After losing my mother to cancer at the age of 19, I felt instantly, I became a man. My personality and outlook upon life changed in an instant and I knew I would never be the same person again. I think anyone who has ever lost a loved one will understand the emotion and that cold reality check you feel when going through a situation like that. I think you then have respect and appreciation for anyone who has to deal with the loss of a loved one.
When coming to terms with my mothers passing I remember the inspiration I would get from the game of football and the inspirational life stories I would read of some of the players in the game.
I can recall the performance that, then, Green bay Packers quarterback, Brett Favre, gave the night after his dad passed away just a couple of nights before christmas in 2003 and how much I was inspired by it. I had never seen such accurate passes. He’d throw into double, sometimes triple coverage and would put the ball exactly where it needed to be for his receiver to make the play. I remember the way his team mates got inspired by him for just showing up and the way they rallied around him during that game was incredible. On that night Favre passed for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns to beat the Oakland Raiders in front of a national audience on Monday night football. He also kept his amazing iron man, consecutive game streak alive. I remember how he would smile and hug his team mates during the game, like as if it was the most natural thing in the world to go out and play like that just hours after his loss. I remember how he said it’s what his dad would have wanted and how he loved the game so much and after hearing that I think I understood how he could have played that way and how he could channel his grief and hurt into the game he was born to play because of that love. It was just great to witness it and I’ve actually put the tape on a few times since just to remind myself of how special it actually was.
Last Saturday night, Tevin Chris Jones, the younger brother of Ravens Wide receiver Torrey Smith died in a motorcycle accident on Route 672 in Westmoreland County in northeast Virginia. Smith was notified at the Ravens team hotel during the early hours of Sunday morning and left immediately to be with his family.
Torrey Smith grew up in Virginia with Tevin and 5 other siblings. He went to university in Maryland where he chose to forgo his senior season to enter the 2011 NFL Draft, The Baltimore Ravens selected him in the second round with the 58th overall pick.
He came in and showed that he had potential by catching 50 passes for 841 yards and 7 touchdowns during the regular season. He had a big game against the Steelers in prime time last year and showed his skills during the playoffs but he had much to improve on during the off-season in many aspects but improve he did. I was reading how wide receivers coach Jim Hostler, who’s in his 5th year in the position, would say that there is a huge difference in Torrey’s work habits this year. Now he calls Hostler to ask for 6am wide receiver meetings. I thought a lot of Torrey when I read that and I was excited for him coming into the season.
When I woke up last Sunday morning I turned on the lap top, Grabbed a cup of coffee and read the headlines on the sports web sites. ( I had a wash first obviously ). I read what had happened and how the Ravens organization had dealt with it all and I just remember thinking how sad it was and how tough a situation it must have been for Torrey but also how much of a classy organization the Ravens are. It’s sad that these things happen but when they do I think the true colors of a franchise come to life. It was nice to read some of the things the coaches and players had said about the situation and I just had a feeling that he was going to play knowing the family of people and players he had around him. At first I just hoped they were all in a situation to deal with the loss and when I read about the bond he had with his brother and other siblings it just seemed to make sense that he would gut it out and play. I remember looking at his account on Twitter a few hours into the first game to see if there were any updates and then to the Ravens site to see if there was any word but all I read was coach Harbaugh saying that there was no pressure on Torrey to play. Coming to the end of the afternoon games I looked back on his Twitter page and he had written something. He wrote…
“I can’t believe my little brother is gone…be thankful for your loved ones and tell them you love them…this is the hardest thing ever.”
I remember getting a bit choked up reading this but about 10 minutes later I learned that he had decided to play. I just remember a warm feeling of pride rushing over me when I learned this. I remember thinking how much he must love this team and how much his brother must have wanted him to play and for some reason I just pictured him talking with emotional leader Ray Lewis about the decision and just some of the stuff Ray would say about protecting him and so on. I was getting pretty pumped up at that point. I don’t know if he spoke to Ray about weather or not he would play but I would almost guaranteed that he did.
Here in the UK we have fantastic coverage of Sunday night football and both presenters, Nat Coombs and Mike Carlson covered Torrey Smith’s loss with great poise and skill. When the footage went live to Baltimore It would show pictures of the pre game build up and how they held a minute’s silence for Tevin and put his picture up on the giant replay screens at M&T Bank stadium. Watching the game you could just feel the pride they had for Torrey as a team. I think for him to just even be out there made them want to do anything and everything they could to get the win. Team mates patting him on the shoulder pads, Hugging him and so on. It was great to see. I honestly think this situation brought them closer together as a team and as an organization last Sunday night.
New England went 13-0 up early but in the second quarter. Torrey caught a 25 yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to make it 13-7. The game was back and forth for 4 quarters but with 4 minutes to play in the game, Torrey caught a 5-yard TD pass to bring the Ravens within two points. The Ravens then stopped the patriots and had the ball with less than 2 minutes on the clock. Down by 2 they started the drive.
I tweeted in to channel 4 and presenter Nat Coombs read out to the nation that I thought Torrey’s performance to that point was up there with Brett Favre’s during the game I mentioned earlier. Mike Carlson agreed and gave a fantastic summary of those passes Favre was throwing, Comparing them to the bullets that were fired at JFK and he also mentioned the ridiculous pre-planned interview that followed by then Monday night sideline reporter Lisa Guarrero. I had done my best to put that behind me.
Just before the game went back live to see how the final Baltimore Drive would end, Nat Coombs went back to my tweet to add that I had predicted that Torrey Smith would catch the game winning touchdown but with the Ravens only 2 points down I knew the chances were that they would play for the field goal and that’s just what they did. Flacco hit Jacoby Jones on a nice pass to start the drive and they marched into range for rookie kicker Justin Tucker to step up. Tucker was perfect on the season and in the same situation against New England during last seasons championship game, Previous kicker Billy Cundiff had shanked one to send them home instead on tying that game up. No question the pressure was on Tucker who probably wouldn’t be in the position had Cundiff made that kick. He made some big clutch kicks at Texas though and I had faith in him. He connected well with the ball but it did drift a little right. IT WAS GOOD !!!! He came through in the clutch and the Ravens won the game 31-30.
Torrey had finished the game with six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns and with one of the greatest performances I had ever seen given the circumstances. This is another game I will watch over one day.
THE RETURN ON THE OFFICIALS
At the end of last weeks Monday night football game, I was half expecting former NFL great and current Green Bay Packers linebacker coach Kevin Green to come flying in through the corner of our screens to land one last big hit on one of the replacement officials when they handed the game to Seattle following the Golden Tate touchdown call. I knew that the call was the eruption of the volcano that had been building up over the first three weeks of the season. But here we are and all is good again.
In a statement to the fans, commissioner Roger Goodell said, “We’re sorry to have put the fans through that”.
I don’t think we have an option whether to accept it or not but if it was last year I know I would be asking for a refund. I travelled to the states for the first three weeks of the season last year and spent over $1000 in tickets. I’d still be sitting on the runway at Newark airport had I been there this year.
Goodell’s apology just doesn’t sit well with me. To me it just goes to show that it could have been avoided. If you look at the numbers of all this and just look at everything that had to be agreed to then to me it doesn’t look like that big of a deal. Especially when you’re talking about this multi-billion dollar industry. They could have avoided this the entire time and he’s apologising because he knows that it’s true in my opinion. It’s not enough but I think it’s all we’re going to get.
You can tell based on what the NFL said that this lockout was avoidable. They went from saying that it isn’t so much about the money to it’s more about the control we have upon the officials. That they wanted to have the perfect system and the perfect officiating. Well in doing so they had one major problem. They had the entire league coming down on them and all the fans coming down on them. Now all of a sudden they find the money to give them a pension and so on. They find the money to pay them and give them the proper raises. They can’t fool us. If they had come to this arrangement 3 or 4 weeks ago then we could have avoided the whole thing.
It’s good that the winners in this were the officials. You’re never appreciated until you’re gone I think is the proper saying here. The officials have never been appreciated like this in the past. In Thursday night’s game in Baltimore I was half expecting the refs to come out of the tunnel in the smoke doing the Ray Lewis dance. They could be introduced to the crowd with their colleges and hight and weight being mentioned this week if the wanted. I honestly don’t think the fans would mind.
On my last point about the replacement official situation for the rest of my life I hope, I’d just like to say how disappointed I was that the owners didn’t step up at any point throughout this lockout situation. Goodell was put out front and to me his reputation has been tarnished when you consider all the issues that have happened in football over the last several months with bounty-gate, With the concussion issue and now with the officials. This is the commissioner that was being loved a few years ago because of the actions he was taking against players. I think he comes out as a major loser in all of this but personally I can’t be too hard on him as he has brought the NFL and the games to the UK. I’ll always love him for that.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, 10/21, 130 yds, 2 TD’s, 0 Int’s- Passing / 3 att, 18 yds – Rushing
I don’t care how he got it done, Bottom line is, he did, and threw no interceptions whilst doing it. Wilson managed the game very well and was the only rookie quarterback to pull off a victory in week 3. I thought that it was interesting that the other four rookie starters all threw over 35 passes with 2 throwing over 40. Wilson threw just 21 and had great support from Marshawn Lynch and that defense which is the real deal. That defensive backfield might be the most talented in the game in my opinion.
Wilson was incredible during the pre-season and looked at times like that on Monday night. Pete Carroll was in high praise of him following the game and said it’s what he’s all about and that we should expect games like this from him. I’m not going to mention the officials and that touchdown !!!!
Other quarterbacks that played well
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins, 21/34, 221 yds, 1 td, 0 Int – Passing. 12att, 85 yds, 1 td – Rushing.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts, 22/46, 313 yds, 2 td, 1 Int – Passing. 4att 50 yds – Rushing.
Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins, 17 att, 78 yds, 1 td – Rushing.
So far this season Washington rookie running back Alfred Morris has run for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns and to me it seems like Mike Shannahan has have found his latest 1000 yard running back to be drafted on the last day of the draft. Shannahan runs a fantastic zone running scheme that relies on backs to use a one cut and go method. Just put on a Terrell Davis highlight reel to see what I’m talking about.
Shannahan has to be excited about this rookie class and the young players on this roster I think have the potential to get them back to their glory days.
Other backs that played well.
Doug Martin, Tampa bay Buccaneers, 19 att 53 yds,- Rushing / 2 rec 21 yds – receiving.
WIDE RECEIVER / TIGHT END
T.Y Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, 4 rec 113 yds, 1 td.
The Indianapolis Colts searched for a draft gem, and might have found a diamond in the rough with their receiver T.Y. Hilton.
Being selected in the third round as the 92nd pick of the 2012 NFL draft, Hilton leaves Florida International University as the best player to ever come from their short-lived program.
Leaving Florida International and the Sun Belt Conference as the career leader in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, all-purpose yards and kickoff return yards, Hilton is exactly the type of player general manager Ryan Grigson wanted to bring in to retool the Colts offense. He’s a dynamic playmaker.
Other receivers and Tight ends that played well..
Armon Binns, Cincinnati Bengals, 3 rec, 63 yds, 1 td
Damaris Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles, 5 rec, 84 yds
Bruce Irvin, DE/LB, Seattle Seahawks, 2 tkls, 2 sacks, Incredible pressure with quarterback hits.
When the Seattle Seahawks selected Bruce Irvin with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2012 draft, the organization was universally criticized for the pick, but Pete Carroll and Co. may get the last laugh.
With what Irvin has shown so far in the 2012 NFL season, he may very well be the NFL’s best pass-rusher.
After witnessing what a young, elite pass-rusher did for teams like the New York Giants with Jason Pierre-Paul and the San Francisco 49ers with Aldon Smith, it is easy to see why the Seahawks took a risk with Irvin so early in the draft.
So far Irvin has shined as the newest member of the Seattle defensive unit.
Other defensive linemen that played well.
Derek Wolfe, Chicago Bears, 5 tkls. Good pressure.
Oliver Vernon, Miami Dolphins, 5 tkls, 0.5 sacks.
Craig Robertson, Linebacker, Cleveland Browns, 8 tkls, Just great awareness for a rookie.
Signed as a rookie free agent Robertson has already had 27 tackles and 2 interceptions on the season after week 4 and he has the potential to be a star on this Browns defense.
Other linebackers that impressed were.
Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers, 12 tkls,
Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati Bengals, 7 tkls.
Nick Perry, Green bay Packers, 4 tkls, 1 sack.
Harrison Smith, Safety, Minnesota Vikings, 7 tkls, 1 pd.
They set an NFL record by going nine straight games without an interception. They gave up a league-high 34 touchdown passes. Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 107.6 against Minnesota, the second-worst number ever put up by an NFL defense, the only higher number was by the winless 2008 Detroit Lions.
And this from a defense that tied for the NFL lead in sacks on the year with 50.
The Vikings were literally calling people off their couches to try to fill in at the secondary positions by the end of the season. It all led to a 3-13 season that Minnesota is desperate to put far behind them as the 2012 campaign gets under way.
Obviously, finding some defensive backs was a priority for GM Rick Spielman heading into last offseason. Enter Harrison Smith !!!
Other defensive backs that played well
Jayron Hosley, New york Giants, 3 tkls, Great coverage.
Josh Robinson, Minnesota Vikings, 4tkls,
Thanks for reading my latest column for sportcitychefs.com
By Rhodri Jones.
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