We’re all ready for some football, and have been since, I don’t know, mid-February.
But football is so much more than athletic prowess. Sure, I want to see how Peyton Manning does a season after putting up record numbers before laying an egg in Super Bowl XLVIII. I want to see if the bell is tolling for Frank Gore of the San Francisco 49ers and Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks. I want to see if Norv Turner can really make the offense of the Minnesota Vikings legitimate and not just a team that hands off to Adrian Peterson.
But there’s another side to football, a side that makes us laugh at ridiculous sideline antics and social media gaffes. These are the trends to really look out for during this NFL season.
Every year for the past 10, the New York Giants seem to be ready to internally combust into a 1-15 season. It’s a cycle: year one, everything is pretty good. Year two, Eli Manning is terrible. Year three, Tom Coughlin has to go. Year four, Super Bowl champions. I would take that cycle for my team in a second.
But the constant through it all is the demeanor of Eli “Aw Shucks” Manning, aka The Manning-Face. Nothing really excites him or frazzles him. When he looks like he’s excited, it almost feels staged, as if the coaching staff is telling him through the helmet mic, “Yo Eli, look pissed for the cameras. You just threw an interception.” Eli always looks like I would look watching a cricket match: not all that sure what is going on.
2. Richard Sherman Trash-Talk
If you’re watching a football game, get up to grab a drink, and sit down to see an angry, sweaty man screaming into a microphone, chances are that no one changed the channel to a pro wrestling event. Most likely you are watching Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
It seems that every year, Richard Sherman is becoming bigger than the game, mostly due to how easy it is to taunt other people in social media. In 2011, Richard Sherman tweeted a picture of him and Tom Brady with the tagline, “U MAD BRO?” after a game against the New England Patriots where he intercepted a pass from Tom Brady. The tweet was later deleted, probably because Tom Brady doesn’t have Twitter. Later in the season, Sherman nicknamed himself Optimus Prime before squaring off against Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions. He then got into a Twitter argument with Darrelle Revis. Last year he got into an argument with Michael Crabtree of the San Francisco 49ers before getting involved with Patrick Peterson’s display of his new contract.
This year, Sherman is already yelling on the sidelines during preseason. Who knows where he’ll go from here.
3. Jim Harbaugh Dance Moves
While the health of Michael Crabtree and the apparent destruction of the defense may be big news for the San Francisco 49ers, it pales in comparison to what fans are really wondering about: what new dance move will Jim Harbaugh bring to the sideline?
A football season isn’t complete without Jim Harbaugh flailing around on a call he doesn’t agree with or a play that he can’t believe happened. So far we’ve seen such acts as “Saturday Night Football Fever” where Harbaugh does his best disco interpretation, “Headbanger’s Football” where Harbaugh seems to be listening to an intense Van Halen guitar riff, and “Playoff Lake” where Harbaugh used his ballet skills to do a perfect pirouette.
Will this be the year that Harbaugh twerks in his khakis? Time will tell.
4. Philip Rivers Fun
Eli Manning may be king of the Manning-Face, but San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is the king of all other faces and takes sideline whining to new heights.
Rivers doesn’t just argue with coaches and officials. He really gets into it. Even if you can’t hear what he’s saying, you know that, when his eyes bug out and he has a weird grim, he’s bringing the sarcasm to a whole new level. Rivers doesn’t just frown in disgust. He pulls the top of his helmet over his entire face. If Rivers is winning, watch out. You just may get a strut that puts Pete Carroll’s to shame.
Last year, Rivers looked a little like Batman as he patrolled the sidelines during a playoff loss to the Denver Broncos, then demolished that homage by whipping his jacket-cape over his head.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, and keep on saying it until it happens: Philip Rivers needs his own variety show.
5. Tom Coughlin: Threat Level Maroon
Now that Mike Shanahan doesn’t have a team to coach on his own, the coach to keep an eye on is Tom Coughlin, head coach of the New York Giants. This isn’t due to talent, or potential to lose his job. We just want to see how red Coughlin can get during the game.
Mike Shanahan used to be Coughlin’s biggest rival in getting red in the face, and used to have the advantage of already wearing maroon as coach of the Washington Redskins. Now Coughlin is the only man left, and can become the most red-faced coach ever in NFL history.
Considering how his son-in-law Chris Snee retired to make the offensive line even more porous, his rookie receiver is already hurt, and how the offense looks lost with the schemes of new play-caller Ben McAdoo, Coughlin seems ripe for a breakout, red-faced season.
6. The Countdown to Johnny Manziel
Whether you like it or not, Johnny Manziel will be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns at some point. Unless you’re a fan of the Browns, this fact probably doesn’t matter to you. It doesn’t matter to me either. But if the draft and preseason are any indication of the future, it’s going to be a fun ride, probably for the wrong reasons.
So far, Manziel has been drafted by the Cleveland Browns at #22, sharing an eerie spot with former franchise quarterback hopefuls for the Browns like Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden. He then turned around and decided to party it up in Las Vegas, just in case anyone thought he would be taking the NFL seriously. The latest ridiculousness is Johnny Manziel wearing brand-name headphones during warm-ups, which no one does. Not veteran “I can do anything” quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, and not other rookie quarterbacks like Blake Bortles.
Partying in Vegas, heavy drinking, mega-marketing, media takeovers, hanging out with celebrities… It’s like Matt Leinart, Kerry Collins, Justin Bieber, LeBron James, and Tim Tebow all rolled into one athlete.
Good luck, Cleveland.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.