Kansas City Royals: The End of an Era

Being a Royals fan, I’ve had some pretty good experiences watching baseball the past couple seasons. The Royals brought up highly touted prospects up from the minors and they developed pretty nicely. I was able to watch those players grow and improve and build a winning culture in Kansas City. I experienced the heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series when the Royals were “this” close to winning. That gut wrenching loss was made up for the very next year when Kansas City defeated the Mets in five games. And now I get to watch all my favorite players from those teams move on from the Royals.

The Royals weren’t always as competitive as they’ve been for the past couple years. In fact, they were awful. Luckily I was too young to realize just how awful they were. But during that stretch of mediocre baseball, there was a GM with a process even before Sam Hinkie came along for the 76ers. That man is Dayton Moore. When he first became the GM for the Royals, he promised the people of Kansas City a World Championship. That seemed pretty unrealistic for where the team was at, at the time. But he built the team through the draft and developed a team that fits Kauffman Stadium.

Looking back at the World Series teams for the Royals, they were loaded with talent. You had your defensive wizards Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez, your speedsters Jarrod Dyson, Terrance Gore and Paulo Orlando, your big sluggers Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Kendrys Morales, and the focal point of the team, the lockdown relievers Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera. Those teams were really special.

The two playoff runs the Royals had in 2014 and 2015 were magical. There were countless moments of clutch hitting and pitching, comeback after comeback. In 2014 there is the infamous Wild Card game, the exciting sweeps of the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles. And if it weren’t for possibly the best World Series pitcher ever, the Royals would have won the World Series. My heart was broken when Alex Gordon was stranded on third as the tying run.

The next year, the Royals showed that the previous year was no fluke, they came out swinging any way they possibly could. Kansas City was in first place for most of the year and they got the 1 seed in the AL. There they ran into the young Astros, who gave them a really good fight but the Royals managed to squeak by even though it seemed as if the season was over in the 8th inning of Game 4. The Royals were down by 5 runs and everyone in the lineup contributed to the effort of forcing a Game 5, that they would then win. After that the Royals were matched up against the Toronto Blue Jays, an offensive juggernaut that they were able to keep quiet for most of the six game series.

WTOP

Two World Series in a row, there was no way that this team was going to lose both. The Royals handled business against the Mets the same way they had during all the other series, timely hitting, spectacular defense and an unhittable bullpen. The moment strike three was called in the 12th inning of Game 5 my arms went straight up, much like what Wade Davis did after he threw the last pitch. It was the first championship that I had experienced as a hardcore fan of any team.

Those days are long gone now. So many key pieces of those teams are gone. James Shields and Billy Butler left for Free Agency after the 2014 Series. Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto did what they were supposed to do as rentals and left after the 2015 season. Kendrys Morales and Edinson Volquez hit free agency after the 2016 season and Wade Davis and Jarrod Dyson were traded in the offseason after the 2016 season. The hardest moment was the news of Yordano Ventura’s passing, he was a beloved figure in Kansas City with still so much potential that wasn’t able to be fulfilled. This past offseason has seen Eric Hosmer go to the Padres, Lorenzo Cain go to the Brewers and Mike Moustakas remains unsigned while I’m typing this and it is very unlikely he returns to KC.

There are still some members of the championship team left as the Royals look to rebuild for a few years. Salvador Perez is still behind the plate and won’t be going anywhere for a while, if ever. Alex Gordon and his Gold Gloves are still roaming the outfield at Kauffman Stadium, Danny Duffy, a reliever for the championship team, is now the teams Ace, Alcides Escobar was brought back on a one year deal to stay at shortstop for the time being and Kelvin Herrera is still throwing heat out of the bullpen for Kansas City.

It’s going to suck having to experience all the losing after so much success. But I will have good memories to look back on and no matter what the record, nothing can beat watching the Kansas City Royals.

 
– Brett Grashorn (Guest Writer)
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The Unsurprising Downfall of Oklahoma

All season long, ESPN has seemingly gone head over heels for the break out star Trae Young and Oklahoma. The Sooners started out red-hot and Trae Young was putting up NBA Superstar numbers. After beating 5th ranked Kansas 85-80, Trae Young reached his peak performance level, OU sat at a 15-4 record and had the media and fans alike drooling over this team. Then disaster struck. Only winning 2 games since the win against KU, the Sooners have lost 8 of their last 11 games, and have plummeted in the latest Bracketology. Almost everyone is surprised at how bad they’ve crashed and burned to their current 17-12 record. Not me.

Although the Sooners have beaten a handful of quality teams and Trae Young has had plenty of unreal performances, their downfall has been anything but surprising. Let’s be honest, Oklahoma’s roster without Trae Young isn’t the best. It’s been very clear they’ve been reliant on Young’s success for the success of the entire team. If he has a great night, then that usually means a Oklahoma win. If he struggles and doesn’t put up incredible numbers, the Sooner’s don’t have the player(s) that can step up and save them from a loss. Let alone in one of the toughest conferences in college basketball. Other than Trae Young, Oklahoma has a major lack of talent and depth.

The best teams in college basketball are the ones that have the most team chemistry and roster depth. Obviously. Look at the previous National Champions over the past couple years. They’ve had incredible TEAMS, not just ONE PLAYER. Unity is a must to succeed in college basketball and with Oklahoma, it just seems like Trae Young desperately trying to make plays or occasionally putting up ridiculous shots. Their entire team revolves around him. When is the last time a team had long-term success relying on one player for an entire season? Unlike the NBA, star talent isn’t required to compete for National Championships. In fact, a team can have no NBA talent, still be the No.1 overall seed and reach the Final Four. *cough* 2013-14 Florida Gators *cough*. None of that “Superstar” nonsense matters in college. Sure it’s fun to watch and I’m certainly all for having star talent, but I’m just saying it’s not a requirement for a championship.

As we break into the magical month of March and prepare ourselves for one of the best sports spectacles of the year in March Madness, keep an eye on Oklahoma. I’m curious to see if they will get their problems figured out in time for the tournament. Is it too late or did they do enough early in the season to get a spot in the tournament? There are endless questions with this Sooner squad and even if they do make it into the Big Dance, I don’t see them making it past the 2nd Round.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)

There’s A Storm Brewing in Los Angeles

Ever since the Rams moved back to Los Angeles, they have been one of the teams I’ve been really rooting for to become great again. In 2017, the Rams were the surprise team of the year and actually one of the most dominant in the entire league. They showed how a simple head coaching change can make the biggest difference. Winning AP coach of the year, Sean McVay turned around an organization that was thought to be completely lost. The talent had always been there. They’ve had the players, but had Jeff Fisher coaching them. Nonetheless, this past season was incredible for the Rams and the fan base. They are just a few pieces away from becoming the team to beat in the NFC. This past week, they found one of those missing pieces after acquiring star cornerback, Marcus Peters from the Kansas City Chiefs.

L.A. lacked in-depth in the corner back position over the past couple of seasons. Peters will come into Los Angeles as the No.1 cornerback, replacing Trumaine Johnson. Talk about an upgrade. Marcus Peters has taken the NFL by storm, having at least 5 interceptions in his first three seasons in the league. He was one of the Chiefs best defenders and was their best corner. Which made it that much more surprising to see them trade him away. It’s been assumed that he was traded for a handful of draft picks, but won’t be made official until the new league year begins on March 14th.

Los Angeles Times

Wade Phillips now has his first lock down corner since his time in Denver in 2015. You know, his Super Bowl winning defense. Also, with Aaron Donald about to receive a contract that will most likely have him become the highest paid defender in the NFL, the already solid Rams defense, got that much better.

Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald, Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and now Marcus Peters, are just some of the Rams young star talent. Last year was just a taste of the potential that this team has. All of these guys are only getting better. If you didn’t take the Rams seriously last season, you best be sure to in 2018. If they are even remotely similar on the offensive side of the ball from last year, I expect at the very least an NFC title.

“Do you really think ONE star corner back can make THAT BIG of a difference?”

YES! Absolutely. Look how far they made it, without a single star corner. Aaron Donald carried that defense all year-long and they still went 11-5 and made it to the playoffs in a BRUTAL NFC. Now he has help? Come on. How will there not be improvement? Having players like Donald and Peters, will motivate the rest of the defense and get them to start playing with a swagger. Look at the Jaguars this year and their “Sacksonville” defense. Jalen Ramsey and Calais Campbell set the tone for that entire defense and lead them all the way to their conference championship. If Donald and Peters can spark that same energy in the Rams defense, look out.

USA Today Sports

It’s time to respect the Los Angeles Rams and take them seriously. Especially you fans in Los Angeles. FILL THAT STADIUM. Home field advantage is a real thing and after going 4-4 at home last season, it’s clear the team needs you guys! Rams fans, you have a special group and there is a storm brewing in Los Angeles that I don’t think you are even aware of. GET EXCITED. The 2018 season is a ways away, but I’m excited for this Rams team and their potential. After picking up Marcus Peters, L.A. has me all in on them to win the NFC in 2018.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)

Cleveland Cavaliers: Better Now Than Before

 When people think about the Cleveland Cavaliers, they think about LeBron James. But ever since Isaiah Thomas returned in January, he just didn’t fit the Cavalier system, resulting in their season heading toward the drain. At this point, Cleveland was falling in the rankings and barely hanging on to third place in the East. A few things that were happening with Cleveland consisted of their team chemistry being off, LeBron was being rumored about cursing out two Cleveland executives about stupid decisions they had made in the past, including, Kyrie Irving getting traded to the Boston Celtics and David Griffin getting fired. Other problems consisted of the Cavs being the oldest team in the NBA, and their team issues with Kevin Love. Cleveland had to do something fast, in order to continue to fight in the East because they were losing hope in some of their players.

Leading up to the NBA trade deadline, the Cavaliers had not traded any players, but when the trade deadline officially arrived, they traded away Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a first-round pick, while acquiring Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. Isaiah Thomas tweeted out prior to getting traded to the Lakers, stating that he was tired of being traded and wanted to stay put in Cleveland. I guess the Cleveland executives didn’t care for what he had to say. The Cavaliers got involved in a big three-way trade with the Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz, trading away Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose to the Jazz, Rose, who was later waived by the Jazz and went unclaimed in waivers, acquiring George Hill from the Kings and Rodney Hood from the Jazz. The Cavs also acquired Arturas Gudaitis from the Kings, in exchange for Iman Shumpert, a 2020 second-round pick, and Dimitrios Agravanis to the Kings. The Jazz traded away Joe Johnson to the Kings, who later agreed to a buyout agreement and was claimed by the Houston Rockets. The Cavs last trade consisted of trading Dwyane Wade back to Miami, which was best for the city of Miami as they saw their merchandise numbers go up by more than “8,000%”, according to Darren Rovell from ESPN, and they will get to see the Miami legend back in a Heat uniform again, reuniting him in the place where he has destined to shine throughout his entire career. Overall, in my opinion, I think the Cavaliers are now a better team and are heading in the right direction with their new and improved line-up.

The reason why the Cavaliers are better now than before is that Cleveland has removed some of their older players out of their line-up and put younger players that are going to be able to help the team for the rest of the season.This will help as they continue to fight to try to regain first place again in the East. Now let’s break down the players that were acquired in the trades. First up, Jordan Clarkson, I think he will be a good scorer in Cleveland, but he’s going to have to be able to limit his turnovers. I don’t think he will play much of the point guard role as they have George Hill and LeBron James, who will take over at the point from time to time. Next up, George Hill, I have been watching Hill ever since his Indiana Pacer days and was always impressed with his style of play, Hill is a versatile player who can make you pay for sleeping on defense. Of course, he’s no Kyrie Irving, who was able to take charge and lead the offense while LeBron is on the bench, or like Isaiah Thomas, who is a quick player and one of the best offensive players in the league from last season, who just didn’t fit well at all in the Cavs system. I don’t think Hill will be with Cleveland for a long period of time, but he could possibly end up giving them the boost that they have desired to propel them into the playoffs. Another player, Larry Nance Jr., has the ability to fit into the power forward position for the Cavs while Kevin Love is out. Nance, a good rebounder, a statistical area that Cleveland needs to get better in, and has the ability to have some posterizing dunks that can be deadly for the team’s that he’s playing against. Nance’s dad, Larry Nance Sr., holds the all-time rebounds record in a single game in Cleveland Cavaliers history and has his jersey #22 retired and hanging up on the rafters for his son to look up to every time he plays at Quicken Loans Arena. The last player the Cavs received was Rodney Hood, a playmaker and good scorer for the Jazz, who has the ability to take the starting job from J.R. Smith. Hood is a player that could be with the Cavaliers for a long period of time due to being a young talented player with good size and frame for his position, which is what Cleveland needs to get more of if they want to compete at the highest level in the Eastern Conference. Due to these players that the Cavaliers received, I think they are better off for the future with their new line-up heading towards the end of the season and into the playoffs, trying to get to Lebron’s eighth straight NBA Finals appearance.

– Daniel Kingery (Guest Writer)

Why Your Favorite Team Won’t Win The World Series

As fans, we go into every season wanting to think that our team is going to be hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy at the end of the year no matter how out of reach it actually is. I am going to make it easy on you and tell you right now that your team won’t win the World Series… Probably.

I’ve put all the teams into four categories, the clubs that don’t stand a chance, the teams that can do it but need everything to go perfectly, the teams that will be really good and will contend but will fall short, and the teams that are the real deal when it comes to winning the World Series.

Not a Chance

Miami Marlins: It is amazing that the Marlins can still field a team after the trades they made this offseason.

San Diego Padres: Wil Myers can’t do this himself, Padres fans just need to hope that the rebuild continues to go good.

Atlanta Braves: A successful season for Atlanta this year would be to get some of the top prospects up and acclimated to the majors.

Kansas City Royals: As a Royals fan this one pains me to say but the Royals won’t win it all unless they can recapture the magic of 2015 with most of the core gone.

Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera could return to form and get himself another Triple Crown and  the Tigers would still struggle to finish at .500.

Chicago White Sox: Much like the Braves, the White Sox need to get their prospects use to Major League ball.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The post McCutchen era in Pittsburgh will start out with a lot of losses, especially after also losing Gerrit Cole. But they did get some decent pieces from the Astros that could help in a short turnaround for the Buccos.

Philadelphia Phillies: Don’t be surprised if the Phillies do a little better than what their roster looks like, but they are still a long way away from a title.

Cincinnati Reds: With a really young team around superstar Joey Votto, the Reds will be bad again but if they can get solid years from players like Raisel Iglesias and Scooter Gennett again they can cash in on some trades to help the rebuild.

Just Maybe

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are young and they managed to squeak into the playoffs because of how horrid the AL Wild Card race was in 2017. This year it will be a lot tougher get in to the playoffs with 85 wins, especially since the Twins haven’t made too many big additions.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays time to contend for a World Series has passed. Toronto’s current roster is starting to decline despite having several players that were on the teams that made back to back ALCS appearances.

Baltimore Orioles: It will be tough for the Orioles to finish anywhere but last in the AL East even with a comeback year for Manny Machado and a healthy Zach Britton. Look for the O’s to attempt to cash in on Machado at the Trade Deadline before he becomes a free agent after the season.

Texas Rangers: A team that finished under .500 and doesn’t have their two best pitchers, according to WAR, from last year will always struggle the following year. The 2018 Rangers are no exception.

Oakland Athletics: The A’s have a nice mix of promising young players to go along with some solid veterans. They will be better than you might think but they are not ready to contend yet.

Tampa Bay Rays: It seems that every year the Rays belong in the Not a Chance category, but every year they surprise me with a solid year. Despite them doing better than expected, they will not win the World Series, especially after trading Longo.

Contenders

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox return most of the squad that finished first in the AL East last year, but the Yankees improved their team and the Sox will have to rely on players like David Price and Rick Porcello to have bounce back seasons and will need relievers not named Craig Kimbrel to step up with good years. They have also been mentioned in talks for both J.D Martinez and Eric Hosmer, if they sign either one they get moved to the Real Deal category.

Los Angeles Angels: The Angels are the biggest question amongst the Contenders. They obviously have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, but will be relying on Justin Upton to have a repeat of 2017 to help Trout carry the offense. The Halos also have a below average pitching staff that Shohei Ohtani won’t be able to carry.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners have been called a sleeper team to win the World Series for a couple of years in a row. They have failed every year. This year will be no different with aging stars, Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz.

New York Mets: The Mets should be better than last year after being plagued with injuries. Getting their players healthy will not win them the World Series sadly, as the front office did not make enough moves to bolster the roster.

St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals bring back close to the same squad last year plus Marcell Ozuna after whiffing on pretty much any free agent they tried to sign. They did lose some major pitching pieces though. The Cards let Lance Lynn walk and let two of their top relievers in Trevor Rosenthal and Seung-hwan Oh go.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers had probably the best day of the off-season trading for Christian Yelich and signing Lorenzo Cain. Despite loading their outfield full of talent, the pitching staff in Milwaukee will hold this team back from hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Arizona Diamondbacks: A surprise team last year, the D-Backs haven’t done anything to improve the team. Even if they bring J.D Martinez back, they will again get bounced by a better team like the Cubs or Dodgers in the postseason.

Colorado Rockies: In 2017 the Rockies got some pitching performances that matched the normal offensive production of the team. Adding one of the best relievers in Wade Davis also doesn’t hurt their chances, but they are in a really tough division and can very easily fall back below .500.

San Francisco Giants: The Giants have put together a Super Team….. If it was 2014. And they won the World Series that year! I’m not saying that guys like Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria are bad players but they are both getting older and slowly declining and the Giants don’t have to many talented young players to compliment the veterans.

Real Deal

New York Yankees: The Yankees made the biggest offseason move, acquiring MVP Giancarlo Stanton. They are also one of the tougher teams to think of reasons on why the won’t win the World Series, but a lot of their success came from breakout years from phenom Aaron Judge and relievers like Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle, all of which could easily show regression in 2018 and slow the team down.

Cleveland Indians: If it weren’t for a historic winning streak, that will be near impossible to repeat in 2018, the Tribe would have barely won the terrible AL Central. Cleveland also lost middle of the lineup bats Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce.

Washington Nationals: You would think the Nationals would just want to get over the hump of winning an NLDS series before they think World Series, but with Bryce Harper in a walk year that is not an option for the Nats. This team is too good to not at least make a really good run at a championship. The Nationals will end up falling short this year on the simple fact that they just can’t quite get it done when it matters most.

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs signed Yu Darvish. Based on 2017 that will be the reason they won’t win their second championship in 3 years. The real reason the Cubs won’t win it all in 2018 is the lack of a lock down reliever to give the ball at the end of the game after losing Wade Davis in Free Agency.

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers didn’t re-sign the guy that arguably lost them the World Series last year in Yu Darvish, but losing him could make it harder for LA to make it back to the Fall Classic in 2018.

Houston Astros: It is tough to win back to back World Series, just ask every winner since 2000. The Astros did a lot to try and prevent that but we’ve seen a World Series hangover from the past couple of teams to win it all. Houston will be a great team and are the clear favorites in 2018 but don’t be surprised if the Astros fall short this season.

– Brett Grashorn (Guest Writer)

Remembering The Magic of Rosenblatt Stadium

Rosenblatt….this stadium defined my summers growing up. Long days sitting on the side of the hill baking in the sun with my grandpa getting it down to a science…”Games start at 7 we better get over there at 3 if we want good seats.” So we sat and burned and later my grandpa and I added my buddy Jeff Franks to our tradition. On the side of that hill I learned about baseball and about life. I stepped inside those gates a mad dash to the front row of the right field bleachers. This is where I would dream.
Sitting there I watched legends take form I would dream of being on that field of feeling the dirt. I aspired to be something more than just a kid in the stands. I couldn’t describe it then but now the feeling was simply electric. Nothing beats the sound of the vendors on 13th st lined as far as the eye can see. Nothing beats the sound of the old bats knowing when LSU came to town there were going to be some balls you’d never see again.

This was the College World Series this stadium this atmosphere. You’ll look at these pictures and unless you walked those rows or that concourse you won’t know what magic awaited you. In those pictures you won’t see the memories made with a father, a friend, a girlfriend, a wife, or a grandpa who went out of his way to make the day the best he could.

See what those pictures miss is the love of the players, the fans, the staff. Rosenblatt was bigger than baseball and in many ways bigger than the CWS. Maybe I’m just being bias but to me this was pure and for anyone who stepped foot inside it meant something different. When they tore down that old stadium they took a lot of memories with it. For me they took my childhood and some dreams. They took the basket of fries and waffle cones. Buried in the debris was sun burns, water bottles, rain delays, crowd surfing and souvenirs long-lost.
I still go to the College World Series and every year when someone starts the wave or tries a left field vs right field chant it doesn’t seem to hold the same spark or same energy. The night the lights went out on Rosenblatt the College World Series lost its soul.
Not a single trip to Omaha goes by without the memory of a day spent on that hill. Not a single summer day goes by without the memory of that concourse, the smell of sunblock and French fries. Not a single second goes by without the memory of those dreams. That was Rosenblatt.
– Matt Corum (Guest Writer)

6 Players That NEED A Ring Before They Retire

We all have those players that we love to see succeed, even if they don’t play for our favorite team. Some guys are just too likable not to cheer for. Players like Tony Gonzalez, Champ Bailey, LaDainian Tomlinson, Randy Moss and Brian Dawkins are just a sliver of players I grew up watching and could never get enough of. These guys were all more than deserving to win a Super Bowl. So when I saw them retire without a ring I was a bit bothered to say the least. I mean come on football gods, how could you not give these guys the ultimate reward they so undoubtedly deserved? With all of that said, I decided to compile a list of the most deserving current NFL players that we need to witness win a Super Bowl before they retire. Let’s dive right in.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR – Just like the previous names I mentioned above, Larry Fitzgerald is a player I have been fortunate enough to grow up watching and personally I couldn’t be more thankful. He’s one of the most genuine people on and off the field I have ever seen. Co-winning the Man of the Year award with Eli Manning in 2017, Fitzgerald has made and continues to make an impeccable impact off the field. His off the field actions have translated flawlessly on the field, as he nears the end of a certain Hall of Fame career with the Arizona Cardinals. Don’t forget that Fitzgerald and the Cardinals were minutes away from bringing the Lombardi Trophy to Arizona before a miraculous Pittsburgh Steelers game winning drive in Super Bowl 43. To this day, I’ve never cheered so hard for a team that wasn’t my favorite than in that Super Bowl. The Kurt Warner-Larry Fitzgerald duo is one of my all time favorite quarterback-wide receiver duos. Fitzgerald is a once in a generation talent and seeing him get a Super Bowl ring before retirement would be the icing on the cake to a historic career. Arizona, please find this man a quarterback.

Antonio Gates, TE – One of the best tight ends in the league, Gates has dominated opposing defenses his entire time with the Chargers. Being a Denver Broncos fan, he’s been one of the most frustratingly good players to have my team go up against. Gates also has one of my favorite stories in the NFL, going from college basketball star to undrafted free agent in the NFL. 200+ NFL games later, Gates will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest tight end’s in history. He is the all time TD leader at the tight end position. He’s played great for far too long to not have a Super Bowl ring.

Joe Thomas, LT – Good ole, Joe Thomas. We all know of his unreal streak of playing 10,363 consecutive offensive snaps with the Cleveland Browns. That alone deserves a major award. Joe Thomas has played at such an elite level for an incredible amount of time all while playing for the worst franchise in the league. Making it to the Pro Bowl 10 times while his team continues to struggle. Lucky for the Browns, he’s a genuinely great guy that doesn’t let the losing affect how he plays or feels about his team. I don’t know if it’s going to be possible for Thomas to get a ring, but golly the man deserves one.

Eric Berry, DB – He’s probably not a name you expected to see on this list. Just try to work with me here. Since watching him dominate college football at Tennessee, Berry quickly turned into one of my favorite defenders in the NFL because of the his passion and fight on and off the field. In 2015, the Chiefs star was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease and immediately made his future in the NFL doubtful. Less than a year later he was informed he was cancer-free and went on to earn his 4th Pro Bowl selection. He’s definitely a story that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. Berry still plays with the same intensity and heart that he played with in college. Nowadays that’s rare to find in players. The effort and skill he presents every Sunday is something that never get’s old to watch. Except for the two times my Broncos have to face him. Even then, I can’t help but to just respect the guy. I’d love to see Eric Berry raise the Lombardi in the near future.

Antonio Brown, WR – Do I really even have to make a case for this guy? He’s one of the best players in the NFL and is the best wide receiver in the league. The 28-year-old Pittsburgh star has caught 733 passes for 9,910 yards and 59 touchdowns so far in his career. He actually played in Super Bowl XLV vs Green Bay when he was just a rookie, but Rodgers and the Packers came out on top. Brown is so easy to root for because of how much fun he has playing football in general. It’s contagious and it’s just hard to not like a guy like that. His positivity and dominance in the game makes him an easy pick for this list. He’s on pace for a Hall of Fame career and by being on the Steelers, a Super Bowl victory is very realistic.

Julio Jones, WR – Just like Antonio Brown, he’s one of the most dominant players in his position and one of the best in the league. If you look up “savage” in the dictionary, Julio Jones’ picture will be there. I mean honestly this guy is vicious when he plays and I love it. The Falcons star plays with a nasty grit that I haven’t seen since Calvin Johnson. It doesn’t matter who covers him, there’s a pretty darn good chance that Julio will come down with a reception. Also like Antonio Brown, Jones is surrounded by Super Bowl worthy talent. Obviously. I’d be shocked if Julio Jones doesn’t get at least one ring before he calls it quits.

Some of the players listed obviously have a more realistic chance than other’s but I tried to base it off just the player and how deserving they really are. I would’ve easily added more, but that would make this post the length of a novel. Nonetheless, I’d love to see ALL of these guys snag a Super Bowl victory and end their career’s on top where they all 100% deserve.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)