Football POP

By Steve Samek

This may Seem like it belongs on the social blog, but its work here.

Today Funko announced NFL Hall of Famers would become POP figures. 11 players and two coaches receive the Funko treatment.

For players you have Brett Favre, Terry Bradshaw, Deion Sanders, Lawrence Taylor, Dan Marino, Bo Jackson and more. The Coaches are Mike Ditka and Tom Landry. Sander’s also comes with exclusive options only found at Toys r us.

I like how these look a lot. I also like how it extends the NFL line and works well with the current players already in the line.

What I don’t like is how hard these things seem to find. I may find an NFL pop if I’m lucky, but it’s never a Pittsburgh Steeler. I have looked at multiple stores and can’t come away with Antonio Brown, or Big Ben.  Only Can Newton and a couple Seahawks to be seen.

I think from the line I’ll pick up Bradshaw and Mike Ditka for the Pittsburgh connection.

The Funko sports line seems to be neglected a bit and this should help. Between this addition and the new NFL wave set to come out it looks like the sports line is starting to return again.  Hopefully this leds to more NBA, NHL and MLB pops returning to the line.

Check out the new line here.


Bell Hold Out

By Steve Samek

With training camp just, a couple weeks away the hot button topic for the Pittsburgh Steelers is running back Le’veon Bell.

Bell is playing with the franchise tag this season. Bell feels like he is entitled to the big money. Wanting to get paid like a number one back and a number two receiver.

The problem is do the Steelers want to pay for the on the field Bell, or the off the field Bell.

On the field Bell is a top talent rushing for 1,268 yards on 261 attempts while scoring seven touchdowns.

This was in 12 games after missing the first one’s due to suspension.

 Bell has been suspended to start the past two seasons for drug issues. The Steelers have had no trouble parting ways with stars with off the field issues like Plaxico Burress, or Santonio Holmes. Yet the Steelers also held on to Ben Roethlisberger, despite off the field issues.

Too push Bell the Steelers drafted James Conor in the third round. Conor can learn under Bell and then take over as the starter when Bell leaves in two years. This would be dependent on Conor working out, but the expectation is there. Conor is a Public relations darling as well between beating cancer and being drafted by the NFL team in the same city he went to college in. He is also amongst the best-selling jerseys in the NFL. So, if Conor performers and stays out of trouble the organization helps to maintain the positive image the Steelers are known for.

Running backs seem to come and go and developing them seems easier than finding a franchise quarterback. That’s why I feel Roethlisberger was kept and receivers were let go, even with off the field issues.

I think that will be the case with Bell. He can play out the final two years of his contract and then move on. That way the Steelers can take advantage of his performance the next two years, but then get rid of him if he continues to be a headache off the field.

Bell wants to hold out and can do so. Antonio Brown is trying to get him not to. Brown is more focused on teaming up with Bell to get to the Super Bowl this season.  Should be an interesting idea, but Brown needs to tread lightly before he gets into trouble.

Bell is a big contributor to this team. He needs to be on the field. He just needs to behave off of it.




Best Black and Gold QB

By Steve Samek

Quarterbacks are the main position for any football team. Both on and off the field the quarterback can be the face of the franchise. ESPN has taken to naming the best Qb’s for each team.

 I will be looking at my vote for the Pittsburgh Steelers best signal caller.

The fans voted and Ben Roethlisberger was number one over Terry Bradshaw. The NFL Nation vote had Bradshaw as the winner.

Roethlisberger is a winner of two super bowls. He has thrown for 46,814 yards and has 301 touchdown passes with 3,804 completions. All of these are top marks in the history of the Steelers.  Add in five Pro Bowl invites and an AP Offensive rookie of the year and you have a true talent.

Bradshaw is a three-time Pro Bowl selection. He led the Steelers to the playoffs from 1972 to 1979. During the 1978 season He was named AP Most Valuable player. Only Steeler to ever do so. Bradshaw has thrown 212 touchdowns and competed 2025 passes for 27,989 yards in 13 NFL seasons.

The key stat though, four super bowl wins against Roethlisberger’s two. Championship wins matter a lot in these debates and do here. The 1989 Hall of Famer is the best QB to wear the black and gold. Roethlisberger can be in the conversation, as he has the edge over Bradshaw by stats, but doesn’t have the big wins. Big Ben should join Bradshaw in Canton when his career is done though.

Steel City Football

By Steve Samek

Texas is a football state. Even at the youngest levels the sport is dominant. Pennsylvania is another upper tier football state. Western Pennsylvania and the WPIAL highlights this list.

Texas young football player got national exposure on Esquire Networks Friday Night Tykes show. It has lasted four seasons, and can be further reviewed here.

Pennsylvania son followed with a season one based in Beaver County and the Beaver County Youth Football League, or BCYFL. Season one thoughts can be chronicled here.

The main difference between the first and second season of Steel Country was the move to USA from Esquire and the elimination of Monica and Ambridge being covered and replaced with Sto-Rox and more emphasis on Beaver Falls. Central Valley, Aliquippa, and Blackhawk return to the field as well. The age bracket went up to the highest age too.

Blackhawk was a decent team this season after playing in last season’s finals. The Cougars created a team in the highest division to end with a championship and play with each other one more time. Best of intentions, not the best season.

Sto-Rox was the worst team on the show. The newcomers were more into fighting and goofing off than playing football. It showed on the field as the season ended short of the title. Though it was pretty cool to see the players get to do a bit of firefighter training as a team bonding activity.

Beaver Falls impressed me a lot. They clearly knew what they were doing this season. Though a host of star power still couldn’t get them the prize. Also, a plus for their big rivalry with Aliquippa.

Central Valley was the champs from last season. They looked to keep winning this season. A surprise entrant in the finals after playing one of the best games of the season, can CV win it all?

Aliquippa is the defending champ, but in this seasons age bracket. They are going for the undefeated title win this year. Off the field issues in the community threaten the season. Can this team keep it together and rally the community with another championship?

The main action of the show was on the field. Games were close and rivalries are highlighted. Teams play for community pride. It gives it a dimension that the Texas edition doesn’t. In Texas, it’s the organization more than the town that matters. In Pennsylvania, it’s often times the best thing to happen to a town is to play football with all the violence and negativity.  Granted it doesn’t make for a lot of creativity in storyline, but it is real and true. I would say the second season improved a lot on the first season of Steel Country. I recommend checking it out if you’re a local football fan, or fan of the original show.

Country or Football

Should the Service academies allow players to go pro without serving obligation.

By Steve Samek

The Army- Navy game is one football fans always look forward to. The game is played by teams that hate each other on the field, but play for the same team off the field.

Though when the game is over most of these players go on to serve in the respected branch of the military for a certain number of years which can be outlined here.

Though last year Navy Quarterback Keenan Reynolds was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of the NFL draft. This made the Naval academy take a second look at its policy about deferring obligations until after pursuing a pro career. Reynolds was free to play in the NFL and pursue the obligation in the off season.

Now the order from 2016 was rescinded by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.  Now requiring two years of active duty military service before being allowed to turn pro. Enter Air Force wideout Jalen Robinette. The wide receiver was looking at going pro, being projected as a mid to late round pick. Though after the policy was announced Robinette went undrafted. He currently hasn’t gotten any offers. Robinette also has received an initial duty assignment for after graduation.

The NFL does have a list for military service.

Ben Garland of the Falcons out of Air Force is currently under this protocol. Reynolds and two other players Garrett Graham and Chris Swain are both on practice squads after the 2016 ruling. Though Graham has orders for his assignment.

To me country comes first. Especially over sports. They signed up to go to these schools knowing the commitment. The know full well that the service academies aren’t sports destinations. Only 84 NFL players have come from military schools and the rest of pro sports aren’t much higher.

Plus, its only two years and there is NFL protocol in place. Though I think there are ways that they can play in the NFL while serving a commitment to the military. Having a pro sports career after the military is possible. Rodger Staubauch and David “The Admiral” Robinson each served the required two years before successful pro careers. So it isn’t not impossible for Robinette to turn pro,but he should wait after the two years are up.

Shutout to the NFL for going along with the decision also. By having him undrafted they made a statement about following the rules  and obligations.




QB1:Beyond the Lights

By Steve Samek

Ran across a new show on a website called The show goes by the title QB1: Beyond the Light. The show highlights three quarterbacks during their senior year of high school on their way to major universities. My review of the show is as follows.

The first is Tate Martell of Bishop Gorman High School. Martell is on his way to Ohio State. Martell is a good quarterback and led his team to many wins over nationally ranked teams during the show. However, he bugged me. He’s the standard rich entitled QB that gives more time to his appreances than his football it seems. Several instances in the show demonstrate this. Interesting to see if he does live up the hype at Ohio State next year.

The second QB is Tayvon Bowers of Harrisburg’s Bishop McDevitt. Bowers is a Wake Forrest commit. Bowers showed a lot of promise, but didn’t quite have the weapons needed to excel this season. An injury also limited his time in the playoffs. Bower’s isn’t stuck up like Martell is and it was refreshing to see. Though Bowers may not quite have the skill set of Martell.

The third and final QB is Jake Fromm from Georgia. Fromm is going to the University of Georgia in the fall. Fromm is a tough quarterback that dealt with some tough losses this season, while chasing individual records and glory. Though the neat thing was he had his brother as his backup QB. Fromm does have swagger, but is also humble and is a mix of the two other QBs in the series.

Three unique story lines was a strength of the show. However, I don’t feel like the stories went more than surface deep. I don’t feel like I really knew the QBs and what was going on in their lives as much as I could have.

The on the field action was good. The matchups seem to be high level ones with frequent rival battles and ranking teams going head to head.

Though the action wasn’t enough to save the show. It just seems forgettable at times and not a must watch every week. It’s a good series if you’re interested in up and coming backs or football. Though I would say skip if you’re looking for a deeper story line. I would probably give it barley a three out of five-star review. I just wish it had the deeper connection sense it was only covering three QBs.

Check out the show here.


Forth Down

 Friday Night Tykes returns for fourth Season.

By Steve Samek

10 weeks is gone and a new set of champs has emerged. We talking about the fourth season of the Esquire Networks hit show Friday Night Tykes. The show that takes you inside two youth football leagues in Texas. This year the show covered five squads in a mix of new and old. Overall I enjoyed this season as one of the best for on the field play. I’ll break down what I thought of each team’s involvement here.

Starting with the Texas Storm. The Storm made the playoffs last year, but lost the state runner-up Texas Wolfpack. This year they had no shot at repeating it. A small roster and a quarterback with limited experience was dooming for the Storm. Every week the undersized squad complained of illegal hits and targeting. None of these complaints were acted on and the Storm finished the year 0-8. This included a forfeit loss in the third episode to the 210 Outlaws at halftime. Three episodes and their arch was done and the real football could be played.

The JYSF Venom was a new team in the league and to the show. The Venom formed as part of a merger this season. While the name is cool and the uniforms bright and shiny the season was anything but. Coaching staff issues and other off the field drama made it a short season for the 2-6 Venom.

Third squad up is the return of Judson Jr. Rockets. While not a favorite team of mine in prior season, they grew on me. A 6-2 regular season put them in the playoffs. Though a game with a lot of arguing and calls that may not have been right the Rockets bowed out in the first round. Though I do feel like there was a chance they got cheated out of that playoff game. Not that it mattered as the Wildcats team the played got beat on in the next round.

The final two squads match names and roots. We have my favorite team that I have followed all three seasons the San Antonio Outlaws. Then from them you have the 210 Outlaws. The 210 as they are called (rather tha 210) broke off from the Outlaws to stay in the Texas Youth Football Association. The San Antonio Outlaws left last year to start the Texas chapter of Snoop Youth Football. The Outlaws are known for domination. They did live up to that standard this season, but did have a couple of refreshing close games.

Tha 210 were a great squad to watch too. They played with the similar skill to the originals. In fact, I would love to see a matchup between the two. The matchups with the Austin Steelers and the 210 were easily the highlights of the season. I won’t spoil how these two teams finish. Watch it and see for yourself.

So, while this season had a lot of drama the play on the field makes up for it. Recommend you check this show out as season 4 was high quality.