Thanksgiving 2020 has arrived. 2020 hasn’t really produced much to be thankful for, but if you look hard enough, you’ll find a few nuggets of happiness to appreciate. Other than food, family, friends, and cringe-worthy political debates, nothing is more synonymous with Thanksgiving than football. While you’re watching four mediocre teams play today, here are a few football-related things that NFL fans can be thankful for amidst the shitstorm that is 2020.
Stud Rookie QBs
Three quarterbacks were selected in the top 10 of the 2020 NFL draft. Each of them have started this season, and each of them has flashed the potential that made them a top pick in the first place.
Tua Tagovailoa has a 6:0 TD:INT ratio through four games as a starter for the Dolphins. Miami has gone 3-1 in those games. Tua’s lightning quick release, pocket awareness, and lack of mistakes have been a big part of that success. The ‘Phins are firmly in the playoff race.
Justin Herbert has accounted for a whopping 25 touchdowns (22 passing, 3 rushing) through nine games as the Chargers’ starter. There were questions about how his skills would translate in the NFL, mostly due to some shoddy performances against top collegiate defenses. Welp, seems pretty damn clear that he’s pretty damn good. His size, athleticism, and huge arm make him a legitimate Rookie of the Year contender.
Joe Burrow is hurt, and will be for a while. He’s played the whole season behind a sieve of an offensive line, and it finally caught up to him in the form of a major knee injury. Before that, however, Joey B showed why he was drafted first overall by the Bengals. Defenses know that Cincy is throwing the ball, yet Burrow has still found success (65.3 comp %, 89.8 QB rating, 58.6 QBR). The Bengals offense is in good hands. Here’s hoping Burrow makes a speedy recovery.
Jordan Love was also drafted in the first round by the Packers (lol), but no one expected him to sniff the field. Tua, Herbert, and Burrow are three young studs that look to be fully capable of leading their teams to prolonged success.
Alex Smith is playing football again. After a gruesome leg injury in 2018 that turned into a near-death experience, the former #1 overall pick has miraculously returned to the field to quarterback the Washington Football Team. This truly is incredible.
You can’t help but root for Smith, even if he’s lining up against your team. This type of injury would have ended the careers of most other players, regardless of position. We will never know how Smith was able to call upon such an extraordinary level of perseverance to come back from this sort of thing, but he did. He seems to be a shoo-in to win Comeback Player of the Year. Be thankful for him this Thanksgiving, NFL fans.
Find somebody who loves you the way Frank Gore loves football. Seriously. The 103-year-old running back is playing for the NFL’s saddest team in the winless Jets. Every week is a formality, as each inevitable loss brings the franchise closer to the #1 overall pick, likely Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Gore has little to play for. He’s certainly not winning a ring with this team, and he won’t be able to pass Walter Payton on the all-time rushing list this season. Frank Gore’s 2020 boils down to one thing: he loves this game.
He’s also still pretty good at it, somehow. Gore has taken over 4,000 hits in the NFL, but still shows some burst as he hits the hole. The University of Miami alum can absolutely give you 10-15 productive carries a game, as he has for the Jets. “The Inconvenient Truth” also has just one lost fumble since 2017. Frank Gore is just a baller.
I know it’s nice to imagine him being an “ageless wonder,” which implies he’ll play forever, but he’s not and he won’t. There is a finite amount of carries left in him. All NFL fans should appreciate Frank Gore.
COVID-19 has the potential to make sports really weird. Little to no fans in the stands, as well as the litany of procedural changes to travel, practices, and games, can alter the on-field outcomes. It was fair to wonder heading into the 2020 NFL season if we were in for some absurd scores or statistics, ones that you know would not have occurred under normal circumstances. That sucks for fans, as it decreases the game’s credibility.
This has not been the case so far. Many of the teams you thought would be good (Packers, Buccaneers, Chiefs, etc.) are good. The teams you expected to suck (Jets, Jags, Giants, etc.) are sucking. There are some surprise teams like there are in any season. But professional football in 2020 pretty much looks like it would in any other year, in the box scores at least. Oh, and the Chargers have still found ways to lose in heartbreaking fashion. The world is healing.
“Health” is relative, obviously. But with a pandemic going around that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in this country, it is good that NFL players have largely not experienced any serious symptoms or side-effects from the virus, as it has ran through multiple locker rooms across the league. Football is not conducive to sanitation or social distancing. However, I think the league has done an admirable job rolling with these unprecedented punches to give us NFL fans an enjoyable season.