Columnists, Sports

Inside the Huddle: Don’t worry NFL fans, the League is in safe hands

I won’t even attempt to deny it — I am a bit sad about what’s happening in the NFL right now. Last year saw the departure of Philip Rivers and Drew Brees, two potential future Hall-of-Famers who dominated the game for years, with the latter winning Super Bowl XLIV. 

And if losing two legends wasn’t bad enough, we’re set to lose at least two more this season. Longtime Pittsburgh Steeler Ben Roethlisberger already announced his retirement last week, and Tom Brady followed suit on Tuesday morning. Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers may be following them out the door after a disappointing team performance in the postseason. 

Yvonne Tang / DFP Staff

While Roethlisberger seemed to have been on his last legs for a few seasons, Rodgers and Brady were still playing exceptional football and will likely finish as one and two in MVP voting next month, even though Brady has now announced the end of his NFL career. Rodgers has yet to announce or confirm anything but has repeatedly said he is strongly considering retiring. 

Nonetheless, the old guard of the NFL leaving for retirement one-by-one leaves us with a question — “What will we do without them?” Well, as Aaron Rodgers would famously say, I’m here to tell you to R-E-L-A-X. If these playoffs have shown us anything, it’s that this league still has plenty of stars left. 

Quarterbacks like Joe Burrow, Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes have all put together impressive postseason performances this year. Burrow is set to play a Super Bowl in just his second season, Allen had one of the most statistically perfect postseasons and Mahomes has made the AFC Championship game for four straight seasons, winning Super Bowl LIV in the process. 

Not to mention several names that just missed the playoffs this year such as Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert, both of whom have played tremendously early on in their careers, and have established themselves as young stars in the AFC.

To be fair, the NFC is lagging behind in terms of young star quarterbacks in comparison to the AFC, but names like Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott have been floated around in MVP conversations and highly touted prospects Justin Fields and Trey Lance are set to be starters in the new season. 

Aside from the quarterback position, we also have several skilled young players like Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle set to take the stage among the league’s top wideouts, while running backs Javonte Williams, Najee Harris and Antonio Gibson pave the way at their position. 

On defense, players like Nick Bosa, Chase Young and Micah Parsons headline a strong defensive line while Jaire Alexander, Patrick Surtain II and Isaiah Simmons are just a few of the key players in the second level. 

All in all, there are just so many talented players entering the league year after year such that the losses of these all-time great players won’t be felt as much as they did in previous eras. Is it sad to see such a beloved era of the NFL come to a close? Of course. But does that mean we won’t still be seeing elite football every given Sunday? Not. At. All.

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