Frankly Frankel: Jan. 16, 2017

16 Jan

Aaron Rodgers’ magical run continues, the Cowboys have nothing to be ashamed of in defeat (shocking, I know), Antonio Brown films the Steelers locker room for 17 minutes postgame and we’re on the cusp of the unveiling of the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2017.  It’s been awhile, but this is “Frankly Frankel” on this MLK Day, Jan. 16, 2017.

  • Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is playing like an unstoppable behemoth right now.  From leading Green Bay to the NFC North crown with six straight wins following a 4-6 start, to dropping miracle Hail Mary dimes against the Giants in the wild-card round and then making one of the greatest throws in the history of the sport to Jared Cook to set up the game-winning field goal against the Cowboys, these Green Bay Packers feel like a team of destiny.
  • It can be argued that Rodgers’ sequence of offensive plays in the closing seconds against Dallas are up there with some of the greatest sequences of any quarterback in any game ever.  On first down, Rodgers was sacked by Cowboys safety Jeff Heath and miraculously held onto the football.  How?  No one knows.  The ball was there for the taking, but Rodgers just wouldn’t let it go.  He immediately bounced right back up and had the wherewithal to call timeout.
  • An incomplete pass on second down set up a 3rd-and-20 from the Green Bay 32-yard line with 12 seconds left, and almost every other quarterback in the league would have just said “screw it” and taken the knee, but not this Aaron Rodgers.  He smelt blood in the water and remained in full attack mode.
  • What Rodgers did next was pure magic, heaving an off-balance throw 36 yards to Jared Cook at the Dallas 32-yard line 3 seconds left.  You couldn’t have scripted it any better.  After Dallas tied the game with a field goal with 35 seconds left, the first thought many had was “too much time,” and they were right.
  • Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal barely snuck inside the upright as time expired, sending Rodgers and the Packers to the NFC Championship Game.
  • As great as Rodgers’ connection to Cook was, my favorite play of the game happened after Green Bay’s second offensive play when Cowboys defensive end Benson Mayowa was too busy celebrating a tackle for no gain when Rodgers rushed to the line and caught Dallas with too many men resulting in a first down and culminating with the first touchdown of the game.
  • This was a blatant example of where Rodgers’ head is at.  Instead of letting the Cowboys celebrate a meaningless tackle, he just kept playing and made Dallas pay with a touchdown.  Some would call it “karma.”
  • The win over the Cowboys was the Packers’ eighth straight, and it doesn’t feel like anything can stop Rodgers these days.  Up next is Matt Ryan and the Falcons, but I would be stunned if Green Bay’s run ends in Atlanta.  These Packers feel destined for Houston.
  • Usually at the end of the Cowboys’ season, there’s some sort of major controversy or unnecessary drama, but not this year.  The Cowboys gave it everything they had in a losing effort, Dak Prescott proved he deserves to be in the MVP conversation and Jason Garrett validated he has what it takes to be a head coach in the NFL and isn’t simply a Jerry Jones puppet.
  • Once the Cowboys fell behind 21-3, I was waiting for the moment when Jerry Jones sprinted onto the field from his box to confront Garrett and force him to bench Dak in favor of Tony Romo, but Garrett stayed with Prescott, who immediately bounced back finding Dez Bryant for a 40-yard touchdown pass to get Dallas back in the game, which led to a furious second half comeback.
  • There’s nothing more fun than seeing the dysfunction of the Cowboys, but Dallas has nothing to be ashamed of for losing to Aaron Rodgers like they did.  The future with Dak and Zeke couldn’t be brighter.
  • Following the Steelers’ win over the Chiefs on Sunday night, wide receiver Antonio Brown immediately began filming the locker room on “Facebook Live ” for 17 minutes, capturing Mike Tomlin’s postgame speech to the team and a whole lot of other things usually kept private.
  • The whole concept of Antonio Brown doing this just feels wrong and it makes you question where his head is at.  It leaves the impression that he’s more focused on himself, his smile and his dancing than getting Pittsburgh back to the Super Bowl.
  • There is no doubt Brown’s video would not have happened under Bill Belichick’s watch.  After all, after becoming the first player in postseason history to score a rushing, receiving and kick return touchdown in the same game, Dion Lewis talked like his team suffered a devastating loss.  Classic Patriots!
  • The Patriots feel like the hungrier, more focused and more motivated team heading into next Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, and you might as well pencil New England for the Super Bowl right now as far as I’m concerned.
  • On Wednesday, the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2017 will be unveiled and how the voting shakes out this year will say a lot about how voters reacted to the news that Bud Selig will be enshrined in Cooperstown.
  • If the mastermind of the “Steroid Era” gets in, then what does that mean for the likes of Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa?  Among others.
  • The 10-player limit on ballots continues to be one of the biggest jokes in sports, but without further ado, here is who I see making the cut this year: Jeff Bagwell (based on the fact he received 71.6 percent of the vote in 2016), Tim Raines (assuming his trajectory continues after jumping from 55 percent to over 69 percent from 2015-16), Trevor Hoffman (one of the greatest closers ever) and Vladimir Guerrero, who is the only first ballot guy I see making the cut.  Vlad was one of the most feared offensive specimens the game has ever seen with the ability to clobber balls from anywhere (literally).
  • If I had the fortune of being able to cast a ballot this year, I would have voted for Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Ivan Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa and Mike Mussina.
  • One name that’s extremely fascinating to me this year is how the voting turns out for Jorge Posada, who was one of the games premier catchers for nearly 13 years and a core guy on one of the greatest dynasties in sports history.  I sincerely hope Posada gets enough of the vote to garner a second year on the ballot (at least), but I’m not counting on the voters coming through.
  • Then following the announcement of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, it’s the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States on Friday!
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