JERMAINE EVERY: EVERY-THING SPORTS

What is the best time of the year for sports?

Deshaun Watson and the Texans kick off the season Sunday. Houstontexans.com

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” What do you think of when you hear that line? Most people think of the Christmas carol written by Edward Pola and George Wyle, performed by Andy Williams released in 1963. Others may think of the jingle ESPN created from the song it uses to promote college football bowl season. However, I would like for us to rethink the way we see this in regards to sports.

Sure, college football bowl season is awesome. There are about 642 bowl games with random sponsors that pump millions of dollars into the branding of a bowl game. For most of these companies, it is their prime advertising season. ESPN will shove bowl season down our throats like a parent trying to get their kid to eat vegetables. The players get national TV exposure they may not have necessarily gotten otherwise. The universities get commercials run on that national TV platform to hopefully drive up enrollment. It’s usually a win for all involved. Unless your football program isn’t a good earner and drains the universities’ coffers more than it fills them. But is this really the most wonderful sports time of year?

I would like to hereby nominate early to mid-Fall as the most wonderful sports time of year. Here are a few of my reasons why:

Football season starts

This is the first and most prominent reason as to why early to mid-Fall is the most wonderful time of sports year. College football tends to start the week before Labor Day and the NFL gets their regular season started the Thursday after Labor Day. Never mind that NFL training camps start at the end of July, the preseason gives every fan base hope. Every college football fan base talks the most noise on social media this time of year as well. Once their team loses a game or two, it dies off and turns into recruiting talk. Meanwhile, NFL fans are checking every mathematical way their team can make the playoffs. Most underrated part of football season starting: high school football.

Baseball stretch run

In August/September, baseball hits the playoff push. The waiver-wire trade deadline can sometimes provide last minute additions to teams looking to position themselves in playoff push. Look no further than the Verlander deal last season for the Astros. This year, several playoff teams have added valuable pieces using the waiver trade deadline. Also, teams have a 40-man roster which allows youngsters to get important looks and reps in the Big Show.

NBA season around the corner

I know it’s considered sacrilege to speak about basketball before Christmas to some folks, but round ball is still the second most popular sport behind pigskin. The NBA and NCAA have the unenviable task of starting when football is in full swing. October is prime moving month in college football and NFL teams have now revealed themselves as to what their identity is. However, if your favorite team or school has eliminated or embarrassed themselves already, looking into what your NCAA team’s non-conference schedule or early NBA team’s start out the gate might be a nice respite.

*Honorable Mention: NHL, PGA FedEx Playoffs, European soccer, and tennis season ending.

I know basketball is last on everyone’s minds this time of year, which is why it’s listed last. Baseball is typically ranked third amongst major sports, but it’s second here because it’s a playoff run. Football is king, despite all of the ruckus surrounding it. There is no debating. This time of year gives fans of the major sports the most hope, especially since MLB expanded their playoffs to include the play-in wildcard game. Hope truly abounds in football and basketball because the seasons are getting under way. Tweet me and let me know your thoughts.

 

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Should Watson be in the MVP conversation? Composite image by Jack Brame.

The 2020 NFL season has a lot going on. Even if we take the coronavirus out of it, there's still a lot to digest. There are so many great performances being put up, one can make an argument for several players to win league MVP. The quarterback position typically gets more credit than others. If I restrict the argument to quarterbacks only, we're looking at Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers. Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Derrick Henry are the leading contenders at running back. On defense, there really isn't a standout defender. The defense gets no love, but there are several guys in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Deshaun Watson has been putting up numbers that have matched or rivaled some of the top MVP candidates over his last seven games. That stretch has coincided with the firing of head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien. Coincidence? I think not. Taking the reigns off a wild horse can often lead to said horse running free and flourishing! So question: Should Watson be getting league MVP considerations? I think so.

For starters, he's been one of the best players in the league over the course of the last seven games. 18 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions. The only quarterback with a better touchdown to interception ratio over that same span is Mahomes (19 and 2, as opposed to Watson's 18 & 2). Factoring in total season stats, of course Mahomes is doing much better. He's on a better team with a much better coach and general manager. The same could be said for Wilson and Rodgers. Put Watson on any of those teams and their records wouldn't be any worse than what they are now.

The Texans are 4-3 since firing O'Brien. While that isn't a great record, consider the fact they started the season 0-4 and looked like a total disaster. Watson looked like he was caged and couldn't wait to be freed. The team's record could be even better if the defense had a pulse. The proper supporting cast has a lot to do with a player's MVP candidate's chances. Now that one of his favorite weapons, Will Fuller, and the team's best corner, Bradley Roby, are both suspended for the rest of the season by the league for violating the substance abuse/PED policy, things will get much tougher for Watson.

If he continues to put up these cartoon like numbers, I don't see why he wouldn't be in the MVP conversation. He's currently fopurth in passing yards, sixth in completion percentage, tied for fifth in passing touchdowns, eighth in QBR, and third in quarterback rating. Watson is emerging as the star he was projected to be coming into the 2017 draft. I'm not saying Watson deserves to be the league MVP, but he deserves to be in the conversation. His MVP candidacy should be treated like the family gathering hierarchy: once you reach a certain age and/or status, you're no longer resigned to the kiddie table. Now you get to sit with all the adults, engage in their conversations, and gain access to things you couldn't previously. Watson won't win the MVP award, but I strongly believe he could finish top five. Especially if he keeps making lemonade with the lemons he's been given.

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