By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
One week closer to the biggest weekend of its off season, the NFL is seeing more close-to-the-vest talk than ever as observers of the league try figuring out day to day how the NFL Draft will play out at the end of the month.
This is a great time if you believe in projections and pre-season grades. Some will have you believe that many seasons of NFL franchises will be won or lost by the time May comes around.
The buildup and post analysis of the draft is fun but don’t forget that its all conjecture and while the choices being made now are important, a lot more has to come together in the months between now and the next set of playoff games.
In Green Bay, meanwhile, the draft may be the last thing on the minds of their faithful after Bleacher Report released a story on the rocky relationship between ex-head coach Mike McCarthy and current quarterback Aaron Rogers. Rodgers and McCarthy have since reacted to this article with some harsh criticism of the article and the source material.
The Bears had themselves a quiet week except for a few tryouts of players free from the recently disbanded Alliance of American Football. The tryouts were for three kickers that could add to the current kicking competition. Finally, an interesting report came out this week as developments have been made in identifying chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in living players.
CTE is a degenerative brain disease that has caused many ex-football players severe mental issues and currently can only be diagnosed after death with brain autopsies. A breakthrough in this area will have an impact on the game itself.
The NFL Draft is now only two weeks away and a lot more change should be coming throughout the NFL.
Bears Kicking the Tires
Wednesday, the Bears held a tryout for a couple now former AAF kickers who managed to stand out in the league’s 8-week history. Ultimately, the Bears decided against signing any of the three participants in the kick-off.
It is interesting that the Bears decided not to sign any of the three guys. And though it would seem like a good indicator that they like their kicking competition, the possibility still remains for the Bears to potentially draft a kicker.
It seems that the roster is pretty much set except for kicker but perhaps the Bears see things differently than fans and the media do. Its possible between Chris Blewitt and Redford Jones one kicker will prove to be reliable and worth moving forward with, but call this writer skeptical of the competition currently on the roster.
Some veteran names still remain on the market and maybe the Bears are waiting for price tags to drop before trying to sign someone. The place kicker position is certainly one to watch out for Chicago in the draft because in a season with such high hopes, the Bears cannot ignore the kicking position again.
Packing on the Controversy
What a wild couple weeks it has been in Green Bay, a place where usually no stories come from besides ones about winning and tradition.
Bleacher Report published a piece by Tyler Dunne on April 4th documenting the rocky relationship between ex-coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has since fired back on the story claiming the reports are false and that the interviewed Packers in the piece were irrelevant bitter players.
Rodgers came out hot to refute the story and McCarthy has also come out saying the story isn’t completely accurate. Both have said how the relationship was up and down between the two. But even during bad times, both claim they would speak with each other to solve the issue.
Its an interesting period to reflect back on. It was a period where the Packers were considered Super Bowl favorites seemingly every year with a high powered offense and a clutch defense. In the 12 years the two spent, most notable was the Super Bowl championship in 2010 as well as the eight consecutive playoff appearances from 2009-16. But many will feel like a period of wasted opportunity with arguably the game’s most talented quarterback ever.
It seems we won’t know the exact extent of the drama between the two, at the time it just seemed like the Packers only had winning on their mind. But if this alleged rift between the two contributed to the lack of success, what a waste of an opportunity by both men.
It goes to show that relationships in sports are usually short and if they are long, expect drama to come knocking. How the Packers respond to the let down of last year this upcoming season is one of the burning questions in the NFL.
Advancement of Medical Science
A story worth mentioning to football fans as well as all the players from the pros down to the youth leagues, was the breakthrough on a test for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
CTE is a degenerative brain disease linked to multiple blows to the head damaging the brain. Many ex-NFL and ex-football players in general have been found to have this disease. It has become an important public health discussion especially since certain sports are linked to higher risks of getting the disease.
Football is one of the sports linked to CTE but it can only currently be diagnosed after a brain autopsy. The recent development has been an advancement on finding a way to diagnose living people that have CTE. The full article can be found here. This type of test will be so valuable to the people that are in danger of developing this horrible disease before its too late.
The test is still a ways away but the progress made so far has the medical science community proud. A reliable test would change the landscape potentially of football because its possible many players have CTE currently but do not know it yet. Being given that knowledge before its too late may help save lives but shorten careers.
Overall, the safety of human beings is the most important factor with anything, but CTE has only begun to effect the game of football.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR