Any time you have any sort of opinion these days, it is labeled a “hot take.” The more outlandish the opinion, the “hotter” the take. I sort of hate all of it, but this column is the closest I come to that sort of thing … it’s my ninth annual bold predictions piece, aka “You heard me.”
The premise is very simple. Pretend we are having a conversation and I’d say something nutty.
ME: You know, I believe the Redskins win the Super Bowl!
ME: You heard me!
It’s an outrageous and unlikely prediction, but it’s not impossible. All 32 teams, in theory, could win the Super Bowl.
And frankly, it’s not important whether I get it right.
You heard me.
So here you go. One bold prediction per NFL team, in alphabetical order, with my thinking behind it. You heard me.
Arizona Cardinals: I say John Brown, currently being drafted at WR30 and behind Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, finishes as a top-12 fantasy wide receiver. My thinking: He had 10 regular-season games in 2015 with 99 yards OR a touchdown … the same number as Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins. The deep threat on a deep-throwing team, he has continued to improve and takes the next step this year.
Carolina Panthers: I say Devin Funchess, currently being drafted as WR46 in the 13th round, outscores Kelvin Benjamin, currently being drafted as WR24 in the sixth round. My thinking: He’s 6-foot-4 and Benjamin is 6-foot-5, so they’re both obvious red zone targets. Both of these guys will start, so I ultimately expect it to come down to touchdowns, and it’s not crazy to think Funchess could get more of those than Benjamin. Funchess is having a great camp, building on a nice second half last season and certainly is a much cheaper option.
The response to Kaepernick was an up-close view of the machine and the powerful components that combine to make it work. He exposed the mainstream impulse to discuss social issues only within boundaries that empower it. On its face, the concept of what the flag stands for is uncomplicated, and pouring Kaepernick’s statement through the funnel of patriotism allows the majority to remain on the offensive. It allows a smothering of thought to masquerade as courage, for people to maintain their delusions and lack of knowledge while appearing to be provocative. Too many of Kaepernick’s critics know nothing — and have shown they don’t care to know — about the black community, its relationship with police or the staggering statistics that have driven thousands to the streets.
The response also exposes just how thoroughly unprepared the mainstream is to comprehend America through the lens of the black Americans they cheer and work alongside. Real, difficult concepts — like America not living up to the ideals of its flag (as the Dixie Chicks protested in 2003, to similar backlash), or how police could shoot a 12-year-old child in Cleveland and go unpunished, or how federal oversight of local police was granted in response to officers beating Rodney King when Kaepernick was 3 years old — are met with hostility and simplistic narratives about patriotism and freedom of speech.