It’s time for the War Room, where Yahoo Sports’ football minds kick around the key topics of the day. Today, we’re talking parity and walk-out music. Got an idea for a future question? Email us here. Now, onward!
1. Welcome to the modern NFL. We have a couple very good teams, a couple very bad teams and everybody else … eh? You could pick anybody this side of Cleveland to make a run into the playoffs and nobody would be surprised. So … is parity good for the NFL? Or should we have super-teams like the NBA? Your thoughts, please.
The echo chamber of NFL negativity is out of control. If the New England Patriots were undefeated, people would complain there wasn’t any suspense. We’ve never seen the NFL be this competitive, and people complain about that. I guess there are too many good teams for people. But no matter what it is, people will find a way to complain. Two-thirds of the NFL is set up pretty well at quarterback, but all you hear about is how bad quarterbacking is because one-third of the league is still figuring it out, sometimes with promising rookies (think about this: people are already complaining about how bad it will be when Tom Brady, Drew Brees et al. retire … while they’re still playing great football). Just because there are a lot of teams that have similar records doesn’t mean they are bad. I’ve never seen the league more balanced from top to almost bottom (sorry, Cleveland Browns). The 0-8 San Francisco 49ers had a stretch in which they lost five straight games by 13 points, which has never happened before. This is what it looks like when many capable franchises are competing for finite resources. This is what it looks like when there are a lot of very good coaching staffs trying to out-do each other. It’s really hard to build super-teams in an intensely competitive league. When the NFL has a full schedule, 16 teams will lose. It doesn’t mean those 16 teams are terrible. But if there was a way for 30 teams to win and two to lose, people would fixate on the two losing teams and say the league was awful because of them. The difference between the teams with the best records in the NFL and the teams with the worst records is quite small, and I don’t know how that’s a bad thing. The intense negativity is unique to the NFL – people don’t watch Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving but still whine that the NBA is screwed because there are five bad point guards – and I can’t say I understand it.
Shalise Manza Young
Isn’t this exactly how the NFL is set up? For parity? We’re at the start of Week 9 and 17 teams are at .500 or better, meaning over half of the teams in the league – and their fan bases – have a chance of making the playoffs. Another six teams are 3-4, and not yet out of the picture. Shouldn’t this be what we want? That we’re midway through the season and a good number of clubs still have a chance? If there is an NFL super-team, it’s the Patriots, and everyone hates them that isn’t a Patriots fan (yes, Bill Belichick and the “-gates” play a role in that). Besides, given the league salary cap and the sheer number of players on a roster and number of roles, it’s almost impossible to have NBA-style super-teams. Just sit back and enjoy the last nine weeks of the regular season.
As Shalise wrote, with the sheer size of an NFL roster, the hard salary cap, and the unpredictability of injuries, there’s really no way to have a football super-team – and that’s a good thing. While the NBA may have a few marquee teams and matchups throughout the increasingly meaningless regular season, there are also teams that openly tank to set themselves up for better draft picks which, despite what Sixers fans will tell you, is a problem. I’d rather have a bunch of competitive games with higher stakes week-in and week-out than only a handful I truly care about while I wait for the playoffs to come, which is what happens in the NBA in the super-team era.
While I think the NBA playoffs benefits from having the super-teams, their regular season is very watered down because of it. Not to mention the fact that their regular season is 82 games rendering each of them less meaningful than the 16 for its NFL counterpart. The parity in the NFL breeds hope and hope later into the season breeds more eyeballs. While a super-team is good in terms of being a villain for all to root against, the NFL is fine where it’s at right now.
Parity in the NFL is kind of boring. There, I said it. I don’t believe super-teams can be manufactured in football in the same way we see it work in the NBA (sup, 2011 Eagles?), but that doesn’t mean dominant teams are a bad thing. Last week featured just one division matchup in Panthers-Buccaneers, two competitive teams that didn’t really put on an exciting performance, and both squads were playoff contenders. Maybe it’s that so many teams are banged up this year that the game has lost a level of intrigue, but I love the David and Goliath matchup — with the exception of any game Cleveland plays in. Give me the 2007 Patriots against the field, show me a clear line between good and bad teams. And let’s not forget how much more fun the game day experience is when we can collectively make fun of horrible teams and root against great ones. Show me the heroes and villains and don’t try to tell me that isn’t good for the game.
I don’t want one super-team. I want at least two, preferably in the same conference, beating the hell out of each other. The Cowboys-49ers rivalry of the early ’90s remains one of my absolute favorite duels in all of sports; it was like a family reunion and an arms race all at once. Let ’em challenge a would-be contender from the other conference, but two matchups a year between beasts, a Monday night game and a late-January playoff, would suit me just fine. As for parity … well, it allows more teams a chance to get in the mix, but it also means that nobody outside of the Patriots sticks around for very long. Good for the short term, not so much for the long.
One of the best parts about the NFL is its annual barrage of parity. Teams we think are really good often underachieve and teams we sleep on are often far better than we projected. The NBA, to be sure, is as healthy as its ever been, and the so-called super-team era is a key reason why. But the NBA is also a superstar driven league. The NFL has superstars, but they aren’t the driving force. Part of that stems from the hard salary cap and part of it stems from the sheer volume of players. And for football fans, that is just fine.
One of the things I like most about the NFL is that you don’t get any super-teams per se, but you do get plenty of teams you can pencil into the playoffs year after year: teams such as the Patriots, Steelers, Seahawks and, before Aaron Rodgers got hurt, the Packers. And then all of the other teams set out to unseat those prohibitive favorites. How awesome would it be for the Bills, who haven’t made the playoffs in 17 years, to win the AFC East over the Patriots? Or the Rams snapping a 12-year playoff drought by beating the Seahawks in the NFC West? Both could happen this year. I love parity because it prevents stagnation, and the NFL brings just enough parity.
2. Baseball players get their own walk-up music. Why shouldn’t football players? Pick a player (or a team) and identify which music would best represent them. As always, Rob “Yeti Cooler In Human Form” Gronkowski is off the table for this exercise.
The Browns should just enter to the Benny Hill theme song, or “Yakety Sax” as it’s better known. Do I really need to explain why? –Velaski
The Oakland Raiders have to walk in to “Back in Black” by AC/DC. The road white uniforms just aren’t getting it done. The Raiders are 1-3 on the road this year with an abysmal loss to Washington in primetime earlier this year, a loss in Denver in which Derek Carr got hurt and another poor effort in Buffalo just this last weekend. Meanwhile, back home they’re 2-2 with a win over their division rival Chiefs and the not-so-terrible Jets. The black unis are a fear-striking classic. The white unis? Uh, not so much. –Pereles
Some of the song choices are obvious. Forget Springsteen; Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” ought to be playing to start every Giants game. The Chargers would own Los Angeles if they just started playing Tupac’s “California Love” during intros. Martavis Bryant could walk onto Heinz Field to the strains of “We Are Never Getting Back Together.” And the fact that the Falcons don’t storm Mercedes-Benz Stadium to the beat of Outkast’s “B.O.B.” is damn near a felony. –Busbee
Marshawn Lynch needs intro music. I mean he’s just perfect! I love Drake’s “Started From The Bottom.” The song personifies Beast Mode’s humble beginnings and endless loyalty toward his friends and teammates. For example, Lynch bought a local restaurant that was about to go under all because the owner fed him meals as a young boy when he couldn’t afford to pay. –Schultz
Despite the fact that I’d probably have to sit 20-year-old JuJu Smith-Schuster down and explain to him that Queen was a phenomenal band from the ‘70s with arguably the greatest mustachioed lead singer of all-time in Freddie Mercury, there’s no better song for the young Steelers star than “Bicycle Race.” Considering the recent events surrounding JuJu’s preferred method of transportation, there’s no more perfect song than the 1978 classic that repeatedly states “I want to ride my bicycle,” and, as a bonus, he’d get a little music history lesson in the process. –Sulla
Let’s find something good for Deshaun Watson, who might be the best story in the NFL this season. How about “I’m the One” by DJ Khaled? Because I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a rookie quarterback play quite like this. It does seem like he’s the NFL’s next superstar. He’s the one, though it seems like he’d never tout himself that way (maybe “HUMBLE.” by Kendrick Lamar would fit better). –Schwab
Since Jay said we can’t use Rob Gronkowski, whose entry music would of course be “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO, let’s go with DJ Khaled’s “Shining” for Carson Wentz and the 7-1 Philadelphia Eagles, who made themselves even stronger on Tuesday with the trade for Jay Ajayi. As an aside, Tom Brady does have entrance music, and it’s pretty hot – at every home game, when Brady comes onto the field for warmups, the PA immediately starts playing “Public Service Announcement,” an interlude on Jay Z’s “The Black Album.” –Young
Tom Brady walking out to Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement” is great, but let’s not act like the Patriots shouldn’t all be introduced with Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones Pt. II.” As far as individual players, and the use of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” for Andrew Luck notwithstanding, play Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” for Deshaun Watson already. The bigger the stage, the better this dude performs. His entrance music should at least reflect that. –Schuster
That’ll do it for this week. Got a topic for us to kick around? Hit us up at email@example.com and get your question answered by the crew. Enjoy the games!
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Got a tip, comment, or question for a future NFL mailbag? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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