Who need great NBA basketball, pro hockey or the NCAA Tournament when we have the National Football League? Now that free agency is such a big deal, pro football really is a year-round sport.
Truthfully, I am having a great time watching the Nuggets right now, and I am excited to get into the nuts and bolts of March Madness. Normally this is the time of year to get excited about the NBA playoffs and the prospects as to whether or not your favorite baseball team has what it takes to be a contender.
Somehow, though, the NFL has once again flexed its muscle and stolen the attention of us sports geeks with some great off-the-field drama with its free agency period. And none of it has been more dramatic than the free agency period of the Denver Broncos.
To kick off the free agency period for Denver, Von Miller did the unthinkable in sports and proudly boasted that the Denver Broncos would win the Super Bowl next season. As it turns out, Miller tweeted the guarantee just after his 6-year-old cousin, Jeremiah, came out of a coma following a car accident in Texas.
“You can post this wherever,” Miller tweeted. “Denver Broncos will win the Super Bowl 2013. #4UJEREMIAH #IGUARANTEEIT58 if you are with us Retweet.”
I am happy, of course, that Miller’s cousin is out of the coma and seems to be recovering, but I have never been a fan of someone who guarantees any sort of victory – it’s one of those statements that creates expectations that are very, very hard to achieve. The only one who really ever pulled it off was Broadway Joe.
At first, I didn’t like Miller’s guarantee for the Broncos, thinking it would target the team and everyone would be aiming high to take the Broncos down next year.
But then, after some contemplation, I decided it was OK, because with the great season the Broncos had last year, and with Peyton Manning playing so well, all the teams in the NFL are aiming high to take the Broncos down, anyway.
And so, because I know the Broncos are going to be damn good next year, and because I like Miller’s positive energy, I am down with the guarantee. Now they just have to make it happen.
Miller’s guarantee also came at the perfect time, just before the NFL’s free agency period was set to begin. And once the period began, so did the drama, with an emphasis on players’ agents f---ing up big time.
The first agent misfire came when Wes Welker defected from the New England Patriots to the Denver Broncos. When the deal was first reported, it seemed the Patriots low-balled the wide receiver’s contract, angering him to the point where he accepted Denver’s offer. Of course, when pretty boy Tom Brady found out that the Patriots were not willing to pay Welker what he wanted, Brady was infuriated. As a Bronco fan, there is nothing more fulfilling in life than having Tom Brady infuriated. Naturally, I was pretty excited. Welker is a player I’ve always hated because he’s burned the Broncos so many times on third down. Now he’s wearing orange? I couldn’t be more excited.
As the Welker controversy continued over the past week, we have discovered that the Patriots were willing to do what was needed to keep Welker, but his hard-ass agent screwed up negotiations.
“Everyone in our organization wanted Wes Welker back,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft told ESPN.com. “Anyone who doubts that, or thinks we weren't serious, just doesn't get it. Like I've said many times, I really wanted Wes to be with us through the rest of his career, but it takes two sides to do a deal. I really believe in this case, his agents misrepresented what his market value was. When you come right down to the bottom line, he accepted a deal in Denver which is less money than what we offered him.”
Now, that is some good NFL drama, and I am so happy the Broncos are on the winning side of it. The good fortunes of the Broncos wouldn’t last long, though.
In what seemed to be a feel-good Denver Broncos story, defensive end Elvis Dumervil wanted to stay with the Broncos – despite having to take a pay cut. For most pros these days, taking a pay cut is out of the question. But Elvis heard Miller’s guarantee. He knows the Broncos are the real deal. He likes wearing orange. So he decided to take the pay cut, and remain a Denver Bronco – until his agent f---ed it all up and didn’t get his contract into the team on time.
Dumervil agreed to reduce his 2013 salary from $12 million to $8 million, but failed to get the contract faxed to the NFL office by 2 p.m. (it was something like six minutes late). The Broncos, faced with having his $12 million salary becoming guaranteed, had to release him to free agency. Apparently Dumervil’s agent couldn’t find a fax in time. The move will definitely cost Dumervil some money, and could cost the Broncos a reliable defensive end who fit well with the defensive scheme. Dumervil ended up firing the agent and hired another one.
Dumervil’s new agent tried to appeal the late fax decision, but the NFL upheld its rules on the matter. As of Tuesday, the Denver Post reported that the Broncos were not out of the running to get Elvis back. Both the Broncos and the Ravens are negotiating with him. Either way, Elvis’ fax problems will cost him.
Now, that is just two instances of free agency drama, and they both involve the Denver Broncos. So how did the Broncos do during free agency? According to Nationalfootballpost.com, the Vegas odds of the Broncos winning the Super Bowl went from 7/1 before free agency to 6/1 after free agency. The 49ers achieved that same odds improvement while the Patriots remained the Vegas favorite to win the Super Bowl, coming in at 5/1 odds both before and after free agency.
On a side note, the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens went from 18/1 before free agency to 30/1 after free agency. Ravens fans have only one person to thank for that drop in Vegas rank: The now elite quarterback Joe Flacco. There’s no way that bum is worth the money they are paying him, but I guess he thinks he deserves it. I guess that’s all that matters.
All of this drama will lead to even more year-round football coverage. Free agency is the new NFL Scouting Combine. The NFL Scouting Combine is the new NFL Draft. Don’t be surprised when there are full reality-TV programs following players and their agents during free agency. Believe me, it’s on its way. It’s all part of the NFL’s grand plan to be the one and only professional sport in the U.S.
Who needs the NCAA tournament? Spring training? NBA playoffs? We have the NFL’s free agency to keep us occupied.