Die-Hard Cleveland Browns Fan Analysis: Week 2 ’18-’19

I’ve been a Browns fan my entire life, so let’s see how this season goes… Continue reading “Die-Hard Cleveland Browns Fan Analysis: Week 2 ’18-’19”

I Wouldn’t Say Fair-weather Johnson

I’ve grown up watching the NFL like lots of folks. My own Dad was not a big fan, but my Grandpa and Uncle were. I’m from Ohio so early on I dealt with The Bengals and Browns a lot. In fact my Aunt and Uncle kept me in Cleveland Browns memorabilia, especially since my Uncle was from Cleveland.

When I started being old enough to decide my own likes, I attached myself to the Pittsburgh Steelers, I caught on to them from my local barber shop. The shop my parents took me to had a huge photo of Terry Bradshaw and it wasn’t a Steelers photo, it was an ad for some kinda hair product. Which was kinda odd because Bradshaw didn’t have much hair. I just remember asking who that was and most of the guys were all about the Mighty Mighty Steelers of Pittsburgh.

When I liked the Steelers they totally sucked. They were way past the 70s Super Bowls, way past. I had a Louis Lipps jersey I got for Christmas. I loved Merrill Hoge and Bubby Brister. My Uncle wasn’t too threatened by my Steelers love because his Browns were dominating the AFC half of the NFL at that time. However, no matter how great Cleveland was, they could not get past The Denver Broncos. After what became known as “The Drive” and the amazing fourth quarter comeback led by John Elway, I was a Broncos fan. I had John Elway’s Quarterback for the he 8 bit Nintendo. I had all the Broncos Starting Lineup figures. It was ok they got embarrassed in the Elementary School era Super Bowls.

I would stay with the Broncos for the longest. I even made it to a game against my more local Cincinnati Bengals. I’d ordered a Terrell Davis Jersey online to wear to the game. It was a size too big and felt like a moomoo but I wore it anyway. The Bengals were the worst team in the league but they beat the Broncos. In fact running back Corey Dillon broke the single game rushing record.

Our end zone seats became pretty rowdy and a drunk Bengals fan spat on me. He was quickly removed but it was still kinda crappy. Plus I paid a hundred bucks in 2000 to get spit on. Went back to that staidum with kick ass free tickets later on though and kinda rooted for the Bengals to beat the Texans. Tickets were 50 yard line. It was a much better experience.

I grew to hate the Steelers, super Fair Weather Johnson team. I’m not a fan of bandwagons. My NFL love cooled over the last ten years or so. Last Super Bowl I watched was Payton Manning and the Broncos get brutally beaten by the Seahawks. It was at a Buffalo Wild Wings so at least the food was good.

Suddenly after a few years away, I started to miss the NFL. Maybe it was President Trump’s constant attacks that made me want to revisit what I’d once loved so much in my youth. Most of the names I’d last watched were gone. Tom Brady, Drew Brees and a few others were still around. Still hated the Steelers and the Broncos did nothing for me. The Buffalo Bills had changed uniforms and those looked cool, kinda had that old school AFL vibe. I caught Bills living legend Jim Kelly on the ESPY’s back in the spring and his story and courage battling cancer really hit me.

A few days of checking up on Kelly led to stories of the Bills first round draft pick Josh Allen and his journey from California, to Wyoming, to the NFL. At a family birthday party my wife and oldest daughter we’re making tie dye shirts and when asked what colors I wanted I went with Bills colors.

Then I caught the Bills and Bengals on a preseason game. Then just like that the Buffalo Bills became my team. They we’re blew out in week one by the Ravens, but I’ve always liked an underdog.

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Die-Hard Cleveland Browns Fan Analysis: Week 1 ’18-’19

I’ve been a Browns fan my entire life, so let’s see how this season goes…

Continue reading “Die-Hard Cleveland Browns Fan Analysis: Week 1 ’18-’19”

Madden 19: My First Impressions

Since approximately 2010, the Madden football video game series has been a constant staple in my gaming arsenal. In fact, with the exception of maybe Call of Duty, I have put more time into the Madden series than any other game series ever. This year’s installment of the game is sure to see it’s fair share of time inside of my Xbox. I’m here today to share my first impressions of the game.

I’ve had the game for approximately two weeks (give or take). Throughout that timeframe, I have played extensively in the Franchise mode, so my thoughts on it will take up the bulk of this piece. My first impression of franchise was that it was pretty much the same as last year with a few minor tweaks. The system with which you progress players has changed, and honestly, I prefer the old system. Instead of using XP points to upgrade individual skills (speed, strength, catching, zone coverage, etc.) you earn upgrades to certain characteristics of your player that upgrade different individual skills. For example, say you earn an upgrade for your quarterback. You can choose to upgrade your QB as a scrambler, field general, pocket passer, and so on. Each of those categories improves individual skills. I prefer the in-depth nature of picking individual skills to upgrade. That is probably my most major complaint with the game thus far. As far as other, more minor gripes go, I have experienced some bugs, particularly with commentary. I keep getting commentary referring to the game I’m playing as the Super Bowl, when in reality, it is a regular season game. It’s minor things like that, but they do tend to get annoying after a while. However, I expect these will be fixed for the most part in a coming update. I have not yet experienced any of the other offseason features of franchise mode. If there is something new worth mentioning in a later article, I will certainly do that. Overall, I feel that franchise mode, and the rest of the game for that matter, are extremely similar to last year’s game. With that being said, if it’s not broken, there’s no need to fix it. I think that can be applied to Madden. There are many small, realism based changes to the game that I am very fond of. Overall, I just don’t see enough of a change to call it anything close to significantly different from any past installment in the series. If you’re a football or Madden fan, it is certainly worth picking up. Just don’t expect to be mind-blown. You’ll be sorely disappointed.

Thanks for reading. Be sure to check out some of the other great content here in Mid-American Culture!

Bring Back NCAA Football Games

Today, I will be briefly ranting about two things near and dear to my heart: football and video games. More specifically, I will be talking about NCAA Football video games. NCAA 14 was the last college football game released by EA, do to licensing disputes and a plethora of other issues. At the time in which the games were still coming out, I wasn’t an exceptional fan. I liked them, I always purchased them, but with the exception of 2012, I always preferred Madden games to their NCAA counterpart (Madden 12 was awful). However, I recently started watching a YouTube gaming channel which featured an NCAA 14 Dynasty series, which hit me right in the nostalgia spot. So, for the first time in years, I hooked up my old Xbox 360 and played some NCAA 13. I ended up not buying NCAA 14 for whatever reason, so I made do with what I had. I was immediately enthralled by the game. I had forgotten just how in-depth and fun the Dynasty mode was. I absolutely love the recruiting process and I find it to be just as fun, if not more so, than the actual games themselves. The nature of college football forces players to constantly be looking to the teams future, as you have a maximum of 5 seasons at most with any and all in-game players. Currently, I am going into my 4th season as head coach of my local team, the Marshall University Thundering Herd. I hold an immaculate record, having lost only 4 games in those 3 completed years (playing on Heisman difficulty, of course). I have both a Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl victory, and two C-USA Championships to show for my success. I’m pressing on in my dynasty, not feeling the slightest hint of exhaustion or boredom toward the game. This has led me to raise the question of why in the world the NCAA and EA Sports have not revived this series. The game is exceptional. I obviously don’t have exact figures, but I’m 100% certain that the NCAA Football series made millions of dollars for EA. It undoubtedly exposed a significant amount of people to college football, to the benefit of the NCAA. Surely the two sides could reach an agreement on a way to bring the series back. On top of that, the game could be heavily beneficial to the players themselves. I have always been a strong supporter of paying college athletes. While I do not believe that they should receive any compensation outside of a scholarship from the school’s themselves, the players should be able to monetize their likeness, in the form of profiting from their respective jersey and merchandise sales, as well as actual usage of their likeness in things like the NCAA Football video game series. The reintroduction of the game could be the best possible way to ensure a higher quality of life for both college athletes and causal video game players. The series has provided me with countless hours of fun, and continues to do so, despite the last rendition of the game being 5+ years old. The revival of the game could help bridge the gap between the millions of dollars made by the NCAA and the lack of compensation for college athletes. Bringing back the game would be a win-win-win situation for the NCAA, collegiate athletes, and video game players alike. In my opinion, this is something that really, really needs to happen. I hope to one day be able to turn on my new-generation gaming console and again be able to enjoy the fun of the college football experience, sooner rather than later.

That’s all for this week. Be sure to check out some of the other great content from the writers at Mid-American Culture. Thanks for reading!

Predicting The First 10 Picks of The NFL Draft

We are just over a month away from the 2018 NFL Draft. Draft time is my favorite time of year on the NFL calendar. I genuinely think I take more joy in the offseason, and particularly the draft, than I do with the actual games. I love the analytical and behind the scenes aspects of the game so much. Every year, I try to predict how the first ten or so picks will play out. While my list very well may change, and I very well may upload another mock draft before the April 26th draft date, here is who I believe will be selected in the top 10 of the 2018 NFL Draft.

1. Cleveland Browns-Sam Darnold

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Sam Darnold is the best QB prospect in this draft, hands down. He towers at 6’4 and has the physical build to take the beatings that the Cleveland O-line is sure to put him through. He makes throws that others simply can’t. Colin Cowherd said it best when he referred to Darnold as “the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck”. While sometimes his decision making leaves you scratching your head, his good moments are absolutely brilliant and if done properly, Darnold could be developed into an elite level NFL quarterback within a few years.

2.New York Giants-Saquon Barkley

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All signs point to the Giants drafting Saquon Barkley. Before I go on the mini-rant I am about to go on, let me make myself very clear when I say that Saquon Barkley is extremely talented and very well may be one of the best running back prospects in the last decade. With that being said, taking a running back this early in the draft is completely idiotic, especially if you need a quarterback as badly as New York does. Running back is a dying position. You could get most of the value you get from a guy like Saquon Barkley from a 2nd or even 3rd round running back. If I were the Giants GM, I’m drafting whichever remaining quarterback I like best (personally, I like Josh Allen) and not thinking twice. However, the Giants organization, as well as the fans, seem stuck on Eli Manning. He’s likely going to be sticking around for a few more years and the Giants will be drafting the Penn State back to accompany him in the Giants backfield. I like the Giants to be strong contenders for the 1st pick in next year’s draft.

3. New York Jets-Baker Mayfield

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While this is another pick I don’t like even a little bit, I like the chances of Baker Mayfield being the second quarterback off the board. Baker Mayfield is the off-field trouble of Johnny Manziel paired with the skillset of……… Johnny Manzeil. The guy is basically Johnny Manziel. While I was a big fan of Manziel, it was clear that his problems deeply impacted his ability to play the game at a high level. The same will happen to Mayfield. With that being said, he’s an exciting player with a big personality that is fit for New York. It isn’t hard to understand why the Jets will take him at 3.

4. Cleveland Browns-Minkah Fitzpatrick

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I think Minkah Fitzpatrick is the most talented player in this year’s draft. He will be an instant contributor to the Cleveland defense. He does not have the blazing speed that I generally like to see in defensive backs, but the Alabama safety is the definition of a defensive anchor. I envision Fitzpatrick being the defensive captain of the Browns within two seasons. He’s that good of a player.

5. Denver Broncos-Quenton Nelson

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Quenton Nelson is one of the most talented linemen I have ever seen coming out of college. In preparation for writing this article, I looked up his dimensions and I was stunned. While he isn’t mind-blowingly tall, he is absolutely huge in terms of his arm length and his overall girth. He has the skillset to completely move opposing defensive linemen off the line. My only complaint is that his slightly shorter stature will prevent him from playing the tackle position and I like my linemen to be interchangeable. Other than that, I feel that Nelson is an absolutely incredible prospect.

6. Indianapolis Colts-Denzel Ward

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In my humble opinion, Denzel Ward is the most under the radar player in this year’s draft. Indianapolis lost its standout cornerback Vontae Davis this offseason. Ward is a perfect replacement. I would trust him to cover top corners in the league immediately. While the secondary certainly isn’t Indy’s biggest problem, it still certainly needs to be addressed. Denzel Ward is a great pick for the Colts at 6.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Bradley Chubb

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Simply put, Bradley Chubb is a man. Watching him play this past season was incredible. I have not seen a pass-rusher of this caliber since Jadeveon Clowney. While Chubb is no Clowney, he is still immensely talented and Tampa Bay is in desperate need for a viable pass-rusher. Chubb is an excellent fit for Tampa. Paired with newly signed defensive end Vinny Curry, Chubb could lead a defensive resurgence in Tampa Bay.

8.Chicago Bears-Calvin Ridley

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Alabama’s Calvin Ridley is the only highlight in this abysmal receiver class. Ridley is an extremely dynamic player who can immediately make an impact on the perimeter. While I worry deeply about the guy who will be throwing to him, the Bears believe that they have their quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky. It makes sense to draft him a viable weapon and Ridley is the best available weapon at the 8th spot.

9.San Francisco 49ers-Tremaine Edmunds

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The 49ers need to beef up their linebacking corps in the worst way possible. Reuben Foster has gotten himself into trouble already this offseason. There is no telling if he will be available for the 9ers to utilize next season. Even if he is, Edmunds is an excellent addition to the defense who can contribute from either side of the field.

10. Oakland Raiders-Derwin James

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The Oakland Raiders are a viable defense away from being serious Super Bowl contenders. The secondary is probably Oakland’s biggest hole. Derwin James is an elite prospect with All-Pro potential. Jones would have easily been the best safety in this draft if not for Minkah Fitzpatrick. While the Raiders need a corner much more than they need a safety, James is simply too good of a player to pass on at the 10 spot.

*I conducted this mock draft without any trades. I think it is strongly possible that at least one, but probably two teams trade into the top 10 at some point to draft a quarterback. I like Josh Allen to Buffalo and Josh Rosen to Miami or Arizona. I think that there almost certainly be at least 3 quarterbacks taken in the top 10.*

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