Check out next season’s NFL Pro Bowl uniforms

At least it’s not so brightly colored. The Pro Bowl uniforms next year are a lot simpler in design with a color scheme of black and gold. Since the NFL is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the modern Super Bowl era, these Pro Bowl duds reflect that of the golden anniversary. I think it’s a nice simple look. I still miss the days of the red for the AFC and the blue for the NFC, but with the new draft format, those days are gone.

I like the unique design of the shoulders for both uniforms. The white jersey appears to be just lines but the black jerseys appear to have this unique layering of shorter lines placed in the opposite direction.

(Is that a Saints helmet in the background? Is that facemask gray?)

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! My top green uniforms

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I don’t know if you’re Irish, but if this day means something to you, then celebrate as you wish. Just be safe.

With people wearing green today, I like to go over my favorite green uniforms in the top major leagues in America.

MLB: There’s something about the simplicity of the green pullover with the city name on it. This was it for the A’s. It wasn’t even that popular of a design in terms of all the outrageous looks they had in the ’70s. But this look from 1982 sold me. Simple and classic. It’s a shame that the A’s are the only team in baseball today that wear a green jersey.

Then again, I am biased towards the A’s. But their balance of gold and green is a great complement to the entire set. I wish they could throw back to these beauties in the near future. That would be awesome. Here’s to wishful thinking.

(Side note, I like what the Mets wear during St. Paddy’s Day every spring.)

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Understanding why NFL players are retiring so early

Patrick Willis retires after eight seasons in the NFL.

I remember when Barry Sanders retired from the NFL. He had been in the league since 1989 and 10 years later, was still a very effective running back. I was selfish when he announced it because he was so close to becoming the all-time leading rusher. But instead, he walked away because he just didn’t have the same passion anymore. I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted him to play longer. I wanted him to have the record. I hated that he left the game like that.

It took me a long while until I started covering the 49ers as a beat writer in 2009 did I started to understand these kinds of decisions fully.

Every day, I saw what these players go through with their bodies. I see the strain it took on some of them and their families. I saw the difficulties they had to maintain as a famous person. Even though the money was great, the stress and the burdens continued to rise daily. There’s the glory of being a famous NFL player, but there is a lot of other baggage that comes along with.

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Patrick Willis leaves the game happy and that makes me happy

Patrick Willis, in his retirement press conference, said that he leaves the game happy without any regrets. He said he gave the game everything he had but looking towards his future, he knew health was very important to him. Having issues with his feet, Willis cited that he was going to leave the game for that primary reason. Willis said that he won’t have an itching to come back later on because he leaves the game with closure.

I remember the first time I met him. What a joy it was for me and he was so respectful in answering all my questions. A few months later, he signed a 49ers mini helmet for me during training camp. It still remains as one of my most prized memorabilia possessions.

Willis was a very respectful man and a man with a huge heart in his time with the 49ers. He remained honest every day and I am happy that he’s happy. He gets to enjoy life.

Thank you, Patrick.

Patrick Willis, Frank Gore and Justin Smith are all leaving the 49ers?

Patrick WIllis and Frank Gore were two very important players for the 49ers in the past decade. Now both are no longer going to be with the team.

I remember when I first met Patrick Willis. It was the summer of 2009 and I had just begun my first season covering the 49ers for Examiner.com several months earlier. It was a screening for “The Taking of Pelham 123″ and Willis was hosting the screening with Alex Smith. I was invited to attend the screening and had a chance to interview both players. Willis was entering his third season with the 49ers and had already been selected to two Pro Bowls — he would make the Pro Bowl for seven consecutive years to start his career.

At the time, the 49ers were still struggling to become a winning team but Willis was still excited about the possibility of the team being better and the defense being one of the best in the league. Willis was optimistic and had always been that way his entire career. In the three seasons I got up close with the team, Willis was always great to be around.

He wasn’t the best in terms of giving very elaborate interviews, but as a team leader, he knew that his words carried a lot of weight. Knowing that, he remained professional in every way shape or form with the 49ers. And aside from that, one of the best things about Willis was that he was a genuinely good person. There is no other example you need to read than this story of Willis spending time with a young cancer patient. I remember that day very well and it is one of my favorite highlights covering the team.

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So what does Jed York know?

The 49ers signed Jerome Simpson. Yes, that guy who has gotten in trouble for marijuana in the past and has been arrested three times. That doesn’t seem to mesh well with York’s proclamation that the team has to “win with class” when you’re bringing in players that don’t really embody that.

So, when asked about it, he gave a very poor answer.

“You have to ask [G.M.] Trent Baalke,” York told Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle. “I don’t know what the thinking was.”

He doesn’t know why a certain player with a troubled past was signed. And the ignorance of not knowing doesn’t really keep him accountable to the standard he claims to have set for the team. This is not a good sign. So is York all talk but really not in the loop of what’s going on within his own franchise?

Maurice Jones-Drew retires and that makes me sad

Maurice Jones-Drew was one of my favorite players of all time. Because I have a soft spot for the Jaguars, I naturally fell in love with the running back and what he did for the Jaguars. (I even own a Jones-Drew jersey.) He was a great complement for Fred Taylor and when the Jones-Drew became the feature back, he was a joy to watch.

In the eight seasons in Jacksonville, he had 8,071 yards and 68 touchdowns, 11 receiving touchdowns to go along with 2,873 receiving yards. But his most impressive stat may have come in the great playoff game against the Steelers. He had 8 carries for 29 yards and a TD. He also had a 43-yard touchdown catch. And on a kickoff, he returned the ball for 96 yards falling short of the goal line. He was so versatile early on and it’s a shame that his health forced him to fall off in the final two years of his career.

But still, he was a joy to watch. His frame, and what I called his thunderous thighs, were not easy for defenders to bring down. Adding his small size, he was able to slip through holes and burst through for big gains. It’s a shame that he played for a small market because he had big talent. I wish he could have played a little longer in the league but nine years is a good career and he got out before his body gave out.

Thank you for all the memories.

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