boarding school in Lagos.

ONE37pm: How has the pre-draft process been?

Boye Mafe: I’ve learned a lot about myself. The coaches have watched my film and they have given me feedback about my game. I’ve just been taking all the notes they’ve given me about balancing my moves and finishing setting the edge faster and things like that because this is what they do for a living [laughs].

ONE37pm: What was your year in Lagos like?

Boye Mafe: It was very eye opening. I was definitely nervous about it—all my siblings did it too, but there’s not really much you can do to prepare yourself for the experience of being 13 years-old and dropped off in a new country. But I don’t regret it any way, shape or form. It was fun. And honestly, I learned a lot by myself. I learned a lot throughout the process.I matured a lot at early age—I had to figure out time management and how to do things on my own. I felt that if I wanted to get the most out of it, I had to put my best foot forward.

ONE37pm: How is school in Lagos different from school in Minnesota?

Boye Mafe: In America, I feel like we’ll give students a helping hand to guide them. But there, you really have to have the desire to learn. It’s much more of a college style. They’ll teach you, you’ll take your notes, but then it’s up to you what you’ll do beyond that. That year in boarding school  really pushed me to really strive and teach myself how to learn.  

ONE37pm: Is it true that you used to bang holes in the wall of your house with your head?

Boye Mafe: I was a little rough kid. You know, I liked roughhousing and playing like that. Yeah, it was a little different, I used to bounce off the walls and stuff. Me and my siblings were all big WWE fans, so on Friday nights we set up our own version of it in the backyard.  I was always the youngest one, so to hang out with the older kids, you have to be a little bit more durable. They’re stronger than you so if you want to hang out with the big boys, you better be able to hang with the big boys too. 

ONE37pm: What are your interests outside of football?

Boye Mafe: I love the outdoors—fishing, boating, you name it. When I have the time and there’s a good fishing spot nearby, I’ll be there, it doesn’t matter when or where. If somebody wants to go fishing, count me in and I’ll be ready to go whenever.

Editor’s Note: Boye Mafe is represented by VaynerSports, a sports agency owned by Gary Vaynerchuk.

Categories
Sports Strength

The 26 Most Valuable Sports Teams In The World

Despite the pandemic, the average value of the top 50 most valuable sports teams on the planet increased by 9.9% from 2020 to 2021, to a whopping $3.4 billion. Today, we’re taking a look at the top half of that list. Due to some ties in value, there are actually 27 teams on the list.

Of the list, 11 teams are in the NFL, seven are soccer teams, five are in the NBA and four are MLB teams.

1. Dallas Cowboys, $5.7 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Jerry Jones

Within the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys have been the most valuable team since the late 2000s. When you take into consideration every sports team around, Real Madrid were the most valuable until 2016 when the Cowboys took over and they’ve been the most valuable team in the world ever since.

2. New York Yankees, $5.25 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: MLB
  • Owners: Steinbrenner family

You don’t have to know the first thing about baseball to know the New York Yankees and recognise their world-famous logo that is often seen on fitted caps and snapbacks. Their branding alone makes it no surprise that they’re the only MLB team worth over $4 billion, at a whopping $5.25 billion. All this, despite the fact that the team’s last championship was nearly 15 years ago.

3. New York Knicks, $5 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owner: Madison Square Garden Sports

The New York Knicks have been the most valuable team in the NBA for the best part of a decade. Through all of their struggles as a team, they remain beloved amongst New Yorkers. They took the spot as the most valuable NBA team from the Lakers when they signed an incredibly lucrative cable deal.

4. FC Barcelona, $4.76 billion
Gett Images
  • Sports league: La Liga
  • Owners: Club members

Not only is Barcelona the fourth most valuable sports team in the world, the most valuable soccer team in the world and one of the few non-American teams on the list, but in terms of revenue, they are the world’s richest club, with an annual turnover of nearly $800 million.

5. Real Madrid CF, $4.75 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: La Liga
  • Owners: Club members

Right behind Barcelona is their arch-rivals, Real Madrid, coming in with a valuation of $4.75 billion, just $10 million less than Barca. For those that don’t follow soccer and don’t understand the scope of it, it’s truly hard to fathom how big this Spanish team is. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, this team topped the list of the most valuable sports teams.

6. Golden State Warriors, $4.7 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owners: Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber

From 2016 to 2020, the Golden State Warriors had a growth of 147% in value, one of the highest among the top 50 most valuable sports teams in the world. This is largely due to their championship success in that period and it made them the second most valuable team in the NBA, above even the great brand that is the L.A. Lakers.

Speaking of which…

7. Los Angeles Lakers, $4.6 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owners: Jerry Buss Family Trusts and Phillip Anschutz

Not only is the purple and gold of the L.A. Lakers one of the best sports brands ever, but in 2012, the team signed a $4 billion, 20-year deal with Time Warner. This means that regardless of the trouble that they currently find themselves in, they won’t be losing any value or even growing at a much slower rate anytime soon.

8. New England Patriots, $4.4 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Robert Kraft

The New England Patriots are the second most valuable team in the National Football League and this is still largely because of the Brady-Belichick era, but the franchise history of winning 6 Super Bowls and having arguably the best coach in league history also has a lot to do with it.

9. New York Giants, $4.3 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: John Mara and Steven Tisch

Although they haven’t had a great run in recent times, the New York Giants’ history and the simple fact that they’re a New York team puts them high up on this list here and 3rd on the list of the most valuable teams in their league.

10. FC Bayern Munich, $4.21 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: Bundesliga
  • Owners: Club members

If you’re an American sports fan, then grasping the way that soccer leagues work can be confusing. Luckily, you can read up about it here. Essentially, the Bundesliga is the premier soccer league in Germany and Bayern Munich is not only the most valuable soccer team there but the most valuable sports team in the country as well.

11. Manchester United F.C., $4.2 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: Premier League
  • Owners: Glazer family

Manchester United sat atop the list of the most valuable sports teams in 2010, 2011, and 2012, before they were knocked off the spot by Real Madrid. Even then, it took until 2019 for them to get knocked out of the top 5. Following the Munich air disaster in 1958, Matt Busby is credited with rebuilding the team and setting the foundation for what they have become in the subsequent decades.

12. Liverpool F.C., $4.1 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: Premier League
  • Owners: Fenway Sports Group

Liverpool F.C. are very much a global brand and the team is notorious for having a lot of supporters all around the world. This is a large part of the reason that the team has a valuation of over $4 billion.

13. Los Angeles Rams, $4 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Stanley Kroenke

From 2020 to 2021, the Los Angeles Rams had a whopping 20% increase in their value, which was 6% more than the NFL’s average in that same time period. When you consider that they’ve since won the Super Bowl, it’s safe to assume that that value might shoot up again in the next year.

13. Manchester City, $4 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: Premier League
  • Owner: City Football Group

From 2016-2020, Manchester City saw a 108% growth in value, the 6th highest amongst the top 50 highest valued sports teams in the world. City became one of the top six in the 2010s and has since become a powerhouse not just in the Premier League or even soccer, but on the planet.

15. San Francisco 49ers, $3.8 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: Denise DeBartolo York and John York

The 49ers didn’t see as much growth from 2020 to 2021 as many of the other teams in the league did and they have a low operating income, but the San Francisco football team remains one of the most valuable teams in the NFL, and sports in general.

16. Los Angeles Dodgers, $3.57 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: MLB
  • Owners: Guggenheim Baseball Management

The Los Angeles Dodgers are owned by Guggenheim Baseball Management who even if you haven’t heard of by name, you likely know the people associated with the brand. Of course, this team was originally the Brooklyn Dodgers and they moved to L.A. in the late 1950s. New York and L.A. are good homes for any teams, as the valuation shows.

17. New York Jets, $3.55 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: Johnson family

New York is a massive media market so in spite of the lack of success that the Jets have seen in recent years, they remain in a top spot with a value of just over $3.5 billion. 

18. Chicago Bears, $3.53 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owners: McCaskey family

A cool and unbelievable stat about the Chicago Bears when it comes to their value is that just over 100 years ago in 1920, they were purchased by George Halas for $100. No, that’s not a typo. That’s the equivalent of around $1,418, which is around a 249,000,000% increase in value.

19. Washington Commanders, $3.5 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Daniel Snyder

The Washington Commanders don’t have a great reputation as of late but their recent acquisition of Carson Wentz could do something to change that. Their rebuild period could be coming to the end but despite it, from 2016 to 2020, their value increased by 23%.

20. Boston Red Sox, $3.47 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: MLB
  • Owners: Fenway Sports Group

Since their establishment in 1901, the Red Sox have won 9 World Series, tied for the third-most in MLB history. Interestingly, they’re owned by the same owners as the aforementioned Liverpool F.C., Fenway Sports Group, whose client base includes LeBron James and Johnny Manziel amongst its clients.

21. Philadelphia Eagles, $3.4 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Jeffrey Lurie

This might be a somewhat surprising entry in the list for people but for the Philadelphia Eagles, their passionate fanbase and their recent Super Bowl win has done a lot for their $3.4 billion valuation. 

22. Chicago Cubs, $3.36 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: MLB
  • Owners: Ricketts family

The Cubbies were established in 1876 and have been an MLB team since 1994 and through their ups and downs, they remain a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the big bucks. In fact, in 2012 when the Cubs had a 61-101, they were the most profitable team in the league.

23. Houston Texans, $3.3 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Janice McNair

Considering the Houston Texans are one of just four NFL teams to have never made it to the Super Bowl, they’re doing a great job here with their valuation of $3.3 billion. They were founded in 1999 and were owned then by Bob McNair who tragically passed away in 2018.

23. Chicago Bulls, $3.3 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owner: Jerry Reinsdorf

A large part of the Chicago Bulls’ success over the years has of course been due to their championships in the mid-1990s and Michael Jordan specifically. When the team was bought in 1985, it was for $16.2 million. By the late 90s after their championship run, they were worth $307 million.

24. Denver Broncos, $3.2 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NFL
  • Owner: Pat Bowlen Trust

The Broncos are looking to be sold this year and there’s still no word on who the new owner could potentially be, but they’ll be paying close to $4 billion for the Denver team. On this list, they’re tied for 25th place with a couple of other teams in different leagues and sports entirely.

25. Boston Celtics, $3.2 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: NBA
  • Owners: Wycliffe Grousbeck, Irving Grousbeck, Robert Epstein and Stephen Pagliuca

You might be surprised at this valuation and the fact that Boston have the fifth most valuable team in the NBA, but the Celtics have a long history and have consistent success to this day. They were one of the first teams to sign a jersey patch deal.

26. Chelsea F.C., $3.2 billion
Getty Images
  • Sports league: Premier League
  • Owner: Roman Abramovich

Tied for 25th place with the Boston Celtics and the Denver Broncos are Chelsea F.C., with a valuation of $3.2 billion. They’re the 7th most valuable soccer team in the world and through current controversy with their ownership, they remain the fourth most valuable team in the Premier League.

Categories
Sports Strength

The Most Valuable NFL Teams

The pandemic threatened to force the NFL to take a step back for a while in terms of finances, but 2021 showed it was only so that the league could take a running jump to one of their most successful years in a while.

In March of 2021, the NFL signed a media rights deal worth a staggering $111.8 billion, which was an 82% increase from then-deals. This means that from now until 2032 when the deal ends, pay-out for each of the 32 NFL teams is going to increase from around $220 billion to around $377 billion.

In the next decade, it’ll be interesting to see how team valuations change around this period. As of right now though, this is how things stand in the league amongst the top 10 and bottom 10 teams.

The Top 10
1. Dallas Cowboys
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $6.5 billion
  • Owner: Jerry Jones

No surprise here. The Dallas Cowboys have been the most valuable team in the league since the late 2000s and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future. They generate around $800 million in revenue annually and are the only team worth over $5 billion.

2. New England Patriots
Forbes
  • Valuation: $5 billion
  • Owner: Robert Kraft

The Patriots are not only the second most valuable team in the NFL, but they’re one of the most valuable sports franchises on the planet. The team still benefits from the Brady-Belichick era.

3. New York Giants
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $4.85 billion
  • Owners: John Mara and Steven Tisch

The Giants have an operating income of -$12.5 million and recent times haven’t been too kind to them, but they have one of the best histories of any team in the NFL and are a New York team, which keeps them in a podium spot. 

4. Los Angeles Rams
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $4.8 billion
  • Owner: Stanley Kroenke

On average, teams were worth 14% more in 2021 than they were in 2020, but the Rams smash that with a 20% increase. Since moving back to Los Angeles from St. Louis, Missouri, the team’s value has shot up and will likely continue to do so annually.

Their value may continue to increase now that they are officially Super Bowl winners, taking home the title in 2022.

5. Washington Commanders
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $4.2 billion
  • Owner: Daniel Snyder

Since 2020, the Washington Football Team has been going through somewhat of a restructure, including but not limited to their famous name change. To maintain an operating income of $25 million and increase in value 7% above the league’s average despite this is commendable.

6. San Francisco 49ers
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $4.175 billion
  • Owners: Denise DeBartolo York and John York

The San Francisco 49ers’ valuation increased just 10% in a year, which is the lowest of any team in the league, matched only with the Las Vegas Raiders. They also have the second-lowest operating income in the league, at -$45.4 million, in front of only the Chargers.

7. Chicago Bears
Bears Wire – USA Today
  • Valuation: $4.075 billion
  • Owner: Virginia Halas McCaskey

The Bears are helped by the fact that Chicago is the third-largest media market in the entirety of the United States. In 2019, Virginia Halas McCaskey became the longest-tenured owner in the league, despite the McCaskey family being voted the third worst NFL owners in 2009 by Yahoo! Sports.

8. New York Jets
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $4.05 billion
  • Owners: Woody Johnson and Christopher Johnson

The Jets’ struggles since the early to mid-2010s have been well documented, but they don’t fall too far behind fellow New York team the Giants every year regardless of this. This is largely due to the massive media market that New York is, plus its dedicated fanbase.

9. Philadelphia Eagles
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $3.8 billion
  • Owner: Jeffrey Lurie

The Philadelphia Eagles’ ranking on this list shouldn’t be surprising to those that are aware of just how passionate their fanbase is. Win or lose, the fans are there packing out stadiums, which is a massive financial help in the long run. They have an operating income of -$25.9 million.

10. Denver Broncos
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $3.75 billion
  • Owner: Pat Bowlen Trust

The Denver Broncos recently hired Nathaniel Hackett, the former offensive coordinator of the Packers, to be their new head coach. Also on the horizon is a possible sale and new owner, which will need to be approved in March. The general consensus is that this change is needed because of the recent string of bad luck, but the valuation is still strong regardless, even if somewhat surprisingly.

The Bottom 10
23. Los Angeles Chargers
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $2.92 billion
  • Owner: Dean Spanos

Moving to Los Angeles from San Diego was a somewhat controversial decision from the Chargers, which put them in heat with other owners and even L.A. residents. Since then, it doesn’t seem like the move has quite paid off, with the team struggling to draw fans. This leaves them with a valuation that falls short of $3 billion and an operating income of -$48.7 million, the lowest in the league.

24. Carolina Panthers
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $2.91 billion
  • Owner: David Tepper

In the years since David Tepper bought the Carolina Panthers for a record $2.3 billion, their valuation has increased to $2.91 billion, which is a lot of money by regular standards, but perhaps disappointing relative to the rest of the league. The team averaged less than 18 points per game this season and need some help offensively, which will win them back some respect.

25. New Orleans Saints
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $2.825 billion
  • Owner: Gayle Benson

The Saints’ coaching staff will some changes this off-season with Dennis Allen being promoted to Head Coach following the departure of Sean Payton, but the fans are still looking to recapture that magic from 2009 when the team won the Super Bowl in their sole appearance. They have an operating income of -$15.7 million.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $2.8 billion
  • Owner: Shahid Khan

The Jaguars are still one of the few NFL franchises that have never played in the Super Bowl and their future doesn’t look incredibly bright right now, but they are looking to turn things around with Trevor Lawrence as their potential franchise QB. The good news is that the Florida team has an operating income of $68.8 million, the third-highest in the league behind the Cowboys and the Patriots.

27. Arizona Cardinals
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $2.65 billion
  • Owner: Michael Bidwill

The Cardinals are in one of their better runs in recent memory, but it won’t be enough to end their drought of 74 straight seasons since a league championship or Super Bowl win. Their valuation isn’t surprising considering this.

28. Tennessee Titans
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $2.625 billion
  • Owner: Amy Adams Strunk

Since 2016, the Tennessee Titans have had a winning season every season, but they’ve still only made the Super Bowl once, in 1999. This isn’t inspiring and results in a valuation of $2.625 billion with an operating income of -$12 million.

29. Cleveland Browns
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $2.6 billion
  • Owner: Dee Haslam and Jimmy Haslam

Browns fans suffer from the cliché of being the unluckiest in the league, but they’re in front of a few teams on this list, which is a win itself. Recent years have been good compared to what we’re accustomed to, but some drastic changes need to be made so that the team can make the playoffs consistently. They increased 11% in value in a year.

30. Detroit Lions
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $2.4 billion
  • Owner: Sheila Ford Hamp

The Detroit Lions have the longest playoff win drought in the league, winning only a single playoff game since 1991. Detroit is a great fanbase, but that’s not enough to get them outside of the bottom 3 this year with a valuation of just $2.4 billion.

31. Cincinnati Bengals
Getty Images
  • Valuation: $2.275 billion
  • Owner: Michael Brown

The Bengals are the only team in the AFC to never win a championship in the AFL or NFL and one of the few teams to have never won a championship pre or post-Super Bowl era. They have a valuation of $2.275 billion, only $5 million more than the team in last place.

Coming off an appearance in the Super Bowl this year, this valuation could possibly start to rise.

32. Buffalo Bills
Ann Arbor News
  • Valuation: $2.27 billion
  • Owner: Terry Pegula and Kim Pegula

In the past year, the Bills’ valuation increased by just 11%, 3% below the league’s average. Their recent playoff win over the Patriots is a bright moment, but in general, they’re tough for fans to continue to claim. Their valuation falls a full $1.21 billion below the NFL’s average, with the Cowboys worth almost triple them.

Categories
Sports Strength

A Complete Guide To Heisman Trophy Winners

Most sports in North America have a minor league which is still professional but considered to be a tier below the premier league in that sport. Football, uniquely, doesn’t function that way and as a result, college football is considered to be the second tier of football below the NFL in the U.S.A. and Canada.

As a result, college football has its own set of awards and trophies, the most prestigious individual of those being The Heisman Trophy.

Everything you need to know about the Heisman Trophy

Every year, the Heisman is awarded to the most outstanding player in college football. The word ‘outstanding’ is key here because it doesn’t mean the best or most valuable. In fact, those abilities have their own awards. Some of the criteria that come into play are ability, perseverance, and work ethic. Factors that can influence the decision are what position you play, what school you play for, and what your record is. Naturally, more offensive positions and more popular schools have more eyes on them. In fact, this has been a point of controversy before, with some arguing that players on the West Coast get less attention and that the voting procedure is inherently biased.

Every year, the winner of the Heisman is decided by 870 sportswriters (145 from each of the 6 regions), the previous winners of the trophy (of which there are 85), and the fans, who collectively make up just one vote.

Despite the fact that there have been 85 Heisman winners to date, the award has been given out 86 times. This is because of Ohio State’s Archie Griffin, the only player to ever win the award twice. He did this in 1974 and 1975.

Forbes

In terms of schools with the most wins, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Oklahoma each have seven Heisman Trophies. USC previously had seven, but Reggie Bush vacated the award the year he won, leaving them in second place with six. Bush was receiving gifts from agents while still in college. His college received major sanctions for this and amidst the talk of stripping the award from him, he chose to vacate it on his own accord.

The Heisman Trophy is not only the most prestigious because of all it takes into consideration, but because it is the oldest of all college football awards, including the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Award, and the AP Player Of The Year.

The trophy itself is designed by Frank Eliscu and is modeled after Ed Smith, who was a top player for NYU in 1934. The pair were teammates at George Washington High School and when Eliscu asked Smith to model for him for something, he had no idea what it was for. It’s made from cast bronze and weighs 45 pounds. Smith was given a Heisman in 1985.

The last 15 years of Heisman winners
Tim Tebow, 2007
Gators Wire
  • School: Florida
  • Draft pick: 25th

Tim Tebow is one of the best and most decorated college players in football history and has had one of the stranger NFL careers in history. He has only spent a few years actually in the league. After six years out, he returned in May of 2021, only to be released later the same year. Fans will never forget his prime though when Tebow Time was coined.

Sam Bradford, 2008
Bleacher Report
  • School: Oklahoma
  • Draft pick: 1st

When he won the Heisman, Sam Bradford was just the second sophomore to do so, after Tim Tebow the previous year. He spent 9 years in the league, having his best times with the Rams and the Vikings. He had a decent career, but his last stint with the Cardinals is considered one of the worst free-agent signings of the last decade.

Mark Ingram Jr., 2009
USA Today
  • School: Alabama
  • Draft pick: 28th

Mark Ingram Jr. was projected as a first-round pick but ended up being picked 28th in the first round. Ingram Jr. has spent most of his time in the NFL with the Saints, with who he was with from 2011-2018, and went back to last year. In between, he spent time with the Ravens and the Texans. 

Cam Newton, 2010
Charlotte Observer
  • School: Auburn
  • Draft pick: 1st

Cam Newton was the most recent Heisman winner that made it to the Super Bowl (until the Bengals) which he did at Super Bowl 50 with the Carolina Panthers in 2015. He’s also been an NFL MVP, which is an incredible achievement that few ever get. When things got dicey with the Panthers, he proved himself once again with the Patriots.

Robert Griffin III, 2011
Hogs Haven
  • School: Baylor
  • Draft pick: 2nd

Griffin III was selected 2nd overall by the Commanders (when they were still the Redskins) in 2012 and until 2021, he had a solid career with Washington, Cleveland, and Baltimore. His rookie year was especially great, but things went downhill for him since then due to injuries and problems with Washington staff.

Johnny Manziel, 2012
Sporting News
  • School: Texas A&M
  • Draft pick: 22nd

In December of 2012, Johnny Manziel made history when he became the first freshman to ever win the Heisman. Up until that point, college players had only done this in their sophomore, junior, and senior years. As polarising as he was, Johnny Manziel’s 2-year NFL career didn’t match his college success, and some would argue that it never could have anyway. He currently plays in the FCF.

Jameis Winston, 2013
Who Dat Dish
  • School: Florida State
  • Draft pick: 1st

In college, Winston threw for over 4,000 yards with 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. This was enough for him to be the #1 draft pick by the Buccaneers. Unfortunately, in his five seasons with Tampa Bay, he helped them to just one winning season. He currently plays for the Saints.

Marcus Mariota, 2014
Oregon LIve
  • School: Oregon
  • Draft pick: 2nd

Marcus Mariota currently plays as a backup for the Los Vegas Raiders who he signed with after a five-year stint with the Titans. Unfortunately, Tennessee seemed to do better with him on the bench, which was disappointing after his run at Oregon.

Derrick Henry, 2015
USA Today
  • School: Alabama
  • Draft pick: 45th

It’s quite rare for a running back (or anyone who isn’t a QB) to win the Heisman, but Derrick Henry did just that in 2015 out of Alabama. In terms of his NFL career, he took a while to get going but has been great for his last few seasons with the Titans. In 2019, he rushed for over 1,540 yards and had 16 touchdowns.

Lamar Jackson, 2016
The Spun
  • School: Louisville
  • Draft pick: 32nd

Lamar Jackson had an unbelievable run at Louisville, putting up crazy numbers. Expectations for him in the NFL were high and incredibly, for the most part, he has met them. He has helped form the Ravens into a better team and won the MVP award unanimously, something only he and Tom Brady have ever done.

Baker Mayfield, 2017
NBC News
  • School: Oklahoma
  • Draft pick: 1st

In his college years, Mayfield led Oklahoma to the Rose Bowl against Georgia. They lost, but he still showed out and was the #1 draft pick. In the NFL, he has slowly been making the Browns better and giving them their best season records in years.

2021 was a down year for Mayfield and the Browns but they’ll look to bounce back in 2022.

Kyler Murray, 2018
New York Post
  • School: Oklahoma
  • Draft pick: 1st

Murray was the #1 draft pick, which is even more amazing when you consider that he was choosing between football and baseball in college. He’s spent all of his NFL time with the Arizona Cardinals and has been exceeding expectations with them, making the playoffs once and the Pro Bowl multiple times.

Joe Burrow, 2019
Sky Sports
  • School: LSU
  • Draft pick: 1st

Joe Burrow is undoubtedly one of the best college quarterbacks of all time. He completed 76.3% of his passes for over 5,600 yards and had a whopping 60 touchdowns. He and LSU looked immortal in their run. Naturally, he was the 1st draft pick.

DeVonta Smith, 2020
Bleacher Report
  • School: Alabama
  • Draft pick: 10th

When he won the Heisman in 2020, DeVonta Smith became the first wide receiver to do so since Desmond Howard in 1991. Of course, he just finished his first season in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and he had a good run, setting the team’s rookie record for most receiving yards in a season.

Bryce Young, 2021
The Boston Globe
  • School: Alabama
  • Draft pick: TBD

When Bryce Young won the Heisman last year, he became the first Alabama quarterback to ever do so. Of course, he hasn’t had his rookie NFL season or even been drafted yet, but hopes are high for the Philadelphian.

Categories
Sports Strength

Jerick McKinnon Is Exactly What the Kansas City Chiefs Needed

In 2018, Jerick McKinnon was supposed to become a star. After four seasons as a dynamic change-of-pace option in the Minnesota backfield, McKinnon inked a $30 million contract to lead the San Francisco 49ers’ backfield, which made him one of the five highest-paid running backs in the league at the time; fantasy football knowers pegged him as a breakout candidate, the kind of player who could thrive within the 49ers’ famously running back-friendly offense. 

And then, in September 2018, he tore his ACL and missed the whole season. And then, in August 2019, he tore his LCL and missed yet another whole season. By 2020, he had yet to suit up for the Niners and had to renegotiate his contract to void the deal’s fourth and final year, lest he suffer the ignominy of being cut from the team. 

Now, having left San Francisco last off-season, McKinnon has emerged as an unlikely starter for the Kansas City Chiefs. Although McKinnon spent most of this season as a situational special teamer, he’s taken control of the Chiefs’ backfield during the playoffs; in the team’s two postseason games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills, McKinnon has racked up 220 yards on 33 touches, surpassing the meager 169 yards on 25 touches that he amassed during the regular season. 

Entering the season’s endgame, McKinnon has been so effective that it boggles the mind that he hadn’t been deployed in a significant role until just now. For all of its star power, Kansas City’s offense has never had an especially great rushing attack during the Patrick Mahomes Era, not that it’s ever particularly mattered. This year, the team’s other three backs (Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Damian Williams and Derrick Gore) have been solid, but still fairly stolid, struggling to produce yardage or touchdowns beyond the ones that are inherently baked into the Chiefs’ scheme. 

Conversely, McKinnon provides a sense of jagged electricity to a rushing attack that’s desperately needed it; it’s not a coincidence that the Chiefs have averaged 42 points and over 500 yards per game during the ‘yoffs now that defenses have to account for yet another explosive offensive weapon in the backfield and can’t merely focus on Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Even if McKinnon may never fully make good on the All-Pro promise that he held before his Jobian run of injuries, a Super Bowl ring would be a pretty good consolation prize. 

Categories
Culture Trading Cards

How the NFL Playoffs Have Affected the Card Market

The 2022 NFL Divisional Playoff round was possibly the most wild and exciting weekend in the history of the sport, with all four games decided in walk-off fashion.

When the dust settled, three road teams advanced to Championship Weekend with the Bengals, 49ers and Rams all winning in hostile environments, while the Chiefs needed overtime to take care of business at home in one of the best football games you’ll ever see.

These games had extremely polarizing effects on the football card market, with the values of some of the winning team’s stars skyrocketing, while the cards of some of the players sent packing took a nosedive.

Let’s take a look at ten of the most important players and how their rookie cards have performed from before the playoffs began until now.

1. Joe Burrow 2020 Prizm PSA 10 – $460.94
CardLadder

Joe Burrow didn’t play his best game ever in Tennessee, but he did what he needed to do to escape with a win. He was sacked nine times (an NFL playoff record) and was under pressure all day, but still managed to throw for 348 yards including a perfect strike to Ja’Marr Chase to set up the game winning field goal.

Entering the playoffs, his Prizm PSA 10 rookie was on a steady decline, bottoming out on 12/21 at just $185. However, after the game that same card sold for $460.94.

It will be interesting to see what happens to these prices if the Bengals advance to the Super Bowl with a win over the Chiefs on Sunday.

2. Evan McPherson 2021 Mosaic Base – $44.00
CardLadder

“Shooter” McPherson had an all-time great game for a kicker in Tennessee, splitting the uprights on all four of his field goal attempts including the game-winner as time expired from 54-yards out.

The game has earned the 5th round draft pick out of Florida legendary clout amongst Bengals fans, with the Bengals tweeting this after the game:

<div class =”code”><p class = “twitter-tweet”>https://twitter.com/Bengals/status/1485047630958936071?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></div>

His raw Mosaic base cards that were selling for under $3 before the game saw an enormous rise, with one selling at auction for $44 shortly after the game. We even saw his Pink Swirl Mosaic Prizm /10 sell for $390, which will likely go down as an all-time overreaction purchase.

With that said, if a Bengals fan bought this card because he loves the team and the player, more power to them. Collect what you love!

eBay

3. Matthew Stafford 2009 Topps Chrome PSA 10 – $950
CardLadder

If it weren’t for the Chiefs vs. Bills game that followed shortly after the Rams and Bucs, this game would likely be called the craziest playoff game ever.

The Rams led 27-3 in the 3rd quarter before watching Tom Brady work his magic and tie the game up at 27 with just :42 left to play. However, that was enough time for Matthew Stafford to hit Cooper Kupp twice, first for 20 yards, and then again for 44 yards to set up the game winning field goal as time expired.

Stafford’s cards were hot early in the season, but cooled off in a major way as the season progressed. On 12/26, his Topps Chrome PSA 10 rookie bottomed out at just $503 after selling for almost $1800 in early November. However, it has rebounded nicely with a sale at $950 after the game.

4. Cooper Kupp 2017 Prizm PSA 10 – $450
CardLadder

Cooper Kupp has turned in to an absolute superstar this season, but as things typically go with wide receivers in the card market, he was generating very little respect amongst collectors.

That has changed significantly.

His 2017 Prizm PSA 10 rookie was hovering around $200 all season long, hitting a low of $123 on 12/12. However, after earning the wide receiver triple crown for leading the league during the regular season in receptions (145), receiving yards (1947) and touchdowns (16), while putting up an eye-popping 9 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown against the Bucs, his cards are going to the moon. The same card sold for $450 after the game and if the Rams pull off a win against the 49ers at home next week, they could go even higher.

5. Patrick Mahomes 2017 Prizm PSA 9 – $1566
CardLadder

Patrick Mahomes had a game for the ages against Buffalo, further adding to his growing legacy in Kansas City. His box score was absolutely ridiculous, throwing for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns, while running for another 69 yards and a touchdown. The interesting thing with Mahomes is that winning games like this seems to have already been built in to his card prices.

His 2017 Prizm PSA 10 rookie bottomed out this season on 11/9/21 at $6200 and has only slightly rallied, with the most recent sale on 1/21/22 at $7000. However, his PSA 9 has seen a nice bump since the playoffs started, selling for $999 on 12/20/21 while hitting $1556 after the game.

6. Deebo Samuel 2019 Prizm PSA 10 – $156.32
CardLadder

Deebo Samuel’s cards have followed a similar path to Cooper Kupps, and while he was held in check in the 49ers huge win at Lambeau Field, his card prices continue to soar.

His 2019 Prizm PSA 10 rookie hovered around $70 for much of the season, with it bottoming out at $58 on 12/28/21. After the game, the same card sold for $156.32, representing a 3x return for anybody wise enough to pick one up before the playoffs.

Deebo has become a bona fide star this season, acting as both a wide receiver and running back, and will obviously be a major part of the 49ers game plan in Los Angeles. If they pull off the victory and he has a big game, it could be enough to send this card to new highs.

7. Josh Allen 2018 Prizm PSA 9 – $215.90
CardLadder

What can you say about Josh Allen in this heartbreaking loss for Buffalo? He flat out balled on Sunday. In one of the most impressive showings for any player in NFL history in a loss, it’s a real shame that we didn’t get to see him get one more chance in overtime.

While his 329 yard, 4 touchdown performance didn’t earn him a win and a trip to the AFC Championship game, what it did earn is respect among those who still doubted him. He will be a star in this league for many years to come.

Similar to Mahomes, his 2018 Prizm Base PSA 10 rookie has remained relatively flat since November, selling for $587 on 11/07/21 and $650 after the game. However, his PSA 9’s that were selling for $112.89 on 12/22 saw a nice bump to $215.90 after the game.

8. Gabriel Davis 2020 Mosaic Black Mosaic 1/1 PSA 10 – $2950
CardLadder

What an all-time performance for Gabriel Davis against the Chiefs with 8 catches for 201 yards and 4 touchdowns after putting up just 35 catches for 549 yards and 6 touchdowns during the regular season.

Back in November, his 2020 Prizm Black Finite auto 1/1 sold for $1175 on eBay. After the game, his non-auto Mosaic Black Prizm 1/1 sold for $2950. The interesting question to me is what that same Prizm Black Finite Auto would have sold for if it were listed, since Prizm is a higher end product than Mosaic and this card is an auto.

Clearly, the game did wonders for Davis’ value in the market. However, it seems to be an overreaction to pay almost $3000 for a Gabriel Davis card based on one huge playoff game, considering his overall body of work.

9. Aaron Rodgers 2005 Topps PSA 10 – $785.33
CardLadder

Aaron Rodgers legacy is an interesting one. He is about to win back-to-back MVP awards, joining Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Joe Montana and Jim Brown as the only players in NFL history to accomplish that feat.

However, he is only 11-9 as a starter in the playoffs throughout his career and he has come under fire from football fans this year for his actions and outspoken takes on NFL covid policy.

While his play on the field has been first ballot hall of fame worthy, he hasn’t exactly endeared himself to fans this season and his cards are paying the price after another early playoff exit.

His 2005 Topps PSA 10 rookie was climbing all season, hitting a peak of $1200 on 1/11/22 before plummeting to $785 after the 49ers sent him packing. It will be interesting to watch how far these cards drop in the coming weeks.

With that said, I expect his cards to receive a significant bump if Rodgers does decide his time with the Packers is over and he goes elsewhere this offseason. Imagine if he signs with Pittsburgh to replace Big Ben?

My advice would be to NOT panic and sell right now.

10. Ryan Tannehill 2012 Prizm Aqua Blue Jersey PSA 10 – $56
CardLadder

Ryan Tannehill. Yikes.

He had an all-time bad performance on Saturday for the Titans, crushing their hopes of moving on to the AFC Championship game one interception at a time. The first one came on his first pass, the second one inside of the Bengals 10 yard line as they were about to score a touchdown late in the 3rd quarter, and the third one on his last pass of the game, setting the Bengals up for their game winning field goal. It comes at no surprise that whatever value his cards did have entering the playoffs took a major hit after the loss.

It’s possible that his time as Titans start is over after that stinker. With Derrick Henry, AJ Brown and Julio Jones on board, if the Titans were to upgrade at the quarterback position to a guy like… Aaron Rodgers (imagine?!) they would likely be the front runners to come out of the AFC next year.

With that said, I have no doubt that Tannehill would get another starting job in the league. He has won way too many games not to get another chance.

Categories
Culture Trading Cards

Top 10 Football Cards to Watch Heading into the NFL Playoffs

The NFL playoffs are finally here and it’s time to look at the top 10 football cards to watch heading into the post-season. 

This year’s post-season offers up a lot of opportunity for quarterbacks both young and old. Joe Burrow makes his first playoff appearance. Mac Jones gets a shot at becoming the first rookie quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl. Tom Brady is seeking his 8th Super Bowl Victory, likely MVP Aaron Rodgers looks to win his second Super Bowl and Matthew Stafford could finally win his first playoff game. 

Let the games begin! 

1. Aaron Rodgers 2005 Topps Chrome Refractor #190 PSA 9
CardLadder

The Green Bay Packers secured the top seed in the NFC and currently have the best odds to win the Super Bowl this year. Aaron Rodgers also has the best odds to win MVP, which would make it his fourth and put him second on the all-time list for most MVP awards. 

Rodger’s 2005 Topps Chrome Rookie refractor PSA 9 has a pop of 149 and last sold for $4,000: 

CardLadder

Back in April, the card hit a peak price of $6,200 before gradually declining to a low in-season price of $2,652. 

This is the top card to watch as we approach the NFL playoffs because Rodgers has the chance both to win another Super Bowl and add a fourth MVP award to his resume. 

Will a Super Bowl run push this card price back to its peak? Time will tell. 

2. Tom Brady 2000 Bowman Base #236 BGS 9.5
CardLadder

The Buccaneers have now fallen to the fourth-best odds to win the Super Bowl, but Tom Brady has seven Super Bowl rings to prove that you shouldn’t count them out. Brady is also in the running for the MVP award and many think it should be him over Aaron Rodgers. 

Brady’s 2000 Bowman Base BGS 9.5 has a population of 565 and last sold for $5,500: 

CardLadder

This is one of the most interesting cards on this list. It’s an affordable, high-grade rookie with a relatively low pop. Brady is a 7-time Super Bowl champion and could become the oldest MVP in NFL history (again). 

On February 9th, just two days after the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, a copy of this card sold for $8,600 before dropping to $2,705 in June. 

The card hit a second high price of $8,500 in October before settling at $5,500. If Brady and the Buccaneers make a legitimate Super Bowl run, it will be fun to see if this card reaches the same heights it did during last year’s Super Bowl. 

3. Patrick Mahomes 2017 Prizm #269 PSA 10
CardLadder

Patrick Mahomes already has a Super Bowl Championship, NFL MVP under his belt, and is 6–2 in the postseason. He’s played in 2 Super Bowls and nearly made it to a 3rd. Yet, some may be counting Mahomes out due to his struggles this season. 

The Chiefs do have the second-best odds to win the Super Bowl this season but Mahomes’ 2017 Prizm Rookie PSA 10 has been losing value in 2021, last selling for $7,328 on 1/9: 

CardLadder

The card peaked at $15,500 right before last year’s Super Bowl and has since lost 52% of its value. It’s worth noting that in 2017, there were no Prizm base cards, which is why the population of this 2017 “silver” is higher than other players on this list. 

The supply hasn’t increased much since April, with only 22 new PSA 10 copies being graded. 

If Mahomes and crew can make a run this year, keep eye on this card. 

4. Josh Allen 2018 Prizm Silver #205 PSA 10
CardLadder

The Buffalo Bills have the fifth-best odds to win the Super Bowl and start their championship run against the New England Patriots this Saturday. The Bills lost their first regular-season match-up to the Patriots 14–10 but won the second match-up 33–21. 

Allen’s Prizm Silver Rookie PSA 10 has a pop of just 26 and last sold for $10,300:

CardLadder

The card hit an all-time high price of $15,500 in July, perhaps because Allen finished 2nd in MVP voting for the 2020 season after leading the Bills to the AFC championship.

Buffalo is currently a 4-point favorite over the Patriots. 

5. Matthew Stafford 2009 Topps Chrome Refractor #TC210 PSA 10
CardLadder

Matt Stafford has never won a playoff game in his 12-year career and hopes to change that this year. The Rams have the sixth-best odds to win the Super Bowl and open up the playoffs at home against the Cardinals. Although the Rams lost to the Cardinals earlier in the season, they beat them 30–23 in mid-December. 

Stafford’s Topps Chrome rookie refractor PSA 10 is a pop 62 and last sold for $1,475 on January 6th: 

CardLadder

The card hit an all-time high price of $2,600 in November but has since come down in value, likely due to the Ram’s (and Stafford’s) inconsistent play. The Rams have one of the most star-studded rosters on paper, but can’t seem to pull it together against good teams. 

6. Dak Prescott 2016 Prizm #231 PSA 10
CardLadder

The Dallas Cowboys have the seventh-best odds to win the Super Bowl and open their playoff run against the San Francisco 49ers at home. The last time the Cowboys faced the 49ers is the last time they were in the NFC Championship: 25 years ago. 

Prescott has played well this year after coming off of a season-ending injury but has a lot of pressure to lead his team in the post-season since Dallas has won just 3 playoff games since 2000

Prescott’s pop 1,196 2016 Prizm Silver (in 2016, there were no base Prizm football cards) last sold for $540: 

CardLadder

The card sold for $1,200 in August and $1,125 in October, but has since come down in price. 

7. Kyler Murray 2019 Prizm Silver #301 PSA 10
CardLadder

The Arizona Cardinals started off the season white-hot, going 7–0, but lost 4 out of their 5 regular-season games. The Cardinals have the eighth-best odds to win the Super Bowl but will be missing DeAndre Hopkins and possibly JJ Watt against the Rams, which are two big blows. 

Murray was playing well to start the season, but since returning from injury, he’s struggled. 

His Prizm Silver Rookie PSA 10 has also struggled, last selling for $1,133 on 1/12, its lowest price in 2021: 

CardLadder

The card hit a 2021 high price of $3,250 (lower than the all-time high of $4,950 in March 2020) but has been dropping since October. If Murray and the Cardinals look like they did the first half of this season in the playoffs, perhaps the trend will reverse. 

8. Mac Jones Absolute Kaboom! #K44 — Ungraded
CardLadder

The Patriots are a long shot to win the Super Bowl with the 11th-best odds, but they do have a head coach who is 31–12 (.721) in the post-season. No rookie quarterback has ever won the Super Bowl so it seems unlikely, but Mac Jones could be a fun play of the Patriots show signs of momentum in the post-season. 

Because Jones is a rookie, his Prizm cards won’t be released until March 2022, so we’re going with his Kaboom! rookie. 

Kaboom! rookie cards have been popular and growing in value, and Jones’ latest sale on eBay was $1,325. For comparison, Josh Allen’s Kaboom! Rookie BGS 9.5 last sold for $5,820. 

Jones could win offensive rookie of the year and frigid temps for their Wild Card game against the Bills could create some opportunity for an upset. 

9. Joe Burrow 2020 Prizm Silver #307 PSA 10
CardLadder

The Cincinnati Bengals have the ninth-best odds to win the Super Bowl, which is impressive considering that the Bengals went 4–11–1 the previous season and Joe Burrow is coming off of an ACL tear

Burrow’s pop 100 Prizm Silver Rookie PSA 10 last sold for $3,400 on 1/12: 

CardLadder

Burrow’s rookie silver has held its value well in 2021 with a low price of $2,175 and a high price of $3,500 despite the pop increasing from 39 copies in April to 100 copies today. 

It also doesn’t hurt that Burrow is paired up with a rookie receiver who looks to be on an elite career path. The Bengals open up their playoff run at home against the Raiders.

10. Derrick Henry 2016 Prizm #298 PSA 10
CardLadder

Derrick Henry is the only non-QB on this list and for good reason: he was largely responsible for leading the Tennesee Titans to the AFC Championship in the 2019 season.  

He rushed for 182 yards and a touchdown in the Wild Card round, rushed for 195 yards and threw a passing TD in the Divisional Round, and rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown in the AFC Championship. 

In 2020, the Titans were knocked out of the Wild Card by the Baltimore Ravens when Henry rushed for just 40 yards on 18 carries, but they are the AFC’s 1-seed and have the third-best odds to win the Super Bowl. 

Henry was having a dominant 2021 season, rushing for 937 yards in eight games before he was sidelined with an injury. This is a risky bet because it’s still unclear if he will return for the divisional playoff round. 

His pop 164 Prizm rookie last sold for $430 on 1/6: 

CardLadder

The card hit a high price of $800 in February and rebounded again in October. Henry’s injury is a massive risk to his card prices but there’s a lot of upside if he can come back and play like his old self in the divisional round. 

Categories
Sports Strength

Examining The Biggest NFL Playoff Clinching Scenarios In Week 18

With the eighteenth and final week of the 2021 NFL regular season on tap weekend, there are three playoff spots, two division titles (AFC East and NFC West), and one conference’s No. 1 seed (AFC) still in flux. And while some teams have a simple path to making the playoffs, others are going to need a lot of help. Below are five of the most prominent playoff-clinching scenarios to watch in Week 18.

<div class =”code”><p class = “twitter-tweet”>https://twitter.com/AndrewSiciliano/status/1478060241723953152?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></div>

Los Angeles Rams or Arizona Cardinals can clinch the NFC West

The Rams and Cardinals have jockeyed for the division crown all season, but the 12-4 Rams enter Week 18 with a one-game advantage in the standings. The Rams can clinch the division with either a win against the San Francisco 49ers OR a Cardinals’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks; conversely, the Cardinals need to win their own game AND for the Rams to lose.

The Tennessee Titans could clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed

Although the Tennessee Titans and Kansas Chiefs are both 11-5, the Titans hold the tiebreaker because of their head-to-head win against the Chiefs in October. This Sunday, the Titans can lock up AFC’s No. 1 seed by defeating the Houston Texans. If the AFC champ loses, it would allow for the Chiefs (and, to a lesser extent, the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots) to seize a first-round bye.

The Chargers, Raiders, and Colts battle for the AFC’s final two spots

Although there are playoff races throughout the league, the battle for the AFC’s last two Wild Card spots has been the most unpredictable and intense. Given that the Indianapolis Colts lock up a playoff berth by dispatching the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, the Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders will face off in a de facto play-in game for the last spot. If the Colts lose, the situation becomes considerably more muddled, as it opens the door for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens to sneak into the postseason.

<div class =”code”><p class = “twitter-tweet”>https://twitter.com/steelers/status/1478487977202434051?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></div>

Roethlisberger and the Steelers could extend his career one more week

While the Pittsburgh Steelers are making preparations for life without long-time quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to retire after this season, it might not quite be time for goodbye. If the Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, they could make the playoffs as long as the Colts lose and the Raiders-Chargers game doesn’t end in a tie.

The 49ers and Saints compete for the NFC’s lone remaining Wild Card spot

In recent weeks, the NFC playoff picture quickly came into focus as six of the seven spots have been clinched; the only uncertainty is whether the San Francisco 49ers or New Orleans Saints will be the conference’s final Wild Card. The Niners control their own destiny, clinching a playoff berth with a win against the LA Rams OR a New Orleans loss to the Atlanta Falcons; the Saints only hope would be if they win their own game AND the Niners lose.

Categories
Sports Strength

The Bengals Climb In Final NFL Power Rankings

By this time next week, the 102nd NFL regular season will have already come to a close. Beyond the novelty of being the first Week 18 in NFL history, this final slate of regular season games will be the final chapter of what’s been the most exciting playoff race the NFL has had in a long time. Below are our latest power rankings before we enter the last week of this NFL season.

<div class =”code”><p class = “twitter-tweet”>https://twitter.com/packers/status/1478184410080026625?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></div>

1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)

Another Sunday means another win for the Packers. Because of their 37-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, they’ve officially clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC, giving them bye week during the Wild Card Round and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)

In order to regain the AFC’s No. 1 seed that they lost Sunday, the Chiefs’ defense has to rediscover its previous success after consecutive shaky outings against the Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals.

3. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)

At this point, the Rams have proven both their toughness and their talent. Riding a five-game winning streak, the Rams are fresh off a road win against a hungry Baltimore Ravens team that’s fighting for a playoff spot.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4)

Despite the bizarre mid-game departure of wide receiver Antonio Brown, during an unexpectedly close game against New York Jets, Tom Brady and Co. avoided all distractions by producing a last-minute game-winning drive.

5. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

While it’s tempting to say “same old Cowboys” immediately after their 25-22 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, that response would be a mistake. The newly-crowned NFC East champion is closer to being the team we watched win their previous four games than the lackluster unit that took the field on Sunday .

<div class =”code”><p class = “twitter-tweet”>https://twitter.com/Bengals/status/1478426000727945223?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></div>

6. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

Every year, a dark horse makes a deep playoff run and emerges as a serious Super Bowl contender. This year, the Bengals seem poised to become that team. The young AFC North upstart just won their first division title in seven years and Joe Burrow and JaMarr Chase are already arguably the league’s most dynamic quarterback-wide receiver duo.

7. Buffalo Bills (10-6)

The Bills deserve a lot of credit for taking care of business during a snowstorm and defeating the pesky Atlanta Falcons. With a win this week, the Bills would clinch their second consecutive division title, which is essential for a chance at an extended postseason run.

8. Tennessee Titans (11-5)

For the first time in franchise history, the Titans have won the AFC South in consecutive seasons. Even better news: superstar running back Derrick Henry could be returning sooner rather than later.

9. New England Patriots (10-6)

Yes, the Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t the most imposing opponent, but the Patriots deserve some style points for beating them so thoroughly. Over the course of their 50-10 romp, the Pats offered a reminder that they’re still a dangerous squad, especially in the cold, hostile Gillette Stadium.

10. Indianapolis Colts (9-7)

The Colts may have blown their first chance to punch their ticket to the postseason, but they’re still in a good spot, having won six of their last eight games. One minor hurdles remains between them and the playoffs: a road date in Jacksonville, a place the Colts haven’t won a game since 2014.