For many NFL fans, nothing beats the atmosphere of being in stadiums on game day. But as the desire to see every game in real time and the popularity of fantasy football have grown, so has the need for more technology — a need that most NFL stadiums are not equipped to handle, at least to many fans’ liking. With the advent of the NFL Sunday Ticket, the Red Zone Channel and better smart phones and tablets, some fans are giving up their season tickets for the convenience of staying at home and staying plugged in to all the available action. Darren Rovell reports that the NFL is taking notice and wants to do something about it
The Last Time They Met
ESPN.com (Outside the Lines Special Report for ESPN The Magazine’s “One Day, One Game” issue)
An Alabama fan, an LSU fan and one night on Bourbon Street they can’t remember — and the video they can never forget. Mark Winegardner reports.
What is the importance of a single gesture? Wake Forest assistant football coach Tom Elrod lost his infant son, Byron, to an inoperable brain tumor just eight days after he was born. One of the many difficult duties the family faced was explaining to their two children what was happening to their brother, especially five-year-old Tommy, who wanted nothing more than a brother to play football with. When the two brothers met for the first time, they shared a fist bump, Tommy’s favorite greeting on the football field. The Elrod family shares their story and how they’ve found the beautiful moments in such a tragic loss.
“It was just two brothers exchanging this moment, and for that moment in time, it was like all is going to be Okay. Our son was happy. Our daughter was happy. And from that moment on, for the rest of Byron’s life, there were no tears while we were with him. Not one.” — Tom Elrod
“Byron had fist-bumped Tommy, we then all as a family went on to church and that day the sermon was about ‘What’s the best moment of your life?’ I was sitting there listening to my pastor speak. (Byron) was at the hospital. My other two children were with me. I’m with my husband. And, my kids had just gotten to meet their little brother. And, that’s like all I could think of when the pastor kept saying it. I was like ‘Oh my gosh, this is the best day of my life. I don’t know how long I’ll have all three of my kids together, but this is it. It doesn’t get any better than this.’” — Maureen Elrod, Tom’s wife
There’s no shortage on opinion these days when critics, pundits and contrarians can easily be found on TV, radio or the internet. While NFL players can tune out the rising volume of frustrated fans, truculent talk-radio hosts and critical columnists, some outside voices command their immediate respect. ESPN.com’s Greg Garberreports on franchise legends who walked the walk and continue to talk the talk.
“I’ve been there. I’m no different than any of those guys in the locker room, and my experience is some of the experiences these guys need to have, need to hear, because they want what I already have, and what many of us already have: we got three Super Bowl rings.” — Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame running back
“I felt like it’s easier to criticize teams when you’re not playing. There’s a lot of criticism that comes from those guys after the fact. When they played, they didn’t like it, and we don’t like it now when we’re playing, when they do it to us.” — Brian Urlacher, Bears linebacker
“I think the fans have a right to know. The fans have a right to be able to hear an honest opinion. I would love to say nothing but nice things about everybody, but let’s face it: that’s not life, and it sure isn’t football.” — Joe Theismann, former Redskins quarterback
The Obsession of Les Miles
ESPN.com (for ESPN The Magazine’s “One Day, One Game” issue)
For 14 days, the LSU coach thinks of nothing but beating ‘Bama. Wright Thompson reports.
Torrey Smith’s NFL Journey: Perseverance, Loyalty, Sadness
NFL Hot Read on Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, who earlier this season played against the Patriots on the day he learned his younger brother had died in a motorcycle crash. Kevin Van Valkenburg reports.
Rhett Gutierrez, a quarterback for Standley Lake High School in Colorado, suffers from Stargardt disease, a condition that classifies Gutierrez as legally blind.