Still plenty to talk about and dissect as Philadelphia Eagles fans still bask in the glow (and recover from the festivities) of winning Super Bowl 52.
Nick Foles, who earned Super Bowl MVP honors the other night in a 4-TD performance over the New England Patriots, spoke to media about the lessons learned from failure, and the ability to overcome those struggles.
"Failure is a part of life. I wouldn't be here if I hadn't fallen thousands of times," Foles said. "I'm not perfect. I'm not Superman. When you look at a struggle in your life, that's just an opportunity for your character to grow."
The NFL, from time to time, does a remarkable job in promoting its athletes. I'd say the NFL does a better job at keeping their celebrity playmakers in the spotlight than any other professional sport.
Foles, as we compose these words onto a computer screen this morning, is still the backup quarterback to Carson Wentz in Philadelphia. Whether that status with the organization changes or Foles moves onto another team is still to be seen, but the league should jump on his bandwagon as quick as they can.
For whatever reason, the general football fan does seem to like to hear from those who aren't constantly in the spotlight. Fans in Denver rallied around Tim Tebow both during his time as a backup, and even more so after he became a starter for the Broncos.
No one is comparing Foles to Tebow, so quit rolling your eyes at that simple mention.
But with a constantly shifting landscape around the foundation of the league, as well as outside forces lurking in the bushes trying to undermine its integrity, the NFL should be seeking out as many positive stories during this offseason to either attract new fans or to remind those who might have walked away that the game is still the same, even though the players might have different stories to tell.
The Butler Did Something (Part 2)
Still reeling in the aftermath of their Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick again refused to go into details regarding the decision to not start Malcolm Butler at defensive back, despite playing nearly every down at that position in the regular and postseason. At his Monday press briefing, Belichick repeated his claim that the decision to not start Butler wasn't a disciplinary decision. Butler played just one snap in the entire Super Bowl.
Others have weighed in on the decision, including former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who expressed his thoughts Monday morning on WEEI radio.
"If it was discipline, I don't know if that is the best way to go about it," said Ninkovich. "You need good players on the field to execute. Bill says it all the time, Bill will say it in interviews, 'Coaches don't win games, players do. Coaches lose games.' At the end of the day you have to have your best players on the field and you question if Malcolm not being on the field is the best option to win the football game."
I'm dying to know what happened, and I'm almost certainly convinced it was a disciplinary issue.
One I'll bet Belichick will be revisiting on more than one occasion.
The Handshake That Didn't Happen
Competition can bring out the best in an individual.
Whatever the prize, when there's two equal forces vying for the same metaphorical trophy, competition can be fierce, it can be intense and it inevitably ends with one side proving to be victorious.
Which, by definition means, someone else has to lose.
Tom Brady, a three-time loser in the Super Bowl, reportedly didn't shake hands with Nick Foles after the final whistle sounded on Sunday's game against the Eagles.
Foles, who had just recorded his first triumph in the game after having an incredible performance for which he would be named the game's Most Valuable Player, confirmed yesterday that the two didn't meet in the immediate aftermath.
"I didn't get to see Tom. I was looking for Tom," Foles said. "It got pretty crazy really fast. He's one of the greatest of all time. Guy does it right. He has been unbelievable. He was unbelievable tonight. I can't say enough about him."
The narrative surrounding all of this will immediately fan the flames that already envelop around Brady and the entire Patriots franchise. To those unaware of the grossly obvious, the Patriots have spent the better part of the past decade seen as either being bullies, cheaters, spoiled, petulant or elitist.
And while all of that might be true -- there's a part of me that genuinely hopes it is true -- which of those definitions was likely to change had Brady shaken the hand of the man who snatched another Vince Lombardi Trophy away from him?
Of course, Brady is shown to have shaken hands with Eagles defensive standout Fletcher Cox after the game, and there are reports of Brady shaking hands with other members of the Eagles in the early moments of the postgame chaos which surrounds every Super Bowl.
Let's say for the moment that Brady did this intentionally. I don't know if it was intentional, but since the narrative is already set, let's run it right into the ground.
I'm totally fine with the snub. Ask the loser of a competition how they feel knowing they don't get the prize. Ask the guy who got his ass kicked in a street fight how he feels after being helped to his feet by a stronger man. Ask a woman who didn't get a promotion for a job she was clearly qualified for but instead was passed over by a man for that job.
Brady is the superstar he is because of his attitude, his desire and his spirit. He didn't seek out your approval, he merely did his job to the best of his ability. Most times he's stepped onto the field of battle, he's come out on top.
Sometimes he loses.
I always ask this question whenever this conversation comes up about Brady, or any other celebrity athlete who doesn't participate in this ridiculous ritual.
If the reason you don't like Brady is because he's smug, overconfident and generally considered to be a miserable human being, what would a handshake after a game do to change that opinion of him?
Some of you would argue that it would paint Brady as a better man. Some of you would tell me it shows a change in his character.
Others, however, would have no different opinion of him whatsoever. You'd still think of him as a pompous elitist.
And that's the way it should be. Brady doesn't seek out your approval for his behavior. He's a competitor and sometimes (hopefully more often than not) competition brings out a side of you that doesn't fit into your particular set of standards.
And to those who go right to the argument that as a parent, Brady needs to set a better example for kids who emulate him, I'd argue that as a parent yourself, you have a far greater responsibility to set a better example for your kids than any misguided system of values to which you believe Brady is attached.
Tom Brady has kids of his own. He's not obligated to help raise yours.
To the reporter who asked Foles about the snubbed shaking of hands with Brady after the Super Bowl, the next question to the man should have been something along the lines of "Did that make hoisting the trophy over your head any less meaningful?"
Pretty certain the answer would have shown the competitive spirit of that man, and no one would be grimacing over that response.
Nor should they.
My Final Thoughts on the NFL 2017-18 season
To say this was a difficult season for the National Football League would be an understatement.
Between the protests and those who vehemently protested the aforementioned protesters, there was a seemingly endless river of bad publicity the league put itself through time and again.
And as if that weren't enough, the league fell under the weight of state-sponsored protest, primarily from the Twitter account of POTUS.
Perhaps that is why the Super Bowl was particularly satisfying, not only for those - myself included - who chose to avoid the outside noise, but for those who just wanted to enjoy a sporting event free of selfish posturing.
As we look back at the NFL season, there are more than a few lessons to be learned.
How do we separate myth from reality?
Player protests during the playing of the national anthem sparked increased dissent between players and those who support them. The fact is the so-called anthem protests only created a divide because they were so widely used for propaganda purposes by people who had an ax to grind.
Don't get me wrong, people had a right to be angry. And many of them did, but were it not for an overzealous charlatan bent on creating havoc whenever and wherever he sees fit, the peaceful protests would have received the minimal amount of publicity.
The effects of that publicity created a rift.
For whatever you may think of the NFL and the way they do business, the league has only itself to blame.
What the league does in the coming days, weeks and months leading up to next season will be extremely important to how we view the individual merits of well-paid professional athletes.
Despite what you may have heard from the ether of social media, millionaires do have agendas and beliefs of their own. They may or may not mesh with those of the average American sports fan, but if we are choosing to ignore people's individuality because of the enormity of their bank account, that only underscores a massive divide within our own culture as one that also ignores people's individuality because of the emptiness of their bank account.
Wanting to address change and wanting to focus attention on issues within our country should not come with a line of demarcation, where only those who fall between two artificial boundaries have a right to speak. Nor should the desire to seek change be limited to those who engage in a career that's deemed appropriate by those in the position to actually impact societal differences and gaps.
What I learned in this process was the line between sports and politics was erased. For years, there was the idea of a safe space whereby sports allowed people to look away from the things which anger, enrage and polarize us. That safe space has been obliterated.
And in spite of what some people have suggested, the media didn't blur the line. We merely reported it.
As a result, mass media types were lumped into camps of those who catered to the extremes of both sides. That is unfortunate, but there are those in the guise of mass media who should take ownership of that status.
What we can do now, over the course of the next seven months before the next season begins, is bring together those who actually want to converse with other like-minded people.
I'm not delusional enough to believe that those who live on the extreme edges of this debate will ever want to sit down at the table of rational thought and logical reason.
But since those who wanted to create these extremes seem hell-bent on exploiting those differences, it's up to those who calmly reside in the middle to provide guidance going forward.
For me, I'm glad the debate raged through this season. We need the discourse, the craving to be heard, the passionate thoughts of those who want to stir the pot, yet also want to enjoy their football games on a Sunday afternoon without feeling guilty or ashamed of it.