Trevor Siemian NFL

Start of NFL Season

Greetings Lions! Frank the American Lion here, back for the NFL season. Week 1 of 16 is is in the books and the NFL is officially underway. The first set of games were thrilling as we saw multiple games decided by 1 point or less, many rookies and first time starters make their debuts, and grey-bearded veterans return to form. Here are three of the main Week 1 takeaways you need to know:


1: Broncos Quarterback Trevor Siemian can play

Many questions surrounded the defending Super Bowl Champion Broncos heading into the 2016 season, but perhaps none loomed larger than the question at the quarterback position. After future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning, decided to hang up his cleats after winning his second Super Bowl, the Broncos were ready to hand over his job to backup quarterback Brock Osweiler. After all, Osweiler had stepped in for an injured Peyton Manning during the Bronco’s championship run for 7 games and was able to keep the ship afloat. However, the Broncos forgot one very important thing. Money talks. Osweiler’s contract had expired and he was due for a new deal at the end of the 2015 season. Knowing the scarcity at the quarterback position around the NFL, Brock decided to take his chances on the open market. That decision paid off. Literally. Osweiler signed a 4 year 72 million dollar contract with the Houston Texans and left the Broncos with a gigantic hole at quarterback. Looking for answers, the Broncos traded for veteran Eagles’ signal caller, Mark Sanchez, and drafted rookie, Paxton Lynch, out of Memphis in the first round of the 2016 draft. However, it was a player already on the roster that would end up winning the job.

Trevor Siemian was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 7th and final round of the 2015 NFL draft (250th overall) out of Northwestern. He sat behind Manning and Osweiler last season during the Broncos Super Bowl championship season. Siemian was not the most talented out of the three QB options for Denver this year, but one advantage he did have was that he knew the Bronco’s  offensive system. Trevor was able to use his knowledge and comfort in Head Coach Gary Kubiak’s offense to out perform both Sanchez and Lynch in the preseason and win the Bronco starting quarterback job Week 1. Quite the Cinderella story. Until he looked across the field Week 1 and saw the stout Carolina Panther defense, right?

Wrong. Trevor Siemian did not turn in the best statistical performance last Thursday night in his first NFL start, but what he did do was show the Broncos and everyone watching that he can perform as a capable NFL starter against a top NFL defense in a big Prime Time pressure game. That was all the Broncos needed to see. Last year, the Broncos demonstrated that they can win a championship with mediocre quarterback play and a dominant defense. Last Thursday they received slightly above average quarterback play and were dominant defensively for most of the game. The result? A win. Siemian looked poised, tough-minded, showed he could bounce back from adversity, and threw some excellent passes. His quick release and tight arm slot give Trevor a natural advantage to succeed. Kubiak’s offense fits him perfectly and he looked mature beyond his years. This is great news for Denver, and bad news for the rest of the AFC West who were counting on the champs to take a step back. Trevor Siemian can play.

2. Jeff Fisher is the Worst and Safest Coach in the NFL

It is truly mind boggling to me that the Los Angeles Rams would even consider giving Head Coach Jeff Fisher a contract extension. He consistently turns in 7-9 and 8-8 seasons, always has a bad offense, steals a game from a good team here and there, and his teams look awful in handful of games every season. Yet, the Rams organization continues to stand behind him. In each of his first 4 seasons with the Rams Fisher failed to win more than 7 games. Now, to start off year 5, his brand new “Los Angeles” Rams got embarrassed on national television 28-0. I guess when you relocate an NFL franchise everything changes but the Fisher. Still the same. The Rams offense looked horrendous (despite having all world running back Todd Gurley), and their defense looked undisciplined. The only thing you can count on from a Jeff Fisher coached team is that something weird might happen on special teams. Yay! It may be a long season for the Rams. I am happy for the city of Saint Louis. Saint Louis is a great sports town, they don’t deserve consistent mediocrity. Have fun Los Angeles.

3. Arizona may be Overrated 

Coming into the 2016 season, the Arizona Cardinals were considered Super Bowl Contenders and rightfully so.  They are loaded on defense, stacked with playmakers on offense, and have a great head coach. However, last Sunday night they showed that they may not be up to the challenge. Facing a New England Patriot team missing their top two offensive weapons (Brady and Gronkowski), three starting offensive linemen, and one major player on defense (Rob Ninkovich), the Arizona Cardinals managed to lose in Prime Time at home. Yes, Bill Belichick is one of the greatest NFL coaches of all time and is probably the best coach right now, but if you consider yourself a championship team, you have to beat teams missing their key players and starting a quarterback who was making his first career NFL start (Jimmy Garropollo). The Cardinals’ offense simply did not do enough, and their defense allowed an undermanned Patriot offense to go up and down the field on them in-front of their own fans. It is gut check time for the Cardinals. Are they real or fake? We’ll see what type of team shows up down the line when they face quality opponents. However, if last Sunday was any indication, this may be a huge let down year for the Cards.



Featured image by Jeffrey Beall (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


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Olympic Legends: Aleksandr Karelin

Have you ever carried a fridge up to the 8th floor on your own? Neither have I, but this is one of the things that Aleksandr Karelin could do. Some of his other exceptional feats include gold medals in three consecutive Olympic games, a career wrestling record of 887 wins and 2 losses and the Karelin lift.

The Karelin lift (a reverse body lift) was named after Karelin when he became the first super heavyweight (130 kg+ / 287 lbs+) in Greco-Roman wrestling to ever successfully complete the manoeuvre. When the Russian exhibited his signature move for the first time on American soil, he was nicknamed “The Experiment”, as wrestlers in the US did not believe that a human being could perform the lift on a 130 kg opponent.

Karelin’s competitors were not only in disbelief, but also horrified. In Greco-Roman wrestling you lose points if you turn your back to the mat, yet, Karelin’s opponents would happily roll on their back when the Russian was trying to execute the Karelin lift. It may have saved them a broken neck and a few points, — as the lift earned Karelin the maximum 5 points — but the voluntary submission of points was considered extremely cowardly. “Yes, I see fear in the eyes of most of my opponents,” Karelin told Sports Illustrated in an interview in 1991.

Karelin’s dominance of international Greco-Roman wrestling spanned from 1987 to 2000. After losing to the reigning champion Igor Rostorotsky in the USSR championships in 1987, Karelin went undefeated in competition until the Sydney Olympics, where he lost to American Rulon Gardner in the final. Karelin retired from wrestling following his devastating defeat to Gardner to focus on a career in politics.

Karelin’s legendary athlete status has surely helped him in parliamentary elections, but the man is no meathead either. During his wrestling career, Karelin would spend his free time studying, listening to classical music and writing poems. His favorite writer used to be famous satirist Mikhail Bulgakov and he also greatly enjoyed the poems of peasant poet Sergei Yesenin.

“[Karelin] is a highly talented man. His knowledge and his feeling for poetry, literature and music are incredible. He is witty, full of puns and constantly embellishing his language with passages from books and music,” said Karelin’s interpreter to Sports Illustrated in 1991.

By the time he ended his wrestling career, Karelin had obtained a law degree and a PhD in sport-related pedagogy. Funnily enough, his PhD explored countermeasures against the throws that his opponents were never able to defend against…

The Karelin lift in action (starts at around 0:15):


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Olympic Legends: Florence Griffith Joyner

Track and field is about stretching the physical limits of the human species. How far can we throw? How high can we jump? How fast can we run? With the likes of Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis the boundary of human male speed has certainly been pushed in the past 7 Olympiads: since 1988, the men’s 100m world record has been improved 16 times by a total of 0.35 seconds from 9.93 to 9.58. However, on the women’s side, the year 1988 marks a standstill in progression — Florence Griffith Joyner’s world record time of 10.49 remains untouched to this day. In fact, later female sprinters are yet to even reach Griffith’s third best of time of 10.62. Who was Florence Griffith Joyner? How did she run so fast?

Griffith first made headlines in 1982 when she won the NCAA Championships in the 200m sprint. A year later, right after graduating from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she finished 4th in the 200m race at the World Championships in Helsinki. Her first real international success came in 1984, when Griffith finished 2nd in the 200m race at her hometown Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1985 and 1986, Griffith struggled to find motivation for running, as there were no major international competitions and besides training she had to work multiple jobs to get by. In 1987, Griffith ramped up her training again capturing silver in the World Champs 200m race and finishing the season as one of the top contenders for the upcoming 1988 Olympic season.


Image 1. Besides her quick legs, Griffith become widely known for her flowing hair, long, colorful fingernails and self-made running suits. After marrying Olympic champion triple jumper Al Joyner, Griffith changed her last name to Griffith Joyner and was immediately nicknamed “Flo-Jo” due to her graceful style.

With mastery of the 200m sprint, Griffith Joyner focused on getting better at the 100m during the off-season between -87 and -88. Her training quickly paid off, as she ran a personal best and world leading time of 10.89 in San Diego early on in the season. Despite her promising start to the season, what happened at the 100m race in the US Olympic Trials was beyond anything that anyone could have anticipated: in the quarter-finals, Griffith Joyner destroyed the previous world record of 10.76 by reaching the finish line in a mere 10.49 seconds.

Although the officials recorded zero wind during the race, there is sound evidence that the run was strongly wind-assisted. For example, the race before Griffith’s had had a wind of +5.2, while the heat right after had a wind of +4.9. People at the event also recall that there were significant winds during the race. Wind-assisted or not, Griffith Joyner would have broke the world record the next day in the finals, where she ran a 10.61 to an acceptable +1.2 wind.

As expected, Griffith Joyner went on to win Olympic gold in both the 100m and 200m in Seoul later that year. Although she did not improve on her incredible 100m world record, she ran three new world records in the 200m race finishing off with a freakish 21.34 in the final. To everyone’s surprise, Griffith Joyner retired soon after the 1988 Olympics. She had become a global superstar and wanted to now focus on her other passion, creative arts — and her lucrative endorsement deals. After her track career, Griffith Joyner designed — among other things — the Indiana Pacers NBA team uniform. Sadly, the former track queen died of a heart seizure at the age of 38.

It is commonly believed that Griffith Joyner’s abrupt spike in performance in 1988 was due to the use of doping. In 1988, she improved her 100m time by 0.47 seconds (or 4.3%), and her 200m time by 0.62 seconds (or 2.8%). If we ignore the potentially strongly wind-assisted world record, her improvement on 100m would have been 0.35 seconds or (3.2%). Many people from inside the sport consider such improvements impossible without the use performance-enhancing drugs. Griffith Joyner’s former teammate Darrell Robinson also famously claimed that he had sold $2000 worth of human growth hormone to Griffith Joyner in 1988. Some further think that she had build up a noticeable amount of muscle mass in a short period of time, which could also signal drug use.


Image 2. Carmelita Jeter flexing her biceps in the London Olympics. With a 10.64 in Shanghai in 2009, she has come the closest to Griffith Joyner’s times.

Doped or not, Florence “Flo-Jo” Griffith Joyner was undoubtedly one of the most gifted athletes ever to run track races. Her Soviet and East German rivals were not eating plain oatmeal for breakfast and the runners who have come the closest to her records in more recent decades have either confessed to using steroids (Marion Jones) or raised serious questions with their physique. The reality is, that doping has been and always will be an integral part of training for sports where the human species is pushed to its physical limits.



Griffith Joyner’s 100m world record run:



Featured image:

Image 2:

Image 3: Image by Stephen Walli from Redmond, United States (Jeter after 100m Heat) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons



What is Sports Lion?

Sports Lion is a sports gaming app, where you compete against friends and other sports fans by predicting the outcomes of your favorite sporting events. Try it out, it’s completely free!

Not an iPhone or iPad user? Click here.