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So as you may have noticed, I took some time off from blogging. I apologize for the disappearance. I have been busy trying to get a career started elsewhere working for Transamerica Retirement Solutions in their customer call center. Yes, a graduated journalism major just over 14 months ago is now advising people on their retirement plans and helping them take withdrawals or loans or helping them update how much money they are contributing into their account or how it’s invested. It’s funny what pitches life can throw at you. In my case, it was a mix of Randy Johnson’s slider with Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball. So why I am blogging again? What made me dust off the keys from my laptop and start writing? Well I need somewhere to vent my thoughts. The participants I talk to at work could care less what Roger Goodell’s latest mishap was (Not sure if there has been one recently, but at this point, would it really be surprising if there was?) or what the NFL offseason will bring for my beloved Carolina Panthers. I’m going to try to cover more topics than just the NFL and the Panthers though. We’ll touch on college football (Yes, the playoff needs to go to eight teams), college basketball (Spoiler Alert: Kentucky is really good), some NBA (Mainly how to get Golden State games to start before 11 p.m. on the east coast) and maybe even some Nascar (Don’t get your hopes up).

But let’s start with some NFL talk. Did anyone watch the Super Bowl? It was a pretty good game. Normally I’d give a lengthy breakdown of what I thought were the key plays of the game, but I think I’ll pass. (Ahem) Anyways, the Super Bowl was quite a night. We had Katy Perry ride a robotic lion into the stadium that I’m sure the valet company had a blast trying to fit into the compact parking spot in Lot 2, the word “balls,” became a talking point for two weeks leading up to the game, we had an abundance of depressing commercials (Nationwide couldn’t just stick with Peyton Manning singing about Chicken Parm?), we had Roger Goodell say during his own “State of the Union” address that he makes himself available to the media ‘almost every day,’ and then promptly turn down an interview by the network broadcasting the Super Bowl, and last but not least the Patriots won the game. Malcolm Butler — who was born 28 days after I was — an undrafted rookie out of West Alabama, made one heck of an interception on a slant pass from Russell Wilson to Ricardo Lockette with 20 seconds left in the game and the Seahawks three feet away from the end zone and back to back world championships. The Patriots got their fourth championship and then were promptly buried under snow in the following weeks in Boston. You can’t win ’em all right?

The controversial play call that Pete Carroll will never live down is one that could be debated until the end of time. It’s hilarious because if the Seahawks convert that pass and score a touchdown, people are throwing Pete Carroll in the conversation as one of the best to ever coach having built a dynasty at USC in his time there and then going up to Seattle and taking out Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in back-to-back years in the Super Bowl. At the end of the day, Tom Brady was unconscious during the second half of that game. He lit up the vaunted Seahawks secondary. For the people who argue that Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor all played injured and were at a disadvantage, I say find them competent back ups who aren’t injured. It’s the NFL and those guys had been playing since the first weekend in September. Everyone was injured. That’s not an argument. The Patriots were just a better team that day. The Seahawks couldn’t cover Julian Edelman and they tried putting KJ Wright on Gronk which had to have had Tom Brady literally laughing out loud when he got to the line of scrimmage and saw that matchup. But it was one of the best Super Bowls we have seen in a long time and while I personally wish both teams could have lost the game, I was glad to see the Seahawks lose. Their whole, “Everyone is against us and we deserve respect because we’re the best,” routine has become so stale and predictable. Just play the game and show some respect for your opponents whether you win or lose.

Speaking of respect, “Hey look, it’s Roger Goodell!” Does anyone have any faith in this guy anymore? Anyone? Anyone at all? Bueller? So as I am writing this, I came across an article that an NFL “official” — meaning someone in Roger’s office — was fired today for selling one of the “DeflateGate” footballs. During a pending investigation someone in Roger’s office sold a piece of evidence for money! I’m not making this up. And lets be honest, the DeflateGate investigation really doesn’t matter anymore. The Patriots won a Super Bowl with properly inflated footballs and the game where controversy happened, they won by 38 points. But how do things like that happen? It’s become pure comedy at this point. Let’s not forget that the NFL is now investigating Greg Hardy’s incident which was dismissed in a court of law after the plaintiff was unable to be found to testify after she and Hardy settled in civil court. Now the NFL is tasked with trying to get to the bottom of an investigation that the law was unable to get to the bottom of. That should end well. We can only hope they learned from the Ray Rice fiasco back in September but even then the private investigation that Goodell initiated was overlooked by two of his strongest supporters over the years in John Mara, the owner of the New York Giants, and Dan Rooney, the Chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m not trying to insinuate or accuse anyone of wrong doing in regards to the NFL’s investigation into Ray Rice, I just find it a little peculiar to say the least.

It gets tiring trying to chronicle Goodell’s reign as commissioner of the most powerful and polarizing sports league ever. And I will admit that he is partly responsible for it being such a prominent league with how he has boosted the economics and business side of the NFL but other areas of the game have gone by the wayside at the expense of money. For instance, fining a player $50,000 for not speaking to the media is flat-out ridiculous. Let’s think about this for a minute. An organization fined one of their employees $50,000 for not speaking. In other words, a guy was fined $50,000 for exercising his 1st amendment rights. I know there are lot more extenuating circumstances regarding that such as the NFLPA negotiating that media policy in the collective bargaining and how he signed a contract stipulating said media policy but it’s just amazing what that league can mandate.

One thing I would wish they would bring back is the freedom of expression in the game. The NFL flag’s guys for spinning the ball on the ground after a big play now. They fine players who throw footballs into the stands after scoring a touchdown. The NFL makes more than $10 billion annually. You really need to fine the guys who sacrifice their bodies for 17 weeks — if not more — out of the year for the sake of your profits for handing a kid a football after they score a touchdown? Why can’t guys choreograph a 10 second end zone celebration? It was so much fun watching Chad Johnson and Steve Smith compete for the most creative end zone celebration back in 2005. I’ll admit though that Joe Horn pulling the cell phone out of the field goal post cushion and Terrell Owens grabbing the sharpie out of his sock was a little much but everyone misses the celebrations. It showed the creativity and passion that these guys have. And have we ever thought about how hard it is to actually score a touchdown in the NFL? Shouldn’t the guys who are capable of achieving that feat be given a little latitude to celebrate their accomplishment? The NFL has become the “No Fun League.”

Bring back the fun. Bring back the reality that guys can get hit hard without it being an illegal hit. If a player in the NFL takes a big hit where you can audibly hear the crowd go “OOOOOOHHHHH” you can bet the house that a yellow flag is hitting the ground. And then you can bet the pink slip on your car that the player who made the big hit is going to be fined for the hit whether it was a legal tackle or not. We miss Monday Night Countdown’s “Jacked Up!” even though “C’mon Man!” is a viable replacement. The NFL players wear pads right? Let them play ref, just let them play.

It’s been fun to get a blog going again. Make sure to stay tuned as I want to make this a regular thing. Feel free to follow the blog and you can even sign up for email alerts as to when a new blog is posted. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to sit down and read my posts. If you have suggestions for topics, comments, criticism, feel free to pass them along.