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Old School Week! A recap...
Wyatt Teller's pancakes (and whiskey). Ahman Green's near-death experience. Eric Wood's hangout with subscribers. Catch up on everything right here.
Good morning, readers!
‘Tis the season, eh?
Whether you’re injecting football into your veins or “The Grinch” this AM — and it’s a healthy blend of both here at Go Long HQ with two little ones — I hope all is great on your end. Each week in the NFL, we think we’ll be able to differentiate the contenders from the pretenders and then something ridiculous happens. Week 13 of 18 should be a humdinger right on through Bills-Patriots Monday night.
“Old School Week” was a lot of fun, so I figured we’d share this recap in case a post got lost along the way in your inbox. A few weeks ago, we wrote how football has returned to its bloody roots so the timing seemed right for some throwback football.
Here is what’s been cooking. Just ding the headline to read more.
As always, if you’d like to support Go Long, the best way is to subscribe or spread the word. You all make the journalism here possible.
I wasn’t sure what the Cleveland Browns’ mashing right guard would want to do for our conversation last week. Lo and behold, he opened up his home in Westlake, Ohio and we talked about broken sternums, hunting, the Bills and pancake blocks over whiskey and beer for three hours. With violence being legislated out of the sport in the backfield and the secondary, we’re all subconsciously attracted to the trenches in 2021.
Especially to a wild man like Teller, who’s been laying folks out all season.
He did not hold back.
At age 4, he fractured one kid’s sternum. (Really.) Into high school, he did it again… and saw the poor kid’s eyes roll into the back of his head.
“I know boxers know what it feels like. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen that. That was scary. It is legit scary because you’re a kid just playing a game. You hear stories of someone breaking a leg or hitting a femoral artery where you can’t control something. Or losing a finger because it’s caught between two helmets. Shit happens. You count your blessings.
“I don’t want to say, ‘I was in his chest, eating his heart!’ Nothing like that. But you definitely heard the pop, and boom. There’s so much pressure, it goes under itself. Your lungs are used to being this big and then they compress.”
The Packers fans here certainly remember Ahman Green’s run from 2000 through 2004. He truly was as dominant a back as there was in the NFL then with a rare blend of both of power and home run-hitting speed. Think about the greatest running backs in team history — Jim Taylor, Tony Canadeo, Paul Hornung, John Brockington, Dorsey Levens.
Green has more yards than any of them. That team had a real shot at winning the Super Bowl in ‘03, too.
What I didn’t know anything about was Green’s childhood. He detailed the moment his life could’ve ended as a toddler and then the time he broke his jaw as a kid. Both moments stayed with Green the rest of his life and, he believes, are why he had such an amazing threshold for pain.
“When I was 1 ½ half, two years old, I remember my Mom telling me a story where if she didn’t do what she did at the right time, I would not be talking on the phone right now. We’re taking a Greyhound to California. Between Nebraska and getting to Arizona where we had to stop basically. On a Greyhound, you stop at every other state to pick up people and go on to the next state. By the time we got to Arizona, I had caught a virus that had dehydrated me and basically ate away all of my baby fat. So, she rushed me and said, ‘Something ain’t right with my baby.’ She took me to a local hospital, even though we’re on a Greyhound in a foreign state at the time. She had a feeling something wasn’t right. The doctor said, ‘He has this virus that is somehow eating away at his baby fat. It’s dehydrating him. If you didn’t bring him in, he would’ve died of dehydration.’”
We all remember the moment we fell in love with football. So, who are the players today that truly bring that moment back to life?
That was the criteria for our first All-Old School Team.
Congrats to the winners. There is no immaculate awards show or red-carpet gala event scheduled because, of course, that’s the absolute last thing this group would want. Maybe they can have some of Teller’s whiskey.
Here’s what Bob McGinn wrote on Colts guard Quenton Nelson:
“He entered the NFL in 2018 as the No. 6 pick overall and being mentioned in the same breath by scouts as Larry Little, Mike Munchak and Randall McDaniel. Four seasons in and he has done nothing to disappoint. Want to see an offensive lineman go for the throat? Watch Nelson, the ultimate finisher.”
Nobody has a better pulse on the state of the Buffalo Bills than longtime center Eric Wood, mainly because he survived the lean years of the 17-year playoff drought. Right up to his awkward final press conference, Wood experienced quite a bit of turbulence as the team’s Pro Bowl center.
On Friday, Wood hung out with Go Long subscribers for a full hour to get into everything from the time Rex Ryan had players ready to run through a wall before playing the Patriots to his final press conference to his thoughts on the team’s MNF game against New England.
Also, stay tuned to your inbox. The plan is for Steve Tasker to hang out with us next week.
The Los Angeles Rams went all-in to close the gap on the Green Bay Packers. Their draft capital is now shot. After last week, Sean McVay has to be wondering if it was all worth it.
Aaron Rodgers is peaking, too. This might’ve been his finest game of the season.
McGinn takes you deep, deep inside every Packers game every week on this show.
His memories from the Packers beat are always hilarious and insightful, too.
The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t even want him. At the mic, a year ago, Doug Marrone said he couldn’t get a thing for the former fourth overall pick in a trade.
Now, Fournette is the key to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers repeating as Super Bowl champions.
How did this happen? I got to know Fournette well a few years back and chatted again with one person who knows him best for this piece. The Jaguars release was a wake-up call but so was Bruce Arians’ get-right-or-get-out message late last season. Here’s Fournette’s longtime trainer, Ben Iannacchione:
“I feel like he was questioning himself, which I don’t think he has ever done before because he’s always been so good. And even when he got to Tampa, I think it was hard for him because he had to split time with somebody and he had never really done that before either. But, again, he trusts Coach Arians. So when Coach Arians tells him, ‘Get right or (get out)’ that really kicked him into gear because he wanted to do right by him. That’s what he needs. He needs somebody he trusts. He needs somebody who’ll push him. That always brings forth the best of him.
“All he said to me was that he wasn’t in the right head space. I took that as he was feeling sorry for himself and being wanted to be given something that he hadn’t earned. That’s how I took that.
“He can’t get complacent and I don’t think he will.”