Kevin White Jerseyin Dies ist ein Forum in der Kategorie 31.10.2018 03:13
von hongwei28 • 414 Beiträge
The list of players sitting out this weekend’s conference championships is almost as impressive as the starting lineups: Julian Edelman. Carson Wentz. Dalvin Cook. Dont’a Hightower. Allen Robinson. Sam Bradford.
Following the NFL’s season of carnage that claimed the likes of Adidas David Pastrnak Jersey , among others, Aaron Rodgers, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, J.J. Watt, DeShaun Watson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Joe Thomas, this year’s final four all overcame not only the odds – ”Minneapolis Miracle , anyone?” – but devastating injuries to key starters.
”We have a tough and resilient team,” Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long said of the NFC’s top seed , which is missing its second-year QB in Wentz, an MVP hopeful when he blew out a knee in December.
Even before Wentz’s injury thrust backup Nick Foles into the starting job for the playoffs, the Eagles lost nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, playmaking middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, versatile return specialist Darren Sproles, and special teams captain Chris Maragos.
Yet, here they are, 60 minutes from Minneapolis and Super Bowl 52.
”I think that starts at the top with Doug, because he sets the tone for being resilient and even keeled,” Long said of his coach, Doug Pederson. ”At the end of the day, we have a tough group of guys.”
So do the Minnesota Vikings, who are trying to reach their first Super Bowl in more than four decades and fulfill mantra to ”Bring it Home” and become the first NFL team to play the title game in its own stadium.
And they’re doing so behind Case Keenum, who crashed Tom Brady’s playoff party along with fellow perennial backup Foles and Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles.
Together, the four quarterbacks left standing have a combined five Super Bowl rings, two NFL MVP awards and four Super Bowl MVP trophies. Brady, of course, owns all of that hardware himself.
Such is the panorama of these playoffs following a season of pain in which so many superstars were rendered sideline spectators with broken bones, snapped ligaments, torn muscles.
Keenum replaced an injured Bradford, who had replaced an injured Teddy Bridgewater. Bradford, now back in uniform as Keenum’s backup, blew out a knee in the first month of the season, as did rookie running back in Cook, who needed reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL.
Behind resilient coach Mike Zimmer , who resisted the urge to quit just before he got the Vikings’ head coaching gig in 2014, Minnesota rolled right along. Keenum deftly took over for Bradford, and Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray became a productive backfield tandem.
”We’ve got a bunch of fighters on this team,” Zimmer said. ”They’ve been a resilient bunch all year long. I expect it to continue to be that way.”
The Patriots are also a bunch of fighters; they reached their seventh straight AFC title game despite losing Edelman, Brady’s top target Radek Faksa Jersey , to a torn ACL in the preseason, and Hightower to a torn chest muscle in November.
Play caller Josh McDaniels and Brady, who led New England to a fifth Super Bowl title last year despite the absence of Rob Gronkowski, adjusted accordingly to Edelman’s absence with another terrific year.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy stepped in for Hightower and ranked third on the team with 73 tackles and second with 5+ sacks despite missing three of the final five games with a calf injury.
Van Noy’s sack total was just a half-sack shy of Hightower’s career high set in 2014.
”The thing about K.V. is he’s very versatile,” said Patriots safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty. ”So we’ve used him a bunch of different ways. … He’s been a big asset to our team.”
The Jaguars are the healthiest of the remaining playoff teams. They have only one opening-day starter on injured reserve: former Pro Bowl receiver Robinson, who tore his left ACL on Jacksonville’s opener.
Four months removed from reconstructive surgery, Robinson is now traveling with the team, so he’ll be on the sideline Sunday at New England, serving as a mentor to a raw receiving corps.
”Every person in this locker room put in a lot of work to get to this point, with me being one of them,” said Robinson, who was poised for another big year after dominating the league’s best secondary in training camp.
His injury on Jacksonville’s third offensive snap created a huge void for the offense. Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns tried to pick up the slack, but they ended up on the sideline at one point with injuries, too, leaving rookies Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook to assume bigger roles.
Cole, an undrafted rookie from tiny Kentucky Wesleyan, had 42 catches for 748 yards and three scores in the regular season. He added a clutch 45-yard catch that set up a late TD in Jacksonville’s 45-42 stunner at Pittsburgh last week.
”I wish I could just wake up tomorrow and feel like I did Sept. 9,” Robinson said, ”but I understand it’s going to be a process. I know I’ll be back to that point and better.”
Like so many other stars, Robinson will be in street clothes Sunday, cheering on his teammates in hopes of getting a sideline pass to the Super Bowl.
Colin Kaepernick’s first two ”protests” drew scant attention. He sat on the bench, out of uniform, virtually unnoticed. His third got some buzz after a reporter tweeted a picture of the 49ers bench that had nothing to do with the quarterback but caught him in the frame, sitting during the national anthem.
Meanwhile, the killing of a 12-year-old boy by police and the light it shined on the Black Lives Matter movement helped draw a reluctant LeBron James into the world of using sports as a vehicle for social change. But once he got there, James stayed disciplined both about the message he sends and the way he sends it.
Despite their vastly divergent methods, Kaepernick and James helped set a stake in the ground, declaring to athletes across all sports that their platforms could be – should be – used for more than fun and games in the 21st century.
Kaepernick’s message – ”organic” to some, ”disorganized” to others – started a movement that has essentially linked the NFL with kneeling in a dramatic string of events that will play out for a final time this season, Sunday at the Super Bowl. James has also made an imprint thanks to the power of his own brand. Whose method worked better? The answer to that question figures to guide the direction of sports protests for the foreseeable future.
”Kaepernick didn’t go into it knowing what was going to happen. He was doing what he thought was right but this was not something he expected,” said professor Danielle Coombs of Kent State, who specializes in the politics of sports. ”On the other hand, you have athletes, like LeBron James, who make sure they do it in a way that lets the message rise to the top.”
Coombs and David Casillo co-authored a paper in the Journal of Sport and Social Issues centered on James, whose precise, calculated brand of activism pressed for change, but in a way that would not negatively affect the bottom line.
Two years before Kaepernick, and two decades after the seemingly apolitical Michael Jordan once reportedly said Republicans buy shoes, too Adidas Jack Eichel Jersey , James found himself in the middle of a firestorm in the wake of the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
James said very little about the killing, which occurred only miles from his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He took heat for his reluctance. But over the ensuing years, he branched out slowly and cautiously, and sometimes with others at his side. He joined Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwayne Wade at the 2016 ESPYs and gave a well-received speech calling for an end to gun violence.
The speech was a well-thought-out, well-organized message timed for maximum impact, as was Steph Curry’s impassioned defense of the stance that Kaepernick and others had taken on issues ranging from sitting during the national anthem, to the importance of showing team unity to foregoing White House visits.
”If I’m going to use my platform, I don’t want to just be noise,” Curry wrote in a Veterans Day blog on The Players’ Tribune website. ”I want to talk about real issues that are affecting real people.”
The methods Curry and James use for getting out the message were almost the exact opposite of Kaepernick’s. Turns out, Kaepernick made more headlines, but also became more vulnerable to his message getting lost or distorted due to the timing and some of his own self-inflicted sideshows .
Some may say that by not being calculating and by playing from the heart, Kaepernick sent a truer message. He also backed it up by raising $1 million for charity – much coming in $10,000 increments from celebrities and sports stars.
But was it more effective? Can it be repeated?
”One of the keys for athletes is that they pick moments in time to make sure their message resonates,” said marketing expert Joe Favorito. ”Certainly, it has become easier for people to start a process. But it’s become more difficult to follow through with it. These days, unless you have the biggest stage, you’re competing against thousands of other people. It’s not necessarily athletes. It can be anyone.”
The NFL was unprepared for the protests, though a five-page memo in 1966 written by a young black league executive to then Commissioner Pete Rozelle predicted this could happen. The memo, which can be read in its entirety on theundefeated.com , warned that a team releasing a black player who’d been outspoken on civil rights issues could spark major protests.
Now even more than then, few platforms grab as many eyeballs as that of the NFL. And no league drapes itself in the American flag quite like the NFL. That’s two reasons Kaepernick’s gesture had legs.
When President Donald Trump took on the league this season, criticizing those who followed Kaepernick’s lead, the debate became multipronged, with players, and even some owners, banding together to show they would not be pushed around by the president.
Meanwhile, TV ratings remained flat. Some fans tuned out and stayed away, enraged by what they perceived as disrespect to the flag, the military and American values.
Kaepernick’s original message got mixed in with several others. Regardless, midway through the season, the NFL realized it had to do something. After multiple meetings with player representatives, the league announced it was funneling $90 million into social justice issues that are important to players. Just last week, it launched Let’s Listen Together , an initiative designed to address some of the players’ most urgent concerns.
The launch came mere days before the Super Bowl, where ”The Star-Spang