Tuesday, May 28, 2013

LeBron James: A Potential Two-sport Star?

With today being a slow day around the NFL world, I think it's time to re-open this debate: could LeBron James make it in the NFL?

I was reading an article on Yahoo! that discussed how former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann believes that the Miami Heat forward could make it as an NFL quarterback. Interesting statement, to say the least. While the 28-year old NBA star played quarterback in high school prior to switching over to wide receiver, I'd like to believe that his combination of size and athleticism would be better suited as a tight end.

Picture this: you have a 6'8" and 250 pound man with 4.6 speed lining up in front of you on the offensive line. As a defender, that's a match-up made in hell. There aren't any tight ends in this league that are that tall, and though a 4.6 40-time isn't incredibly fast, it's a pretty solid time for a TE of his size.

We already know that LeBron James has the work ethic needed to be a professional athlete, he's been doing it for a decade now. And though his football experience is limited to a few years of high school before he quit to focus more on basketball, he's still got something under his belt. So I think the only question is, does he want to do it?
We can debate this as much as we want, but that doesn't mean a damn thing until LeBron actually expresses interest in cutting his basketball career short to focus on his second sport: football. The last successful two-sport star, Bo Jackson (football and baseball), was a freak of nature. At 6'1" and 230 pounds, Jackson could bowl through a freight train and didn't seem to fear anything at all. He was one of the most gifted athletes we have ever been able to witness.

That being said, James is a freak of nature as well. The "Best Player in the NBA" debate is on-going, but there's no question that James wins the "Most Athletic Player in the NBA" debate by a land-slide. With the NBA and NFL seasons overlapping so much, it doesn't look plausible for him to do both, meaning James would have to give up basketball earlier than expected in order to make this into a reality.

With one NBA championship in his possession already, and the possibility of a second one this year with the way the Heat are playing right now, he could end up winning enough championships to satisfy his hunger for NBA titles and call it quits early. Doesn't seem possible, but Michael Jordan even took up a second sport during his NBA career, so a LeBron journey into the NFL may not be as far-fetched as it sounds.
If LeBron does get bored, there's no doubt that NFL scouts and front offices would love to give him a tryout. He's already got better hands than a lot of tight ends in the league now, and having an athletic 6'8"/250 pound TE lining up against linebackers is as big a mismatch that you'll see on an NFL field. He's got three-plus inches on most any outside linebackers in the game today. If he enters the league as a tight end, he'll be giving defensive coordinators grey hair from day one.

One more encouraging detail to take note of: current tight ends Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham are former basketball players. Gonzalez and Gates have both publicly stated that playing basketball has helped them with catching passes in the NFL, and even compared posting-up in the paint to catching jump balls over top of defenders. And guess what? Gonzalez is Canton-bound once his prolific career is in the history books.

Unfortunately for us, we can talk about this as much as we like, but there's nothing we can do about it unless LeBron truly wants to leave the NBA early and go after his NFL dream. But, at his age, he could put in another 6-8 years in the basketball world and still take a stab at the NFL. So we may have to re-open this discussion once again in about five years and see where his career is at then.

It's not a question of "can he succeed" it's more of a "does he want to succeed" in the NFL? With one high school season as quarterbacks and two as a wide receiver, I think it's clear that James' potential career in the NFL would be better-suited catching passes, rather than throwing them. Not to mention having a 6'8" quarterback seems like a waste of size.

Debate over: LeBron can make it as an NFL player because of his freakish size and athleticism. But whether he will or not is completely up in the air, and will be until he is completely satisfied with his NBA career. We can keep dreaming though, right?

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Does anybody remember this commercial from LeBron's Cleveland Cavalier-playing days?

We sure do.

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013: The NFL and the United States Military

Happy Memorial Day! We hope our readers and followers had a lovely holiday weekend with their families. The All-Out Blitz would like to thank the United States Military and members, past and current, for serving our country.

Unfortunately we don't have any "Memorial Day Memories" from the National Football League, considering it falls on May every year. So instead we thought we'd share some NFL/U.S. Military photos with you guys as a nice way to end the long weekend.
The All-Out Blitz and National Football League thanks the U.S. troops for its service!

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We have been slacking with content lately but now that the summer has officially arrived, we're hoping to get back to a normal posting schedule as soon as possible. Please check back for regular posts and coverage!

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Urlacher Retirement: 2013 Off-Season has been the Season for Retiring Legends

Ray Lewis, Matt Birk, Ronde Barber. And now Brian Urlacher.

The long-time Chicago Bears middle linebacker joins the list of this era's living legends to retire from the game this off-season, announcing his official retirement on Wednesday. Urlacher played all 13 of his professional seasons in Chicago, and will retire as the third-best MLB in franchise history (behind Butkus and Singletary).

As a versatile player on the field, Urlacher played multiple positions while playing his college ball at the University of New Mexico, including linebacker, safety, wide receiver and return specialist. The All-American was drafted ninth overall by Chicago in the 2000 NFL draft and ended up winning the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award following his Pro Bowl performance of 125 tackles, 8.0 sacks and two interceptions.

At 6'4"/250 pounds, the eight-time Pro Bowler 'backer was known as a great cover guy throughout his career but was also a feared tackler, chasing down ball-carriers from sideline-to-sideline.

Spread out over 180 career starts, Urlacher's numbers are some of the best you'll see from a middle linebacker during his era (not far behind Baltimore's Lewis), and are consistent across the board: 1,358 combined tackles, 41.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, 15 fumble recoveries, according to Pro-Footballreference.com.
Had Urlacher not missed two games during his rookie campaign, seven during the '04 season, 15 in '09 and four last season, who knows what these numbers could potentially look like. The four-time All Pro was the heart and soul of the Chicago defense during the 2000s––he was named on the league's All-Decade team––and provided veteran leadership to the young guys on the field.

Green Bay Packers All Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers has already come out and said that Urlacher was his favorite opponent and that he'd miss clashing with #54, as well as the banter between the two on the field. I don't feel as though he'd miss being hit by him, however.

With Urlacher's retirement coming the same off-season as Lewis and Ronde Barber, it's very possible that we could end up seeing the three of them being enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the same time in 2018. Wouldn't that be something? Each of the three were the face of their respective franchise during the 2000s, and would be welcomed into Canton with open arms.

But the football field will most definitely be missing numbers 52, 20 and 54 once September rolls around.

Additional 2013 retirees:

Donovan McNabb, QB
David Garrard, QB
Matt Birk, C
Rolando McClain, LB
Scott Fujita, LB
Al Harris, CB
Nate Kaeding, K

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Note: Stats according to Pro-footballreference.com

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

San Francisco, Houston Will Host Future Super Bowls

Votes have been tallied, and the host cities for two future Super Bowls have been decided by the owners earlier today: San Francisco and Houston.

The two large, warm-weather cities have great football atmospheres in addition to great football franchises. San Francisco will play host to Super Bowl L (SB 50) in 2016, while Houston plays host to Super Bowl LI (SB 51).

Now, obviously this is a few years down the road as we still have yet to witness the 2014 (New York) and 2015 (Phoenix) Super Bowls, but I'm just glad that we will not have to sit through another year of knowing that Miami will once again be hosting a Super Bowl.

New Orleans, the host of this past Super Bowl, and Miami have combined for 20 Super Bowls (10 each). Enough is enough. We get it, the National Football League loves South Beach. But can't we spread the love around a little? I'm not exactly the most thrilled about Houston hosting its third, but it sure beats the hell out of Miami.

The Bay Area hosted one other Super Bowl, SB XIX in 1985 between the Dolphins and Niners, though I don't actually count that as a San Francisco hosting. The game was played in Stanford Stadium in Stanford, CA. So, not technically San Francisco, just considered the Bay Area. Though, once again, this will not technically be a San Francisco-hosted stadium, it's close enough. The game will be played in the Niners' future Levi's Stadium, which is set to be built in Santa Clara, California.

As for Houston, Super Bowl LI will be played in Reliant Stadium for the first time since 2004, when the Patriots defeated the Panthers 32-29.

The best news of the day continues to be the state of Miami's hosting. The voting came down to the two aforementioned stadiums and the Dolphins' Sun Life Stadium. I've never been to Miami, and I'm sure it's a really nice area for the beach and night life, but I'm just glad the wealth is being spread around the National Football League a little more.

Huge win for San Francisco, a couple of months following a devastating Super Bowl loss.

One more thing: Does anyone else feel strange calling it "Super Bowl L" and "Super Bowl LI," or is that just me? Ditch the roman numerals or keep them around? You tell me––tough to go against history, I must say, but 'Super Bowl L' just doesn't roll off the tongue.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

9th Annual Mickey Steele Celebrity Golf Tournament: Rypien, Fellow Former Redskins Raise Money for Cancer Patients

Many former Washington Redskins were on hand Friday afternoon for the 9th Annual Mickey Steele Celebrity Golf Tournament at Queenstown Harbor Golf Links in Queenstown, MD. For the ninth straight year close friends and family of the late Mickey Steele got together to celebrate his life while raising money for cancer.

Steele, a life-long sports fan who grew up in Lanham, MD and attended the University of Maryland, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and passed away after a two-year battle with the disease. Shortly after that, the annual golf tournament was set up by Steele's family and close friends to help keep Steele's legacy alive while helping to raise money for people currently battling cancer.

Former Redskins two-time Pro Bowl quarterback, and Super Bowl XXVI Most Valuable Player, Mark Rypien lost his son Andrew to cancer at age 3. Rypien then dedicated his post-career days to creating and running the Rypien Foundation, which helps raise money for families with kids battling cancer.

Rypien's Foundation teamed up with the Mickey Steele Tournament shortly after hearing about it in 2005, as Mark was a close friend of Steele's and they used to play softball together.

Former Washington great, Joe Theismann, tees off

"To be out here and honor a buddy of ours and to help others is incredible. It's great to see the alumni out and the new guys out here," Rypien said following a day of golf out on the links. "It's very humbling to do this for our organization and the Redskins organization (another sponsor of the event)."

The Rypien Foundation's Program and Event coordinator Amber Masten and Mark's daughter Angela Rypien were also in attendance helping out around the course. Masten was seen around the course with Mickey's granddaughter, Lexi Steele, selling raffle tickets and interacting with golfers throughout the day.

"I have been a part of the foundation for 7 1/2 years," Masten explained prior to the start of the 10:00 am tee times. "We raise a good amount of money for cancer and all of it goes to patient care for cancer patients.

"It's really a great event. Lots of the alumni come back each year and they have a lot of fun with it."

Angela Rypien, the quarterback for the Baltimore Charm of the Legends Football League (formerly the Lingerie Football League), drove a cart around the course with a fellow Charm teammate to interact with golfers and sometimes even throw a football with them.

Rypien (white shirt, third from right), poses with a group

All of the proceeds to the charity event, which had a great turnout on a beautiful Friday afternoon, benefit the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and the Rypien Foundation.

Among some of the other notable former Redskins players in attendance and on the golf course include: quarterbacks Billy Kilmer and Joe Theismann; running backs Brian Mitchell, Reggie Branch; wide receivers Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark; tight end Doc Walker; lineman Jeff Bostic; linebacker Ken Harvey; DE/LB Carl Kammerer; safety Clarence Vaughn.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why the Arena Football League is Tim Tebow's Best Chance at Becoming an Elite NFL Quarterback

Let me make this quick and to the point: Tim Tebow's best shot at NFL stardom, as a quarterback, is through the Arena Football League. Perhaps last chance, as well?

Say whatever you want about his track record as the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback in 2010 and '11, but Tebow's chance at becoming a starting quarterback again in the National Football League is quickly dwindling.

At this point, after a failed 2012 campaign with the New York Jets, Timmy has two ways he could go about this: 1) give up on trying to become an NFL starting quarterback and admit that he may be better off switching positions if he wants another gig in the league or 2) stick with the quarterback position and sign a deal with an Arena League team.

There are plenty of teams willing to give him a deal if he chooses the latter of the two options. In fact, the Philadelphia Soul is the most recent AFL team to reach out to the newly unemployed Tebow about a job. The franchise's owner, former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, even sent him a package of plays that he'd be used in. That's showing some initiative.
Lately the Jacksonville Jaguars appear to be the only NFL team that would be possible fits for Tebow to become quarterback for, and the team's new owner has already publicly announced that he has no interest in the former University of Florida Heisman winner. Tebow appears set on sticking with his current position and, frankly, why wouldn't he? He's been playing quarterback most of his life, he led the Florida Gators to two National Championships as the signal caller and led John Elway's Broncos to a 2011-12 AFC Wild Card victory over the heavily-favored Pittsburgh Steelers.

That being said, I am among the majority when I say that Tebow's passing skills are not up to par with that of elite QBs in the NFL at this moment in time. Though he's worked on improving his mechanics, his throwing motion is still too long and his accuracy is erratic. His 10-7 record and 75.5 QB rating shows me that he has the game management and leadership skills to lead his team to victories, but the circus he brings with him scares off potential NFL suitors. Especially after his 2012 season in New York. Just too many distractions within the locker room, and he didn't appear to earn the respect needed from his Jets teammates.

The limited number of teams in the league that have expressed interest in his services, are not after his quarterbacking services. Rather, they'd like to use him in a variety of other packages and could possibly switch him to tight end or fullback.

But here's what the Arena league can offer him: a chance to develop his mechanics and transform himself into more of a pocket passer. Arena league fields are much smaller (50 yards long, 85 feet wide with eight-yard end zones), and the game itself has little running plays. With much faster-paced, passing-oriented games, Tebow will get acclimated with three and five-step dropbacks. He'll be forced to get the ball out of his hands much quicker as well, which is something else Tebow's game tends to lack.

Arguments have been made that the Canadian Football League would be another option for Timmy to take his talents to, but I would have to disagree with that statement if he would like to make his way back to the NFL. If he heads north to the CFL, he'll most likely have a harder time re-adjusting to the NFL should he make a re-appearance in the future. With the Arena League, he'll have tighter windows to throw in, meaning that if he can complete passes and throw touchdowns for an AFL team he will have no problem going back to hitting wideouts in stride on a much wider National Football League field.

As for the CFL, it's similar to the AFL in terms of relying heavily on the passing game. The only trouble with this is that the Canadian League's fields are 110 yards in length (with 20-yard end zones) and 65 yards in width, compared with the NFL's 100yd/10-yd/53.5-yd dimensions. Huge difference if you're a quarterback switching league's and adjusting to the style of play.
Normally you would think it would be a minor adjustment for a trained professional, but considering Tebow is looking to further improve on his mechanics and pocket presence it could just prove to be an un-needed distraction.

Either way, I believe these are the two most viable options for Tebow if he plans on becoming a star NFL quarterback one day. Then again, the AFL option could be a hit-or-miss opportunity. A superb stint with an Arena League team could help his NFL stock tremendously, but if his AFL stint ends with a train wreck similar to his New York escapades then he may further damage his reputation around the league.

So if he plans on sticking with his current position in the NFL, it would be well worth the risk of temporarily leaving the league to improve his mechanics and pocket-passing abilities out of the spotlight. And lets face it, a Tim Tebow AFL signing would rack in plenty of money for the respective team that happens to land him and may even bring in a few sold out crowds to Arenas all over.

Sounds like a winning situation for everyone. Tebow gets his shot at remaining a quarterback while working on his craft, his team earns whatever money Tebow fans bring them (and possibly a few wins), and the NFL can finally get away from the Tebow circus that was 2012.

Hopefully one day Tebow can finally prove myself––and all of his other critics––wrong and become an elite, Super Bowl-winning quarterback. One day.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tampa Bay Loses a Champion: 38-year old Ronde Barber Officially Announces Retirement

In Tampa earlier today, 16-year veteran defensive back Ronde Barber officially announced his retirement from the National Football League in a tear-ridden press conference.

The long-time Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback finished his final professional season in 2012 with a very productive 16 games. Barber, 38, made the switch to free safety after playing corner for his entire career and accumulated 91 combined tackles, 4 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 1.0 sack and a defensive touchdown in his final go 'round.

The five-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion was never quite the shutdown corner that Charles Woodson or Deion Sanders were in the prime of their respective careers, but there's no doubt Barber has been the most consistent piece on the Bucs' defense over the past decade and a half. He hasn't missed a start since the 1999 season. That's dedication.

With over 1,200 combined tackles, 47 interceptions, 28.0 sacks in his 232 starts for the Bucs, Barber turned in a borderline Hall of Fame-caliber career. Ronde is Tampa's franchise leader in games (241), interceptions (47), interception yards (923), defensive TDs (12 INT/FR) and passes defensed (166) as well as top 6 in sacks (28.0), forced fumbles (15), fumbles recovered (12) and combined tackles (1,231).
His production was through the roof, and he made a couple of huge plays in the postseason as well. His 92-yard interception touchdown of a Donovan McNabb pass sealed a 27-10 NFC Championship victory over the Eagles on their way to a record-breaking Super Bowl XXXVII victory in 2002-03. His interception will forever be what the Bucs fan base remembers him for most. A play that put them into the Super Bowl for the first time ever. What made the play even sweeter was the fact that it came against the team that knocked them out of the postseason the previous two seasons, outscoring them 52-12 during those games.

With all of his accomplishments, including the ultimate goal of capturing a Vince Lombardi trophy, the decision seemed simple for Barber to hang up his cleats. He was forced into switching to free safety prior to last season, and with a revamped secondary for 2013 he likely would have seen less of the field. The Bucs clearly want to get younger and bring in youth to build from the bottom up, and Barber realized this. In his press conference (which I've included a link to at the bottom of this article), Barber mentions that he made the decision a month ago and that he believes it's the correct decision.

Barber's done all he can in this game, and he's already cemented his legacy with the franchise. He'll sit among Hall of Fame-bound defensive tackle Warren Sapp as one of the best Bucs players in history: Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Barber, John Lynch. That's how the list looks at this moment in time, all four are defensive players, too. Barber's announcement makes him the final player from the core of the 2002 record-setting Buccaneers defensive unit to retire from the game.

Sapp was selected to be enshrined in to the Hall of Fame this coming August and Lynch was among the 27 semi-finalists for the honor back in November. One day, Barber will join the list of potential Hall of Famers, though there's a chance he may not make it over the hump and into the Hall.
He's had one hell of a career as a lifelong Buccaneer, and was certainly the most consistent defensive back of his time, but I'm not completely sold on his HOF status. He was never a flashy guy, and seemed to fly under the radar at times, especially when playing behind Sapp and Brooks and next to Lynch. His lack of flash and vocal leadership could hurt him when it comes time to vote, but lets set the record straight: he's one hell of a football player and one of the best the Bucs franchise has ever seen.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

May Day: No Shortages of Off-season Drama Around League

Despite still being four months away from the kick-off to the 2013 NFL regular season, which is set for Thursday September 5 in Denver, we're still seeing plenty of drama around the league.

The beginning of May usually revolves around the aftermath of the NFL draft, but this year we're seeing a little bit of side-drama. No surprise, of course, that it revolves around the New York Jets. Oh, and Tim Tebow. You'd think that we'd be used to this by now.

Jets Release Tebow; Tim Receives Numerous Other Job Offers

The news of the release of New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow a week ago comes as no surprise, but what may come as a bit of a surprise is the fact that he's already received a variety of different job offers. None of which have come from NFL teams.

Among the offers, whether serious offers or not, are the Canadian Football League and the Lingerie Football League (believe it or not).

The CFL's Montreal Alouettes own the rights to Tebow, but if he were to agree on a contract with the Canadian League team, he'd have to compete for a backup quarterback spot. That doesn't exactly sound like something Tebow would be interested in. Not to mention, the CFL isn't the best fit for Tebow at the quarterback position.

Hall of Fame NFL and CFL QB Warren Moon may have said it best when he said Tebow wouldn't make it as a CFL quarterback. The fields are larger and the league relies more heavily on the passing game. He's not a pocket quarterback and would need to play somewhere where the offense can revolve around his play-making abilities, not just his arm. Tebow's inaccuracy would hurt him in the more pass-oriented Canadian Football League, so the CFL doesn't appear to be a viable option.

About a week ago, the Legends Football League (formerly the Lingerie Football League) offered Tebow a job as quarterbacks coach, according to a Yahoo! Sports report. Clearly that isn't a likely move for him, either, considering he wants to be on the football field, not the sidelines. At least not just yet.

So, it appears the only reasonable option for Tebow in 2013 would be a position change to stay in the NFL. There have been a couple of teams interested in Timmy as a tight end, so the question now is whether he'd be willing to change positions or not.

Okay, sorry. I am officially done with Tebow talk now.
NFC Scout on Geno Smith: "He's a spoiled, pampered brat"

Unfortunately we're not done with the New York Jets, however. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith out of West Virginia was projected to go in the top 10 or 15 by some draft experts in NYC. Instead, he fell out of the first round altogether and was selected by the Jets in the second round, No. 39 overall. It was reported that his maturity is what forced him to fall so hard, costing him approximately $3 million in salary.

Over a week following the draft, his maturity is still being questioned by an anonymous NFC scout:

He's going to have a tough time in New York. Right now he's coming off as a spoiled, pampered brat.

What made matters worse were additional reports that said Smith used his cell phone to send texts and check his Twitter feed during pre-draft meetings with NFL teams. If that doesn't force you out of the first round, I'm not sure what will. After hearing those reports, there's no reason he should have thrown a fit and threatened to go home after being skipped over in the first round, rather than returning to Radio City Music Hall for Day 2 of the draft. Luckily for him, he did end up returning the second night, but the fact that he almost didn't may have also hurt his stock.

Between the underachieving former first rounder out of USC, Mark Sanchez and the seemingly immature Geno Smith, it looks like the Jets will once again have a tough time on offense this season. Look for this to be head coach Rex Ryan's final season at the helm.
Adrian Peterson: "I'm going for 2,500 yards"

There's no typo in that headline. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has said that he's going for 2,500 rushing yards this season. Coming off his MVP performance of 2,097 yards, just nine shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record, Peterson thinks he can gain 400 more yards in 2013.

First off, if there's a running back in the game that can do it, it's Peterson. Second off, he was coming off ACL surgery and got off to a slow start in 2012 before breaking out for eight consecutive 100+ yard games.

But, all that being said, there's no way Peterson will manage to join the 2,500 club. Not this year, not ever. Sure, Peterson manages to break out for long runs despite opposing defenses stacking the box with eight guys in anticipation of the run. But with more and more emphasis on the passing game, Peterson won't get enough carries to break out for that many yards in 16 games.

He'd have to run for at least 150 yards every single week. Even for a robotic, freakishly-built runner like Peterson, that's near-impossible. The Vikings brought in some competition for quarterback Christian Ponder this season (former KC Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel) and drafted the young wideout Cordarrelle Patterson. Clearly Minnesota appears to be ready for a more effective passing game this season.

Sorry Adrian, but it'll be tough enough to pull off another 2,000 yard season in 2013. There's a reason why no runner has ever accomplished this feat twice in a career––it's tough to do. Makes for a great debate though.

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