Note to Lavar Ball: Now We’re All Rooting Against Your Kids

LaVar Ball Is A Great Showman And An Unabashed Dickhead


originally posted on deadspin.com

LaVar Ball is, to put it lightly, a lot to deal with. He’s an insane shit-talker, a genius marketer, and a shrewd businessman who has done a truly admirable job of promoting his children while sidestepping the NCAA’s bullshit amateurism rules. He’s also, plainly, a dickhead.

Ball, as you well know, has made various braggadocious claims about his eldest son Lonzo over the past six months. For the most part, they’ve been harmless, obvious attempts to drum up publicity and notoriety for the Ball family and subsequently the Ball merchandise wing, Big Ballers Brand. And the act works! Most any profile or piece on the man will link out to six other stories about wild shit he’s said; he’s buddy-buddy with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN; he trends on social media at least a couple times a month. So long as you don’t take Ball’s bloviating too seriously, the act is bearable.

But then there’s the way Ball actually treats people in real life. For insights here, we can turn to two articles—one from USA Today, the other from The Undefeated—that detail Ball’s interactions with his sons’ high school coach.

All three Ball children went to or currently attend Chino Hills High School. The team’s basketball program was of little note before the Balls arrived; once Lonzo came along, so did the state titles and 30-win seasons, thus improving the likelihood that LaVar would be granted a say in on-court matters. Unlike Lonzo’s UCLA squad, these teams played tight man defense, pressing constantly, and they thrived on NBA-range treys and transition offense—all products of LaVar’s preferred system. Chino Hills head coach Stephan Gilling was even trained by LaVar as a teenager. With Gilling now 30 years old and in his first season as head coach at Chino Hills, Ball believed his sideline coaching style—literally him yelling which schemes to run at the Chino Hills players from the sidelines—would still fly.

The USA Today story hops in here to grant the first example of how LaVar handles being told he’s not in control of his kids’ team. At this December’s annual Tarkanian Classic, Chino Hills was down 12 at the half, with failed attempts to trap Roosevelt High School’s guard against the half-court line and sideline leading to easy layups and jumpers in the paint. Noticing that the method (the constant ball-pressure method LaVar had his sons run on his AAU teams) wasn’t working, Gilling told Chino Hills—which fielded LiAngelo and LaMelo at the time—to just play man-up.

From the sideline, LaVar can be heard on video screaming, “Double team!” throughout the second half; Gilling can be heard yelling, “Stop trapping!” Chino Hills eventually won by eight after LaMelo started to heat up in the final 10 minutes, and, for the most part (LiAngelo trapped multiple times after looking at the stands), they listened to their coach and played man down the stretch.

According to USA Today, after the game, LaVar, miffed that Gilling would do something as basic as run a different defense in an attempt to win, left the stands, went in the Chino Hills locker room against Gilling’s request, and refused to leave.

“He comes to me and says, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ I said, ‘What do you mean? I’m trying to win the game.’

“He turns around and walks to our locker room,” Gilling said. “I said,
‘LaVar, don’t go into the locker room.’ He continues walking. I said, ‘LaVar, why are you trying to embarrass me?’ And he just kept walking and goes into the locker room. He’s in there sitting down with the team. And I’m like, ‘LaVar, get out!’”

Gilling says Ball refused to leave the locker room, so Gilling told his team to follow him back to the hotel while Ball’s sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, stayed behind.

When the Chino Hills team made it back to their hotel, Ball still hadn’t cooled down. In fact, he was just getting started.

“An assistant coach comes up to me and tells me that he sees LaVar rallying the team up,” Gilling said. “I guess he got them out of their rooms on the 18th floor and tells the team that it was his system that won. That we’re doing what he says. ‘I run Chino Hills! I run UCLA, about to run the NBA!’

The Undefeated picks up the story (in a very pro-LaVar light, it should be noted) two months later, after Chino Hills lost an overtime game 83-80:

“He committed the cardinal sin of cussing out Melo after the game,” LaVar said of Gilling. “He blamed the loss on him. That was it. So I told my boys to do an acting job. Nod your head when he talks, but when you’re on the court, do what I tell you.

“He told my boys not to let your father in your head. What?”

[…]

“He had to go ahead and be a hardhead and try to do things his way,” said LaVar. “This is his last year. One-and-done. He’s gone. I will definitely have a hand in picking the next coach. He’s not welcome here anymore.

Chino Hills athletic director Jeff Schuld told USA Today last week that Gilling has his full support. Ball told the publication (which he no longer speaks to) that the reason his team had “problems” this season, was because Gilling—a 30-year-old man paid to coach a team—“got his own mind.” Chino Hills finished 30-3 this season.

And then there’s Ball’s most recent television appearance, on this morning’s episode of Second Take on FS1. While Lonzo sits beside mute beside him, LaVar once again talks about the beef with Gilling, and even implies that the coach is suffering from bipolar disorder:

Strip away all the theatrics associated with the Ball family and set aside whatever critiques of a broken and corrupt system LaVar’s act is making, and what you are left with is simply a man being a cruel bully. Going on national television and airing out a high school coach for daring to implement a different scheme before accusing that coach of being mentally ill, all while his son sits next to him in what appears to be silent agony, is not harmless fun. It does nothing to advance the careers or earning potential of his children, either. It’s just something an asshole would do.

Around the NFL Offseason (there is no offseason)

Jordan Cameron Retires After Four Concussions In Four Years: “I Can’t Risk My Mental Health In The Future”

Miami Dolphins tight end Jordan Cameron announced his retirement yesterday at the age of 28. After suffering four concussions in four years, he said that the possibility of long-term health risks was too much. As he told ESPN yesterday:

“I started thinking about concussions too much. You can’t play football like that…. If I didn’t get concussions, I’d probably keep playing. It’s one of those things. I can’t risk my mental health in the future. I don’t have any symptoms now. I’m perfectly fine. But they can’t tell me with 100 percent certainty that if I keep playing and I get more concussions, that I’m going to be okay. I’m not risking that at all. There’s nothing more important than your health. It’s just not worth it to me.”

The Dolphins had expressed concern about his long-term potential in the NFL back in October, a few weeks after his last concussion. He signed with Miami two years ago—then just a season removed from an 80-catch, 917-yard Pro Bowl season with the Browns. But he never reached those heights again and his concussions meant that he only played in three games last year.

 Though he has been cleared by a neurologist to return to play, he’s decided it isn’t worth it. When asked by ESPN if he felt the NFL had properly educated him on the danger of concussions before he was drafted in 2011, he said he personally believed that they’d done what they could at the time: “I want to say I hope they didn’t know the serious implications of these things. I feel like it was just starting, just on the brink of this coming to light and all the seriousness of these things. Now I feel like seven years later people know how serious this can be. Unfortunately it takes people dying to figure that out. That’s the saddest thing in the world to me.”

God Help Them, The Cleveland Browns Are Trying To Outsmart The NFL

Reaction to the Cleveland Browns’ surprising trade with the Houston Texans for Brock Osweiler Thursday ran the gamut from fulsome praise to “Bill Polian Yells At Cloud.” Cleveland indeed waded into new territory (for the NFL) by using its extraordinary surplus of salary cap space to essentially trade for a higher draft pick, with Osweiler serving as simply a means to an end. It’s the latest chip in the Browns’ protracted effort to amass draft capital, and while it’s certainly an innovative approach, it’s still just an early step.

First, a look at the terms:

  • Cleveland receives: Osweiler, 2017 sixth-round pick, 2018 second-round pick
  • Houston receives: 2017 fourth-round pick, $10 million in cap savings

Osweiler sucks and is due $16 million in guaranteed salary, for which the Browns are now on the hook. The trade gave the Texans an easy escape from the laughably bad contract they gave Osweiler last year while also providing them with the flexibility to pursue another experienced starter, most likely Tony Romo. It was quickly reported that Cleveland intended to release or trade Osweiler—moves that would require the Browns to eat all or a significant portion of his 2017 salary—but even that’s in keeping with the grander plan.

When chief operating officer Paul DePodesta and general manager Sashi Brown were hired in January 2016, they made no secret of their intention to take a quantitative approach to Cleveland’s rebuild. DePodesta and Brown began their project last year by letting several in-house free agents (offensive linemen Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz, wideout Travis Benjamin, free safety Tashaun Gipson) walk before twice trading down in the first round of the draft. The Browns were rewarded with four compensatory picks (a third-rounder, two fourths, and a fifth) to add to their boatload of draft choices.

 All told, Cleveland now has 11 picks each in this year’s and next year’s drafts. That haul includes five of the first 65 overall selections this year and four picks in the first two rounds next year. The Browns also maneuvered to set themselves up with a whopping $102 million in salary cap space this year, right when the timing was perfect. The league’s cash-spending rules require teams to spend 89 percent of the salary cap, but only in cumulative, four-year increments. And this is the first year of the latest increment, which runs from 2017 to 2020.

What the Browns did, insofar as Osweiler concerns them, is use some of that surplus cap room toward a sunk cost (Osweiler’s $16 million in guarantees) that allowed them to obtain Houston’s 2018 second-round pick in exchange for flipping late-round picks this year. It’s an NBA-style move that’s drawing comparisons to what Sam Hinkie did with The Process in Philadelphia. ESPN’S Bill Barnwell went deep to try to gauge the relative value of the assets the Browns swapped, in addition to the gray areas of whether a trade like this is even permitted by the NFL, which prohibits dealing players straight up for cash. But the larger question is this: What will Cleveland ultimately do with all these draft assets? They’re worthless unless some of them are used to obtain good football players.

 Stockpiling draft choices is not a novel strategy, even for the stodgy-ass NFL. As Barnwell noted, the Jimmy Johnson-era Cowboys of the late 1980s and early ‘90s did it by trading running back Herschel Walker. The Packers and Patriots have been doing it for years. And from 1996-2014, the Ravens hoarded 41 compensatory picks, more than any team in the league. As Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta told The MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas:

“We look at the draft as, in some respects, a luck-driven process. The more picks you have, the more chances you have to get a good player. When we look at teams that draft well, it’s not necessarily that they’re drafting better than anybody else. It seems to be that they have more picks. There’s definitely a correlation between the amount of picks and drafting good players.”

All of the above are success stories, but it doesn’t always work out that way. In 2014, then-Jets GM John Idzik wiped the team’s cap slate clean and entered the draft with 12 picks—a deliberate attempt to mimic the Ravens’ strategy. Idzik was canned at the end of that season in part because he and head coach Rex Ryan had been so horribly mismatched, but also because nearly every one of those 12 picks (Jace Amaro in the second round, Jalen Saunders and Shaq Evans in the fourth, to name a few) turned out to be a dud. The Browns have (in theory) set themselves up nicely with a fresh approach into an old system. Actually getting players is when the hard part begins.


Here Is A Thing That Happened In Tim Tebow’s Spring Training Debut

(just seeing if you’re paying attention)

At the start of the bottom of the third inning, New York Mets designated hitter Tim Tebow left the dugout to get some warm-up swings in before stepping into the box. But, strangely, he walked all the way around behind the plate—from the Mets dugout on the third-base side to the on-deck circle in front of the visitors’ dugout, on the first-base side.

Boston’s Rick Porcello, warming up on the mound, said he assumed it was a bat boy. After all, why would a Mets player be over there?

After a few swings, home plate umpire Ryan Additon noticed Tebow in the wrong on-deck circle, and told Tebow to get back to his side of the field. Tebow sheepishly complied.

Afterward Tebow explained his mistake, saying he had always thought that lefty batters warm up on that side of the field no matter which team they play for.

“I thought you walk around because you’re a left-hander. I found out you don’t do that.”

“It looked like he hadn’t played baseball in a while,” Mets hitting coach Kevin Long said.

“He’s so far behind on the nuances of the game,” Mets OF Jay Bruce said.

“Definitely there’s a lot of things I’m trying to play catch-up on,” Tebow said.

Tebow went 0-for-3, with two strikeouts and a grounder into a double play. He reached base when he was hit by a pitch; he was promptly doubled off on a soft liner when he strayed too far from first.

 Here are some highlights:

The Minnesota Vikings Hate Birds

As Expected, The New Vikings Stadium Is Killing A Record Number Of Birds

Jim Mone/AP Images

No one can say they didn’t see this coming. Well, the birds can.

The Audubon Society warned that U.S. Bank Stadium, huge and glassy and inviting, would prove a “death trap” for birds who smacked into its massive walls. Now they’ve got the data to prove it. It is, by far, the deadliest building in Minneapolis.

Over a span of 11 weeks, volunteers from three conservation groups undertook regular circuits of the stadium, which officially opened last year. They discovered 60 dead birds, and 14 more “stunned” birds which had flown into the glass and were injured or distressed. City Pages has a good write-up, but if you want to dive into the details, the full report is available here—complete with lots of photos of dead birds, and mortality charts by species.

Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis
Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis

That’s 60 deaths in a single migration period, and doesn’t count the birds that were disposed of when volunteers weren’t there. (Interviews with maintenance staff and security guards indicate they regularly remove bird bodies.) Over a three-year period that projects to about 500 bird deaths. The previous recorded high for a single building in Minneapolis over three years was 250.

“We knew that the glass would be highly confusing to the birds,” volunteer Jim Sharpsteen says. “They see a reflection of a blue sky in the glass, they think it’s a blue sky. They see reflections of trees, they think they can land in those reflections of trees. This confirmed what we already believed would be bad.”

There are relatively simple things the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority could do to severely reduce the mortality rates, including installing glass with a visible patten. That’s what they did at New York’s Javits Center, and immediately cut bird deaths by 90 percent.

Conservation groups, including the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, were calling for the stadium to be made bird-safe for years before it opened (in line with Minnesota Department of Commerce guidelines, which would appear to require it for all publicly financed structures like), but the MSFA declined to take any steps. There’s no indication they intend to do anything about it even now. Enjoy your bird mass grave, Vikings fans.

Oakleygate Plummets Further Into Stupidity

originally posted on deadspin.com


Report: Charles Oakley Once Again Allowed To Watch Sloppy Basketball At MSG

Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP

Former Knicks great Charles Oakley can once again watch all the triangle offense he desires at Madison Square Garden. The Oakley ban is gone, according to The Undefeated’s Mike Wise:

 

The Associated Press also spoke with a source who said the ban had been lifted.

 Last Friday, Knicks owner James Dolan and his binder appeared on Michael Kay’s radio show in an attempt to persuade the public that he, not Oakley, was the sympathetic character in this dispute. His lobbying wasn’t very effective: the Knicks owner spent a good portion of his time insinuating that Oakley needed “help” for some unspoken issue, and said that the former player would receive a lifetime ban from MSG.

“I mean, to me, you know, I think that, I mean, Charles has a problem,” Dolan said at the time. “I said this before, we’ve said it before, we’ve said that he’s his own worst problem. He has a problem. People need to, you know, sort of understand that, that, the, you know, he is—he has a problem with anger. He’s both physically and verbally abusive. He may have a problem with alcohol, we don’t know.”

When asked if the ban had been lifted, an MSG spokesperson supplied a copy of NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s statement from yesterday.

The NBA Is A Shit-Show Right Now

As we approach the NBA All-Star break (Feb 17-19), it seems that just about everybody in the Eastern conference is ready to take a weekend off of work.  Tensions have been rising in Chicago, New York and even in Cleveland where the King is unhappy upon his thrown, peering down amongst his constituents with a scowl that would make bitch-face uneasy.

lebron-you-mad

The NBA’s drama all started to hit the fan when earlier this week, Chicago’s Dwayne Wade explained how his teammates completely sucked, while talking in a post-game interview that threw a wrench into the Bull’s bicycle spokes:

“I’m 35 years old, man,’’ Wade said. “I have three championships. It shouldn’t hurt me more than it hurts (teammates). They have to want it.”

–Dwayne Wade

Jimmy Butler chimed in:

“I believe in the guys in this locker room, yeah, but I also believe that we probably have to be coached a lot harder at times,” Jimmy Butler said after scoring just 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting one night after he played 56 minutes against the Pistons. “I know Fred is a laidback guy and I respect him for that, but when guys aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, you gotta get on guys, myself included. You gotta do what you’re supposed to do when you’re out there playing basketball.

“We weren’t doing what were supposed to be doing, what we wrote on that board before the game. Nobody spoke up. I did, but probably not enough times. I think he has to hold everybody accountable, from the No. 1 player, all the way down. Everyone has to do their job.”

And apparently Rajon Rondo chimed in via instagram as well:

“My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn’t pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn’t take days off. My vets didn’t care about their numbers. My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn’t blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work. Even in Boston when we had the best record in the league, if we lost a game, you could hear a pin drop on the bus. They showed us the seriousness of the game. My vets didn’t have an influence on the coaching staff. They couldn’t change the plan because it didn’t work for them. I played under one of the greatest coaches, and he held everyone accountable. It takes 1-15 to win. When you isolate everyone, you can’t win consistently. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a bad teammate. My goal is to pass what I learned along. The young guys work. They show up. They don’t deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it’s the leadership.”

Chicago sounds like a dumpster fire right now, they’re 23-24 overall and spiraling out of control, Fred Hoiberg is on the hot seat.

****UPDATE: Jimmy Butler and Dwayne Wade will start the game tonight on the bench as a punishment.

The next big, weird, awkward happening is in the Big, Weird, Awkward Apple.  Carmelo Anthony is on the trading block, the latest rumor is a move to the LA Clippers for some combination of Jamaal Crawford (hasn’t he played for the Knicks like 4 times already?), J.J. Redick, and/or Austin Rivers.  My guess is that there will have to be a draft pick fixed into this move on both sides as well.  A Big-4 in LA could be forming with the likes of Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony, a solid core that will fight for that 2nd seed in the Western conference for the foreseeable future.

In addition to the Melo-trade talks, Phil Jackson seems to have lost control of this franchise (assuming he ever had control).  Whatever the hell offense they were trying to put together has now been dismantled by ZERO ball movement (Melo), ZERO outside shooting, ZERO defense, while Head Coach/scapegoat Jeff Hornacek gives ZERO fucks anymore:

“I don’t think our guys aren’t trying. Maybe we’re just not capable of it. I don’t know,” Hornacek said. “That’s what we’re going to have to figure out. Maybe you have to play some of these other guys. We might have to mix the lineup up somehow.”

–Jeff Hornacek

If “playing some of these other guys” includes giving Johkim Noah more floor-tic, Phil should just fire Hornacek now and put him out of his misery.

Derrick Rose pulled a disappearing act a few weeks ago, it’s still relatively unexplained as to what really happened with that.  In addition, D-Rose is shooting way too much.  In the last 5 games – all losses – Rose has taken 21.2 shots a game.  In games where Rose plays and the Knicks win, he averages 13.6 FGA.  In losses he averages 17.7 FGA.

And finally, this week Lebron James aired his grievances in true Costanzian form by taking to the media to complain about his front office NOT going hard after Melo, or any other available superstar.  Despite spending more than any other NBA franchise this season, Lebron isn’t content.  The Cavs (30-14) are currently committed to $127.5 million in salaries and $27 million in luxury taxes for this season.  They’ve spent more than any other NBA team over the three-years since Lebron came back.  The most recent acquisition was sharp-shooter Kyle Korver, who has yet to fully mesh with the Cavs’ offensive flow.

While Lebron spoke about the younger, less experienced players like Kay Felder, DeAndre Liggins and Jordan McRae on the Cavs roster:

“No disrespect to DeAndre and to Kay: You think we can rely on them to help us win a playoff game right now?” James said. “And it’s no disrespect to them. But it’s like, it’s not fair to them.”

–Lebron James

I can understand that Lebron wants to remain competitive, you can see he’s smart enough to realize that they’re chasing the Warriors after the Durant addition.  But going media first is always the wrong way to handle things.  Why does this keep happening?  The NBA is plagued by players who are reporting to the media first before handling issues internally, then they complain about the media being too on top of them.  The past two weeks seem particularly gossipy and complainy, maybe the NBA needs a quick break.  All-Star weekend can’t get here soon enough.

 

Pop For President In 2020

Who do we need to call to make this a real thing?  Is there a petition we need to start?  Can Obama help make this happen?

More from Coach Pop:

“I’m a rich white guy, and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about it. I can’t imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African American, a Hispanic, a handicapped person. How disenfranchised they might feel. And for anyone in those groups that voted for him, it’s just beyond my comprehension how they ignore all of that. My final conclusion is, my big fear is—we are Rome.”

Coach Pop and Bernie for President/Vice President in 2020!!!

Dec 18, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich on the sidelines against the Los Angeles Clippers at the AT&T Center. San Antonio won 115-107. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

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Let’s make America NOT-Russia again!

Ranking The Remaining Playoff QBs

We’ve reached the NFL’s Final Four (all rights reserved by the NCAA), only the toughest, meanest and most photogenic teams are left.  Well, except for the Steelers, they re-define “ugly football”.

This weekend the REAL playoffs begin, let’s be honest no one out there really believed in Houston, Las Vegas (Oakland), Kansas City the ghost of Seattle and/or the Jerry Jones disciples in Dallas.  The cream of the crop and the superstars always show-out in the playoffs, I’m talking about players and coaches combined.  The Pats are a pillar of consistency for the AFC championship game, the Tim Allen of the NFL, if you will permit me to obscurely reference (doesn’t it seem like he’s ALWAYS working??).  New England is in their 6th straight AFC championship game; death, taxes and Patriots in the AFC Championship game are the only absolutes in this life.  Good luck to you Steeler fans, don’t forget your live-streaming devices.

Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots

In the NFC, we’ve got two incredibly hot (so hot right now) teams in what will be the Mad Max of an NFC Championship game.  Absolute chaos lead by pass-crazy, do everything yourself, not following any of society’s rules, Quarterbacks both vying for the sweat cream of a trip to the Superbowl.   Aaron Rodgers has been borderline videogame satus, throwing darts and strikes like he was Michael van Gerwen or Ravichandran Ashwin.  Extra points if you can tell me who either of those guys are, without clicking the links.

With the remaining gunslingers left in the NFL-Koi pond, the question naturally arises:  Who’s the best QB left in the playoffs, RIGHT NOW?

Obviously, these four passers are among the league leaders in just about every category.  One of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan is likely to win the AP’s MVP award this season, while Ben Roethlisberger isn’t far off from their 2016 standard.  Roethlisberger comes in as the 10th-best passer in the league by opponent-adjusted Total QBR, while Ryan, Brady and Rodgers each rank in the top four. The only top-four passer missing is Dak Prescott, who’s soul was imploded by Rodgers on Sunday.

So who ya got?  RIGHT NOW, leading your team the rest of the way?

Tom Brady:

tombrady

He’s Tom Brady.  12-time Pro Bowler, 4-time Superbowl Champ, 2-time Superbowl MVP.  And just to re-iterate the point, he’s TOM BRADY.   Over the last 5 games (Houston, Miami, New York Jets, Denver and Baltimore) Mr. Bundchen has gone 101 out of 168 for 1,371 yds and 11 TDs.  He’s had a QBR of 74.96 and the golden locks of an angel high on heavenly opiates.  He’s gone 5-0 against 3 of the NFL’s top 10 defenses to round out his yellow-brick road travels to the AFC Championship game.

Ben Roethlisberger:

bigben

Big Ben, the 5-time Pro Bowler and 2-time Superbowl champ has been his normal, scrambly, impossible to freaking tackle, water-buffalo with a rocket for an arm-self in 2016.  When Ben is healthy, he’s a Top 5 QB in the league.  He’s gone 5-0 to lead his Steel-curtain boys through the end of the regular season and make this AFC Championship run, beating Buffalo, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Miami and Kansas City.  Over the last 5 games, Big Ben has gone 95 out of 149 for 1,206 yds and 6 TDs.  His QBR is only at 58.9, but it goes along with 2 broken ankles, 3 lacerated pelvises, 6 cracked vertebrae and a scorching case of herpes.  Big Ben is an animal, the guy only needs one leg and a half an arm to make a back-shoulder throw to Antonio Brown for a 70-yard touchdown.

Matt Ryan:

mattryan

Matt Ryan has been on a tear this season, posting career highs in basically every offensive category and making a very strong push for MVP of the league, not to mention being just a really, really nice guy.  I mean look at him , doesn’t he seem like the kind of guy that’d hold the door open for an old lady, or stop traffic for a family of ducks?  In his last 5 games, his overall QBR has been a staggering 86.68, which leads the remaining playoff QBs.  He’s thrown for 14 TDs (tied with Rodgers) and 1,469 yds in the last 5 games, taking the Falcons through LA, SF, Carolina, New Orleans and Seattle to finish the regular season strong and procure a spot in the NFC Championship.  If it wasn’t for Aaron Rodgers’ late game heroics and badly-acted but somehow still funny every time-State Farm commercials, EVERYONE would be talking about Matt Ryan’s MVP season in 2016.

Aaron Rodgers:

arodgers

Discount Double-Check has been damn near perfect over the last 5 games.  He’s raised his normal greatness to another level of ludicrous-greatness (we can’t stop, it’s too dangerous), and if he leads his injury-ridden Packers squad to the Superbowl then he’s solidified himself as the 2016 MVP and the biggest late-season hero in green since the Grinch gave the Whos from Whoville their presents back.  I’m not sure if it’s the luck of the Irish or if Aaron Rodgers has a deal with the devil, but he’s been on fire and seems unstoppable the rest of the way.   I’m not gonna give you any stats, cause Mr. Rodgers doesn’t need numbers to win games……nerd.