The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video covers my picks and predictions for the 2022 NFL season. Last year, something remarkable happened in that I actually picked the winner of Super Bowl LVI, the Los Angeles Rams.
Now, I consider that to be a lucky fluke.
But I still hope that gives extra weight to my picks this year. Like previous years, I’ll go division by division. Then, I’ll offer my pick for who I think will win Super Bowl LVII. Enjoy!
The most holy of days for lovers of all things football, NFL, and sports spectacles!
It’s Super Bowl Sunday and later today, Super Bowl LVI will kickoff in Los Angeles between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals. The wait is almost over and words cannot describe how great it feels.
Every year, I build my entire weekend around it. This year is no exception. I’ve stocked up on chicken wings. I plan on making a couple dozen just an hour or so before kickoff. I’ve also stocked up on beer, chips, and premium dip. It will likely be the least healthy meal I’ll have all year, but I’ll make up for it at the gym tomorrow. Today, it’s all about football.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of either team, but this is one year where the stories behind these teams are such that you can root for both. The Rams haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1999 and their quarterback, Matthew Stafford, hadn’t even won a playoff game until this year.
The Bengals are an even more remarkable story. Not only have they never won a Super Bowl, they hadn’t won a playoff game since 1990. They were such a bad team for so long that people used to call them the Bungles. Now, they’re in the Super Bowl, preparing to play for their first championship, having taken down the top ranked Titans and Chiefs along the way.
Only one team can win it, but both teams deserve to be here. I look forward to seeing who earns that iconic Lombardi Trophy.
So, whatever your Super Bowl ritual might be, I hope it goes smoothly. I also hope it involves plenty of friends, food, and cheering. It’s a wonderful day for football and for sports. Let’s all just enjoy it for all its worth.
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.
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.
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!
I love sports. I think I’ve made thatabundantly 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I certainly intend to enjoy it more so than usual. I haven’t forgotten just how jarring last year was. The experience of going an entire spring without baseball had a lasting impact, to say the least. I was so used to just sitting on my couch, turning a ball game on, and relaxing throughout the spring and summer.
Losing that hurt.
It hurt a lot.
It also made me appreciate baseball that much more.
For me, there’s a sentimental value for baseball. Growing up, some of my fondest memories involve sitting on the couch with my dad, cracking peanuts, and watching ball games together. I didn’t even care who was playing. Just watching baseball with my dad was a joyous experience. I came to cherish that experience as I got older.
Now, after last year, I’m ready to cherish it even more. I encourage other baseball fans to do the same. We lost a lot in 2020. We took so many things for granted, including baseball. Let’s take the time to celebrate having it this year.