Kent’s Calls: 2016 Football: Something old, something new

By Zev Kent, Sports Editor

For me, September is a month of mixed emotions. On the one hand, it’s back to school; on the other hand, it’s football time. I get my favorite sport back with all the excitement that comes with it.

So, to help spread my favorite sport across the school, I’m going to provide you with a recap of the offseason as well as important information for the start of this year’s NFL season. Here are my big stories.

First up is LA’s new (and old) football team. After 22 years, the Rams have moved back to Los Angeles. They left in 1994 for St. Louis where they won a Super Bowl in 1999. Now, for the 2016 season, the team that many Californians still root for has returned.

This year, the Rams had the number one overall pick and drafted quarterback Jared Goff. Most people expect Goff, as the first pick in the draft, to be the Rams’ starting quarterback. However, currently veteran Case Keenum is the Rams’ starter and coach Jeff Fisher says that Goff’s starting week one is not a guarantee.  So far the team is 2 and 1.

As they return to LA, the Rams also return to their old stadium, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Coliseum is the home field for USC and was the home of the Rams until 1980. They will play in the Coliseum again until their new colossus in Ingelwood is ready in 2019.

Last year, the Rams finished 7-9, third in their division and well short of a trip to the playoffs. This year, they hope to rally behind last year’s Rookie of the Year, running back Todd Gurley. After the Sept. 12 opener, notable games are the three final games in the season against the three teams in their division: the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, and Arizona Cardinals.

One of the major stories of last season and heading into this season is the Deflategate controversy. In the 2015 AFC Championship game, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was accused of deflating the footballs so they’d be easier to throw and catch. As a consequence, the Patriots were fined $1 million and lost their first-round pick in the 2016 draft.

In addition, Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season. However, Brady took the NFL to court and the suspension was overturned. He played all of last season, but this offseason the suspension was reinstated for the upcoming 2016 season.

 Whether or not Brady actually cheated (and I could write a whole other column on why he’s innocent), the main argument against the NFL is that the league and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, overstepped their bounds and the punishments were overly severe.

The power of the NFL came into question again this offseason, when the league threatened four players with indefinite suspension if they did not comply with an NFL investigation into suspected performance enhancing drug use. The four players, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, James Harrison, and Mike Neal, were accused, along with Peyton Manning, of doping in a report by Al Jazeera.

Since the report came out, the accuser has recanted his statements, but the NFL is continuing its investigation.

The accused players, along with the NFL Players Association, have said the league is basing its charges on a report that no longer is credible. At first, the players refused to cooperate, but three out of the four active players have now given in to the NFL and will take part in an interview.

Despite the tension between the NFL and its players and fans, football is still an amazing sport. There’s never a boring moment in a football game. Every play has the potential to turn the tide of the game, even up until the final seconds.

It is a great way to occupy a Sunday afternoon, especially if you are rooting for a team. If you don’t currently follow football or have a favorite, start rooting for the Rams.  The new old home team has a lot of young talent, and hopes to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004 – right here in L.A.