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Football is officially back as the National Football League (NFL) kicked off its 100th season on September 5, with the Packers, Cowboys, Chiefs, 49ers, Saints, Raiders, Seahawks, Patriots, Rams, Eagles, Ravens, Bills, Vikings, and Titans all taking home wins in week one.
The biggest stars were Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, and the entire Tennessee Titans team. Although they all had standout performances, there are still many unknowns, as the season has just begun. In the Bay Area, the question on everyone’s mind is if Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, can stay healthy.
“I think [49ers] have a good chance this year,” Woodside junior Alton Sands said. “All that needs to happen is for Garoppolo to stay healthy, and we could be a playoff contender.”
The Bay Area is also witnessing the Oakland Raiders’ last season in Oakland. Next year, they will move to the new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
But Oakland is dealing with more drama than just a move. Newly-acquired wide receiver Antonio Brown was holding out because the NFL would not let him wear his 10-year-old Schutt Air Advantage helmet, which did not meet safety requirements. The Raiders fined him 40 thousand dollars, and, displeasured, he posted an image of the fine letter to Instagram and got into a shouting match with General Manager Mike Mayock, during which he threatened to punch Mayock in the face and punted a football, adding “fine that.” On September 7, Raiders upheld the fine, voided Brown’s 30 million dollar contract, and eventually released him.
“Honestly, I’m over the whole [Antonio Brown] saga,” podcaster Dan Katz commented. “He needs to play some football.”
That same day, Brown signed with the New England Patriots on a one year, 10.5 million dollar contract with nine of that 10.5 million guaranteed. Yet only two days later, Brown’s former trainer accused him of sexual assault and rape. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, says Brown denies the allegations.
“This is a money grab,’’ Rosenhaus said to sports channel ESPN. “I’ll repeat this: this is a money grab. In my opinion, this is a money grab. I wouldn’t be doing this interview if I didn’t believe Antonio… He denies every one of them. I’m confident his legal team has facts that will prove this.”
The Raiders and now the Patriots are not the only teams that have questions about their personnel. For example, the Indianapolis Colts were shocked on August 24 when it was leaked that starting quarterback Andrew Luck was retiring. Backup Jacoby Brissett will now start all 16 games, but Luck, in his retiring press conference, voiced his belief in the team going forward without him.
“It’s a great group of guys,” Luck said. “[It’s] a group that makes coming to work every day special… No, there is no bigger fan of them than me.”
In addition, Dallas Cowboys have just re-signed running back Ezekiel Elliott for a record six-year, 90 million dollar contract extension. After other large extensions and with some players still waiting to be paid, the Cowboys will have to be smart with their money: they are close to the maximum salary amount a team can spend. But after week one, Cowboys fans are excited after a spectacular performance from new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who helped lead his team to a 35 to 17 win over the New York Giants.
“I’m worried and excited,” Cowboys fan Xavier Rodriguez said. “[The Cowboys] have so many people to pay, and they need to keep them. But at the same time, how can you not be excited with a win like that?”
Meanwhile, the Houston Texans traded Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks after Clowney refused to sign the one year franchise tag deal. The Seahawks already have an uncertain future following an unexpected retirement from Doug Baldwin, their starting wide receiver. Rookies such as D.K Metcalf and John Ursua are expected to fill the gap.
“This is going to be an odd year for [the Seahawks],” Woodside junior Alexandra Gonzalez said. “[The Seahawks] are a mix of young and old. They’ll be unpredictable this year.”
While the Seahawks seem unpredictable, that could be said for every single team in the league. Every team has questions, and they’ll need to see what the NFL season has in store for them.
“I’m just excited football is back,” Sands added. “I don’t really know what is going to happen, but I cannot wait.”