In early September, Panini America will reintroduce an old friend to football collectors with the release of 2015 Donruss Football. The first standalone Donruss-branded NFL product since 2002 will deliver both hobby and retail versions steeped in long-adored brand staples such as Rated Rookies, Classics, Dominators, Gridiron Kings, Passing the Torch Autographs and more.
Set to release on September 2, each hobby box of 2015 Donruss Football (eight cards per pack, 24 packs per box) will deliver three autograph or memorabilia cards, four parallels, four Rated Rookies, one Classics, two Gridiron Kings, nine Elite inserts, nine Elite Rookies, two Passing the Torch inserts, two Elite Series and one Dominator.
The Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers square off on Sunday Night Football with each team a half game out of first place in their respective divisions. The Broncos are seven point favorites at home, and both teams remain among the betting favorites to reach the Super Bowl. The big story Sunday is Peyton Manning’s quest to be the NFL’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns. He currently has 506 TD passes, just two behind Brett Favre. Manning has thrown for at least three touchdowns in four of the Broncos’ five games (he threw two in the other game). The closest active players to Manning are Drew Brees and Tom Brady, who both have 372 career TDs.
Football stats and records don’t hold the same mythical status that they do in baseball. Baseball fans revel in the idea of 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, at least until the steroid era. They can recite hit totals for Ty Cobb (4,191, later revised to 4,189) or Pete Rose’s all-time record of 4,256. Fans know the home run totals of Barry Bonds (763) or Hank Aaron (755). But even your most die hard NFL fans would have trouble rattling off Emmitt Smith’s career rushing record of 18.355 or Marino’s TD mark before this season when it started to get attention with Manning approaching the mark. Manning’s career has been defined by excellence and he has the opportunity to retire with the records for most of the major career passing categories. Here are some of the numbers on and off-the-field that define Manning’s career.
The NFL season never actually ends. At least, this is what ESPN believes. In Bristol, the NFL year is a continuous strand of fabric to be stretched beyond its physical properties, the limitations of which have yet to be discovered. This is the philosophy which brings us months of draft speculation masquerading as expertise and, Wednesday night, a two-hour schedule release program.
In an effort to generate as much slack from the definition of “entertainment” as possible, four men — Trey Wingo, Tim Hasselbeck, Jerome Bettis, and current Redskins safety Ryan Clark — gathered around a desk to share their thoughts on the 2014 NFL schedule, despite the draft yet to occur and opening kickoff more than four months away.
It’s not as if there’s a Selection Show-esque suspense, revealing opponents or seeding. We have known for months each team’s opponents, just not the order in which they will play. It’s fundamentally impossible to overstate what a non-event this was, and yet, it competed with the NHL playoffs in terms of news coverage and the NBA playoffs in Twitter volume.
Real power is not exhibited by what can be accomplished with sweat, but by what can be done without the slightest exertion. The NFL has tried very hard to dominate the ratings and create an on-field product people seek. But forming a schedule is a logistics exercise. It’s not an event. It never was before. Yet the NFL has gotten so big, so mighty, so demanded, that even the league’s administrative processes have become newsworthy. It’s not even trying anymore, but it’s still working. This is the behemoth the NFL has become, with which all other sports must reckon, and ESPN is only so happy to make a network out of it.
The potential flex games between Week 5 and Week 10 come with a stipulation. The NFL can’t change the tentative “Sunday Night Football” game every week. The league can flex up to two games total into Sunday night between Weeks 5-10. The rest of the flexible schedule procedures from previous years remains intact. After Week 11, the NFL can flex any Sunday night game.
As before, only Sunday afternoon games are subject to being moved into the Sunday night window. Thursday, Saturday, and Monday games are not affected. Flex scheduling allows the league to handpick a game to be moved into the Sunday Night NBC window, avoiding lackluster matchups.
The “cross flex” mechanism will serve a similar purpose. Select games can be flexed between CBS and FOX. In the past, a game with two NFC teams had to be on FOX and a game with two AFC teams had to be on CBS. Now, the league can theoretically move an all-NFC game to CBS or an all-AFC game to FOX in select cases. This will help balance out the television schedule, especially in a week where one network has all the most intriguing games.