Wednesday, October 19, 2016


The photos in dread gallery #164 don't fit one specific theme, so I guess "Anything Goes" is as good a title for it than any. It's kind of a smorgasbord of some of the interesting, eventful, painful, and unusual things involving some of the NFL's players with dreads during the 2015 season.

1. Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin runs after the catch past Bills CB Stephon Gilmore during Week 1 of the preseason. Benjamin had 3 catches for 36 yards, including a 2-yard TD, in the Panthers' 25-24 road win; but those would be his only stats for the 2015 season. 5 days later he suffered a torn ACL injury in a joint practice between the Panthers and Dolphins and missed the rest of the season. Thankfully he appears to be fully recovered and has caught 21 passes in the Panthers' first 5 games of 2016.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


"Before and After" is the theme for DG163. No, these aren't going to be photos of players before and after they've cut off their dreads. I'm talking about before and after the game. Since you really need to wear a helmet when you play football, it's difficult to get a good look at what the players look like while the game is underway. But when those helmets come off before and after the game, it gives photographers plenty of opportunities to get some clear, close-up shots. In dread gallery #163 here are some of those shots, as we look at what some of the NFL's players with dreads were up to before and after their games during the 2015 season.

1. As I mentioned in my dreads focus reports, there certainly was no shortage shortage of sick dreads in the Buffalo Bills' secondary in 2015. CBs Mario Butler (#39), Stephon Gilmore (#24), and Ron Brooks - three of the seven DBs with dreads on the Bills' roster - head to the field for warmups at Ralph Wilson Stadium before playing their season opener against the Colts.

Monday, October 3, 2016


"Act like you've been there before" ..... "Just hand the ball to the ref" ..... "Don't do anything to draw attention to yourself" ..... I'm sure you've heard those words over and over - coming out of the mouths of the haters of fun in football. Don't worry; you're not likely to ever hear them coming out of my mouth. Football is a very tough and emotional game; and when you make a play that helps your team win, emotions should be expressed, not suppressed. I don't know about you, but I love watching football players celebrate (and occasionally making fools of themselves). Just as long as you don't do it up in the face of your opponent, because then it's taunting not celebrating.

When talking about the NFL, some people jokingly say that the letters "NFL" stand for "No Fun League"; and that's true in some instances. But for the most part in the NFL, if you want to celebrate, you can; and unless you go a bit too far over the top (talking about you, Antonio Brown), you won't get penalized for it. By now you've probably figured out the theme for dread gallery #162 is "Celebrate". Here's a look at how some of the NFL's players with dreads did it during the 2015 season.

1. RB Chris Johnson gives thanks after scoring his 1st TD in a Cardinals uniform on a 6-yard run, upping Arizona's lead to 21-0 over the 49ers on the first play of 2nd quarter during Week 3. After he scored a career low 2 TD with the N.Y. Jets in 2014 and was told not to bother to come back for the 2nd year of his 2-year contract with them, it looked like Johnson's streak of scoring at least one TD in 7 straight seasons might be over. But after signing with the Cardinals halfway through the preseason, he went on to have a productive season, scoring 3 TD, before going on IR after breaking a bone in his leg (the first serious injury of his career) in Week 12.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


My computer has computed that I saved more than 3,800 photos from the 2015 NFL regular season. Rather than have all those photos continuing to sit idly, I always had planned to include some of them in several dread galleries. I also had planned to finish those dread galleries before the 2016 season began. But, as usual, time doesn't wait for me; so, just like nearly everything else I do in this blog, I'll be doing these DGs much later than I hoped.Each one of the six dread galleries has its own theme, and the theme of the first one is "Sacks, Picks, and Sixes". I already have done a post devoted entirely to some of the house calls made by players with dreads during 2015. Here in DG161 we'll look at a few more of the touchdowns, along with some of the sacks and interceptions well done by the NFL's players with dreads last season. (FYI: So that I can finish these DGs before the 2017 season begins, I won't be bothering to try to figure out the game situations for many of the photos.)

1. It did not take long for rookie CB Ronald Darby to get the 1st INT of his career. On the 4th play of the Colts' 3rd possession of the season opener late in 1st quarter Darby, the Bills' 2nd round draft pick, picks off an underthrown deep pass intended for WR T.Y. Hilton and returns it 27 yards. The Bills cashed in the turnover with a TD 5 plays later for their first points of the season, sending them on their way to a 27-14 home victory. Darby's INT was the first of 73 interceptions by players with dreads during the regular season.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Repeat After Me

There were moments of brilliance - specifically 2009, when it correctly predicted the New Orleans Saints, a team that had won only 2 playoff games in its entire franchise history to that point, would win their first Super Bowl; and again in 2012, when it correctly picked both the winner and loser of the Super Bowl (Ravens, 49ers). But those moments have been too few and far between. For the most part the annual forecasts by my crystal ball (CB) have been just a bit off the mark to say the least. Yes, I know, predicting the NFL isn't exactly easy. But that's why I have been so lenient with CB over the years, hoping it would get its act together more consistently. But after grading out at D+ for 2015 and averaging a C- for 8 years worth of forecasts (with no grade higher than the B- it earned in 2009), CB has come to the end of the line. I mean, if you had a 1.67 GPA after 8 years of college, would you be satisfied? Well, I ain't either; so it's out with the old .....

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Broncos Busters

Three years ago when my crystal ball (CB) predicted the Denver Broncos would win Super Bowl 48, I mentioned that their QB, Peyton Manning, wasn't about to retire having won fewer Super Bowl rings than his younger brother, N.Y. Giants QB Eli Manning. Having now evened the score with Eli (two years later than expected) at 2 rings apiece following the Broncos' 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers 7 months ago in Super Bowl 50, Peyton can retire in peace. And he can send a great big thank you note to the Broncos' defense, because it was only because of them that he was able to go out on top. I mean (and I know this sounds blasphemous, considering how great a career Peyton has had) it was almost as if the Broncos won the championship in spite of him. I say almost because the Broncos' offense wasn't totally inept; more often than not they got done what needed to get done - barely. But for the most part that offense - led by Manning in 12 of their 19 games - almost messed it up for one of the best defenses in NFL history.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

2015 College FB and NFL House Calls

They had the player that won the Heisman Trophy, and they took home the trophy after winning the 4-team playoff that supposedly determines the national champion; so I guess it's only right that the Alabama Crimson Tide would also take the 2015 crown for the team with the most touchdowns scored by players with dreads.

I have to apologize again for doing so very little on the 2015 College Football season. I never did get around to doing my all-America teams, but I feel obligated to at least do the house calls. After all, the main reason for this blog being named House of Dread is to recognize and celebrate the touchdowns by players with dreads. Thanks mostly to the 28 TD scored by College Football's best player (with or without dreads) (the last of the 28 in photo above, a 1-yard dive that upped Alabama's lead over Clemson to 45-33 with 1:07 remaining in the championship game) - Heisman winner Derrick Henry - Alabama, for the 2nd time in the 5 years I've done a feature on house calls, was the Division 1 team that had more TD scored by players with dreads than any other.

2015 was an up and down kind of season for TD by players with dreads - up, as in the NFL; and down, as in College Football. The 190 regular season touchdowns by the NFL's players with dreads were an increase of 11 over the previous season and just 3 short of the record high 193 scored in 2013. As for the colleges (I keep track of only Division 1), Alabama's nation-leading total of 29 marks the first time a team has taken the crown with less than 30 TD.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

DG160 - Part 1

If you watched the first two nights of the 2016 NFL Draft and ended up disappointed because there were so few players with dreads selected, don't blame me. In my draft preview I warned you not to waste your time on the first two nights, as I forecast there would be only 7 players with dreads picked in the first 3 rounds. As it turned out, 7 - as small a number as it was - was still too optimistic. By the end of the 3rd round on Mar. 29 only 5 players with dreads had heard their names called - three in round 1, two in round 2, and none in round 3. It was a far cry from the draft one year earlier, when a record high 20 were picked in the first 3 rounds, including 9 alone in round 1.

Things picked up on Day 3 of the draft - as expected - with the end result being that a total of 26 players with dreads were drafted. Actually at first I thought that 24 were selected. But after being informed that Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun (a 3rd round pick) no longer had dreads (he cut them off sometime between MSU's pro day on Mar. 16 and the start of the Raiders' rookie minicamp on May 5), I discovered a couple of wide receivers that I didn't know had just gotten their dreads started had been drafted - Demarcus Robinson, from Florida, in round 4 and Demarcus Ayers, from Houston, in round 7; and I discovered that another player with beginner dreads had been drafted - OT Brandon Shell, from South Carolina.

Robinson, of course, was not the first former Gator with short dreads to be picked in this draft. The very first player with dreads selected - with the 11th pick in the 1st round - was former Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves, who started growing his dreads around this time a year ago. A Tampa product, Hargreaves (top photo in collage at upper right) no doubt will be playing in front of a lot of family and friends at all of his home games after being picked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

DG160 - Part 2

It's not even close. It's the NFC in a landslide. At the start of training camp 44 members of the Class of 2016 rookies with dreads were with NFC teams, while only 28 were with AFC teams. But the AFC does have one thing they can hang their hat on, that being they have the team that picked the most players with dreads in this year's draft. The Baltimore Ravens selected players with dreads with 4 of their 11 picks - one more than the three taken by NFC leader Arizona. In Part 2 of DG160 we'll take a look at those four along with all the other rookies with dreads on AFC teams as well as those on teams in the NFC North.

Of the Ravens' four draft picks with dreads, fans attending training camp unfortunately will only be able to see the dreads of two of them. That's because .....

1. ..... The other two, a couple of guys who played for colleges in Michigan, have dreads too short to be seen with their helmets on - former Michigan Wolverines DT Willie Henry and DE Matthew Judon, who played for Division 2 school Grand Valley State - seen together here during the 2nd day of the Ravens' rookie minicamp on May 7.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

NFL '15 Dread News - Week 22

Two years earlier they fielded one of the finest offenses the league has ever seen. But when all that got them was that train wreck of a defeat in Super Bowl 48, the Denver Broncos went back to the drawing board - and got it right this time, putting together what proved to be one of the best defenses in NFL history. With 2 weeks to prepare for the game, that defense went out and made mincemeat of the Carolina Panthers' offense, leading the Broncos to a victory in Super Bowl 50 that clinched the franchise's 3rd ever NFL championship and their first in 17 years. LB Von Miller (photo on right) and his friends in the white jerseys were the ones doing most of the dabbing while dealing the Panthers only their 2nd defeat of the season. After going 17-1 in their first 18 games, the Panthers emphatically found out they weren't the baddest bully on the NFL block. They'll begin next season still in search of their first title after dropping to 0-2 all time in their Super Bowl appearances.

The greatness of the Broncos' defense cannot be disputed. I mean, just look at the numbers: 194 total yards (3.5 per play), 11 first downs, 1 for 14 on 3rd down conversions, sacked 5 times, 7 punts, 2 turnovers, 27:13 time of possession.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

NFL '15 Dread News - Week 21

In the few number of NFL reports I've done over the past couple of years I have made a big deal of the fact that the team losing the Super Bowl one year does not play in the Super Bowl the next year. There's no written rule that forbids a team from going back the next year, but for whatever reason none have made it back - for 22 straight years now (including the one mentioned in the Week 22 report that I haven't even done yet). Half the length of that streak is one that affects the Super Bowl winner - a streak you're probably already familiar with. When the Patriots fell to the Broncos in the AFC championship game in Week 20, they became the 11th straight league champion to fail to successfully defend their title the following season. During the course of this season's playoffs (I don't remember exactly when) a couple of other fascinating tidbits came to my attention that are kind of mind boggling too. You might want to keep them in mind while filling out your NFL brackets for the 2016 season.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Irish dreads are smiling

If Irish eyes can smile, why can't Irish dreads too? Of course, the Irish I'm referring to aren't the same Irish mentioned in that famous song about smiling eyes written over 100 years ago - those being the real Irish, as in from Ireland. Obviously I'm talking about the football Irish. You know - Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish. There have been hundreds of NFL players over the years who played their college ball for Notre Dame; but only a handful of them have had dreads. In 2015 there were 4 such players on NFL rosters - Jaguars S Sergio Brown, Broncos S David Bruton, 49ers DT Ian Williams, and Cardinals practice squad RB Robert Hughes. But if the best case scenario comes to pass in this weekend's NFL Draft, that number will more than double by next season.

6 of the 17 hopefuls on hand for Notre Dame's pro day on Mar. 31 have dreads; and of the six there are three who definitely will be drafted and another two with an outside chance of hearing their names called before the draft wraps up on Saturday.