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Hard Count Episode 18-8: Patrick Mahomes, Earl Thomas and the future of the NFL

Thoughts and opinions from the last week in the NFL

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers stumbled out of their Monday Night Football contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They proceeded to flat out faceplant their way out of Chicago to enter the bye looking like an 0-4 team, not a 2-2 team.

On Monday’s episode of the Locked on Bucs podcast my co-host James Yarcho asked me what I do to kind of get my mind off of how my favorite team has done these past two weeks. Well, one of the ways is this column right here.

Not necessarily dedicated to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it doesn’t exclude them. I get my crack at three topics from anywhere in the football universe. This week, here are the three I chose.

FALSE START: Patrick Mahomes II is the real deal.

They said this. I am they.

Ok, so it’s not like I thought Mahomes would be a bad quarterback, I just didn’t think he’d light the world on fire like he has.

When he did, I kind of viewed him the same way I viewed Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hot start. Great for football, great for him, great for his team, temporary in every way.

I assume at some point Mahomes will have a bad game. It happens. But if I learned anything from Monday night’s game featuring the Broncos and Chiefs, it was that I was wrong about Mahomes.

Not only is he ready to lead this team for good, he’s even better than advertised.

It’s not even so much the plays he made to get his team the win, it’s more how he did it. Completely poised. Never looked panicked. Certainly didn’t look like a young man starting just his fifth NFL game.

Mahomes is 5-0 as a starter and 2-0 in Denver. Pretty impressive.

He’ll come down to earth at some point, but not because he isn’t talented enough to have done what he’s done so far, but because even Tom Brady loses Super Bowls.

Still, I’m going to enjoy watching this quarterback for what I hope is a long career.

OFFSIDES: Earl Thomas pays for being a team guy.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Le’Veon Bell has been bashed by media. Bashed by fans. Bashed by teammates. He’s a bad guy.

Earl Thomas came back. Was ready for Week 1, and has been on the field for the Seattle Seahawks for each of the opening kickoffs so far this season.

Bell has made zero progress on his new contract. Thomas has gone backwards.

With his broken leg there’s little to no chance an NFL franchise will pay the safety what he’s looking for in 2019’s free-agency period.

But hey, at least he was a team guy.

If you only care about the laundry, why are you upset the man wearing it left the way he did?

The Legion of Boom is gone. Earl Thomas was the last remaining member and expected to somehow continue the legacy the “12s” expected. But, he should do so quietly. Well, he quietly had three interceptions in the first three games this season.

Seattle is 2-2, and they’re about to find out why they needed Thomas around so badly.

Richard Sherman is gone. Kam Chancellor is gone. The defense you once knew and loved, and allowed the offensive flaws to not take center stage, is gone.

When Thomas returned in time for Week 1 - read that again - returned in time for Week 1, here’s what his Ken Norton Jr. had to say,

“Earl is special. He makes plays that no one else can make. He has a great instinct about him, his motor is really solid, he tackles people all over the place, and he raises the standard of everyone around him.”

Bobby Wagner said this,

“He has been in the program for quite a long time, we’ve been playing together for quite a long time...He’s a once-in-a-generation player.”

A generational player according to both teammate and coach. And he was the sixth highest paid safety in the NFL until Kam Chancellor retired at the age of 30. The same age Thomas will be next spring.

If you don’t think that little occurrence had anything to do with this, you’re wrong.

Earl Thomas has made more money right now than I likely will in my entire life. And he’s earned it. He earned even more, he just didn’t get it.

One would think the Dallas Cowboys will likely get the first shot at signing Thomas in the off-season, so we’ll find out just how real Jerry’s love is for Earl.

Bell is the bad guy, and it’s gotten him hate and no money with the potential to earn more next year.

Thomas was the good guy who came back to a ghost of a team compared to the ones he starred on previously, and it’s earned him a broken leg, the ire of Seahawks ‘faithful’, and no shot at getting the money he should have gotten from Seattle or Dallas or whoever.

But I’m sure someday the Seahawks will invite him back to put him in their Ring of Honor, or Nest of Greatness, or whatever. If it happens to coincide with when their ticket sales are low and they need to fill seats, that’ll just be a coincidence.

Poll

Who made the better decision?

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    Le’Veon Bell for holding out and staying out.
    (64 votes)
  • 20%
    Earl Thomas for coming back and showing loyalty.
    (21 votes)
  • 18%
    They’re both just greedy men playing a kids game.
    (19 votes)
104 votes total Vote Now

FREE PLAY: The NFL is headed straight for disaster.

NFL: Super Bowl LII-NFLPA Press Conference Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I love football. I love the competition. I love the strategy. I love the fact a lesser talented team can beat the better staffed squad through creativity, ingenuity (same thing?), and by converting brain power into playing power.

What I don’t love, is what’s happened to the game since 2011 and the course this league has been put on since then. The final destination of this wobbly train, is the scene of the wreck coming in 2021.

That’s when the current collective bargaining agreement expires, and unless something seriously shifts between now and then, it’ll be the next time we get an NFL strike and/or lockout.

There will be plenty of things to talk about, but center-stage will likely be Roger Goodell’s role as judge, jury, executioner and appellate court when dealing with player conduct, and the franchise tag.

I’d like to see there be at least one player from each division added to the competition committee as well, but we’ll see.

If you still love football, soak it in - even with it’s weird suspensions, overemphasized rules, and controversy - because you may only get three seasons more until we get an extended absence from the game.