LaDainian Tomlinson Ends a Hall of Fame Career

LaDainian Tomlinson will officially end his excellent 11 year career on Monday afternoon as a San Diego Charger. Tomlinson spent nine years with the Chargers and his final two with the New York Jets. LT finishes with 13,684 rushing yards ranking him fifth all-time. He also finishes with 145 rushing touchdowns ranking him second all time. The future Hall of Fame running back was consistently dominant throughout his tenure with San Diego, leading the league in rushing in back to back seasons (06 and 07). San Diego selected Tomlinson #5 overall in the 2001 draft. That fall as a rookie LT rushed for 1,236 yards and 10 touchdowns. He had one of the greatest stretches we may ever see out of a running back in NFL history. From 2001-2008 he averaged 1,470 rushing yards, and 15.75 rushing touchdowns a season. Tomlinson’s most impressive season came in 2006 where he earned MVP honors. He rushed for a career high 1,815 yards and set a single season record with 28 rushing touchdowns.

LaDainian Tomlinson

LaDainian Tomlinson

That’s just with his feet. What made Tomlinson so great was his versatility. LT is known as one of the best receiving running backs of all-time. He became the second running back to catch 100 balls in a single season in 2003. LaDainian got a lot of respect around the league for his versatility. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis sent out a statement shortly after Tomlinson decided to hang em’ up by saying “LT changed the way the running back position is looked at. You think about him being a complete three-down back and using that as a receiver as well. You hadn’t seen that many backs have that type of versatility. He was one of those backs that you had to get in position on all downs on the ball. I think that’s the way he really changed the game.” Tomlinson also received praise from former teammates and coaches. Philip Rivers said he had “the best seat in the house every game”. Former head coach Marty Shottenheimer said “The more I was around him, the more I became convinced he is the best I’ve ever seen,” Schottenheimer said. “My timeline goes back to probably Jim Brown. I imagine that there were some terrific backs before that, but Jim Brown was the guy I always viewed as being the best all time.”

My favorite LaDainian Tomlinson statistic is his passing stats. Tomlinson ends his Hall of Fame career 8 for 12 passing. 7 of those pass completions resulting in a touchdown. In 2005 LT threw 3 touchdown passes.

Tomlinson ends his career at a young age of 32. Although LT is now known as one of the greatest running backs of all time he, much like every other running back, couldn’t avoid wear the wear and tear a full workload puts on the human body.

LT was one hell of a running back and simply electrifying whenever he touched the ball. He is a sure fire Hall of Famer and will be inducted come 2017.

Conner “Country Breakfast” Patch @connerpatch68

Advertisements

Top 10 Rants in Sports of All-Time

There is honestly nothing better than seeing a coach or player just go bananas on the media after a tough loss or just an outrageous question. These moments create some of the best in sports, and can help create a culture around a player or coach. When you look at most of these coaches and players they seem like calm, collected people. But when they get angry, watch out! They might turn green and you know what happens after that. 

I thought I’d take a look at these moments and rate the top 10 rants of all-time. From baseball to college football, to woman’s college basketball, the list is complete with some of the most hilarious moments of all-time in sports rants. Just looking back at some of these makes me want to become a coach someday. I can see it now: an umpire makes a bad call in my son’s little league game, and I come flying out of the dugout like George Brett and just go Lou Piniella on their ass.

10) Joh McEnroe “You can’t be serious!”

A class act who was always good for one or two rants every time he was on the court. You could make an entire list of his rants and rank them 1-10. One of my favorite outbursts of his is when he made the cameo in Big Daddy. Also check out the hair and headband look, just excellent.

9) Mike Gundy “I’m a Man! I’m 40!”

One of my favorites, not only because of what he says but because it is the most recent on the list. Gundy goes off on the media after they attacked his players in the press earlier that week. I like how he was supporting his players, that definitely got him some brownie points.

8) Herm Edwards “You play to win the game!”

As long as I’ve played sports I was always told that you always try to win. Herm was just reminding us all of that fact. He didn’t like the question from the reporter so Edwards proceeded to explain that winning is why you play football in the first place.

7) Hal McRae “Put that in your pipe and smoke it!”

He was just sick and tired of the reporters dumb questions, I get that. What I didn’t get was why he threw half of his desk across the room, it looked like some pretty nice stuff.

6) John Chaney “I will kill you!”

John Chaney explodes at a press conference with the then-babyfaced, still cheating, John Calipari. Chaney tries to fight through a mob of reporters as he “tries to kill” Calipari. He even goes as far as to threaten to have his players go after Calipari’s.

5) Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson one of the most quotable athletes of all time, even though you couldn’t understand him half the time. Tyson was asked a question but decided to talk about what he wanted to talk about. And when he was asked a second time, he again didn’t care and talked about God knows what. Great stuff.

4) Allen Iverson “Practice?!”

Possibly the greatest sports sound bite in history, ever. Iverson will be know not just for his ability to play basketball, but his ability to talk about not a game, but practice. Any basketball fan will never forget this one.

Another classic NFL coach getting fired up taking questions from the media.

3) Jim Mora “Playoffs?!”

Possibly the most popular out of the bunch, Mora came in a little upset to his press conference that day. Many people today only say “Playoffs” the way Mora does in this video and it never once gets old. Just a gem.

2) Bob Knight fires a chair

Known for his craziness and short fuse, Knight doesn’t disappoint with this one. Apparently, Knight was a little upset with a call the ref had made, so he decided to fire a chair at him while a player from the other team was shooting free throws. Just classic.

1) Phil Wellman loses his skull

This guy is just insane. Should be in a mental asylum or something. He truly went bananas. He brought out all the stops. The coach’s tirade has to go down as one of the most comical displays by anyone in managerial history. I would also like to remind you this is in a minor league baseball game, imagine being there, seeing that, absolutely worth the price of admission.

NFL Decides to keep the Pro Bowl… Unfortunately

Although it may be a joke, the Pro Bowl is here to stay for another year.

The New Orleans Saints’ Twitter account made it official on Wednesday with this tweet:

The NFL announced the 2013 Pro Bowl will be played at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday, Jan. 27

Earlier in the year many reports stated that the NFL might cancel the Pro Bowl. For too long, it had failed to attract the game’s biggest stars, most of whom would rather not make the long trek to Hawaii to play in an exhibition game. Now, like many other NFL fans out there, I could care less about the Pro Bowl. Just a bunch of great players(not even some of the superstars) giving about 11% and going half-ass throughout the entire game. Now I understand why the players don’t go 100%, they don’t want to get hurt. As a player I wouldn’t want to get hurt either, but at least try and make the game entertaining. Over the years, the Pro Bowl has become to look like a basketball game. Offenses going up and down the field while the defenses just sit back and kick it. Occasionally you can get a player such as, Ray Lewis, who may bring a little intensity to the field, but to most players it is all just jibber-jabber.

The NFL has given the game a little incentive for the players this year. Like baseball, who has awarded the winning league home field advantage in the World Series, the NFL is now awarding the winning players just a bit more than the losers. The winners will receive $53,000 and the losers will receive $26,000. As a normal, everyday citizen in the Untied States of America, that money may seem like a good chunk of change. But, to NFL players, that’s exactly what it it, change. They don’t care if they get $53,000 dollars for winning, they’ll spend that that night in Hawaii on strippers and cocaine. I digress, but still, NFL players are not going to see this money as anything special. Roger Goodell and co. are trying to make this all-star game less of a joke, I’ve yet to see any progress.

The Pro Bowl is widely considered to be one of the most unsuccessful all-star events in all of professional sports. It’s often seen as a chore rather than an honor, but perhaps Goodell is out to change that. As a fan, I am ashamed to say that this all-star game is the worst of the three major sports. When you look at the atrocity that we call the MLB All-Star game, how can the Pro Bowl be any worse, and I’ll give you one reason why: The Players. The MLB and even the NBA are able to lure the best and most popular players every year to come to the All-Star game and the All-Star weekend festivities. The Slam Dunk contest is brutally bad now, the Homerun Derby is about as good as going to my backyard and playing wiffleball, and what does the NFL do? A Passing Competition, I mean come on now, the most popular sport in the U.S.A. is having trouble getting fans? That’s when you know you have a problem.

The Pro Bowl may be on for 2013, but how much longer will it stick around after that? The game isn’t gaining any popularity among fans or players, so if the 2013 edition fails as badly as the 2012 game, you’d have to think that either a new format or a cancellation will be introduced.

This could be the Pro Bowl’s one last chance… Thank goodness.

Coming Soon…

Conner “Country Breakfast” Patch, the Fantasy Sports Insider, and I will begin our newest addition to the website, a podcast that will be broadcasted each and every week. We will be discussing all sports topics and anything that may be trending that week. If you have any ideas or topics you want us to talk about leave them in the comment section and let us know.

A Little Top 25 Talk

College football is 100 days away, so I figured why not put together a little Top 25. Here it is.

1) LSU Tigers

The Tigers finished 13-1 and reached the BCS National Championship Game with Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee playing quarterback in 2011. Now they have a JUCO transfer, Brett Mettenberger, who will give the Tiger a balanced offense. The Tigers might be balanced enough on offense to win a national title in 2012. The Tigers might be balanced enough on offense to win a national title in 2012. With both tailbacks coming back, the Tigers figure to have a run-first, maybe pass sometimes offense. As always, Les Miles is putting together a top notch defense that will continue to stifle opposing offenses. LSU’s schedule might be easier this coming season, too. Nonconference games against North Texas, Washington, Idaho and FCS foe Towson don’t seem nearly as difficult as last season’s non-SEC slate.

2) USC Trojans

With 19 starters coming back from a 10-2 team in 2011, including star quarterback Matt Barkley, USC seems armed to return to national prominence. Barkley made the surprise return after being predicted as a top-5 NFL draft pick. He brings a lot to the table as a player and as a leader on the team. But the Trojans’ schedule seems much more difficult than LSU’s this coming season. The one sport that actually makes the Pac-12 relevant is football and that could cause the Trojans a few problems. The Trojans play Pac-12 road games at Stanford on Sept. 15 and at Washington on Oct. 13, along with a Nov. 3 home game against Oregon and Nov. 24 home finale against Notre Dame. The Trojans biggest downfall may be their defensive line, but if they can piece that together, they may be able to contend for a title.

 3) Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama comes into this season trying to defend its National Title. I think for the players, coaches and fans, they may want it to go a bit smoother this year. After winning a BCS title in 2009, the Crimson Tide finished 10-3 in 2010. Alabama will have to rebuild their championship defense ue to the losses of star linebackers Dont’a Hightower Courtney Upshaw and All-America safety Mark Barron. Quarterback AJ McCarron said the Tide plan to open up their offense with a downfield passing game this coming season, but it’s hard to imagine them not running the ball after all the success they have found with it in their history. Especially behind what might be one of the best offensive lines in school history.

4) Oregon Ducks

The Ducks are entering the season without star running back, LaMichael James, for the first time in for years. But the scary thing is, they might be an even faster offense in 2012. Oregon places De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner in the backfield this year. Both of them can bring experience and some serious speed. The only missing piece in their backfield is at the QB position, as Head Coach Chip Kelly is looking to find the perfect fit to run his fast-paced offense. Oregon’s defense must replace two starting linebackers and two defensive backs. The Ducks play five of their first six games at home and their nonconference schedule is much easier with home games against Arkansas State, Fresno State and FCS-foe Tennessee Tech. Road games at Southern Cal and California and a home game against Stanford might loom large in November.

5) Georgia Bulldogs

With an SEC schedule that doesn’t include games against Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State or Texas A&M, Georgia might have the most manageable road to the SEC championship game. The Dawgs have been lucky enough to stay away from the best teams in the SEC, which will help them in the long run, but it could hurt them at the same time. With nine starters coming back on defense, Georgia looks to be talented and stingy as any defense in the entire country. QB Aaron Murray needs to get rid of his turnover problem if the Bulldogs want to succeed. And the offense needs to play up to its capability and show off the talent that it has.

6) Oklahoma Sooners

Boomer Sooner looks to QB Landry Jones to lead a high-powered offense. The only question will be is if Jones will be able to do it without All-American reciever, Ryan Broyles, who is Oklahmoa’s most prolific reciever in school history. OU coach Bob Stoops hired his brother, former Arizona coach Mike Stoops, as his new defensive coordinator. Mike Stoops should help stabilize the Sooners’ secondary, which struggled in the pass-happy Big 12 last season. OU’s final three games — at Big 12 newcomer West Virginia on Nov. 17, home against Oklahoma State in the Nov. 24 Bedlam game and at Big 12 newcomer TCU on Dec. 1 — will probably determine whether it will be a BCS title contender in 2012.

7) Florida State Seminoles

Florida State has struggled as of late but they have had their reasons: Injuries. The Seminoles were ravaged by injuries on the offensive line last season, and quarterback EJ Manuel was hampered by shoulder and leg injuries. FSU has torched the recruiting trail these past few years, and finally it is beginning to show on the field. FSU has perhaps the country’s deepest receiver corps, but FSU’s running game remains a concern after tailbacks Chris Thompson, Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. missed most of the spring. FSU plays two FCS foes (Murray State and Savannah State) because West Virginia canceled a scheduled game after moving to the Big 12. The Seminoles also play their first four games at home and only three contests outside of Florida.

8) West Virginia Mountaineers

West Virginia will take a step up in competition after moving from the depleted Big East to the Big 12 this coming season. But coach Dana Holgerson’s high-powered offense could flourish in the Big 12, where defense sometimes seems to be an afterthought. West Virginia has always thrived in a spread em’ out, toss the skin around type of offense, and the Big 12 is a perfect place for it. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel left for Arizona, and new co-coordinators Keith Patterson and Joe DeForest spent the spring replacing a 3-3-5 scheme with a more traditional 3-4 defense.

9) Michigan Wolverines

In coach Brady Hoke’s first season, the Wolverines finished 11-2, defeated rival Ohio State for the first time since 2003 and knocked off Virginia Tech 23-20 in the Sugar Bowl. Yet, Hoke didn’t get what he wanted the most, a Big Ten championship. With quarterback Denard Robinson and 13 other starters coming back, Michigan looks like the team to beat in the Big Ten in 2012. Michigan’s defense needs to replace a lot of positions on the defensive line, but they will come back strong behind Defensive Coordinator, Greg Mattison. Michigan opens the season against defending BCS national champion Alabama in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 1 and plays Big Ten road games at Nebraska on Oct. 27 and at Ohio State on Nov. 24.

10) South Carolina Gamecocks

Over the past two seasons, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier guided the Gamecocks to their first SEC East title in 2010 and first 11-win season in 2011. The next big question is, Will they be able to win the SEC in 2012?” I just don’t know if the Gamecocks are strong enough to battle with the likes of LSU or Alabama, but that doesn’t mean they can give them a run for their money. RB Marcus Lattimore may be the only reason the ‘Cocks have a chance.  Spurrier said Lattimore will be ready for the start of the regular season, after nursing a torn ACL. South Carolina has to replace star defensive end Melvin Ingram and cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and C.C. Whitlock, who led a strong defense throughout 2011.

11) Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans might have lost as much star power as any team in the country after the 2011 season. Quarterback Kirk Cousins and most of his receiver corps are gone, along with tailback Edwin Baker and All-America defensive tackle Jerel Worthy. But MSU coach Mark Dantonio has built a solid program that is capable of reloading. Michigan State has risen up through the rankings throughout the past years and they will continue to rise this year. MSU opens the season against Boise State at home on Aug. 31 and also plays a nonconference game against Notre Dame at home on Sept. 15. The Spartans play Big Ten road games at Michigan on Oct. 20 and at Wisconsin on Oct. 27.

12) Stanford Cardinal

A lot of people expected Stanford to fall a few rungs after coach Jim Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers after the 2010 season. But first-year coach David Shaw guided the Cardinal to an 11-2 record and a spot in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl last season. Now the Cardinal have to survive without All-America quarterback Andrew Luck and many other star players. Luck was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and guard David DeCastro, tight end Coby Fleener and tackle Jonathan Martin were selected in the first two rounds. Stanford will look to be a run-oriented club throughout the year, trying to get new QB Brett Nottingham comfortable. Stanford plays USC at home on Sept. 15 and at Oregon on Nov. 17.

 

13) Arkansas Razorbacks

Can Arkansas survive in the SEC West without coach Bobby Petrino? Whether you liked Petrino or not, it’s hard to argue he wasn’t one of the best offensive playcallers in the country. The Razorbacks bring back a lor of players who will be a part of a very prominent offense. Signal-Caller, Tyler Wilson returns and so does tailback Knile Davis, who is coming back from an ankle injury that caused him to miss all of the 2011 season. Wilson, who threw for 3,638 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. The Razorbacks defense returns after struggling for a few years, before putting it together last year. The Razorbacks play Alabama and LSU, the only teams to beat them last season, at home this year.

14) TCU Horned Frogs

TCU heads into the Big 12 with a lot of momentum this year. Other than the four players arrested as part of a campus-wide drug sting. QB Casey Pachall broke school single-season records for completions (228), completion percentage (66.5) and passing yards (2,921) in his first season as a starter. Three TCU running backs ran for more than 700 yards last season and three of its top four receivers are coming back. Their defense went through some pains at the beginning of their season but they were able to put it together towards the end of the year. The Horned Frogs face a difficult five-game stretch to close the season: Oklahoma State (road), West Virginia (road), Kansas State (home), Texas (road) and Oklahoma (home).

15) Wisconsin Badgers

There will be plenty of new faces at Wisconsin this coming season, from new coaches to another transfer quarterback. That transfer is former Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien, who threw 29 touchdowns for the Terrapins the past two seasons. O’Brien replaces Russell Wilson, who spent one season at Wisconsin after transferring there from NC State. Joining O’Brien in the backfield is star RB Montee Ball, who is back after forgoing the NFL Draft. The Badgers hogs looks to be just as good as usual, paving the way for the Badgers potent ground game.  The Badgers play at Nebraska and Penn State during Big Ten play, but don’t play Michigan or Iowa from the Legends Division.

16) Clemson Tigers

Clemson goes into 2012 working on their offensive game and becoming more consistent throughout the year. Clemson had moments where they looked to be one of the best offenses in the nation, but then some weeks they were non-existent. Quarterback Tajh Boyd is back, along with tailback Andre Ellington and receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. Watkins is one of the top recievers in the country, but went through a few legal problems a month or two ago. The Tigers play at Florida State on Sept. 22 and play Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech at home in October.

17) Ohio State Buckeyes

New Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer was a big hit during spring practice when he announced his team would run a no-huddle, fast-paced offense. Meyer plans for the Buckeyes to play even faster than his teams did at Florida. The offense is going to look a tad bit different than usual in the Horseshoe. They are used to the pro-style, pound the ball type of offense, which may be the exact opposite of Urban Meyer’s offensive style. The Buckeyes defense returns 9 starters, including All-America candidate John Simon on the defensive line. OSU plays at Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin during Big Ten play.

 

18) Kansas State Wildcats

Can the Wildcats find some help for quarterback Collin Klein? Klein seemed to do everything for Kansas State’s offense last season, leading the team with 1,141 rushing yards with 27 touchdowns and 1,918 passing yards with 13 touchdowns. But Klein carried the ball a whopping 317 times in 2011, some 100 carries more than tailback John Hubert. Defensively, the ‘Cats need a lot of work. They allowed 28 points per a game, which will not help them in the pass happy, offensively loaded Big 12. The Wildcats’ road schedule during Big 12 play is arduous, with games at Oklahoma, Iowa State, West Virginia, TCU and Baylor.

 

19) Texas Longhorns

Is Texas finally headed back to national prominence? The Longhorns fixed their problems on defense last season, as first-year defensive coordinator Manny Diaz guided one of the most-improved units in the country. As a Texas fan, it has been hard for me to see the Longhorns fall so hard. The offense has been their biggest hole and they are still digging out of it. Quarterbacks Case McCoy and David Ash are still competing for the starting job, a battle that will probably stretch far into preseason camp. Tailbacks Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown need to stay health for the offense to click. The Longhorns got a break from the Big 12 schedule-makers, as many of their really difficult conference games (West Virginia, Baylor and TCU) will be played at home.

20) Florida Gators

A 7-6 finish wasn’t what coach Will Muschamp, or Florida fans, had in mind when he replaced Urban Meyer as the Gators’ coach. But Muschamp didn’t know how big of a mess he inherited from Meyer, either. Florida might not be too far away from contending for another SEC East championship. The Gators have a defensive minded coach in Muschamp, who has helped the Gators stay strong on that side of the ball.  Florida’s schedule is much more manageable, with Alabama and Arkansas dropping off and LSU playing at the Swamp.

21) Washington Huskies

About the only defense that looked worse than Washington’s during bowl season was Clemson’s. The Huskies were ripped for 777 yards, including 482 rushing, in a 67-56 loss to Baylor in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The Huskies bring back quarterback Keith Price, who threw for 3,063 yards and 33 touchdowns last season. But they’ll have to replace tailback Chris Polk, who ran for 1,488 yards and 12 touchdowns. Perhaps no team faces a more difficult start to the season; UW plays LSU (road), Stanford (home), Oregon (road) and USC (home) in its first six games.

22) Oklahoma State Cowboys

Cowboys coach Mike Gundy is rolling the dice as he tries to rebuild his team following the best two-year stretch in school history. In a bit of a surprise, Gundy chose 18-year-old freshman Wes Lunt as his team’s starting quarterback after spring practice. Lunt, who enrolled at OSU in January, led Rochester (Ill.) High School to two state championships. Lunt comes in having to replace one of the best QB’s to ever play at OSU, Old-Man Brandon Weeden. Weeden lead the Pokes to a 23-3 record the past two seasons and their first Big 12 championship last year. The Pokes also must replace receivers Justin Blackmon, who was arguably the best reciever in college football. OSU’s defense, which forced an FBS-high 44 turnovers last season, will have to play well to help Lunt get comfortable early in the season.

23) Virginia Tech Hokies

If there is one thing we can seemingly count on every college football season, it’s Virginia Tech winning 10 games. The Hokies have won at least 10 games in each of the past eight seasons, the longest such streak in the country. The one thing I truly love about the Hokies is Beamer Ball. I love the wayBeamer coaches Tech. He uses his own style, placing a major importance on special teams and defense. VT has some rebuilding to do on the offensive side of the ball though. The Hokies must replace star tailback David Wilson, as well as top receivers Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin and four starting offensive linemen. At least quarterback Logan Thomas is back after throwing for 3,013 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season. The Hokies will be very good on defense, but their offense figures to be a work in progress.

24) Nebraska Cornhuskers

Is this the season Nebraska finally makes its move under coach Bo Pelini? The Cornhuskers played for a Big 12 title in each of the past two seasons in the conference, and then went 9-4 in their first season in the Big Ten last season. But the Cornhuskers lost four games in each of Pelini’s first four seasons and they haven’t won a conference championship since 1999. The Big Ten is arguably the toughest conference other than the SEC and for the Huskers to compete for a title they will need some players to step up big. QB Taylor Martinez is going to have to be better. He completed only 56.2 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season. Tailback Rex Burkhead is one of the most effective runners in the country, but Martinez has to produce some sort of passing game to keep defenses honest. Nebraska’s defense also lost a star player at each level: tackle Jared Crick, linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.

25) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Coach Paul Johnson’s triple-option spread offense has caused problems for many defenses that have faced the Yellow Jackets. As long as they can keep their offense steady, they should be successful. The Yellow Jackets bring back a couple of solid running backs, and Johnson believes offensive line might be the best he has had at Georgia Tech. If the Yellow Jackets can find a strong defensive tackle, they should be better running their 3-4 scheme. The Jackets get a break because they don’t play Florida State or NC State during the regular season, but three of their most difficult games (Virginia Tech, Clemson and Georgia) will be played on the road.

Tough Move: How the Patriots Replace a Legend

It’s hard enough to replace a New England Patriots legend. It’s even harder when you’re stepping into one of the most important jobs on the team. That is the situation facing the Patriots’ new starting left tackle, Nate Solder. The 2011 first-round pick is entering his second season and first as the full-time protector of quarterback Tom Brady’s blind side. Solder will have the tough task of replacing Patriots legend, Matt Light.

Matt Light was known as one of the best lineman to ever play for the New England Patriots. Light was drafted in the 2nd round in 2001 out of Purdue University. Light was able to make an impact immediately with the Patriots. He started 12 games and played in 14, making sure he protected the extremely important backside of QB, Tom Brady. Light started 153 total games out of a possible 155, showing just how important he was to the organization. Of the 5 Superbowls that the Patriots have played in, Light is one of the only Patriots to start in all 5. Light retired this year after 11 seasons. He started in his fifth Super Bowl last season, capping a great career. Tom Brady called Light, one of the greatest teammates he has ever had. Head Coach Bill Belichick went on to say, “Matt has been the definition of a dependable, durable, consistent player who has held one of the toughest positions in the game for a long time and made it a strong point on our team. It’s been a pleasure to coach Matt for these 11 years.” The future Patriots HOF member, Light was known for his consistency and his ability to defend Brady’s backside from some of the best defensive ends in football. The biggest question is, how will the Patriots replace such a great player? Their answer is Nate Solder.

Solder, drafted by the Pats in the 1st round in 2011, did a little relief work for injured tackle Sebastian Vollmer this past season. Solder did a good job in relief last year. Solder showed good movement and footwork in pass protection, and New England’s elite offense didn’t miss a beat. This year, Solder will be on the left side, which is more challenging. Solder will have the job of protecting the most important man in Foxboro’s blindside. Solder will be facing the best pass-rushers the NFL has to offer. Brady will be 35 in August and needs to take as few hits as possible. Solder was taken in the first round to eventually replace Light. That time came a little sooner than expected, but Solder has to be ready. And I believe he will. Although he was on the right side last year, he still was able to do a great job and keep the top-notch Patriots offense moving. Solder has a tougher task this year but it does not mean he will do a poor job. The Patriots need him and he will step up.

The 25 Best Nicknames in Sports: 15-11

15) “Pistol” Pete Maravich

If you are talking basketball, you should know who the “Pistol” is. I don’t think I have ever heard someone just say Pete Maravich, the “Pistol” is always thrown in front of it.  It is as iconic as they come and I think Sports Illustrated does a pretty bang-up job of summarizing the nickname:

“As with many things about Maravich, it’s hard to know where the truth about his nickname ends and its legend begins. It was either given to him at age 12 by a reporter or when he was in college at LSU. It was either because of his shooting motion (from the hip, like unholstering a pistol) or because of his dead-eye accuracy. But, like all good legends, it makes no difference, as Maravich will always be the supreme talent and showman known simply as the Pistol.”

14) “The Mailman” Karl Malone

The only good “mail-delivery” nickname of all time. Malone was a stud when he played for the Jazz. Malone was one of the greatest power forwards of all time, and his nickname followed suit. He generally delivered, having scored the second-most points in NBA history with 36,298 points in his career. Then again, if we are talking about championships, the nickname may not be so apt. He ran into a guy named Jordan quite a few times and we all know how that ended up.

13) Deion Sanders “Prime Time”

One of the most known nicknames in sports. Deion epitomized “Prime Time”. It was the way he played football and the way he lived his life. Even as a studio analyst today, he is often referred to as “Prime Time” or simply “Prime.” It stuck. Deion Sanders was two things—flashy and talented. He was cocky as hell, but he almost always backed it up on the field during his Hall of Fame career. He never let anyone down when he would make crazy remarks. He stood by his word and was always truly “Prime Time”.

12) Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway

Hardaway’s grandmother called him pretty, because she thought he was very handsome. However, she had such a thick Southern drawl that his friends thought she was saying “Penny.” The rest is history. Not once have I ever heard someone call or refer to him as Anfernee. It was always Penny. One of those nicknames that people get during their childhood and it sticks.

11) Julius “Dr. J” Erving

Arguably the most iconic nickname in basketball history, “Dr. J” will always be known.  There have been “docs” throughout history, so this one isn’t the most original. Still, as many “docs” as there are out there, there is only one doctor. He gets a lot of credit for this nickname because no one refers to him as Julius Erving, it’s “Dr. J”.

The 25 Best Nicknames in Sports: 25-16

What is in a nickname? As of late most nicknames have just been a piece of the first and last name of a player (ex. A-Rod, D-Wade). Leaving us with boring nicknames and no creativity. A truly memorable nickname should be three things: It should be original, it should become synonymous with the athlete to the point that the nickname itself is iconic and it should reflect the personality, style or abilities of the player in a clever way. It should fit the athlete and fit the person to the point where you don’t even know the athlete’s real name.

25) Eric “Butterbean” Esch

“Butterbean” is a well knwon boxer, commonly known for his huge knockouts or his fight against Johnny Knoxville on Jackass. I mean how can’t you love a nickname that fits somebody so well.

24) Bryant “Big Country” Reeves

He was gigantic (7’0”, 275 pounds) and from the country.  It should be self-explanatory. Reeves’ Oklahoma State teammate Byron Houston started calling Reeves “Big Country” after Reeves took his first-ever plane ride to New York. Luckily for Reeves the flying metal bird finally landed in New York, where he was able to go coon huntin’ in Central Park.

23) Jerome Bettis “The Bus”

This is a very fitting nickname for a great running back. Bettis was a big guy, who was quick but would run you over without a problem. In this video you can see why he was called “The Bus”, players trying to tackle him, and Bettis making it look like they are stepping in front of a bus.

22) William “The Refrigerator” Perry

Fits perfectly for this behemoth of a man. Perry, a defensive lineman turned running back for the Chicago Bears, was a touchdown machine in 1986. This is also a great nickname because people refer to him as “Refrigerator” Perry rather than his actual name, William Perry.

21) Robert Parish “The Chief”

Parish apparently had such a stoic demeanor that his teammate, Cedric Maxwell, gave him this nickname in reference to “The Chief,” a character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

20) Billy Butler “Country Breakfast”

Heard this one from Conner Patch, fantasy sports insider, a few days ago and fell in love with it. Fits Butler to a tee. A Country Breakfast is known for being big with many different items in it and Butler is a big human being. Talk about a clever, creative nickname that just fits.

19) Reggie Jackson “Mr. October”

Possibly one of the most famous names in baseball, Jackson truly was “Mr. October”. He is the one and only, and everyone knows who “Mr. October” is. He pretty much sealed the deal on this nickname when he blasted three home runs on three pitches in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, leading the Yankess past the Dodgers.

18) Peyton Manning “The Sheriff”

Apparently this has been Peyton’s nickname for a long time. But, I first heard it when Jon Gruden was talking about him in his FFCA segments on ESPN. He is called “The Sheriff” because of Manning’s pre-snap routine. It is one of the most recognizable and parodied in sports. The Indianapolis Colts’ almost exclusive use of the hurry-up offense led to Manning using an array of gestures and verbal commands to call the play at the line of scrimmage rather than in the huddle.

17) George Gervin “Iceman”

There is only one “Iceman”. Every basketball fan knows who George Gervin is, and most just know him by “Iceman”. He was honestly one of the first people I thought of when I wanted to compile this list. With his trademark finger roll and his ability to finish both around the rim and with his jumper, Gervin was about as cool as they come.

16) Michael “Air” Jordan

Short, simple, and unique to him. All hail “His Airness.” He had a line of shoes named after this nickname (or was it the other way around?), which are probably the most famous brand of shoes ever. I’d say that’s pretty iconic. It works, though it actually undersells Jordan’s game. He was so much more than a high-flyer, but “Air” stuck. The way he levitated in the air and the amount of hang time he had truly is a testament to this name.

Why I’m Taking Newton Over Rodgers and Brady

If I was starting an NFL franchise tomorrow and had the opportunity to have any player in the league, I’m starting my club with Cam Newton. Remember, I’m starting a franchise, I’m not picking who I think is the best player in the league. Therefore, you have to put into account age, talent, and potential. That’s why I’m taking Newton over Rodgers, Brady, Brees. Newton was excellent in his rookie season with the Carolina Panthers, he threw 21 touchdowns and broke the record for most passing yards by a rookie quarterback with 4,051 yards. What makes Newton so valuable is his ability to use his legs. The 22 year old rookie rushed for 706 yards and tallied 14 touchdowns on the ground. There was only one other player in the league to record more rushing touchdowns in 2011, his name, LeSean McCoy. Cam also ended his rookie campaign with the highest rushing yards per attempts with 5.6, the highest! More than any running back in the league. Killer Cam posted these godly statistics with a short training camp, which is a tough task for a rookie quarterback learning a new offense that quickly. Newton has great individual stats but he also makes other players around him much better. Take WR Steve Smith for example, in 2010 (without Newton) Smith caught 46 balls, and finished with 554 receiving yards. In 2011 (with Newton) Smith had 79 receptions and had 1,394 receiving yards. Smith also totaled 5 more touchdowns with Newton. More impressive than any statistic, is Newton’s leadership skills. The Panthers struggled to close out games early in the season, while beating the Houston Texans 21-0 the Panthers started to let the game slip away. Newton got into the huddle and fired up his troops, his Panthers held on and finished out the game with a 28-13 victory. The Panthers locker room has taken Newton’s leadership by storm. Along with great leadership skills you’re going to get someone that is going to work his tail off and get the best out of other players on his team. He is the kind of guy that enters the weight room/film room first and is the last to leave. So you ask, why take Newton over Brady, Brees, Rodgers, etc. when the Carolina Panthers finished the season 6-10? Of course you’re going to take your lumps with a rookie quarterback, just like Peyton Manning. The great Peyton Manning had a brutal rookie season, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns and his Colts finished the season with a 2-14 record. Just like Manning, Newton will continue to improve, the sky is the limit. When it is all said and done Newton will be known as the best quarterback in the history of the National Football League.

Conner Patch @connerpatch68

Rookie QB’s: Early Impressions

Each Rookie QB, Luck, RG3 and Tannehill, have had a week of Rookie Minicamp and have each made impacts on their respected teams. All 3 of them have been happy with what they have gotten done and are happy to see the progress they have been making.

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts:

Luck has been happy with the reps he has been getting at camp. He most enjoys working in the red zone, especially after he heard a very important stat from his coach, Bruce Arians. “Most games in the NFL are won or lost by an average of 4 points, and that is the difference between a field goal and a TD.” Luck has emphasized that he is excited to be throwing some touchdowns in camp and not throwing many interceptions. He believes he has made leaps and bounds, progress wise, and believes the most important thing is the amount of practice reps he has been getting.

I believe Luck is going to make a huge impact in his first year with the Colts. He has all the tools to be a great QB in the NFL, and I believe he will be able to do great things. Luck’s potential is through the roof, we just need to see if he will fulfill the potential.

Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins:

Griffin stressed how much he loved working with the team. Griffin said he had some fun learning the offense, but in a week when he gets to play with the rest of the team, that’s what he is really looking forward to. He is excited to be working with all the players that the Redskins drafted. He loved working on the “Go” routes with the receivers. Overall, Griffin didn’t speak much about what he really felt about the minicamp. He is just preparing and getting ready for this season. RG3, even said it himself, “They drafted me for a reason and I plan on going out and doing what I’m supposed to do.”

RG3 has the potential to be an unbelievable QB. In this past years draft, you had 2 QB’s who have the ability to change their organizations. RG3 is going to be a breath of fresh air for Redskins fans and they should be very excited to watch him play.

Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins:

Tannehill has had a great first week in minicamp. The GM of the Dolphins even said, that he wouldn’t be surprised if Tannehill was now truly competing for the starting job. He already knows about 80% of the offense because his offensive coordinator was his college coach. He is a little ahead, knowledge wise, of David Garrard and Matt Moore. But the Dolphins want to take it slow with Tannehill and understand that they truly want to develop him into a star QB. Tannehill has been saying he is enjoying getting out there and getting some good reps in. He likes the offense and feels comfortable after only a week, which is a good sign.

Tannehill has the size and arm strength to make an impact in this league. I don’t disagree with what the Dolphins are doing though, I think they should develop him behind Matt Moore and David Garrard, two experienced QB’s, and see what they can get out of him.