Football was a staple in my home when I was a kid.
We watched it on TV each Saturday and Sunday all season long. We played all the “Tecmo Bowl” games on our Nintendo year-round. And we went to cheer on our teams in person.
My very first game was when I was 6 years old. It was a high school football game, and I don’t remember much about it other than it being loud and the one team having green helmets. But I loved it. I remember loving the energy of the stadium and the game.
That same year, my dad started taking me to college football games. We lived about 45 minutes from Boulder, Colo., home of the University of Colorado Buffaloes. My grandfather had season tickets, and when he mostly stopped using them, he passed them out amongst the family.
The first game he took me to featured Barry Sanders at Oklahoma State. Again, I remember only a few things from that game. Mostly that it was loud, energetic and fun.
I ended up going to a lot of amazing games. I saw Carson Palmer play for USC. I witnessed Rashan Salaam in his Heisman Trophy-winning season. I watched Kordell Stewart, Tommie Frazier and Eric Bieniemy all play at one time or another.
I was also lucky to have attended some great NFL games. I saw Randall Cunningham play when he was in Philadelphia. I watched Bubby Brister fumble a snap that cost the Steelers a playoff win because the crowd was so loud. And I remember the whole body reverberation of those aluminum stands from the foot-stomping.
However, I’ve never felt stomping like I did on the gloomy afternoon of January 4, 1991.
I was 9, but I remember it like it was yesterday. My dad, Uncle Tony, Uncle Mark and I had been given tickets to the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Mile High Stadium for Christmas. The Broncos ended up drawing the Warren Moon-led Houston Oilers.
If you never had the privilege of attending a game at the late Mile High Stadium, I can tell you it was an incredible place to watch sports. The stadium was old and creaky, graffitied like crazy and fairly uncomfortable. But the atmosphere was electric. When the visiting team had the ball, it was the loudest place on Earth (recall the aforementioned Brister fumble). Everyone was rabid all the time. There was only silence when John Elway motioned for it.
That game was unbelievable. I was already pretty fanatical about football, but this game cemented it. It is considered one of the greatest playoff games in history. Elway at his best, in the clutch.
I was only 9, so some of my memories of the game are spotty. But I do remember the last two minutes – The Drive II.
Elway methodically marched the Broncos down the field in the final minutes with no timeouts, somehow converting a fourth-and-long out of a sheer will to win. With only a dozen or so seconds left, David Treadwell split the uprights in the south end of the stadium, and that was it. Denver had just done the improbable. And I had been there to see it.
I’ve also been here to see the first eight weeks of the 2020 football season come and go. And it’s been glorious. It has certainly had challenges, along with up-and-down moments, but we have football! We’ve had players emerge as fantasy stars that no one had on their radar heading into the season and vice versa. It’s been a total whirlwind.
Let’s break it down in this week’s “Hot, Medium and Mild: Receiver Edition.”
HOT — Trinidad Scorpion
Brandon Aiyuk: Green Bay at San Francisco
San Francisco has been hit hard with injuries. It appears as though an already decimated receiving core will be without George Kittle until at least Week 16. We also have Deebo Samuel who is looking doubtful to return in Week 9, leaving Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne as the top targets for Nick Mullens.
Aiyuk is already the second-leading receiver behind Kittle and has seen an increase in targets the last two weeks. He is primed to take over as the top receiving option in a system without many other options. And Mullens shouldn’t disappoint this week against Green Bay. Get him in your lineups.
MEDIUM — Hungarian Pepper
Zach Pascal: Baltimore at Indianapolis
Indianapolis is 5-2. Surprised? I think a few of us are. With an aging quarterback in Philip Rivers, expectations for Indianapolis we’re low this season. Yet they have managed to stay afloat in the AFC North, tied for the division lead with Tennessee. Zach Pascal has been an important part of their success. He has seen consistent targets in the last two matchups (seven and six) and that looks to continue this week against Baltimore.
With Indy struggling in the running game, Rivers will be turning to his receiving corps often against Baltimore, and Pascal should benefit from this. And with T.Y. Hilton now dealing with a groin injury, there will be plenty of targets to go around on Sunday. In a season where consistent receiver play has been at a premium, Pascal could be a serviceable play in Week 9.
MILD — Banana Pepper
Allen Robinson: Chicago at Tennessee
I was very hot on Allen Robinson coming into this season. I was even hotter on him when Nick Foles took the reigns in Chicago. The progression of Robinson’s role in the offense the last few weeks has been disappointing, to say the least.
Since Week 6, we’ve seen Robinson’s target total decrease from double digits to four in Week 7 and seven in Week 8. He is currently the Points Per Reception (PPR) WR9 in fantasy. But with Chicago’s offense lacking consistency, now would be the time to see what value you can get out of him on the trade market in your leagues.
And there you have it. Take it or leave it, and good luck in Week 9!
And now for the best part of my column every week, a dad joke so bad it’s good:
What concert costs just 45 cents?
50 Cent featuring Nickelback!
As always, thanks for reading. For more fantasy and life content, find me on Twitter @jenatejack2017.