Culture of Hoops

Top 10 NFL Stories of 2014

Image courtesy of Zennie Abraham/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Zennie Abraham/Flickr.

The wild nature of the NFL wasn’t limited to the field in 2014. For better or worse, extracurricular events overshadowed a record-breaking season. Most were detrimental to the image of the NFL, but there were also some more lighthearted goings on in the league. Here are just a few:

10. The Surprisingly Anticlimactic Super Bowl

The matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos was, on paper, one of the most formidable in Super Bowl history given that the No. 1 defense faced the No. 1 offense, but Herm Edwards would tell you otherwise. The game proved to be anticlimactic from the first drive when Peyton Manning‘s center prematurely snapped the ball, resulting in a Seattle Seahawks safety. It was downhill from there as the ‘Hawks, led by quarterback Russell Wilson, defeated the Broncos 43-8. But hey, at least the commercials were pretty good.

9. Aaron says relax

The Green Bay Packers began the season in panic mode as the team claimed a paltry 1-2 record after three weeks. Their subpar performance resulted in one of the more lighthearted soundbites in the NFL. On a radio show, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reassured fans with five letters: “R-E-L-A-X.” And it worked. The Packers are currently in the hunt for the NFC North division crown which goes to show that all will be well if you just have with it.

8. Ben Roethlisberger Goes Off

The Steelers weren’t a sexy team in the offseason. Most of their time was marred by a rift between quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. But like most problems in sports, winning fixes everything. And Roethlisberger did just that by having two consecutive six-touchdown performances against the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts. Fantasy football owners were salivating but the Steelers’ staff was even happier after witnessing such record-breaking performances.

7. Johnny Football Falls From Grace

At the risk of sounding jaded and masochistic, it’s pretty fun to see a revered draft prospect get selected lower than anticipated. That was the case for Johnny Manziel who fell to the Cleveland Browns late in the first round after being touted as one of the best players in that draft class. The real excitement came when pick no. 16 was on the clock, which belonged to Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. Despite the incessant rumors about the Cowboys using that selection on a quarterback for the future, the franchise selected guard Zack Martin out of Notre Dame instead. Despite this, Jones still made various allusions to the newly-christened Brown so much that he was advised to no longer mention him.

6. The Jim Harbaugh Trade That Wasn’t

Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers are currently on the rocks if you believe the current rumors floating around in the NFL. But these rumors are not unsubstantiated; they aren’t even recent. According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the 49ers were ready to trade their current head coach during the offseason to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for two third-round picks. Though the transaction never happened, word that a franchise was willing to trade away their most successful coach in recent memory is amusing if not outright perplexing.

5. DeMarco Murray Breaks Records
How ’bout that Murray! The strategy of using multiple backs instead of one strikes fear in the hearts of fantasy football owners. Fortunately for those who drafted Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, that is not the case. In fact, Murray posted the astounding numbers by becoming the first player ever to open a season with eight consecutive 100-yard rushing games. All throughout the first half of the season, many wondered when the record might be broken. Murray posted only 79 yards against the Arizona Cardinals. But with that production, I’m sure that Murray—and the Dallas Cowboys—will be just fine.
4. The J.J. Watt Experience 
 Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt signed  a new six-year, $100 million contract during the offseason. With that much money, the Texans surely must have thought of ways to make that contract worth the investment. Watt is already the best defensive player in the NFL, so what could he do to exceed expectations? Play offense, of course! In games against the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, and Tennessee Titans, Watt lined up at the goal line and scored a touchdown. How long until Watt starts kicking field goals?
3. The Adrian Peterson Suspension
Prior to the news that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson hit his child with a switch, he had a fairly wholesome public image in a league that occasionally suffers from bad PR. But that is precisely why the news was so shocking. Peterson is now suspended until the start of the next NFL season. His future as a Minnesota Viking—and as an NFL player—is up in the air.
2. The Ray Rice Suspension
Ray Rice’s decision to strike his then-fiance Janay ended the already-dwindling career of the Ravens running back. Rice has no one to blame but himself. But the lieu of press conferences and multiple suspensions would say otherwise. The Ravens held a press conference for Rice and allowed him to apologize for his role in the altercation. Within that, the Ravens’ Twitter account posted the most cringe-worthy tweet that essentially placed some blame for the altercation on Janay Rice.  Ray Rice was suspended a mere two games for his act of domestic violence. Once TMZ posted footage of the elevator, Commissioner Roger Goodell re-upped Rice’s penalty from a two-game suspension to an indefinite one. Rice is now a free agent, but his chances at signing with a new team are pitiful at best.
1. Roger Goodell Lied to Us
All the off-field issues that have transpired in the NFL in 2014 are all tied to Commissioner Roger Goodell and his lack of evasive action. Rather than using his authority to act swiftly in accordance to the bad press, he stayed surprisingly idle and became more of a nonsensical talking head throughout. Bill Simmons, among many others, called out Goodell for outright lying. His public image is at its worst, even for someone so reviled already. With no signs of change, unfortunately expect more of the same entering 2015.
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