Kanye West -- Old school NFL Sunday

NFL Monday Morning Madness: How Kanye nostalgia sparked my ‘old-school’ NFL Sunday

This idea started with the release of Kanye West’s ninth studio album, ‘Jesus Is King,’ over two weeks ago. The album itself was a so-so effort by Kanye’s standards, but still harkened back to some of the reasons — forward-thinking vision, unique (and crisp) production — he became perhaps the best hip-hop artist of this century.

Considering the impressive discrepancy in sound and content on each one of his albums, listening to Kanye brings back different feelings of nostalgia, depending on which album the track you’re listening to is off of.

Although I consider every one of his albums at least good, it was his earlier work that stuck with me, before his ill-fated, more-recent decisions lessened his once-positive image, and popularity.

But in listening to Kanye’s work from start to finish, it was clear, he was always ahead of the curve.

His burst-onto-the-scene moments included his first style of music, hip-hop built around soulful samples that critics (and fans) ate up in The College Dropout and Late Registration. 

Then, in Graduation, Kanye triumphantly captivated the music world by using electronic-infused beats, some mixed with his patented soulful samples. Songs like Stronger topped the charts a few years before mainstream/pop music veered toward the electro side, led by guys like David Guetta and Calvin Harris.

Then, Kanye’s mom, Donda West, tragically passed away, 12 years ago on Sunday.

The loss prompted a then-introverted Kanye to go to Hawaii to record 808’s & Heartbreak. A controversial album at the time, 808’s was met with mixed reviews, but later revered. I loved it from the start.

The album spawned the introspective emo-era of rap later adopted by guys such as Drake, Kid Cudi and Childish Gambino. Cudi was a major part of the album, making it his entrance into the music world. It is his most influential album, and maybe THE most impactful hip-hip album, when we think of what transpired in the following decade.

It also was the beginning of an all-new Kanye. He was already an outspoken individual, but most of his major issues in the limelight began after this moment.

Although I still love basically every album he has put out, I sometimes yearn for the Old Kanye, and in turn, older times. Late Registration to 808’s and Heartbreak represent my high school life. Those years spanned from 2005 to 2009, right during Kanye’s peak.

Regardless, Kanye continued his mastery.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), his post-Taylor Swift feud album, is perhaps his magnum opus. And the what-was-that? Yeezus (2013) was clearly before it’s time — think now of: Travis Scott’s odd, beat-switching work, with Sicko Mode in particular.

But I always find myself thinking of Kanye’s older music. I do the same with Drake. As humans, we paint a rosier picture of the past.

But where I’m going with this, I’m sure the ‘old Kanye’ era was better for this particular subject…


Kanye West -- Old school NFL Sunday
Nothing like a beautiful Sunday watching the NFL as it was back in the 2000’s, pre-social media. (photo cred: Ricardo Ramos)

With  Kanye’s ‘Graduation’ in 2007, I can pop it on and think of a backpack-wearing rapper taking over a scene that was normally reserved for gangsta rappers. But I also think of my own years as a backpack-wearing high schooler, discovering music (and myself) while feeding my appetite for the NFL during a pre-Twitter era of fan consumption. 

And so, on the Sunday of what I thought (I thought) would be an underwhelming slate of games, and a Patriots bye, I decided to take it back to simpler times.

I wondered how I used to consume NFL content on Sundays in the 2000’s. So, I decided to watch and gather information about the games mostly as I did in the booming internet age of the mid-to-late 2000’s.

I decided to allow myself NFL RedZone (debuted in 2009) and an end-of-the-day (only) Twitter scan.

But most of my NFL-consuming knowledge came from tentpoles of the past that led to my fascination with the coverage of pro football, which came after my love for the game itself.

Although now on ESPN + only, ‘NFL Primetime’ with Chris Berman and Tom Jackson would be my main highlight show, filling in the cracks, and overall game flow, that RedZone could not make up for. I also had NBC’s ‘Football Night In America’ complimenting.

There’s something about Primetime that adds to the NFL’s lore. Boomer and TJ setting the scene for each game to the tune of the classic music that everyone knows, and hopefully enjoys as much as I do.

With today’s good graphics-but-unrealistic video game-like state of EA’s Madden — which I will always love and purchase, but can admit is just not a great game at the moment, for realistic football simulation lovers — I’ve returned to my roots with video  games, too.

I’ve updated the rosters, thanks to the hardworkers in the Operation Sports forums, of ESPN’s NFL 2K5, which I believe is the best video game of all-time.

Julian Edelman- ESPN NFL 2K5
A digitized Julian Edelman celebrates with fans after scoring a touchdown in an updated-roster version of ESPN NFL 2K5.

Equipped with modern-day players in the old game, I can see a digitized Chris Berman recapping a Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs win in a digitalized version of NFL Primetime on a video game created in 2004.

But it’s the real return of the Primetime that has had me thinking of a pre-Twitter NFL Sunday. One without the abundance of hot takes or the “it’s either this or that” do-or-die temperature gauges of each team after a win or loss. Even worse, we can tell a lot of the takes are mob takes designed to criticize immediately, because always has to be something to criticize. If a major trade happens, someone has to have lost it, immediately, right?

In a world in which social media is certainly needed — and there is a lot of good that has come from it, including tweets —  it’s the silly takes that bother me, including incomplete stats designed to further an agenda or argument that gets me riled up. Sometimes it’s better to just sit back, watch the games, and say nothing.

I enjoyed the Sunday spent talking to my buddies, Tyler and Raul, in our hilarious group chat, and FaceTiming my father and Uncle to talk as I watched RedZone, while also talking about the games.

And I still got all the information I needed. For those who enjoy my takeaways — 

– The Ravens (7-2) are the hottest team in the AFC right now, and challenge the 49ers for the NFL’s crown on that list. Lamar Jackson looks like an evolved version of Michael Vick, crossed with Brett Favre, slinging passes at Patrick Mahomes-like angles, while also running around like a mad man. The Ravens have changed my mind with the league’s best three-game stretch of any team this season so far. Those were bulldozing wins over the Seahawks, Patriots and Bengals. P.S. I really enjoyed the ‘three-Heisman trophy winners’ play that culminated in a Jackson fake to Mark Ingram, and ensuing pitch to Robert Griffin III. 

– Even with the Falcons (2-7) and Saints (7-2) as they are, the rivalry came to fruition once more, as Matt Ryan returned and Drew Brees looked like he shouldn’t have. Falcons 26, Saints 9. These games happen, this is not panic time for New Orleans, although there’s certainly some concern after a game like that. 

– Seven of the 10 games before Sunday Night Football were close contests that were undecided in the final minute. The Dolphins upset the Colts. Ryan Tannehill rallied the Titans past the Chiefs. The Jets beat the Giants in the battle for New York and the Browns won a game. Can you believe that? 

– The most aesthetically-pleasing game was played in Green Bay. The light snow in Panthers-Packers increased as the game went on, as the did the drama that ensued when the Packers eventually held Carolina out of the end zone in the game’s waning moments, to win. The snow game triggered the start of gut-check time that pro football exhibits from November on, and also gave us a vintage snow game in a league that has lacked some of these in the latter half of the 2010s. I really enjoyed it. 


The result of my Sunday was a soothing, needed experience away from the Twittersphere, as much as I love it. This was soul-soothing, just like one of Kanye’s soulful beats.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to think of a tweet for next week that will be so relatable that it gets more retweets than the money in my bank account.


So, tonight will bring forth my return to consuming knowledge the “new” way, which is still a blast. Although too much at times, NFL Twitter is lit, as the kids say. It should be at a an all-time high when Richard Sherman’s old team, the Seahawks (7-2), travel to San Francisco to take on his new team, the 49ers (8-0). And that’s where we return to my analysis.


I stand by the fact that the NFC participant in Super Bowl LIV will be either the 49ers, Packers or Saints.

The Seahawks lead the next brigade of talented teams that also includes the Vikings, Eagles, Cowboys and Rams. These are teams that could make a run, but the Super Bowl is probably not where they’re going this season.

Russell Wilson is the NFL MVP leader at the moment, even if Lamar Jackson is nipping at his heels. Although the talent around him has improved, he still makes up for a lot of deficiencies, which includes a post-Legion of Boom defense that is nowhere near its predecessor.

San Francisco has seemingly built a powerhouse overnight, but that’s not quite the case. Jimmy Garoppolo and Richard Sherman have each been here in the last year or two to take on some lumps.

And although the 49ers defensive line includes a staggering five first-round picks, only the underrated DeForest Buckner has been a stalwart for them over the past few seasons. Rookie Nick Bosa and veteran Dee Ford were added this offseason, and Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas have been busts until now.

This smells like one last ‘big’ victory for San Francisco before they face the Cardinals, and then run into the gauntlet of the Packers, Ravens and Saints. That’s a rough there game stretch, and they’ll finally get at least one loss there, maybe two.

But San Francisco has the defensive front that should be able to wreak havoc on the visiting Seahawks, who still sport a so-so offensive line that lets the dogs through. Although Wilson is adept at winning these types of games, this seems like too much.

If he does somehow win, this will be the game where we look back and know that Wilson was deserving of the NFL MVP race, in a once-close race.

Both Wilson and Sherman will be looking to make a statement, and although I think Wilson will get a pass by Sherman for a score, it is the 49ers that will get the last laugh on Monday.


1. San Francisco 49ers (8-0) (Last week: 2). If the 49ers win tonight, they should be 10-0 when they host the 8-2 Packers in week 12.

2. Baltimore Ravens (7-2) (Last week: 5). We talked about Lamar above. He’s amazing. Baltimore also saw it’s midseason acquisition, Marcus Peters, return an interception 89 yards to the house on Sunday. That’s his second-pick six in three games with the Ravens. In a secondary filled with guys who avoid mistakes — Earl Thomas, Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith — Peters has been able to play his aggressive style. Since he came into the league in 2015, Peters leads the NFL in interceptions (26) and pick-sixes (6). He’s the definition of a playmaker at the position, even if it led to inconsistent play in the past.

3. New England Patriots (8-1) (Last week: 3). Their top-rated rookie this year, wide receiver N’Keal Harry, returns this week versus the Eagles. Their top-rated rookie from last year, left tackle Isaiah Wynn, returns to face the Cowboys the week after. Oh, and you think Tom Brady doesn’t badly want to win this game in Philadelphia? He’ll be thinking of Super Bowl LII, in which his best Super Bowl (statistically) resulted in a loss. This has ‘here come the Patriots’ written all over it.

4. Green Bay Packers (8-2) (Last week: 4). It seems as if Davante Adams is back. They’ll need him to stay healthy if they are to come out on top in the NFC.

5. New Orleans Saints (7-2) (Last week: 1). As I said with Green Bay after their loss to the Chargers last week, the ‘stink’ game happens. It happens to virtually every team. This was probably that game for the 2019 Saints. No time to panic, but they have to drop some after a 17-point home loss to a divisional rival with a 1-7 mark.

6. Seattle Seahawks (7-2) (Last week: 6). Can Russell Wilson overcome ex-teammate Richard Sherman, and the 49ers’ vaunted defensive line tonight?

7. Minnesota Vikings (7-3) (Last week: 11). Kirk Cousins is changing the way we view him. But he has to keep this up. Impressive win in Dallas. Add it to his impressive month.

8. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) (Last week: 12). With losses by several other clubs, the Eagles move up. They’re a second-half-of-the-season team. On Sunday they have the ultimate test in the Patriots, to test that theory.

9. Houston Texans (6-3) (Last week: 13). The Texans have a lot of holes, but they also have Deshaun Watson.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) (Last week: 7). Yeah, their defense is still rotten. As previously stated, they need a miraculous late-season fix of this issue, like the 2006 Colts.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4) (Last week: 16). If the Steelers make the playoffs, Mike Tomlin deserves the Coach of the Year award. Kudos to him for the job he has done this season.

12. Los Angeles Rams (5-4) (Last week: 8). I know they had to go West to East, but that’s still an ugly loss. They have the talent. But what in the hell is wrong with this offense?

13. Dallas Cowboys (5-4) (Last week: 10). It’s a two-man race in the NFC East, and they have already pounded the Eagles, but I’m not sure they’ll outplay them down the stretch. They haven’t exactly been a ‘gut-check time’ team this century.

14. Oakland Raiders (5-4) (Last week: NR). The Bears certainly didn’t lose the Khalil Mack trade. But it seems the Raiders haven’t either. As I said above with Tomlin, give Jon Gruden some major credit here. (Here’s another take from NFL Twitter that didn’t go as the mob planned)

15. Indianapolis Colts (5-4) (Last week: 9). Two weeks ago, I had the Colts at No. 5 on this list. They’ve fallen, hard. Jacoby Brissett should return in a matter of weeks to help right the ship. This is still a talented team. Don’t count them out just yet.

16. Carolina Panthers (5-4) (Last week: 16). They hung tough in Green Bay, and showed some of their physicality in the snow. This a team that looks primed for success in the future, meaning 2020 and on.

Next up: Buffalo, Chicago, Tennessee, L.A. Chargers, Detroit

Marshon Lattimore vs Vikings

NFL Monday Morning Madness: Saints’ revenge in Minny, surprising Skins

This time there would be no close ending. No Minnesota Miracle. No heartbreak for Drew Brees and the Saints (6-1) in Minnesota, just glee. In their 30-20 win over the Vikings (4-3-1), the Saints exacted their revenge for the wackiest finish of 2017, which sent them home in the playoffs, two games short of their ultimate goal.

Brees (18-for-23, 120 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) wasn’t exactly a world beater in the win, but he was sharp in his accuracy, which complimented an opportunistic defense that has reverted back to it’s 2017 ways as a formidable unit.

The game changed when Marshon Lattimore returned an Adam Thielen fumble 54 yards into Vikings territory before the end of the first half. The Saints then scored on a short run by Alvin Kamara to take a 17-13 lead into the half that they would not surrender.

Now the Saints welcome the Rams (8-0) in what is basically a midseason NFC title game that may very well decide who gets home field advantage come January.

With six straight wins, the Saints are as good of a team as any, bolstering an offense full of versatile weapons — Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram and Taysom Hill — and a defense that has improved dramatically since being overtaken by  Tampa Bay’s ‘FitzMagic’ in Week 1.

If Sean Payton’s crew has one more statement win in them, this Sunday is the time to to play that card. Teams like the Panthers, Eagles and perhaps tonight’s Vikings may stand in the way, but looking ahead, this sure looks like a preview of the NFC Championship Game to come this weekend.

Smith, Peterson lead surging Skins

Jettisoned by the Chiefs after another disappointing, early-postseason exit, Alex Smith joined a Washington unit that seemingly was in rebuilding mode. Many Redskins fans mourned the exit of Kirk Cousins, expecting their next few seasons to be that of a misery-filled pit.

Smith, a former No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, had other plans.

The Redskins have won three straight since their debacle of a loss in New Orleans, a 43-19 stinker, to jump on top of the NFL’s most storied division. This has been done thanks to an efficient offense led by Smith, and a surprisingly-affective defense that has held opponents to just under 16 points per game during their winning streak.

Additionally, the 34-year-old Smith has thrown zero interceptions the past three games, and has thrown just two all season. With an average arsenal of pass catchers, Smith is making due. The quarterback that Kansas City didn’t want (and judging by Patrick Mahomes’ play, with good reason) has found a home in Washington. When the trade went down, it seemed like a move for a stopgap QB to fill the void between Cousins and and an eventual rookie passer. But it’s clear now why the Redskins wanted him.

No one wanted Adrian Peterson, who was without a team until Washington signed him right before the regular season. Inserted as the team’s bell cow RB1 after rookie Derrius Guice was lost for the season with an injury, the NFL’s ninth all-time leading rusher has enjoyed a career renaissance in the nation’s capital.

After the game, Peterson embraced the league’s next star RB in the wings, the Giants’ Saquon Barkley. “The sky is the limit for you,” Peterson told Barkley.

Peterson was once that young, generational prospect. He evolved into one of the game’s best running backs instantly, and was going to be included in the pantheon of the league’s best to ever do it, regardless of how he fared in D.C. But he’s added to his legacy anyway, but turning back the clock on an incredible 2018 campaign thus far.

This is a man that returned from an ACL tear to run for over 2,000 yards the following year, and win NFL MVP while almost single-handily carrying the 2012 Vikings to the playoffs.

He may not be that dominant anymore, but shades of vintage Peterson are still present at age 33. And behind the workhorse RB, and the overlooked QB, the Redskins rule the NFC East at the season’s midpoint.

Vinatieri re-solidifies place as greatest kicker ever

When I was 10 years old, the Adam Vinatieri kicked the game-tying and game-winning field goals in the famous ‘Tuck Rule’ game, a 16-13 overtime victory by the New England Patriots over the Oakland Raiders. That was the first career postseason win for Tom Brady, the first career postseason win of the current Patriots dynasty, and the last game ever played at Foxboro Stadium.

I’m now 27 years old. Things have changed for me and the entire world. There were no MacBooks, or iPod Nanos or Twitter or anything in the previous mentioned game. But there are now, 17 years later, as Vinatieri has now become the NFL’s all-time leading scorer in his 23rd season. Not only is Vinatieri one of the most clutch athletes of all-time (and undoubtedly the most clutch kicker ever), he’s simply the greatest kicker in the history of football. The greatest man at his particular profession, to ever grace this planet, and possibly universe.

The 45-year-old has two game-winning kicks in Super Bowls, four Super Bowl rings, and is the author of probably the three greatest kicks ever, his two Super Bowl footers and that famous 45-yard field goal in the snow in Foxboro Stadium, to launch the Patriots’ dynasty.

When Vinatieri steps up to attempt a game-winning or game-tying kick, you know it’s going in. And it’s virtually the same for any other kick.

With 2,547 career points, Adam is now the league’s all-time leading scorer. Whenever he decides to retire, he’ll follow that up five years afterword in being the first kicker to ever be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. What a career. What a kicker.


– Down 29-27 with just over two minutes remaining, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (3-3-1) were staring down a situation they’ve thrived in recently. A chance to win a game in the final moments, but this time the opponent was the NFL’s best team, the lone-unbeaten Rams (8-0). But instead of the viewing public getting a chance to see what would transpire, the situation was eviscerated almost immediately, via a kick-return fumble. Game over. Packers fall back to .500, while the Rams remain unbeaten at midseason. Rodgers and the Packers now travel to New England as the Packers great and Tom Brady will duel for just the second (and possibly last) time of their careers. More on that later this week.

The main story is that of Todd Gurley, who is in the lead for his second-consecutive Offensive Player of the Year award, and is second in the NFL MVP race behind only Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. The Rams RB is perhaps the league’s greatest offensive weapon, surpassing Antonio Brown for the feat. Brown is still playing at an extraordinary level, but in a league filled with explosive starts of the present era, there’s always a player to one-up the other. From Calvin Johnson to Rob Gronkowski to Antonio Brown, and now…. Gurley. The Rams have a bevy of talent on both sides of the ball, but Gurley is indeed the straw that stirs the drink.

– Beware of the Panthers (5-2), who took it to the NFL’s No. 1 defense, the Ravens (4-4), in a 36-21 beatdown at home, after falling behind early. Cam Newton’s squad is positioning themselves into the thick of of things in the NFC with the passing of each week. First off, the maturation of Christian McCaffrey and rookie wide receiver D.J. Moore has given Newton a 1-2 punch of affective offensive weapons he hasn’t had since the early years of his career with Steve Smith Sr. and a young Greg Olsen. An older Olsen has returned from injury in 2018 to provide the Panthers with a legit No. 3 weapon and a security blanket for Newton on important third and fourth-down situations. The Panthers don’t play the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints until Weeks 15 and 17, leaving the race for a the division title a season-long race, most likely. Can the Panthers upend Drew Brees and the mighty team on the Gulf? Either way, we’ve only just begun to realize how formidable the Panthers are in the South.

– In the Wembley Stadium battle of disappointing clubs, the Eagles (4-4) will leave London with more confidence than the Jaguars (3-5) losers of four straight and a franchise that had four of its players suspended over the weekend in England, due to a misunderstanding at a British pub. The Jaguars have less than 24 hours to solve a QB situation that mostly likely will remain unsolved through this season. There’s really nothing they can do at this point. Tyrod Taylor, Teddy Bridgewater and MAYBE Jameis Winston are his only options. But even they are crapshoots. To fight back into the AFC South race, Jacksonville will just have to play better. I know, what a take.

The Eagles still trail the Redskins by a game and a half in the NFC East, but most would agree that Philadelphia is waiting in the wings to make a winter run at the crown. But still, this is not a team worthy of winning Super Bowl LIII. The rest of the season will serve as a screening for what the Eagles need this offseason in order to retool and situate themselves as one of the top contenders for Super Bowl LIV, which they most likely will be.