Thanks to today’s NFL media climate, in which Twitter beef can generate more attention than an All-Pro selection, Kevin Byard made as much of a name for himself online as he did on the field.
In his second pro season and his first as a full-time starter, Byard established himself as one of the best safeties in the league while being chosen as a Pro Bowler and first team All-Pro. He helped the Tennessee Titans make it to the playoffs and advance to the AFC divisional round, where they would lose to the New England Patriots.
Byard’s efforts were good enough to get him voted into the No. 80 slot on the NFL Network’s Top 100 player ranking for 2018, a list that is determined by NFL players. Continue reading
Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Josh Norman, CB, Washington (NFL): The marketing, advertising and overall hype leading up to Sunday’s head-to-head matchup between Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. and Washington CB Josh Norman reminded me of the now-infamous 1994 duel between Falcons WR Andre Rison and 49ers CB Deion Sanders.
That meeting was about Deion returning to Atlanta to face his former team and his just-as-flashy former teammate, Rison. That meeting started a sort of sibling rivalry of one-upmanship that turned into a (funny more than fierce) fight between the two stars.
This meeting between Beckham and Norman was about a blood rivalry that started last year, when arguably the two best players in the NFL at their respective positions faced each other and ended up trading cheap shots back and forth. And with Norman leaving Carolina for Washington in free agency, he and OBJ are now NFC East foes who will play each other twice a year. Continue reading
Tags: Andre Rison, Armani Watts, Deion Sanders, Harrison Smith, Josh Norman, Leo Musso, Marcus Peters, NCAA, NFL, Odell Beckham Jr., Stephon Gilmore
The first time I remember hearing the term “shutdown cornerback,” it was used to describe none other than Deion Sanders.
And it wasn’t just about Deion shutting down Jerry Rice or Tim Brown or any of the NFL’s other top receivers of the 1990s. It was about Deion shutting down entire halves of the football field. About Deion shutting down a team’s entire passing attack. About Deion shutting down anything in his line of sight.
And since then — while I’ve heard the term “shutdown cornerback” used to describe dozens of other star cornerbacks in the NFL, college and high school — no corner has been as good at shutting things down as Deion Sanders. Continue reading
Earl Thomas (12) with the Longhorns
The thing with unofficial titles is that anybody can lay claim to them.
And in a competitive environment such as the big-time sports industry, where everybody is looking to own something that sets them apart from the pack, that means any attractive title you can imagine could have multiple entities claiming it as their own.
In college football, one such example is the unofficial moniker “Defensive Back University,” better known as “DBU.”
Generally defined as the football program that historically produces the best defensive backs and/or sends the most DBs to the pro level, “DBU” has been ascribed to no shortage of major-conference programs: LSU, Florida, Texas, Washington State, Miami, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State have all worn the mythical “DBU” crown in recent years. Continue reading
By sharing some of the football cards from my collection, my goal is to put a spotlight on some defensive backs who may have become underrated or have been forgotten by history.
Brian Jordan, DB, Atlanta Falcons (Fleer 1991; Upper Deck Vintage 2001)
While the NFL never really sleeps — free agency, trades, the draft, concussion studies and the daily soap opera that is Johnny Manziel‘s life still dominate the sports section this March — our attention will soon shift to Opening Day for Major League Baseball, a.k.a. The Sport Formerly Known As America’s Pastime.
In the annals of pro sports in this country, only about 70 men have played both football and baseball at the highest professional level. In the modern era, however, that club has become even more exclusive. Since 1970, only seven men have played in the NFL and in MLB. Continue reading
Clearly, I think very highly of defensive backs. This article and this publication would not exist if I didn’t. And like anyone with any sense who appreciates DBs, I think very highly of Charles Woodson, the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy winner who is retiring at the end of this season, his 18th as a professional.
But in response to a question that has been going around since Woodson announced his impending retirement on Dec. 21, I do not think Woodson is the greatest defensive player in NFL history. And that is primarily because he is a defensive back. Continue reading
Tags: Charles Woodson, Darrelle Revis, Deion Sanders, Ed Reed, Heisman Trophy, NFL, Richard Sherman, Rod Woodson, Ronnie Lott, Sean Taylor, Troy Polamalu
Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Josh Norman, CB, Panthers (NFL): On paper, it was not on par with some of the “shutdown” performances he’s had against other elite NFL receivers. Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. did manage to catch six balls for 76 yards and a touchdown against Norman on Sunday, but OBJ was shut out in the first half and was so aggravated by Norman that he engaged in some slap-fighting reminiscent of Deion Sanders and Andre Rison, and later hit Norman with a helmet-to-helmet cheap shot that will earn him a fine from the NFL. Norman finished with three tackles and Carolina remained undefeated with a 38-35 victory.
Tevin Carter, S, Utah (NCAA): The Utes built a 35-0 lead in the first quarter of the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday thanks to five BYU turnovers, including two interceptions by Carter. The senior safety returned his first INT 28 yards for a touchdown, then brought his second pick back 33 yards to the 1-yard line, which set up another Utah score. BYU rallied after that disastrous first quarter, but Carter and the Utes held on for a 35-28 victory. Continue reading
Tags: Calvin Pryor, Darrelle Revis, Deion Sanders, Josh Norman, Latrell Gibbs, Marcus Gilchrist, Marcus Peters, Marcus Williams, NCAA, NFL, Tevin Carter, Tyvon Branch, Will Hiteshue
FOX Sports NFL scribe Alex Marvez recently ranked the 16 best special teams players in league history, a list that included three players with credentials in the defensive backfield: Longtime Cowboys safety Bill Bates, Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, and current Falcons receiver Devin Hester, who played cornerback at the University of Miami.
The rest of the list consists of kickers, punters, some returners who played receiver and/or running back, and is topped by Bills receiver/gunner Steve Tasker. Considering some DBs who may have been worth an honorable mention, some that come to mind are Rod Woodson, Allen Rossum and Ed Reed, who excelled as a returner and as a gunner. Continue reading
Mark Parson is the exactly the kind of undersized underdog that shows like HBO’s “Hard Knocks” want to cover.
The 5-foot-9 cornerback went undrafted out of Ohio University in 2009 before getting a couple of training camp shots with the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans, and later with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. While those opportunities didn’t lead to a regular-season roster spot, Parson has stayed in the game as a trainer and speed coach. Continue reading