Blogs: Gridiron Guru

Seau, Bettis Lead 2015 Hall of Fame Class

2015 football hall of fame

Every Super Bowl Saturday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announces the latest group of former players and executives elected to Canton. This year, the Hall welcomes eight new members: linebacker Junior Seau, running back Jerome Bettis, defensive end Charles Haley, receiver Tim Brown, guard Will Shields, center Mick Tingelhoff, general manager Bill Polian, and executive Ron Wolf.

The announcement was made at the NFL Honors awards ceremony Saturday night, while the enshrinement ceremony will be held in August.

While we wait for these guys to be officially called Hall of Famers, let's look back at the careers that earned them a place amongst the sport's all-time greats:
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Hawks or Pats? SI Kids Picks Super Bowl XLIX!

super bowl xlix seattle seahawks new england patriots

You might have forgotten in all the Deflategate hubbub, but there’s a football game on Sunday! And it’s for all the marbles! Super Bowl XLIX pits Russell Wilson and the defending champs the Seattle Seahawks against three-time winners Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The last time these two teams met was in 2012 during the regular season. This time, their matchup could crown a new dynasty in Seattle or solidify Brady and coach Bill Belichick’s place in NFL history.

The stakes are high, but there a bit greater for the Pats: If they lose, they’ll have a 3-3 Super Bowl record under
Belichick, which would definitely take some shine off the team’s accomplishments. And then there are those rumors of under-inflated footballs and cheating. If the Pats win, the controversy will likely die way down; if they lose, all people will say on Monday is that Brady needed an illegal edge.

On the Seahawks side, the big question mark is Richard Sherman. He finished the NFC title game with a busted elbow. He’ll be in the game Sunday, but how effective will he be? And what about Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch? Seattle’s offense was, well, offensive against the Packers, but they seemed to get on track at the end of the game in time to steal victory from Green Bay.

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait much longer to find out how all these storylines resolve themselves. But the editors at SI Kids think they already know who will leave Arizona as champs. Check out our Super Bowl picks below!
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Chatting with Browns Corner Joe Haden, the Special Olympics’ Newest Global Ambassador

joe haden cleveland browns special olympics

One of the biggest motivators for Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden has always been his little brother Jacob. Jacob was born with a cognitive disorder that has limited his language and speech. Since Joe was 7, he has watched Jacob compete in the Special Olympics. And years later, Jacob has inspired Joe to get involved with the organization.

Joe Haden recently became the first pro football player to be named a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics. He will be at the Super Bowl this weekend, working with Special Olympics athlete Vanessa Robles to raise awareness about the games and the Unified Relay Across America. The race begins May 29 in Maine, winds through Washington D.C., and Miami, and converges in Los Angeles for the 2015 Special Olympic World Games. Haden will also be working with other captains to raise awareness, including figure skater Michelle Kwan and pro basketball stars Damian Lillard and Elena Delle Donne. 

Earlier this week, SI Kids spoke with Haden about his bond with his brother, the importance of the Special Olympics, and his Super Bowl predictions. 
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Julian Edelman Driven to Top Expectations

julian edelman new england patriots

PHOENIX — Even by the carnival-barking standards of Media Day, Julian Edelman attracted an odd and offbeat strain of questioners, such as the guy who needed to know his go-to gas station snack (Corn Nuts, as it turned out), the woman who asked him to explain "what is a rub route?" and the NFL Network’s Michael Irvin, who ended their interview with the touching endearment, "Way to keep playin’, baby. You are my dog, man."

The truth, although neither would admit it, is that Edelman is Bill Belichick’s dog: a hyper-competitive, workaholic, video-devouring gym rat who "will catch 200 balls before some guys walk in the building," says Patriots receivers coach Chad O’Shea. During his days as a Kent State quarterback, Edelman was known to run down the field and physically accost a receiver in practice, if he felt that player hadn’t given the proper effort.
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Sammy Watkins Talks Up Adidas' New Shoe, Rex Ryan

sammy watkins buffalo bills adidas

When Adidas unveiled it's new Ultra Boost running shoe in New York last week, they had some help in the form of runners, Olympians, and other athletes. One of them was Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

The Clemson star was drafted by the Bills with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft and had an excellent rookie season. Watkins set team rookie records with 982 receiving yards and 65 receptions, including six touchdowns. He helped the Bills go 9-7 this past season — the team's first winning record since 2004 — which was good for second place in the AFC North (but not a playoff spot). Coach Doug Marrone resigned at the end of the calendar year, and the team replaced him with former Jets head coach Rex Ryan.

What will the coaching change mean for Watkins? When SI Kids asked him about it at the Adidas event, he seemed optimistic. Check out his thoughts on Ryan joining the Bills, as well as his impressions of the Ultra Boost, in this brief interview:
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Richard Sherman: It’s About More than Me

richard sherman seattle seahawks

This story appears in the February 2 issue of Sports Illustrated.

Last season, while I was posing for magazine covers and calling out wide receivers in unconventional ways, I was also negotiating for an extension on my rookie contract. Seahawks general manager John Schneider asked me an important question: “Who are you going to be when you get paid?” As a fan, you’ve seen the scenario play out dozens of times — Player X gets a megadeal and never lives up to the paycheck; he stops playing hard and starts making business decisions with his body. I told John that I’m not playing football for the money, that I want to be the best to ever play. I said, “I’ll be the guy who has $50 million in the bank and plays like he has $5.”
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Drew Brees: An Aging Star, A Lost Season

drew brees new orleans saints

It's been more than a month since the Saints were eliminated from playoff contention. Now 36, Drew Brees can only hope the franchise learns from its mistakes and turns things around before it's too late for him.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On Sunday, an appropriate bow will be put on the 2014 NFL season when the Seahawks and Patriots meet in Super Bowl XLIX. It’s best on best, from the players to the head coaches, and that feels right.

But before we file one of the league’s strangest seasons away for posterity, we can’t let one of the most vexing questions go quietly into the night: What the heck happened to the Saints? Drew Brees still hasn’t quite wrapped his head around it.

“It was my most frustrating season,” said Brees, walking out of the losing Team Carter locker room at the Pro Bowl on Sunday night. “You never want to go 7-9. It’s no fun.”
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