Superbowl LVI Halftime Show Performers Announced

(Cover Photo) Photo Credit: Roc Nation

Mark your calendars for Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, as the biggest halftime show line-up is announced.

On Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, the NFL announced that Eminem, Mary J.Blige, Dr.Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Kendrick Lamar will all perform at the Super Bowl LVI Halftime show.

The five legendary artists will headline the biggest entertainment show of the year and for the first time in Los Angeles at the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

Dr. Dre shared in a tweet, “I’m extremely excited to share the stage with my friends for the #PepsiHalftime Show. This will introduce the next saga of my career…Bigger and Better than Ever!!!”

Photo Credit: Screenshot of Tweet from Dr. Dre on @Drdre on Twitter

The five artists combined have 43 grammy wins, hundreds of millions of album sales worldwide, and the west coast connection. 

The halftime show will be produced by Jay-Z Roc Nation entertainment company, which entered an agreement with the NFL to produce halftime shows since 2019, which include Jennifer Lopez & Shakira in 2020 and then The Weekend in 2021. 

Photo Credit: Mario Anzuoni

“This year we are blowing the roof off the concept of collaboration,” said Adam Harter, Vice President of Media Sports and Entertainment at PepsiCo. “Along with the NFL and Roc nation, we continue to try and push the limits on what fans can expect during the most exciting 12 minutes in music; this year’s superstar line-up is sure to deliver a mind-blowing performance.”

This year’s Halftime Show will be one of the most memorable, and we can’t wait. On Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, you can watch the halftime show on NBC or stream it on Peacock.

Written By: Mike Stark | @MikeStarkCA

Behind the Seams with Blake: Active NFL Players with All-Time Great Career Stats

Some might say these stars have lost a step over the years, but that isn’t stopping them from steadily marching towards football immortality.

Hello again readers, this is the final post I will be writing this semester, and the NFL season will likely be in the postseason if not finished by the time I write again. Because of this, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to the “old men” of the NFL, who are all over the age of 35 (Ancient, am I right?) It isn’t certain that all 4 of these players will return in 2021 after this NFL season concludes, so there’s no better time than now to recognize them for their well-earned achievements.

Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Frank Gore, and Larry Fitzgerald have been stacking up numbers throughout the past 2 decades and have thrown (literally in Brady and Brees’ case) themselves into the all-time NFL record books in the process. Brady and Brees have taken control of the majority of the highly-sought-after passing statistics, while still performing like they did in their prime. The latter two players aren’t producing numbers like they once did, but Gore has slow and steadily climbed up the career rushing yards leaderboard, as has Fitzgerald in terms of career receiving yards and receptions. Let’s dive deeper into each of these players’ numbers and how they compare to the football greats of the past.

Tom Brady & Drew Brees:

I have chosen to write about Brady and Brees together because of their commonalities as fellow quarterbacks and having similar career stats. Tom Brady is now 43 years old after spending 20 years with the Patriots and is currently in his first season with the Buccaneers. Drew Brees, at 41 years old, is the “younger” of the two, and he too has enjoyed a very long career, beginning with a 5-year stint as the Chargers QB, and more-famously the Saints QB of the last 15 years. The pair of ageless quarterbacks have spent the 2020 season playing ping-pong with the all-time record for passing touchdowns, with Brady currently sporting a 4 TD lead with 569 over Brees’ 565 due in part to Brees being injured for the past 2 weeks and likely 2 to 4 more weeks. Regardless, Brady and Brees sit 1st and 2nd in all-time passing TDs, while Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and Dan Marino round out the top 5. Keep an eye on current Colts QB Philip Rivers though, as his 413 TDs sit just 7 TDs below Marino’s 420 with 5 games still left to play this season.

Frank Gore:

“The Inconvenient Truth” is still a starting running back at 37 years old, albeit for a horrible Jets team. (Hey… you gotta get those rushing yards in any way you can.) Gore likely could have chosen to sign as a backup with a much better team in hopes of securing his first Super Bowl ring, but it’s understandable why he chose to go to a cellar-dwelling Jets team where there’s a much easier path to carries. At this point of his career, every rushing yard counts more than ever for Gore, as he currently is 3rd all-time in career rushing yards, trailing only Hall of Famers Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith. Over his 16 years playing with 5 teams in the NFL, Gore now has 15,868 rushing yards, which puts him 858 yards behind Payton who sits 2nd all-time with 16,726. Gore would likely have to play into his 40s to approach Smith’s 18,355 total, but we have all learned that it isn’t wise to bet against Gore putting up numbers each year. No, they aren’t fantastic numbers anymore, but they do still add up. By the way, (Yoda voice) “there is another (Gore) in this galaxy”, as Frank Gore Jr. is a college freshman RB for Southern Miss, so be sure to mentally prepare for a new Frank Gore to replace the current Frank Gore in the coming years.

Larry Fitzgerald:

“Larry Legend” has spent his entire 17-year career with the Cardinals, spending the majority of it as an upper-echelon wide receiver in the NFL. Fitzgerald continued to perform spectacularly even into his age 34 season with the team in 2017, when he put up 109 receptions, 1,156 receiving yards, and 6 TDs. He hasn’t approached that level of production since then, and it’s unlikely that he will return to those levels with DeAndre Hopkins now the WR1 of the team, but he has continued to be useful as a safety-net for QB Kyler Murray in the dangerous Cardinals offense. Fitzgerald has also considered retirement over the past couple years, but each time he decided to return because of his desire to win a Super Bowl before he calls it a career. Fitz currently sits in a distant 2nd place for career receiving yards with 17,419 behind Hall of Famer Jerry Rice at 22,895. He’s also 2nd all-time in receptions with 1,421, trailing only (you guessed it) Jerry Rice, who reeled in 1,549 catches in his career.

It’s fair to wonder how many years on the field these four players have left in them, but I must say that it’s been a pleasure to get to watch each of them climb up the leaderboards of their respective counting stats. It’s cool to know that some of the very best players of NFL history are playing in 2020. If I were to look into my crystal ball and predict who we could see at or near the tops of leaderboards in the coming decades, I’d expect Patrick Mahomes, Michael Thomas, Derrick Henry, and DeAndre Hopkins to show up next to Brady, Brees, Gore, and Fitzgerald.

Written by: Blake Koziel @thek0zy1 on Instagram

Photo Sources: Orlando Sentinel, Pro Football Rumors, DraftKings Nation, My Hero Project

Behind the Seams with Blake: 5 Key NFL Contributors of 2020

Greetings readers, this will be my first post on the 2020 NFL season, discussing breakout players and which players have lived up to expectations so far.

Some of the players I will be discussing qualify as big stories because of their impressive contributions to top teams, while others are included in this post not because of their team’s overall success, but because they deserve some recognition for their unexpectedly great performances so far this season.

Tom Brady – QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

This was perhaps the biggest story entering the 2020 season, as everyone wondered how Brady would fare outside of a Patriots uniform and without Bill Belichick as a coach. It was a topic of discussion whether the Patriots’ success over the past 20 years should be attributed to Belichick’s masterful coaching or Brady’s fantastic quarterback play, but that question has been answered pretty clearly throughout this season. Brady has led the admittedly-stacked Bucs to a 7-3 record, while Belichick’s Patriots have a 4-5 record, relying on aging stars left on the team, as well as a, to this point, hit or miss performance by former Carolina Panthers MVP Cam Newton, who took Brady’s place as the Pats quarterback this season. Brady is enjoying his typical strong offensive output with top 5 ranks among QBs in Passing Yards and Passing TDs.

James Robinson – RB Jacksonville Jaguars:

The Jaguars are a 1-8 team heading into Week 11, but that hasn’t stopped a previously unheralded running back from showing off his talents to the league. James Robinson latched on with the Jags in the offseason with very little fanfare as an undrafted free agent, then went on to win the starting RB job for the team out of the 0 game preseason that the players convinced the NFL to have this year because of COVID. We’ll never know just how different things could have turned out had a preseason been played, or if Robinson would’ve even ended up with the starting job in the first place, but Robinson has certainly made the most of his opportunity thus far. In 9 games played for the Jaguars this season, Robinson currently sits 5th in the NFL with 689 rushing yards, along with 5 rushing TDs. He has also been proficient in the receiving game, with 29 receptions and 2 receiving TDs. These numbers, especially the rushing yards, are quite remarkable considering the Jaguars have been on the wrong side of the scoring in most games this season, and teams tend to switch to passing once they are losing in a game. Personally, I’ve become a big fan of Robinson (pictured at the top of this post), as he is a back capable of rushing and receiving, and he is a short and stocky RB, reminding me of CJ Anderson in his prime with my favorite team, the Denver Broncos.

Justin Herbert – QB Los Angeles Chargers:

The Chargers began their year with bridge-QB Tyrod Taylor leading the team, while 2020 top draft pick Herbert watched and “learned how to be an NFL QB” from the sidelines. However, a fluke injury caused Taylor to miss Week 2’s game against the Chiefs, forcing the Chargers to put their young power-armed QB into action as their starter in just the 2nd game of the season. Much to everyone’s surprise though, Herbert did rather well, and he has since run away with the starting job for the Chargers, showing that he can already put up a good fight against even the toughest teams. However, this does not mean that the team actually won the games, as the Chargers have once again found ways to lose games at the very last moment time and time again. This season can likely be crossed off the list for postseason aspirations for the Chargers, but it seems like the franchise has found a worthy successor of longtime QB Philip Rivers, who left for the Colts after the end of last season. I have watched every Chargers game this season, so I have seen a lot of Herbert’s abilities on display, and I have a feeling he has a very bright future ahead of him.

Chase Claypool – WR Pittsburgh Steelers:

The Steelers drafted Claypool in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft, and he has lived up to expectations, flashing crazy athleticism and producing boatloads of numbers for the Steelers. He did not begin the season as a starting WR, as the team also has Diontae Johnson and Juju Smith-Schuster as WRs. After the first few weeks, injuries to the WR depth chart allowed Claypool to get more targets from Big Ben Roethlisburger, and in Week 5, Claypool burst onto the scene, catching 7 passes for 110 yards and scoring 3 receiving TDs and another TD rushing. Claypool and the Steelers have dominated this season, as they are currently 9-0, and many think they have a chance at going undefeated this season.

Russell Wilson – QB Seattle Seahawks:

“Danger Russ” has been on fire this season, especially through the first 8 weeks, as he was on pace to finish with a Passing TD total in the neighborhood of Peyton Manning’s single season record 55 in 2013. After a few less than spectacular passing performances in Weeks 9, 10, and in this week’s Thursday Night Football game against the Cardinals, he is no longer on the same blistering pace. He does still have a chance to hit the 50 TD mark though, as he leads the NFL with 30 Passing TDs through 10 games played. Overall, Wilson’s splendid QB play has helped the Seahawks to a 7-3 record in a tough NFC West division, and they will hope to see Wilson return to his Week 1-8 form for the final stretch of the season to secure Seattle a playoff spot.

Written by: Blake Koziel @thek0zy1 on Instagram

Photo Source: SI JaguarReport

Behind the Seams with Blake: Postseason Preview

Hello readers, my name is Blake Koziel, and I will be coming at you with new insight about the baseball and football world in this non fan-friendly, crazy 2020 sports year.

Before we get started, allow me to catch you up on how I got here. I have been following baseball frighteningly closely since about age ten, and I quickly found myself obsessed with baseball statistics, while watching my local team, the San Diego Padres. My favorite player on the Padres was, understandably, Adrian Gonzalez, and I remember how amazed I was the first time I saw his statline of 40 home runs way back in 2009. I continued to be a huge fan of Age, as I called him, all the way through his post-Padres teams until he retired in 2018. You will find that I tend to follow and know how certain players are doing more than the teams they are playing for, and my love for certain players centers around the stats they put up.

In case you are wondering, I also played baseball myself. My main positions were centerfielder, first baseman, and pitcher, and I played up until sophomore year of high school, when I made the curious transition from JV baseball to D1 varsity tennis within a span of two weeks. However, my heart was still with baseball even as I aced 100mph serves past nationally-ranked tennis players (It didn’t go in quite that often, but hey, I had the velocity). I stopped playing tennis competitively after high school, but it was definitely a fun experience. I then moved on to just focusing my attention on studying baseball.

In future posts I will also be writing about football, a sport that I didn’t really follow at all until 2014, when my uncle got me to join a fantasy football league with him, and my study of the game and its players began. I adopted the Denver Broncos as my favorite football team, as they had my favorite player, running back CJ Anderson, to go with an amazing crop of wide receivers Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and redzone monster tight end Julius Thomas. And who can forget living legend, quarterback Peyton Manning, whose forehead is as big as his accomplishments (I say it out of love, Peyton). I was not yet following football when the Broncos were in the Super Bowl to conclude the 2013 season, and I always wish I had seen that season, because Peyton threw a single season record 55 touchdowns that season, but I did get to watch my Broncos win against the Panthers in the 2015 Super Bowl, and it was simply wonderful. The Broncos have had a rough stretch of seasons since then as they’ve struggled to find an answer at quarterback after Peyton retired, but I believe in Drew Lock, and I hope he will finally provide the Broncos with some stability at the position once again.

Now for the present-day sports discussion. In this first post, I will be sticking to baseball, giving a quick rundown of the journey that the Padres have made to get to the postseason in this 60 game season. 

Major League Baseball decided to raise the number of postseason teams from 10 to 16 for this season, and Commissioner Rob Manfred says that he will consider making the change permanent for future seasons too. To be truthful, I do not like that idea, as I believe that the best of the best teams should be in the postseason, so a smaller number than 16 teams would be better in terms of the “they earned their postseason spot” argument.

As of this post, 11 of 16 spots for the postseason have been clinched, those 11 teams being the Dodgers, Rays, Twins, Padres, Athletics, Braves, White Sox, Indians, Cubs, Yankees, and Blue Jays. I will now break down some key players for the Padres that have helped them get there.

The San Diego Padres are one of four teams tied for the 4th best record in the league with 34 wins. I must admit I’ve spent 1000% more time watching the Padres this season than any other team, as I can count on one hand the number of their games I didn’t watch this season. The story of the Padres season has centered around 21 year old phenom shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., as he was pretty much the biggest story of baseball for the first month or two of the season prior to the cold stretch he is currently in. Even with his current cold streak factored in, Fernando has still hit .278 with 15 home runs, 11 stolen bases, and a .561 SLG% through 55 games this season. Third baseman Manny Machado has turned in quite the performance as of late, and is really starting to look like he’s worth the 10 year, $300m deal he was given prior to the 2019 season, as he has hit .313 with 16 home runs and a .603 SLG%. Other honorable mentions for this team are OF Wil Myers, 1B/2B/SS Jake Cronenworth, and Cy Young award candidate SP Dinelson Lamet, who have all turned in fantastic performances this season after coming into the season with perhaps much different expectations of them. On a different note, Mike Clevinger, one of the many players whom the team acquired during their busy trade deadline, has been diagnosed with a sprained right elbow, and it’s still unknown how long he will be out for. Fingers crossed he will be able to contribute for the Padres in the postseason this year. Optimism is high in San Diego for a team that hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2006.

Written By: Blake Koziel

Photo By: Denis Poroy