Tuesday, January 16, 2018

NFL '17 Dread News - Week 18

It was so obvious that Alvin Kamara was going to be a special player on Sundays that even I could see it. But little did I know when I spotlighted Kamara in my preview of the 2017 NFL Draft that there actually were going to be two Special K's in this year's class of rookies with dreads. About 90 minutes or so after the New Orleans Saints picked Kamara in the 3rd round of the Draft, another running back whose name begins with K was the 3rd round choice of the Kansas City Chiefs. I actually was hoping the Chiefs would get Kamara; so at first I wasn't as excited when the RB with dreads they picked was some guy by the name of Kareem Hunt. That was just ignorance on my part. Having seen several of Kamara's games during his junior season in college at Tennessee, I was already familiar with what he could do. But having noticed halfway through his college career that Hunt's hair actually was in braids, not dreads (he's got dreads now, of course), I didn't watch any of his games at Toledo; so I didn't realize until this season how great a player he is too.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

NFL '17 Dread News - Week 17

It was so unlikely and unbelievable that you would have thought it was something that only my crystal ball could have cooked up. As CB2 would have put it ......

With Ravens clinging to 3-point lead over Bengals in Week 17 nail-biter at Baltimore, Andy Dalton passes to Tyler Boyd for 49-yard TD on 4th and 12 with 44 seconds to play to give Bengals victory that knocks Ravens out of playoffs and allows Bills to clinch first playoff berth in 18 years.

I mean, that's a scenario worthy of inclusion in one of my NFL previews posts, right alongside all the other crazy and impossible Week 17 finishes that CB2 predicts every year that never ever happen. But unfortunately for Ravens fans and as you've probably heard, the impossible actually happened last Sunday (I saw it with my own eyes). Boyd really did score a 49-yard TD on 4th and 12, with the Bengals' 31-27 victory sending veteran LB Terrell Suggs (photo above), DT Michael Pierce (photo below on left), and all of Ravens Nation into devastation, and all of Western New York into jubilation. No doubt all the New Year's Eve parties in Buffalo and everywhere else that Bills fans were gathered together had a little more juice to them than normal after their favorite team clinched their first playoff appearance of the 21st century.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

NFL '17 Dread News - Week 16


This is not a test. This is no drill. This is 100% not fake news. And April Fool's Day is still three months away, so this really is the real deal - the Jaguars are in. I repeat, the Jaguars are IN! That's right. When the playoffs for the 2017 NFL season begin on the first weekend of 2018, the Jacksonville Jaguars actually will be one of the 12 teams playing in the tournament. Honestly. No joke. Just as they were taking the field for their late afternoon (eastern time) game at San Francisco last Sunday, the Jaguars - thanks to the loss by the Tennessee Titans to the Los Angeles Rams - officially clinched their first ever AFC South division crown (The photo on the right is from a week earlier, after they officially clinched a playoff spot). It's been so long - 18 years, to be exact - since the Jaguars finished in 1st place that you probably don't remember that they were members of the AFC Central when they won the franchise's only two division titles back in 1998 and 1999. It hasn't been quite that long since their last appearance in the playoffs. That came - as a wild card entry - exactly one decade ago.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

DG172

The number of basketball players with dreads keeps increasing with each passing year; and as it does, it keeps becoming less and less rare each year to see a game where both teams have players with dreads. But two years ago it still was an unusual occurrence. Here in dread gallery #172 we'll finish (finally!) our look at the 2015-16 college basketball season with a look at all of the photos I could find (almost all) showing players with dreads on opposing teams on the court at the same time. Then after that, there will be a couple of extras, including answers to any questions you might have about the player holding the ball in the photo on the right.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

DG171

I do not care that most of the photos in dread gallery #171 are near two years old. I said I was going to do two more DGs on the 2015-16 College Basketball season, and dammit, I'm going to do them. Hopefully I'll eventually get around to doing some stuff on the 2017 football seasons before those seasons are over; but right now I'm in basketball mode.

We saw the seniors with new dreads in DG167 and a few more seniors in DG169. Now in DG171 we'll take a long look at the remaining four Division 1 seniors with dreads, along with several shots of three juniors who didn't hang around for their senior seasons. All seven players featured played pro basketball during 2016-17, although only one of them was in the NBA.

1. Darnell Harris began the 2015-16 season hoping to play a lot more than the 18 minutes per game he played in his first season for Middle Tennessee State in 2014-15 (after transferring from junior college) - and he got his wish, averaging 26 minutes per game as a senior. Here Harris, a 6-8, 231-pound F, shoots over G JeQuan Lewis on Dec. 2. Darnell played 33 minutes in this game, finishing with 17 rebounds, 3 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, and 2 steals. But the Blue Raiders' 4-game winning streak came to an end with a 62-56 home loss to VCU.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

For the Birds

If you are familiar with the annual NFL forecasts of my crystal balls over the years, you're probably thinking that the title of this post is fitting for those forecasts every year and not just this year. Used as an idiom, "for the birds" means - nicely put - something than can and should be discarded as useless. Well, my forecasts haven't always been useless. My original crystal ball (CB, for short) correctly picked the Super Bowl winner twice in 8 years. After CB went into retirement, my second crystal ball (CB2) took over the forecasts starting last year - and mostly whiffed on its first try. But CB2 is rarin' to go with its 2017 forecast, eager to make up for the 2016 forecast that left a lot to be desired. But, I'll tell you, it'll take a leap of faith - or, in this case, a flight of faith - for anyone to trust this forecast, because CB2 thinks you'll be wasting your money if you bet on any of the usual suspects.

CB2 ain't talking about "for the birds" as an idiom. It means it literally; that is, CB2 is for the birds. And not those dirty birds down south either. Or those birds way out on the west coast or the ones in the desert. According to CB2, when Super Bowl 52 kicks off next February in Minneapolis, the two teams playing in it will be the Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Ravens.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Aching Throbbing Lamenting

I chose those three words for the title of this post because I wanted words that begin with A, T, and L. But I can think of a lot of other words - some of which aren't very nice - that don't begin with those letters that would be more appropriate to describe the feelings of fans of the Atlanta Falcons in the aftermath of Super Bowl 51.

A, T, and L together, of course, form the familiar and widely accepted abbreviation for Atlanta. Not exactly known as the city of sports champions, Atlanta ended calendar 2016 having celebrated only one championship in 170 seasons in the four major North American sports leagues. That came in 1995, when the Braves won the World Series 4 games to 2 over Cleveland (another city that knows a thing or two about failure in sports). Topping the list of futility? That would be the Falcons, titleless in all 50 of their seasons (during the last 30 or so of which I have been a fan) in the NFL as of the start of the 2016 season. But on the final day of the 2016 season there were the Falcons, flying high and poised to finally fill their empty trophy case.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

2016 NFL House Calls

192 times during the 2016 NFL regular season a player with dreads took one to the house - a small increase over the total of 190 house calls in 2015. The 192 TD accounted for 14.7% (roughly one out of every 7) of the 1,307 touchdowns scored by everybody during the season. There were 5 players with dreads who scored at least 10 TD - a small increase of one over the 4 who reached double figures in 2015. RB LeGarrette Blount, who previously had never scored more than 7 TD in any regular season, took individual honors, finishing with 18 TD. Blount scored in 13 of the New England Patriots' 16 games - scoring one TD 9 times; two TD 3 times; and scoring all three of the Patriots' touchdowns in their 31-24 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10, including a 13-yard run around left end (photo above) for a 21-19 New England lead in the 3rd quarter. Blount's 18 TD were second only to the 20 scored by Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson among all players.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

DG170 - Part 1

We interrupt our regularly scheduled dread gallery to bring you a different regularly scheduled dread gallery. In other words .....

I'm still planning to do two more college basketball dread galleries, but they're on hold for now because it's time for our annual DG featuring another class of NFL rookies with dreads. I try to finish this DG before the preseason gets too far underway because some of these guys aren't going to be around for long, and I want you to be able to say hello to them before it's time to say goodbye. Most of these rookies, however, will make it at least through the entire preseason, and the rookies that are 2017 draft choices most likely will make their teams' opening day rosters. Right now this year's class includes 30 players that were drafted; but I'm undecided on whether a couple of draftees have dreads or not, so that total could increase to 32.

2017 marks the 14th straight year at least one player with dreads has been picked in the 1st round of the draft - a streak that started when Larry Fitzgerald was picked #3 overall in 2004. And not just the 1st round; in all 14 years at least one player with dreads was taken in the first half of the 1st round, including at least one in the top 8 in 11 of the 14 years. Six times during those 14 years a player from a team in the SEC was the first player with dreads picked, with Vernon Hargreaves (Florida) being the most recent (2016).

Sunday, August 20, 2017

DG170 - Part 2

Part 2 of dread gallery #170 features the rest of the NFL's 2017 class of rookies with dreads, specifically all of those trying to earn jobs with teams in the NFC.

The NFC West is the division with the most players with dreads drafted this year with 6; and the NFC West's San Francisco 49ers take honors for the team that drafted the most players with dreads ..... which is kind of a huge surprise, because since I started this blog the 49ers have been a team that every year consistently has very few players with dreads. And if you look at their draft history, it's easy to see why. Prior to 2017 the 49ers in their entire history had drafted only 6 players that had dreads when they drafted them. Maybe this is the year, under new management, they stop treating players with dreads like they had leprosy.

1. Three of the 49ers' 10 draft picks this year have dreads; and as he meets the media on Apr. 28 - the day after he was drafted - former Alabama LB Reuben Foster explains how he feels about being the first player with dreads the 49ers drafted in the 1st round since they picked Vernon Davis 11 years ago. No, actually he's talking about how relieved he is that he didn't fall to the 2nd round of the draft. Talent-wise Foster should have been the first player with dreads picked. But thanks to offseason surgery on his shoulder and other off-the-field issues he wasn't picked until #31 overall, the second last pick of round 1.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

DG169

Continuing our way too late look at the 2015-16 College Basketball season, in dread gallery #169 we'll begin taking a look at how the seniors did in the final year of their careers - and I'm talking about the seniors who had dreads throughout their careers, not the one-year wonders we saw in DG167. Then in the second half of DG169 we'll look at some players with dreads - most of them not seniors - who played on teams where at least two of their teammates also had dreads.


















1. He may not have been one of the best players with dreads, but Marshall G Justin Edmonds certainly was one of the players with the best dreads. Edmonds, a 6-4, 227-pounder, looks to makes his move against G Robert Hubbs (left photo) and defends a shot by G Kevin Punter (right photo) on Nov. 19 as Marshall, instead of playing a cupcake at home, opened the season with a tough road game against Tennessee. Edmonds finished with 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists in the Thundering Herd's 84-74 loss. He played 31 minutes that night; and apparently the coaching staff must not have liked what they saw - because he didn't play more than 16 minutes in any game for the rest of the season. The Herd went on to lose their first 6 games before finally getting their 1st win on Dec. 9.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

DG168

For the most part dread gallery #168 is a continuation of what we saw in DG167 - that is, players who had dreads for the first time during the 2015-16 College Basketball season and players with dreads playing on Division 1 teams for the first time in 2015-16. In DG168 we'll focus mostly on the players who transferred to D-1 teams from junior colleges. But before we get to them, let's start with three more players just getting their dreads started for the first time. This trio of star players made major contributions on successful teams in 2016 and hope to some day be making their contributions on teams in the NBA.

These days anything goes when it comes to hairstyles for athletes; so when someone starts letting his hair grow longer, it doesn't necessarily mean he is planning on turning it into dreads. Maybe a couple of years ago it did; but not anymore. So whenever there is a player with short hair who begins to grow it out, I don't really keep track of him as closely as I used to. In the case of SMU F Ben Moore I can't honestly say I even noticed him at all during the first three months of the season; but even if I had, I wouldn't have expected him to suddenly convert his hair into dreads. So it definitely was a pleasant surprise when on Jan. 30 .....

















1. ..... he suddenly did convert his hair to dreads, debuting his beginner dreads during the Mustangs' home game against Memphis, and debuting them the right way, at that. It's nice to see someone start his dreads with dreads on the sides of his head too instead of having partial dreads like so many do now. Moore has a couple of close encounters with F Dedric Lawson in these two photos. The caption for the right photo said that Moore had his shot blocked by Lawson; but that doesn't show up anywhere in the official game play-by-play. More likely this is the play early in the 1st half where Lawson was called for a foul on Moore - even though it looks like Lawson has all ball and it's actually Shaq Goodwin who's hitting Moore's arm. On the left Moore goes to the floor trying to make sure SMU doesn't turn the ball over on a possession early in 2nd half. With Moore contributing 12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots in 33 minutes in his first game with dreads, SMU improved to 19-1 with an 80-68 win over Memphis.