5 Things To Do During The NFL's Off Season

5 Things To Do During The NFL's Off Season

A guide to football when there is no football
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The NFL has done a masterful job of keeping itself relevant all year round. What can best be described as roster reconstruction period, comprising of free agency, trades, and the draft, starts just a month after the season, with inklings of news coming out as early as two weeks after the season at the Combine.

Draft season takes on a life of its own with prospects, mock drafts, and more mock drafts. There is even some intrigue to OTA’s and Minicamps. Despite the league's best efforts, though, all things football go dark for a six week period in June and July. For just a short while, coaches, players, and front office men all head home to their friends and family to do anything but football for once.

In terms of news, nothing good can come out of this time. No, it doesn’t mean anything that Sam Bradford and his receivers are practicing and together in Oklahoma or that Geno Smith is supposedly light years ahead of where he was last year. That’s all nonsense. In reality, the old mantra that “no news is good news” applies here. Coaches warn their players of the dangers of making poor choices during this time, but that doesn’t always get through to their players. Inevitably, some player will wind up getting themselves hurt or into trouble that will mess up their entire season, like JPP’s infamous firework incident last fall. The media knows it, coaches know it, and the fans know it. The best thing that can happen to any player during this six weeks is nothing.

Here are five things to keep tabs on during the only true offseason of the country’s most popular sport.

Contract Negotiations

Like every year, there are a number of huge contracts in the works that should be resolved before the start of training camp. The July 14th deadline for players who were franchise tagged to reach a long-term deal stands out as the only landmark date of this period of the off-season. Last year, we had Justin Houston, Dez Bryant, and Demaryius Thomas all sign massive extensions at the deadline. This year, Muhammad Wilkerson and Kirk Cousins stand out as the most interesting cases of the franchised players because there is no guarantee that either will reach a compromise with their respective teams. Von Miller and Andrew Luck will both sign deals in the coming weeks that will blow away all other benchmarks and make them the highest paid players in league history. The forever tiring Ryan Fitzpatrick contract standoff has to come to an end at some point with teammates and coaches now publicly declaring how tiring this storyline has become.

Injury Updates

The most overused trope of the offseason is that an injured player will be “ready by the start of training camp”. Of course, many of those players won’t be healthy in time which could have meaningful implications on their team's plans for the season. Watch out for updates on the health of players who are trying to regain their health as well as ones who hurt themselves in their own workouts. Sammy Watkins, Victor Cruz, Jalen Ramsey, DeMarcus Ware, and Steve Smith stand out as some big names trying to regain their health by training camp.

Watch Game Film

We tend to grow more complacent and baseless in our takes of players as the offseason goes on. When things slow down and there are less meaningful things to talk about, it can be a good time to take a step back and increase your own football acumen by watching a game or two of last years tape. NFL Gamepass is cheap enough and provides access to the same All-22 film that coaches and scouts use. If you look around hard enough, there is a decent collection of full games buried on Youtube. You can watch these games to both better assess players as well as to just enjoy actual football.

Watch the NFL Top 100 Players list

Look, I know that the actual list itself is woefully inaccurate clickbait designed to give fans something to chatter about and writers something to debate during the offseason. I know that Blake Bortles and Kirk Cousins aren’t as good as Andrew Luck. I know that Jordy Nelson is a better receiver than Allen Hurns or Jarvis Landry. Even so, the list makes for a good jumping off point for discussion about where players are, what they can do, and where they are going next year. Listening to players talk about each other based on actually playing against each other on the field is refreshingly different from the same tired takes we hear again and again. The list can shed light on players that you may not have known much about before.

Step Away from Football

The NFL is all consuming. For too much of the year, we can get wrapped up in all of the news and headlines that are a relatively small part of life. When there is really nothing important to follow, do yourself a favor and just step away from it for a bit.
Cover Image Credit: NY Post

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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I Wouldn't Trade My DII Experience To Play DI Athletics Any Day

I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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As a high school athlete, the only goal is to play your varsity sport at the Division 1 level in college.

No one in high school talks about going to a Division 2 or 3 school, it's as if the only chance you have at playing college athletics is at the DI level. However, there are so many amazing opportunities to play a varsity sport at the DII and DIII level that are equally fun and competitive as playing for a division 1 team.

As a college athlete at the DII level, I hear so many DI athletes wishing they had played at the DII or DIII level. Because the fact of the matter is this: the division you play in really doesn't matter.

The problem is that DII and DIII sports aren't as celebrated as Division 1 athletics. You don't see the National Championships of Division 2 and 3 teams being broadcasted or followed by the entire country. It's sad because the highest levels of competition at the DII and DIII level are competing against some of the Division 1 teams widely celebrated across the country. Yet DII and DIII teams don't receive the recognition that DI athletics do.

Not everyone can be a DI athlete but that doesn't mean it's easy to be a DII or DIII athlete. The competition is just as tough as it is at the top for DII and DIII athletes. Maybe the stakes are higher for these athletes because they have to prove they are just as good as DI athletes. Division 2 and 3 athletes have just as much grit and determination as Division 1 athletes, without the glorified title of being "a division 1 athlete."

Also, playing at the DII or DIII level grants more opportunities to make your college experience your own, not your coach's.

I have heard countless horror stories in athletics over the course of my four-year journey however, the most heartbreaking come from athletes who lose their drive to compete because of the increased pressure from coaches or program. Division 1 athletics are historically tougher programs than Division 2 or 3 programs, making an athlete's college experience from one division to another significantly different.

The best part of not going to a division 1 school is knowing that even though my team doesn't have "DI" attached to it, we still have the opportunity to do something unique every time we arrive at an event. Just because we aren't "DI" athletes, we still have the drive and competitive spirit to go to an event and win. We are great players, and we have broken countless records as a team.

That's something we all have done together, and it's something we can take with us for the rest of our lives.

We each have our own mission when it comes to our college athletic careers, however together we prove to be resilient in the fight for the title. Giving it all when we practice and play is important, but the memories we have made behind the scenes as a team makes it all worth it, too.

The best part of being apart of college athletics is being able to be passionate about your sport with teammates that embody that same mindset. It's an added benefit to having teammates who become your best friends because it makes your victories even more victorious, and your defeats easier to bare.

No matter what level an athlete is playing at in college, it's important that all the hours spent at practice and on the road should be enjoyed with teammates that make the ride worthwhile. The experiences athletes have at any level are going to vary, but the teammates I have and the success we've had together is something I cherish and will take with me forever. I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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