The NFL becoming a twelve-month sport has become good for the league. The NBA is slowly but surely working to get to that point in recent years, too. People talking about your product every day is a good problem to have. Nobody is talking about MLB or NHL during the offseason months, but everybody is more than willing to gossip and argue and talk about the NFL and the NBA at any time. Mike Trout is having the best season of his career, but I haven’t had an argument with any of my friends and family about whether or not Mookie Betts has a better case for AL MVP. That’s not what MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred wants. For most fans, arguing about trades and unanswerable questions like, “Who is better the better rookie: Ben Simmons or Donovan Mitchell?” is a huge part of the appeal in being a hardcore fan. You can talk about Tom Brady’s greatness, Andy Dalton’s ceiling, Jon Gruden’s cliches, LeBron’s supporting cast, Joel Embiid’s social-media habits, the list goes on and on.
The side-effect to this year-round coverage is that, during the summer, especially June, the topic choices are limited, so you could understand the reflex of certain sportswriters or sports radio hosts to be a bit hyperbolic with their coverage on topics that don’t require such behavior.
Enter Atlanta sports radio host Mike Bell of 929 “The Game”, who tweeted the following on June 6:
“For Falcons fans who feel I'm "over reacting" regarding Julio's absence. Everybody else in "The Brotherhood" is there including players with injuries. You you think it's not important for the star WR to put the work in following a season where the offense went backwards?”
Julio Jones, the Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver, was absent from the team’s OTAs this year. Instead, he has been spending time this offseason working out with Hall-Of-Famer Terrell Owens. Head coach Dan Quinn isn’t concerned with Jones’ absence from the voluntary workouts. Falcons owner Arthur Blank isn’t concerned. The guy the team just gave a gigantic contract extension to isn’t worried about it. Jones hasn’t been holding from mandatory training camp, no he’s just been working out in the sand dunes with a HOFer that every Falcon fan hope results in Jones arriving to training camp looking close to Cleveland Browns’ wideout Josh Gordon. (Seriously, if you have not taken a gander at what Flash is looking like these days, open a new tab, go to his Instagram, and be amazed at just how cut another human being can get. Did I mention Baker Mayfield is going to be throwing to Gordon, Corey Coleman and Jarvis Landry this season? Insane.)
If it were first-round pick Calvin Ridley who skipped OTAs, it would be perfectly fine to be slightly concerned. The more the Falcons’ rookies and free-agent acquisitions are participating in team-related activities, the better. It was Jones who was absent and that has been the subject of discussion for Atlanta sports fans for the last few weeks. Of course, it doesn’t actually matter that Jones is away. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were non-participants, Odell Beckham Jr. and Fletcher Cox missed them last year, and more veteran stars will miss them because the CBA makes it very clear these workouts are optional.
The Falcons getting back to the Super Bowl in 2019 does not depend on Jones spending less time with Terrell Owens and more time with the team at voluntary workouts. Jones has earned the benefit of the doubt, every general manager in the league would love to have him on their roster, and Julio Jones is going to be a very productive player for the Atlanta Falcons in 2018-19.
But I get it.
There is nothing to talk about the NFL right now, unless Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension has ruined your 2018 NFL Fantasy Draft Board and you really don’t feel great about Brady having to start the season with Chris Hogan and Jordan Matthews as his primary wideout weapons. Ryan finally got his extension, Gregg Knapp is helping Steve Sarkisian adapt to the NFL, and Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman are going to be a bigger part in the passing game this fall. That covers it, right?
Things are fine with the Atlanta Falcons on June 8, 2018. The team has top-5 roster in the NFL, the offense is in a position to bounce back, at least slightly, in 2018, and Deion Jones and Keanu Neal are becoming vocal, veteran leaders on the defensive side of the ball. There isn’t any drama, there isn’t anything to really talk about, and, yes, that includes that can’t-miss battle for the one fullback spot on the 53-man roster.
If you are feeling the itch to release a Julio Jones Should Have Been At OTAs take into the Twittersphere, the radio waves, wherever, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to. So, please, save that anger for Week 4 when this offense still isn’t clicking like it was in 2016 with Kyle Shanahan. Deal?