Category Archives: sports

The First Two Weeks Of The NFL Season Has Had Crazy Endings To Primetime NFL Games (And I Love It)!

It’s been two weeks since the 2021 NFL season kicked off. Usually, I try not to talk about it too much after I’ve given my picks for the season. I know this site isn’t a sports talk site and, as much as I love football, I’m not nearly as qualified to talk about it as much as your typical sports radio guy. I just get too overly excited about certain games and I can’t stop myself from wildly speculating.

As such, I try to keep my football love quiet, at least until the Super Bowl. By then, I’ve calmed down just enough to talk about it in a balanced way.

However, I’ve decided to break that practice briefly because these first two weeks of the season have been insane and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s not just that it’s so refreshing to see full stadiums and cheering fans again. Many of the games have been very close and very exciting to watch. It has made watching NFL Redzone even more riveting than usual.

Then, there have been the primetime games on Sunday night, Thursday night, and Monday night. Usually, the NFL reserves these games for major contenders and top rivalries. In most seasons, they tend to be hit or miss. You can usually expect a handful of games to be memorable, but you can also expect plenty of duds.

That has not been the case this season. So far, almost every primetime game has been an absolute thrill. They’ve been so close that you’re reluctant to go to the bathroom for the final 20 minutes of the game, just to be sure you don’t miss anything. Even if you’re not a fan of the teams, you have to admit we’ve had some amazing rides thus far.

First, there was the season opener with the Cowboys and Buccaneers.

Then, there was the insane ending on Monday Night Football with the Ravens and the Raiders.

Then, on a Thursday night no less, we got a crazy finish with Washington and the New York Giants.

Then, just when you think the primetime bar couldn’t go any higher, we get a true gem of a finish between the Chiefs and Ravens on Sunday night football.

As a lifelong football fan, I honestly can’t remember he last time we had so many primetime games end with such excitement. I can safely say I’ve loved every minute of it. Yes, it has been stressful, but it has also been so worth it.

Now, I don’t doubt that we’ll eventually get some duds later on in the season. The law of averages and the chaotic nature of sports basically guarantees that. For these first few weeks, at least, I couldn’t be more pleased with how the season has started. After all the weirdness surrounding last season, this is just what the NFL needed.

To the football gods, I thank you for these amazing games. Hope we get plenty more over the course of this season.

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Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, NFL, sports

On The Eve Of The Week One In The NFL Season: My Ode To NFL Redzone

nfl redzone online - Cheap Online Shopping -

Tomorrow is going to be an awesome day.

I know this because I love football and tomorrow is the first Sunday of the NFL season. I make a bit deal of it every year. I tend to speak in excessive hyperbole every time football season rolls around and I make no apologies for that. I don’t care if I sound like some crazed sports fan. I just love football that much.

For the next several months, I plan on building my entire Sunday afternoons around watching NFL football. That’s only going to make every weekend more awesome by default. The only thing that could make it better is if I found a beautiful woman who loves watching football on Sundays as much as I do.

However, on the eve of the first Sunday of the first week of the NFL season, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge something that has played a huge part in my love of football. That something is a wonderful little innovation the NFL created in 2009 called NFL RedZone.

To the uninitiated or uninformed, NFL RedZone is a cable TV channel that plays from 1:00 p.m. EST to 8:00 p.m. EST every Sunday during every week of the NFL regular season. It basically cycles through every game, covering every touchdown and focusing on games in which a team is close to scoring. It skips all commercials and makes it a point to capture every big moment from every game that Sunday.

I cannot overstate how much this channel has enhanced my football watching experience. Basically, I just tune into the channel at 1:00 p.m. as soon as I have my pizza and beer ready. Then, I don’t need to change the channel or touch anything on my TV for the next seven hours. That seven hours is basically the fan equivalent of football Heaven.

Yes, it does cost extra to get and it’s not cheap, either.

I still pay it gladly every year because it’s worth every penny.

Before NFL RedZone, I still loved watching football. It was just difficult to keep up with all the action. I could only ever watch two games on a Sunday afternoon, plus the Sunday night game. I still enjoyed it, but it was somewhat limited. If even just one of those games was a blowout or not a very intriguing match-up, I might just turn my TV off and do something else.

It was often hit-or-miss, but with more hits than misses. Then, once I discovered NFL RedZone, every Sunday became a hit. I got to see everything the NFL had to offer every Sunday. I could follow teams and players I couldn’t usually follow. It was like going from a tricycle to a Lamborghini. After that fateful first experience, I’ve built my NFL Sundays around it and I haven’t looked back.

I plan to do the same tomorrow. I plan to teach my future children how to experience it, as well. I hope to share the joys of NFL RedZone on Sunday afternoons with whoever enters my life. It’s a hell of a feeling and one I look forward to every year.

Now, the wait is almost over.

Tomorrow, the season begins and NFL RedZone will be my guide.

I can’t wait.

I am so ready for some football.

To all my fellow football fans out there, I hope you experience the same joy tomorrow afternoon that I hope to experience.

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Filed under football, Jack Fisher's Insights, NFL, sports, Uncategorized

NFL 2021 Season: Predictions And Picks

The following is a video from my YouTube Channel, Jack’s World. It’s a rather lengthy video in which I preview the 2021 NFL season and offer my predictions, as well as my pick for who will win each division. Then, I give my pick for who will win Super Bowl LVI. Enjoy!

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Why I Love Sports, But Don’t Watch The Olympics

Abolish the Olympics

I love sports. I think I’ve made that abundantly clear on this site. During certain times of the year I build a good chunk of my weekend around a six pack of beer and whatever sports happen to be on. Since I was a kid watching ball games with my dad, it’s one of my favorite things to do.

However, as much as I love sports, I don’t watch the Olympics.

Even when the Olympics were held in America cities and during primetime TV, I didn’t care to watch. I usually stuck to baseball games and preseason football.

That’s not to say I don’t respect the Olympics or the athletes who dedicate years of their lives to training for them. Those athletes are remarkable individuals. I don’t doubt that for a second. Their stories are certainly worth telling. I’ll gladly cheer for those stories.

I just don’t care to watch. That’s just my personal preference.

As for why I feel this way, I promise it has nothing to do with the politics that often get caught up in the Olympics. I understand that has always been an issue. This year has been no exception, especially with the pandemic.

Politics in sports has never bothered me. I honestly think people make way too big a deal out of it, so much so that it basically becomes a virtue signaling contest for both sides. However, I won’t get into that.

The underlying reason why I just don’t care for the Olympics is that it’s just so hard to follow. That’s somewhat unavoidable. Unlike football, baseball, or basketball season, the Olympics only happen every four years. Each time, the athletes change and unless they do something incredible, you never know their names.

It’s hard to have a favorite athlete.

It’s also hard to have a favorite team.

Since the Olympics are divided by country, you’re pretty much set into who you’re rooting for, unless you want to make things awkward to your fellow countrymen. There’s no regional drama like there is in other sports. With the end of the Cold War, there aren’t many rivalries either.

It’s just the best athletes from one country competing for another. The only competitive force driving them has to do with their nationality. It’s rarely something they chose. It’s just a matter of circumstance. Honestly, where’s the drama in that?

The reason why other professional sports are so compelling is because there’s a story behind a franchise. There’s a legacy and a history behind a team or an identity. Whether it’s a football team, a soccer team, or a baseball team, there’s a underlying narrative behind the game.

With the Olympics, that story is restricted to each individual athlete. While those stories can be compelling, those athletes usually only compete once and never again. That means their story is over quickly and there’s nothing worth following after that.

For me, sports without a larger story is like cake without frosting. You can still eat it, but it’s going to be bland. Again, this isn’t me knocking the Olympics or what they stand for. This is just my reason for not watching or following it, despite my love of sports. Then, there are many scandals and controversy, but that’s another story altogether.

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Why The Chances Of The XFL Returning Aren’t Great (For Now)

About The XFL

I love sports.

I love football.

For a good four months out of the year, I build my entire Sundays around watching football. Those are often some of the happiest days of the year for me. I’m also not alone. Here in America, football is the most popular sport by a stunningly wide margin. Despite recent political whining, the public’s appetite for football is as strong as ever.

However, in the time between the Super Bowl and the NFL draft, there’s a gaping hole in the sports world that neither hocky nor basketball can adequately fill. For decades, some have tried to fill that hole with spring football, but with limited success. As a lifelong football fan, I really wanted at least one to succeed, if only to make the wait for the next NFL season more bearable.

That was why I was so heartbroken in 2020 when the second iteration of the XFL went under, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This league had everything going for it. I even cheered it on. It had all the makings of a successful league that could finally succeed long term.

Then, COVID-19 happened it all went to hell. I cannot overstate how disappointing that was to me and fellow football fans.

For once, this wasn’t a matter of a league not doing things the right way. It was just a matter of the worst possible timing. Seriously, who could’ve predicted that a once-in-a-century pandemic would come in and upend the world, as we knew it?

Even though the XFL was eventually brought back from the brink of oblivion by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, my hopes are still very fragile. Earlier this year, the XFL tried to make waves by reaching out to the Canadian Football League for a potential collaboration. That went nowhere and understandably so. Neither league is in a position to take bold risks like that.

As disappointing as that was, the XFL did make an official announcement of sorts, courtesy of the Rock. In a YouTube video from the XFL’s main channel, the league announced its return in 2023. It’s keeping the same logo and the same motto. It wasn’t flashy, but this is probably the most we’ll get for now.

While I like that something official came out, a part of me remains skeptical. Don’t get me wrong. I really want the XFL to get another shot. If ever a league deserved a mulligan for circumstances beyond its control, it’s this one. No other failed football league had to deal with a global pandemic. This it not like the AAF or the USFL. This was bad timing and worst circumstances.

That said, this video leaves me unconvinced and worried. I know that 2023 is a long way off. As of now, this league has no coaches and no players. It has nothing both the Rock’s backing. While I’m never one to doubt the Rock, I just don’t know if the third time will be the charm for this league. It has had too much bad luck to this point.

If I had to put odds as to whether we’ll see another XFL game at some point, I would put it at 15 percent. Those are not good odds. I sincerely hope I’m wrong about that, but after the heartbreak of last year, I just can’t bring myself to get excited.

Maybe something will change. I really hope it does. I had fun watching those XFL games. They felt like real football with real players who were following their dream. The XFL felt like the best possible chance for spring football to succeed, more so than the upcoming reboot of the USFL. I want it to get that chance. However, the odds of that chance becoming something more aren’t great at the moment.

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Filed under football, sports, XFL

Dear Professional Sports Leagues: Marijuana Is NOT A Performance Enhancing Drug

Senate marijuana draft bill: Chuck Schumer, Democrats unveil proposal to  end federal prohibition on pot - ABC7 Chicago

I love sports. I love watching people push their bodies, minds, and skills to the limits of what they can achieve. It’s a testament to what hard work and dedication can achieve. I find that inspiring and worth cheering for.

I also understand that sports, like any major endeavor, has cheating in it. There are no shortage of cases in which athletes cheated to gain an edge. When money and glory are at stake, some will be tempted to cheat. That’s just human nature.

While I wholly support efforts to clamp down on cheaters, there is one area that I think is completely counterproductive and utterly absurd. It has to do with drugs in sports, one of the most time-tested forms of cheating in history.

Now, I know there are certain drugs in sports that really do confer a major edge. If you use steroids, stimulants, or pain killers, you’re going to have a distinct edge over those who don’t. That’s just science and chemistry. That also constitutes cheating and should be treated as such.

However, when it to marijuana, the science is just as clear. It is NOT a performance enhancing drug.

This is one area of sports and science that isn’t just outdated. It’s flat out absurd. I get that, until very recently, marijuana was illegal in most parts of the United States and the world. A lot has changed in the past 10 years. However, even before that change, we knew what the effects of marijuana were. Most of us know people who have used it before.

Even if you’re not a doctor or an athlete, you’ve probably noticed that one thing is clear. When it comes to strenuous activities, it does not enhance performance. People who are stoned are not usually inclined to compete at the highest level. Unless that activity involves eating chips and laughing, it’s not going to enhance much of anything.

Despite this very common knowledge, athletes are still being disciplined from sports because of marijuana use. For once, there is no bigger picture or broader perspective. This rule is just plain dumb.

Even if you don’t believe in the anecdotal reports about marijuana, at least believe the science. In this case, the data is pretty damn clear. Marijuana is not a performance enhancing drug. If anything, marijuana makes it more difficult to compete professionally because it’s likely to make you eat cookies and lounge on your couch rather than train.

As for why athletes smoke it in the first place, that’s also quite clear. In addition to all those other side-effects that come with smoking weed, it does a great job of relieving pain. For athletes who subject their bodies to immense strain and conditioning, pain is unavoidable. Dealing with it comes with the territory. How they manage it varies, but marijuana become increasingly popular, especially compared to dangerous opioids.

More and more, the stupidity of this policy on marijuana is becoming clear. Calling it a performance enhancing drug is akin to calling sleeping pills study aids. It’s not just absurd. It’s completely ass backwards. You can call marijuana a lot of things, but a performance enhancing drug in the realm of professional sports isn’t one of them.

I know I have little credibility on the subject. I’m just an aspiring erotica romance writer. Ifyou don’t trust my expertise, then please consider the argument by the late great Robin Williams on the subject. If he doesn’t convince you on this issue and make you laugh, then I don’t know what will.

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The Supreme Court Rules Against NCAA: An (Overdue) First Step For “Student” Athletes

House members add new elements to NCAA name, image, likneess bill

Certain kinds of progress are so overdue that when it finally happens, even in part, we’re just frustrated that it took so long. That’s certainly how many people felt when it took until 2017 to get a proper “Wonder Woman” movie. Those sentiments aside, we should still celebrate such progress. Overdue or not, it’s still progress.

For the “student” athletes who have been playing under the NCAA for over a century, progress has been harder to come by than most. I put “student” in quotes because in many cases, a “student athlete” is an empty term.

These are not student athletes in the literal sense of the word. These are athletes who go to certain schools to play a sport. They’re just called “students” so they can be compensated with a scholarship rather than actual money. Even if you value higher education, that scholarship rarely translates into a proper study.

See the 2014 UNC scandal that exposed just how little energy is put into the student part of student athlete. Keep in mind, that’s just the scandal that got exposed. There’s a good chance there are far more egregious cases that were better hidden.

I also have some personal experience with student athletes. I went to a college that had a nationally ranked football and basketball program. I met some of these student athletes. I can attest that they were not there for class. They were there to play their sport and that scholarship was the only thing they were getting in return.

I vividly recall classes in which basketball players slept in the back of a lecture hall.

I recall classes that had football players enrolled, but they rarely showed up for any classes.

This is not a fair system. These young athletes are generating millions for the school, but getting little in return beyond their scholarship. On top of that, the value of that scholarship is questionable when you consider some of the classes that athletes take.

That’s why I’m very much in favor of reforming this system, if not completely tossing it aside. It’s basically a quasi-plantation system that’s meant to compensate athletes as little as possible so that their efforts can generate the most amount of money for the schools and the NCAA. There have been past efforts to change this, but they rarely result in anything substantive.

Now, after a long string of legal battles, that might finally change. Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States made a ruling that opens the door for NCAA athletes to seek greater compensation. It’s not a massive overhaul of the system, but it is a very overdue first step.

NPR: The Supreme Court Sides With NCAA Athletes In A Narrow Ruling

Faced with the prospect of reshaping college athletics, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a narrow but potentially transformative ruling Monday in a case that pitted college athletes against the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

At issue in the case were NCAA rules that limit educational benefits for college players as part of their scholarships.

The athletes maintained that the NCAA has, in effect, been operating a system that is a classic restraint of competition — in short, a system that violates the nation’s antitrust laws. The NCAA countered that its rules are largely exempt from antitrust laws because they are aimed at preserving amateurism in college sports and because the rules “widen choices for consumers by distinguishing college sports from professional sports.”

On Monday, however, a unanimous court ruled that the NCAA rules are not reasonably necessary to distinguish between college and professional sports.

Writing for the court, Justice Neil Gorsuch said that the NCAA “seeks immunity from the normal operation of the antitrust laws,” an immunity which Gorsuch said is justified neither by the antitrust law nor the previous opinions of the Supreme Court. Noting that big-time NCAA sports have turned into a multibillion-dollar business, Gorsuch said that a couple of sentences from a 1984 opinion did not declare then or now that there is some sort of immunity based on the concept of amateurism.

Without getting too heavy into the legalistic elements of this case, the court finally told the NCAA that they cannot operate as the sole arbiter of college supports. Doing so puts them at odds with anti-trust laws. Unless they change their practices, those laws will be applied and there’s nothing they can do to avoid them.

Again, it’s frustrating that it took this long for someone to sanction the NCAA in a meaningful way, but it still counts as progress. You don’t have to do much digging to see how the NCAA exploits student athletes. It’s such an open secret that South Park even did a parody of it.

There’s just no getting around it anymore. College sports are making billions off of branding and TV deals every year, but very little of that ever gets to the athletes. They’re the ones putting their bodies on the line to produce the spectacles. They’re more than deserving of fair compensation and a scholarship just isn’t enough.

I don’t claim to know how to structure a better system. Plenty of people far smarter than me have offered some ideas. We won’t know which actually work until we start trying. Until this ruling, the NCAA never had a reason to try. Now, they have to do something.

I sincerely hope that whatever they do benefits these young athletes. Having known more than a few, I can attest that these are wonderful, talented young people. They have a rare gift that allows them to compete at a high level. They should be able to get compensated for that gift in a manner that helps them, as well as their families.

It may take time and any subsequent reforms will also be frustratingly overdue. That still counts as progress and that’s something that college sports desperately needs.

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Filed under Current Events, politics, sports

Congratulations (And Respect) To Carl Nassib For Coming Out As Gay In The NFL

Raiders lineman Carl Nassib comes out as gay - Outsports

Earlier this week, I told the story of Ryan O’Callaghan. He was a gay man who played several season in the NFL for multiple teams, but kept it a secret the entire time. It was a painful struggle, one that nearly cost him his life. He never found the strength to come out during his career, but he still managed to come to terms with his sexuality and get the help he needed.

Years before that, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team. Even though he never made it onto an active 53-man roster, it was historic. It showed that, even in a sport as traditionally masculine as the NFL, there was room for the LGBTQ community.

This year, another story unfolded that made even more progress. Carl Nassib, a defensive end on the Las Vegas Raiders who has been on an active roster for 5 years, came out as gay. For that, we should congratulate him because he didn’t just come out. He used it as an opportunity to donate to The Trevor Project. It helped make a historic moment that much more meaningful.

As a lifelong fan of football, I think this is good for the sport. These players aren’t just top athletes. They’re human beings. They deserve to live their lives and their truth. I imagine it wasn’t easy for Mr. Nassib, just as it wasn’t easy for Ryan O’Callaghan. It’s also very likely that there are plenty of other closeted players in both the NFL and the NCAA. Hopefully, this moment will help inspire them to live their truth as well.

The fact that his jersey became a top seller after his announcement is just further proof that the world is ready for this. I would even argue the world needs this. It’ll make football season this year all the more enjoyable.

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Filed under LGBTQ, NFL, sexuality, sports

The Life Ryan O’Callaghan: A Sad (But Uplifting) Story About A Former NFL Player Coming Out

Ryan O'Callaghan #75 of the Kansas City Chiefs in action against the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 14, 2010 in Denver Colorado.

For a brief moment, picture a typical gay man. Depending on when you grew up, where you came from, and what sort of media you consumed, you probably have a certain image in your head. I suspect that image looks nothing like Ryan O’Callaghan.

Unless you’re a world class NFL football nerd, chances are you haven’t heard that name before. However, after learning about his story, I hope he’s someone who has changed your perception of what it means to be LGBTQ. That’s because Ryan O’Callaghan’s story is a sad, downright heartbreaking story on many levels, but one that has a happy, uplifting ending.

We need more stories like that, especially during Pride Month. We need them now more than ever.

To appreciate what Ryan O’Callaghan went through, it’s necessary to appreciate how hard it can be to live life as a closeted gay man. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a story from decades ago. Ryan O’Callaghan was born in 1983. He’s pretty much the same age as I am. He was born at a time when things were steadily improving for the LGBTQ community.

However, that wasn’t much solace for him. He grew up in a very conservative part of California. After realizing he was gay, he had no idea how he was going to live that life in such an environment. That led him to hide his sexuality. At one point, he even made plans to kill himself.

It’s hard to imagine how agonizing it must be, having to hide a part of who you are from everyone around you. Forget, for a moment, how you feel about homosexuality in general. Imagine trying to hide a big part of who you are from everyone and being terrified of the truth coming out. Could we really manage keeping a secret like that?

I know I couldn’t. I question the honesty of anyone who claims they can. For Ryan O’Callaghan, it was too much. He really didn’t believe he could live a full life as an openly gay man. The best he could do was hide his secret as long as he could. That was where football came in.

This goes back to that picture I conjured earlier. Ryan O’Callaghan is 6 foot 7 inches tall. During his playing days through college and the NFL, he weight in between 250 and 330 pounds. He was an offensive lineman. He looked and played the part. In essence, he was the last person anyone expected to be gay and that’s how he liked it.

Through high school, college, and the NFL, he let football be his mask. It’s supposed to be the manliest sport in the world. Even after Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to play in the NFL in 2014, there’s still this perception that the men who play football fit a certain ideal and that ideal doesn’t involve being gay.

That’s not to say there haven’t been gay players in the NFL. In fact, there have been quite a few. One of the best tight ends in NFL history, Jerry Smith, played his entire 13 year career in the NFL as a closeted gay man. There’s a good chance there are active players in the NFL right now who are gay, but in the closet.

Be that as it may, it offered no comfort to Ryan O’Callaghan. Football was still his mask, but he loved playing it enough to keep going. It also helped that he was very good at it. He was so good that he managed to get a college scholarship with the California Golden Bears. He went onto play well enough to get drafted by the New England Patriots in 2006.

That’s a level of success very few football players ever reach, regardless of position. The fact that Ryan was able to go that far is a testament to both his skill and his talent for the game. Doing it all while in the closet just makes it all the more harrowing.

However, that success didn’t change his plans. Ryan still believed he could not live life as an openly gay man. Once his playing days were over, he still planned to take his own life. At one point, he even wrote a suicide letter, bought guns, and built a cabin. That’s how close he came to ending it all.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending.

Before he took that fatal step, he got help from a clinical psychologist. She helped him out of that dark place. Eventually, he was able to come out, revealing his secret to the general manager who had drafted him. It’s hard to overstate how big that moment must have been for him.

I certainly can’t do it justice. I’ve only touched on some of the details surrounding Ryan O’Callaghan’s story. For a more a more complete picture, check out his book, My Life On The Line. Also, I highly recommend that everyone read this story done by Outsports. It covers Ryan’s struggles in far greater depth.

I should offer a bit of a trigger warning, though. Some of the details are difficult to take in, but it’s worth noting that this story has a happy ending. Here’s a brief snippet.

Outsports: Former Patriots and Chiefs tackle Ryan O’Callaghan comes out as gay

Very early on in the process he felt it was mandatory to share his truth with Pioli, the man who had brought him from New England and helped keep his career — and his life — moving forward.

Just after the 2011 season, O’Callaghan visited Pioli in his office.

The day before he had called his general manager, who had become a good friend, to ask him for a meeting. Pioli had known about O’Callaghan’s drug abuse, and the gravity in his player’s voice over the phone told him that something dire was on his mind.

“He had built this up like he was coming in to tell me that maybe he had done something truly terrible,” Pioli remembered.

O’Callaghan trudged into Pioli’s office the next day. After a hug and some small talk, O’Callaghan turned serious. He told Pioli he had been visiting with Wilson and had gotten “clean.” It was good news to Pioli.

“I’ve got something else I’ve got to tell you,” O’Callaghan said. At this point he was fighting back tears. Pioli’s mind raced, wondering if his player had harmed or killed someone.

“I’m gay,” O’Callaghan said.

His private announcement was met with immediate support from the GM. Then:

“So what’s the problem you wanted to talk me about?” Pioli asked.

O’Callaghan looked at him, bewildered, 27 years of fear, anxiety and self-loathing meeting Pioli’s stare.

“Scott,” O’Callaghan said, “I’m… gay.”

Pioli acknowledged that and asked again if O’Callaghan had done something wrong.

“People like me are supposed to react a certain way, I guess,” Pioli told Outsports. “I wasn’t minimizing what he was telling me, but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. He built this up and built this up to the point where he said he was nearly suicidal. What Ryan didn’t know is how many gay people I’ve had in my life.”

O’Callaghan also didn’t know that, according to Pioli, he wasn’t the first gay NFL player whom his GM had counseled.

The two men talked more and Pioli assured O’Callaghan that their conversation changed nothing, he was still there to support him, and they were still friends. O’Callaghan was shocked by the reaction. Pioli handled it pitch-perfectly, as though he had known all along. So O’Callaghan asked if his boss had, in fact, known.

“Ryan, how would I have known?” Pioli responded.

“Do you really think I like coffee that much?” O’Callaghan asked.

Pioli had no idea what his player was talking about.

O’Callaghan had, since his time in New England, headed to the training room after every practice to consume copious amounts of coffee, a convenient excuse to avoid being in the showers with the rest of his teammates.

Pioli got emotional at the thought of one of his players having to go to those lengths to keep some distance from his teammates. The mental toll this had all taken on O’Callaghan had come into focus.

As they rose to say goodbye, Pioli came around from behind his desk and opened his arms to embrace O’Callaghan. They had hugged countless times before, after games, after the offseason, even just moments ago when O’Callaghan walked into his office.

This time O’Callaghan stuck out his hand to shake.

“What’s with the handshake?” Pioli asked.

“I just told you I’m gay,” O’Callaghan replied sheepishly.

Pioli was having none of it and grabbed O’Callaghan.

“Dude, it’s OK,” Pioli said. Then, in his signature sense of humor, “Just don’t grab my butt.”

That broke the tension and O’Callaghan burst into laughter. The humor was a sign to him that Pioli wasn’t going to change. They could get along just as they always had.

“Don’t worry,” O’Callaghan replied, “You’re not my type.”

I sincerely hope this story resonates with others for all the right reasons. Whether you’re openly LGBTQ, in the closet, or just know people who are struggling with their sexuality, I hope the story of Ryan O’Callaghan offers insight and perspective.

Yes, we’ve made progress as a society. Life for the LGBTQ community is better now than it has been in the past. We still have room for improvement, as Ryan’s story perfectly illustrates. If you or anyone you know is struggling, I hope this story helps you in some way.

Also, if you need help or are at all feeling suicidal, please check out the resources of the Trevor Project. Thank you an have a Happy Pride Month.

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Filed under football, LGBTQ, NFL, psychology, real stories, sports

My Top 5 Most Anticipated Games For The 2021 NFL Season

NFL delays deciding on expanding regular season until 2021 | Yardbarker

For lifelong football fans like me, this is often a bittersweet time of year. The most eventful parts of the NFL offseason have come and gone. Both free agency and the NFL Draft are behind us. All 32 teams in the NFL are very different compared to what they were when the 2020 season ended. For many fans, especially of those whose teams had major overhauls, it’s an exciting time.

As of now, every team is 0-0.

Every team has the potential to go from worst to first.

Every player has the potential to become the best at their position.

At this point, most people know what they’re team is going to look like when the season starts. Now, we also know who, when, and where they’ll play because the NFL just released the full 2021 schedule. It all starts on September 9, 2021 with the Cowboys facing the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. Even if you’re not a fan of those particular teams, that’ll be a glorious day if you’re just a football fan in general.

Given how crazy last year was with games being delayed and no fans being in the stands, I am ready for a full season that isn’t utterly chaotic because of a once-in-a-century pandemic. I can’t wait to see the day when full stadiums of cheering fans are a regular thing again. It’s something I hope players and fans alike never take for granted.

While that wait is going to be long from here on out, the release of the schedule already has me excited. So, to help pass the time while I wait for kickoff, here’s a brief list of the games from 2021 that I’m most excited about. Please note that this is just my list. Yours may differ considerably, depending on your favorite/most hated team. If you think there’s another game worthy of such hype, please mention it in the comments.


#5: Jaguars @ Texans in Week 1

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This is likely more of a curiosity than anything else. It’s the debut of the all new, fully rebuilt Jaguars and their new number one overall pick, Trevor Lawrence. Some call him Football Jesus. Some think he’s a once-in-a-generation quarterback who will take the Jaguars to a whole new level. We may not know how true that is with this game, but I’ll certainly be curious to see what he and Urban Meyer can do.

Plus, Tim Tebow could be back. That can only make this game more exciting.


#4: Steelers @ Chiefs in Week 16

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These are two perennial playoff teams with high-flying offenses. They both have Hall of Fame quarterbacks and Hall of Fame coaches who have won Super Bowls. This is one of those match-ups where you know you’re getting the best and at this point in the season, this match-up could very well determine which team has the top seed in the playoffs and which team will have to travel on their path to another Super Bowl.

Then again, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers didn’t mind traveling last year on the road to their championship, so there’s that.


#3: Packers @ Chiefs in Week 9

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I know. It’s another Chiefs game. No, I’m not playing favorites. I’ve just been watching football long enough to know that Patrick Mahomes makes any game worth watching. However, add future Hall of Famer Aaron Rogers to the mix and this could be must-see TV. Now, it’s not yet clear what’ll happen between the Packers and Rogers. I’ve been following the trade rumors along with anyone else. I don’t think there’s enough there to think someone different will be under center by the time this game is played. Hopefully, it’s still the match-up we all hope it will be.

Plus, this should’ve been the Super Bowl last year. It really should’ve.


#2: Ravens @ Steelers in Week 13

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I don’t think I need to say much to justify this. It’s Ravens versus Steelers. They’re not just division rivals. They’re two of the hardest hitting teams in the AFC. Both are regularly in the playoff hunt, especially by mid-season. Both have top tier quarterbacks and quality defenses. It’s usually at this point in the season where one team separates themselves from another and it’s usually in a match-up like this when we see these teams at their best.

If you’re a fan of old school had-nose football, this is your game.


#1: Buccaneers @ Patriots in Week 4

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It’s Tom Brady’s first time playing in Foxboro for a team that’s not the Patriots. Need I say more? Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to every play and his greatness brought six Super Bowl titles to New England. Him leaving was a big deal. Him coming back as a Buccaneer after winning them the Super Bowl will an even bigger deal. This is one of those games that’ll have a lot of drama to it. It’ll feel like a playoff game and it’ll only be Week 4.

For that reason, this will likely be the most anticipated game of the season for many, myself included.


I’ll say it again. I am so ready for some football. I know I’ll have to wait a few more months for it to arrive, but I’ll be ready when the time comes. The wait will be agonizing and these five games are just a small slice of a much larger, more delicious cake that is the NFL season, but it’ll be worth it.

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