Once upon a time those exhibition games were competitive. And meaningful. No, not in the standings. But they were considered a part of the team-building process that sent a team into a season with momentum.
Former general manager Bobby Beathard is the contributor nominee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018, and, as a tribute to him, we reprint a State Your Case — first published in 2015 — arguing for his inclusion.
David Johnson at the top of this poll makes sense for a lot of reasons. In both fantasy and real football, it’s all about putting the ball in the end zone. No one does it better than Johnson, who scored a league-leading 20 times last season on 16 runs and four receptions.
Tony Gonzalez became the first tight end in history to catch 100 passes in a single season when he caught 102 for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2004. Witten became the second when he set the position record with 110 receptions in 2012.
Matt Ryan was the NFL’s MVP in 2016 after passing for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. He completed 69.9 percent of his passes and led the league with an average of 9.3 yards per attempt.
September will mark the third consecutive year the Texans have opened the season with a new starting quarterback. It was Brian Hoyer in 2015, Brock Osweiler in 2016 and this season rookie DeShaun Watson appears likely to get the call.
Barber played 16 seasons with the Bucs, starting more games (232) than all but two defensive backs in NFL history (Hall of Famer Darrell Green and Charles Woodson) and more games at cornerback (216) than only all but one corner (Green).
During Pat Bowlen’s 32-year tenure as owner, the Denver Broncos have enjoyed more winning seasons (21) and won more games (320) than any other NFL team. The Broncos have won 13 division titles, seven AFC championships and three Lombardi Trophies.
Jimmy Johnson, of course, coached the Dallas Cowboys to back-to-back Lombardi Trophies in 1992-93 but was fired by Jerry Jones the following offseason. Although the two were college teammates at Arkansas, they just couldn’t get along.
Morten Andersen is the NFL’s all-time leading scorer but still had to wait five years into his Hall of Fame eligibility to become only the second pure placekicker enshrined in Canton. He became the first kicker enshrined since Jan Stenerud in 1991.