By TERRY LYONS
BOSTON - Who will be the “next” Tom Brady?
That’s a question that is impossible to answer because there will never be another Tom Brady, and by the way, Tom Brady is STILL being Tom Brady in Tampa Bay during this weekend’s NFL Playoffs.
For years and years while at the NBA, we heard, “Who is going to be the “next” Michael Jordan, or who will be the “next “Larry Bird or “Magic Johnson?” As we all learned, there was never, ever going to be “another Michael Jordan,” and, as Earvin Johnson said to Larry Bird at Bird’s Boston Garden retirement event, “There will never, ever, ever be another Larry Bird.”
As the NBA endured through the retirements of Bird, Magic, Jordan, not to ignore the likes of Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or the late Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell and Elgin Baylor (and hundreds of other greats) before that. But guess what? Another star DOES come along, as we witnessed already with LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard or Kevin Durant and the dozens of young talented players who’ve entered the league and compete for a championship each year.
Looking back at the NFL and Brady, however, this weekend - alone - underlines the marvelous talent-boom the NFL is enjoying in 2020-21. Here’s a quick look at the teams playing this weekend, and then we’ll delve into some of the other amazing QBs who will compete for the NFL Lombardi Trophy for years and maybe a decade to come.
Saturday, Jan 16th Games:
LA Rams (Jared Goff) vs. Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers)
Baltimore Ravens (Lamar Jackson) vs. Buffalo (Josh Allen)
Sunday, January 17th Games:
Cleveland Browns (Baker Mayfield) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes)
Tampa Bay Bucaneers (Tom Brady) vs. New Orleans Saints (Drew Brees)
BEST of the REST: In no certain order, we’ll list just a LARGE handful of the other young and up & coming NFL QBs along with some veteran greats, already proven winners. Here’s a listing starting at No. 9 to be added to the eight named above:
Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals)
Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans)
Justin Herbert (LA Chargers)
Joe Burrow (Cincinnati Bengals)
Ryan Tannehill (Tennessee Titans)
Not to be over-looked are veterans such as: Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford of Detroit, Pittsburgh Steelers great Ben Roethlisberger, Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, Indy’s Phillip Rivers (on his way out?) and the injured Dak Prescott of Dallas who was well on his way to a record-breaking performance before he was injured this fall.
Unproven as of yet, but undoubtedly bright NFL futures belong to: Philly’s Jalen Hurts, Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa, and incoming talents like Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence (likely to go to Jacksonville in the 2021 NFL Draft), and maybe Justin Fields of Ohio State.
That’s a low-ball of 20 GREAT quarterbacks in the NFL as we speak, and a few others (like Daniel Jones of the NYG or Sam Darnold of the NYJ) might break out if given the right situation. That’s a lot of talent, and you must not overlook the fact that LA Chargers’ Justin Herbert - tossed in the middle of this listing - just might throw the best ball we’ve seen in decades.
HERE NOW, THE NOTES: Last week’s column received considerable positive feedback and most readers clicked “on a record number” of the links provided to view some of the memorable TV ads and campaigns listed. A few asked for a listing of the “worst” TV spots. … In good conscious, I can not do a full listing (25+) of terrible spots, nor risk placing too many annoying “ear worms/brain worms/sticky music” on your plate in what is supposed to be an enjoyable Sunday morning read. That said, here are a few that would certainly be considered and anyone subjected to an extra dose of general TV, sports TV or popular reruns during this pandemic, will surely relate. Here are a few:
Jake (and Chris Paul) for State Farm - They ran this into the ground.
State Farm - And, this was even WORSE!
Progressive, Geico, Aflac, and JG Wentworth are the runners-up.
Bonus: Allstate - "Non, je ne regrette rien," is the song and it translates from French to English as “I have no regrets,” which might be true until you’ve heard the Allstate Insurance spot and the voice-over by actor Dennis Dexter Haysbert for the 150th time. The lovely French language voice is that of Edith Piaf who recorded the song during the French-Algerian War (1954-62). Bonus Trivial Pursuit for film aficionados who might recognize the tune from “Saving Private Ryan,” as well as the ever-running Allstate ads.
TIME HAS COME TODAY: One spot we missed in our list of GREAT TV SPOTS is airing this weekend as it did all NFL season long and it publicizes AWS (Amazon Web Services) and their NextGen Stats. The spot of NFL highlights with all kinds of next generation (which is REALLY this generation, by the way) clocks player speed in mph, velocity on passes, you name it. The ad is cut to the Chambers Bros. Classic “Time Has Come.” (circa ‘67). The song is described as psychodelic rock, based on American Blues and Gospel music. It was billed as “an 11-minute opus” at a time when most hits went about 2:59 on AM radio. To say we wore that (LP) album out would be the understatement of the ‘60s. (Editor’s note: Keep in mind, I was seven years old while blasting the song, with thus, the influence of older brothers and their friends, Thank God).
INXS: I was sad to read of the death of INXS band manager Chris Murphy, 66, who lost his battle vs Cancer in the early morning hours of January 16th in Sydney, Australia. … The coincidence was the fact, just this week, I stumbled into an AXT-TV documentary on INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence and found it incredibly interesting, but sad. Still at the peak of the band’s popularity, Hutchence took his own life in 1997. … In doing just a bit of surfing online, reviewing the incredible rise in popularity of the INXS band of Australia, I found a link to the documentary and thought I’d share it today.
DIAMOND DUST-UPs: Sadly, again, we’re paying tribute to a dear baseball legend we lost this week. Let’s stop to remember and say a prayer or two for an all-time great MLB manager in Tommy Lasorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lasorda was associated with the Dodgers’ organization for 71 years and held court each day of that incredible time range. … My favorite Lasorda story among hundreds to tell? … At the Dodgerstown facility in Vero Beach, Florida, right as spring training was about to start, Tommy struck up a deal with a fan, an unsuspecting old man who hung around camp and was friendly with staff, coaches and the vets like Manny Mota. Tommy gave the oldster a few cases of baseballs, instructing him to get the autograph of every rookie who came in after curfew? (I forget what time? Might’ve been 1am, or so?) … Tommy would then collect the signed baseballs and then “throw the book” and fine the appropriate rookie player(s), telling them he didn’t want to hear - “not guilty” or any “excuses” because he “knew” … None of the Rooks could figure out how Tommy knew, and they tried sneaking in different ways, but they would bump into the old man in a hallway, feel sorry for him every time as he shyly asked for the autographs and figure he was selling the balls and making a few dollars on the side. At end of Spring Training camp, the Dodgers staff would assemble the group of rookies/1st year Dodgers and Tommy and the old man would come out to meeting room for the final meeting together! Tommy made them all swear to never tell the story, so he could give the next season’s rookies the same treatment.
Among the many things Lasorda was VERY proud of was his association with Team USA Baseball and his managerial role at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympic Games. As the games were about to begin, for whatever reason, Tommy stopped into the USA Basketball HQ (Courtyard Marriott/Residence Inn) type hotel in Parramatta Australia - which can only be described as “the Astoria Queens” to Sydney …. Lasorda was bragging, “I’m not staying in a hotel, I’m staying with my guys.” … Off he went to the official Olympic Village to meet the team. Three hours later, Lasorda was back in Parramatta asking if he could “get a room?”
KLUBER SIGNS with NY YANKS: Last week, the San Diego Padres landed Cy Young award winner Blake Snell and top notch starter Yu Darvish, the pendulum swung from Los Angeles to San Diego for 2021 World Series favorites for the National League. … This week, the NY Yankees reached a deal with ace Corey Kluber to join and already stacked team, including last year’s cream of the crop signee in SP Gerrit Cole. While I wouldn’t bet against Mookie Betts and the Dodgers, overall, it seems to be a three horse race for this year’s Fall Classic (if all goes according to plan in a global pandemic world of 2021). We did a little poll on Twitter. Get your vote in (click on Twitter post embedded) and, and if it’s “other,” please comment below.
ICYMIs: (The In Case You Missed Its) - What’s NEXT for Sports? Ed Desser and John Kosner tossed it around with Howie Long Short (the faux author for Sportico’s John Wall Street column). … Well worth a read and a sign-up to the daily e-News. … The MLL’s (Major League Lacrosse) Boston Cannons will be re-branded as one of the barnstorming clubs of the PLL (Premiere Lacrosse League) with no hometown and forever to be known as Cannons LC. … We’ll miss the community aspect of their games each summer weekend at Quincy, Mass. and we’ll call it “progress.” … One of the investments made by the late David Stern, the former Commissioner of the NBA who passed away on January 1, 2020, was an interest in ShotTracker. The tech company raised another $11M this past week and will set its sights far beyond the college basketball target audience they were targeting. Sportico had the story first. … The annual Pebble Beach Pro-Am will forego the “Am” this year, allowing only the PGA Tour professionals to play while the popular amateurs and movie stars watch from their homes. That will be quite a blow to everyone from Alice Cooper to Ray Romano to Bill Murray. … Let’s hope the “Am” is back in “Pro-Am” next year.
Bill Murray will miss the Pro-Am this year
ICYMI with the NBRPA ANNOUNCEMENT: The National Basketball Retired Players Association named veteran NBA communications specialist Julio Manteiga to the newly-revamped role of Head of Content and Communications. Manteiga joined the NBRPA from the NBA, where he served in a dual role as Director of NBA’s Latin America communications and media monitoring departments. He will oversee all of the NBRPA’s growing digital and social efforts as well as handle the day-to-day proactive communications for the organization.
“We are proud to be able to bring Julio into this new and expanded role,” said NBRPA Executive Director Scott Rochelle. “His experience as a global strategic storyteller will be invaluable to us as we grow our scope, our partnerships and our strategy.”
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Just as we noted for NFL QBs, the amount of young talent currently playing on the PGA Tour is simply astonishing. For today’s column, we’re not going to dig deep, but the PGA Tour is in very good shape for a couple decades, just look at Collin Morikawa (23), Dustin Johnson (36), Justin Thomas (27), Sungjae Im (22) or Joaquin Niemann (22). Add the side-note that PGA Tour golfers hit their prime in their 30s, for sure.
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