Happy New Year! Our best stuff from 2023...
From the Packers' decision to trade Aaron Rodgers to Kevin Kolb to Zay Jones to a Buffalo Bills coach in Year No. 7, here's a look back.
It’s been quite a year. We here at Go Long HQ cannot thank everyone enough for reading, subscribing, sharing the good word.
As the calendar flips, here are some of our best stories from the year.
A healthy and happy 2024 to all.
Part I: Four concussions rocked the quarterback’s world more than anyone knew. Kevin Kolb is the story of pro football as much as any star, and he bared all scars for this series. In Part I, Kolb details each concussion in gruesome detail.
Part II: Concussion No. 4 didn't only send Kolb into retirement. He nearly killed himself in a head-on collision. He slipped further into depression. But how the former quarterback escaped his personal darkness gives hope to the sport itself.
Nobody was prepared for what happened in Cincinnati last season. The future of football itself seemed at risk when Damar Hamlin went down. His heart stopped. He was brought back to life. All of us were forced to grapple with our support of this sport. Here’s my column from that night in Cincinnati. A year prior, Go Long shared Hamlin’s life story.
Bob McGinn broke the news right here at Go Long that the Green Bay Packers were finished with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This podcast episode immediately sent shock waves through the sports world… with quite a bit of backlash. While several national NFL writers pushed back, our report held true. The Packers shipped Rodgers off to the New York Jets.
OK, we haven’t covered any player here at Go Long as much as Jordan Love — from Brian Gutekunst’s genius plan, to the 2021 offseason Rodgers tried holding the team hostage, to this piece and a lot in-between. But there’s a reason we’ve been so bullish on Jordan Love. Hopefully, this offseason feature explains why. Love’s moment in Green Bay has been years in the making. And once the Packers ripped that Band-Aid, the move was applauded. I also chatted with two of the most prominent Packers figures on this topic: Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf and Hall of Fame safety LeRoy Butler. Both were exceptionally blunt.
While covering the Super Bowl in Arizona, I struck up a conversation with little-known Kansas City Chiefs tight end Jody Fortson. We’re both Western New Yorkers, but I didn’t see this life story coming. Unfortunately for Fortson, a shoulder injury ended his 2023 season in August. He’ll be back.
McGinn brought his 39th annual draft series to Go Long, and he’ll be penning the 40th next spring. Each story, each series is always filled with news. Nothing shook up the public draft discourse quite like McGinn shedding light on the cognitive test used by NFL teams: S2. Whereas Bryce Young scored a 98%, yes, C.J. Stroud had an 18%. S2 sells itself to teams a Bust Finder. (They’re probably not thrilled that Stroud has the Texans one win from the postseason.) Scouts also did not mince words on Jalen Carter and the Clemson Curse.
Remember when Zay Jones tried hurling himself through a window 30 floors high? The events of March 19, 2018 were horrifying. We all saw the TMZ video clips. For the first time, Jones opened up on everything. He knows he’s lucky to be alive, let alone catching passes for the Jacksonville Jaguars. We chatted in-person at great length for this profile. As Jones said, he’s been “palace to pit to palace.”
Our 20,000+ word series based on conversations with 25 sources details what it’s like to work with McDermott day to day, why “13 Seconds” has haunted this team, everything that leads to a tight team in the biggest moments and the troubling disconnect between head coach and quarterback.
Part I, Blame Game: “This job’s too hard to fight from within and that’s what you do there. ... You’ve got to overcome the head coach.”
Part II, Lost in translation: “It’s like you make a good batch, but then he just adds a drop of poison in there and it makes the whole thing bad.”
Part III, Let Josh be Josh: “He wants to run through your face and establish the fact that he’s the biggest alpha male dog quarterback in the history of pro football.”
Urban Meyer threatened to cut a player over calling him a rookie head coach. Kicked his own kicker, too. It was an utter disaster in Jacksonville. On to Doug Pederson? Hope replaced misery.
Right when everyone assumed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were dead as dead before the 2023 season even began — in this post-Tom Brady world — the team’s veteran cornerback did not hold back. To his core, he’s a man who has never backed down.
Similar to the Zimmer-led Vikings and Urban-led Jaguars, players did not enjoy life in Detroit under head coach Matt Patricia. It’s a different world with Dan Campbell. Go Long spent a week with the Lions over the summer to see what exactly goes into the genetic composition of this roster. Turns out, both Campbell and GM Brad Holmes seek a very specific type of player. The likes of Tracy Walker, Alex Anzalone, Scottie Montgomery, Kalif Raymond and Cam Sutton bring to life everything we’d go on to see this 2023 season.
Why did the Chicago Bears pass on Patrick Mahomes? Loved this episode because this episode is everything we’re trying to achieve here in giving you a peek behind that NFL curtain. Lucas has been a part of two colossal franchise decisions — the drafting of both Mitchell Trubisky and Justin Fields. The Bears’ director of player personnel from 2015- ‘22 takes listeners right inside the draft room.
He saved a man from a burning car and claims to have witnessed true miracles in Africa. We chat with the Minnesota Vikings wide receiver.
The inside story on C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson one month into their NFL careers. Who you select at quarterback only determines the fate of the organization. No pressure.
More than two decades later, the quarterback controversy between Rob Johnson and Doug Flutie remains fascinating. You needed to pick a side. The former Buffalo Bills QB was one of our Happy Hour guests this past offseason, joining Warren Moon, Jamal Lewis, Peter King, Isaiah McKenzie, Andrew Brandt, Jamaal Williams and T.J. Lang amongst others.
The Hall of Fame quarterback knows he had zero business ascending through those wild 1990s. Favre opened some old wounds this episode.
From Nick Saban's “slap in the face” to a tibia sticking out of his skin, the undrafted rookie safety has a story this entire city can love.