Here at The Turf, we love baseball — and by “we,” I mean writers other than me. It’s not that I’m not enamored with America’s National Pastime; it’s that it doesn’t power my pen to paper. So while the rest of The Turf produces meaningful (and excellent!) MLB content, I’ve come to slum it on the mid-field hash marks. Yes indeed, fam — I’m here to cover that most meaningless of endeavors: NFL Training Camp. You’re welcome, world.
“But wait!” you say, “Training camp isn’t meaningless!” And you, of course, are right — but the march to preseason is rife with hype disguised as fact and inflated personal interest tales. Much of the news that comes out of camp is little more than a overextended byline. Example:
On the Marvel Cinematic Universe-focused The Infinity Podcast, my co-hosts and I discuss the nature of comics related clickbait in a segment called “This Is Not A News;” I’d like to try that with the National Football League. Presenting “This Is Not A News: NFL Training Camp Edition” — I’ll run down four of this weekend’s top stories and tell you if they’re noteworthy and why. (And if that makes you check my Marvel show out? So much the better.)
So get more stoked than Matt Patricia for year two and let’s get into it:
Pats extend Brady, QB gets $23 mil in 2019
We’re starting with an easy one: this is a news. Any player getting an extension is notable but in the instance of Brady? It’s sneakily important. As nice as it is to see the 42 year old future Hall of Famer become the sixth-highest-paid QB in the league, the real lede is the additional $5.5 million in salary cap space the Patriots now have to play with. Last year, New England dealt for Josh Gordon at mid season. Three years ago, they locked down Kyle Van Noy in October; he went on to start in the Super Bowl.
The Patriots have mastered the mid season trade and have years of resets to show for it. Through Brady’s new deal, they gave themselves more bargaining power. It’s almost unfair. But it’s also…
This Is A News
Lamar Jackson ‘looks like a different player’ in training camp
Google “Looks like a different player + training camp.” Go ahead — I’ll wait. If you must, add your team of choice to that search and a given year. Among the ones I found in while preparing for this article: “WR Mike Williams ‘looks like a different player’ So Far in Training Camp”, “Joe Williams looks like a completely different player”, and “Brandon Coleman is a Training Camp stud.” Mike Williams had a fine year but Joe Williams suffered a season ending injury in the 49ers second preseason game and Brandon Coleman is no longer playing in the NFL, logging a paltry 364 yards in 2017.
My point is less that “camp is just camp” then “football is football.” As much as the eye test matters and early results are relevant, any player is always a play away from physical therapy or season-shaping breakthrough. I’m glad Lamar Jackson looks special in the early goings; I want him to roll hard this year. But looking special before one snap is in the books?
This Is Not A News
Packers sign Jordy Nelson to one day deal and Jordy Nelson retires
I will never forget the pain Jordy Nelson inflicted on my Bears and countless other teams. Pain like this:
It’s easy in a fantasy football driven realm to bury players before they’re gone; but Jordy Nelson’s been alive if hardly thriving as a member of the Raiders. That time is over. And Nelson’s days should be eulogizing properly: 550 receptions with the Packers alone and over 7,800 receiving yards. Their second all time touchdown receiver. A guy who once joked “I still don’t know why Vikings fans admit they’re Vikings fans” at a high school athletes award show.
Jordy Nelson is ice cold.
And for one glorious day, Nelson came out of the cold that is retirement. For 24 hours, he was back where he belongs: in green and gold, on the sun-streaked field of Lambeau. Thank you for the memories, Jordy. May you never the play the Bears again.
This Is A News
Baker Mayfield Chugs Beer at Cleveland Indians Game
This was never going to be a news, but it was always must see content. It inspires dreams of Ryan Fitzpatrick downing PBR at Marlins games. Imagine Big Ben and Baker facing off in half-drunken glory! But beyond that, consider how the number one pick in last year’s draft is actually changing the culture of Cleveland football by downing a brew quite publicly.
Baker Mayfield has skill. Baker also has swagger. And decades from now, when half this country is under water and Blu Ivy is our second female President, scientists will determine what skill to swagger ratio actually makes a champion. Until that time, we will note that Baker Mayfield is making being a Browns fan feel cool — he’s shotgunning passes and drinks with aplomb while flipping water bottles to Ringer staff writers. He’s helping a fanbase find its groove. This may not be newsworthy, but it might be a key to the Browns success this year. That’s a catch-22, but ain’t that just how football works? I know so. And Baker does too.
This Is Awesome But Not A News
And that’s ultimately the first week of football in a nutshell. At the end of the day, I and much of sports media are simply thrilled (or conflicted!) that the NFL is back in our lives. We await this season’s stories; we anticipate it’s games. But until then? Most of us will make ever kernel or nugget of info as relevant as our sports-loving hearts allow — that’s part of the fun of being a fan.”
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