Hello everyone and welcome to my favorite week of the year because it's the week where I get to eat leftover hot dogs for dinner every day. For some reason, I always grill roughly 70 hot dogs on the Fourth of July even though I only need about 20. If I was having Joey Chestnut over for dinner, that would make sense, but he didn't come over so now I have a bunch of leftover hot dogs.
Since July 4 fell on a Sunday this year, the federal holiday is being observed today, which means some of you might be off work and if that's the case, then you're definitely going to want to use your free time to listen to today's episode of the Pick Six Podcast. We have a surprise host today, but I don't want to give the surprise away, so let's get to the rundown so I can just tell you who it is.
As always, here's your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. To sign up, all you have to do is click here and then share the link.
1. Today's show: Talking to Tom Brady's oldest ex-teammate
With Will Brinson out on vacation for the Fourth of July weekend, we didn't have anyone to host the podcast today, so CBSSports.com decided to do what anyone smart company would do in this situation: They let me host the show. And I have to say, you're definitely going to want to listen to it.
For today's episode, I tracked down Tom Brady's oldest ex-teammate. Brady is going to be 44 this year, so that got me wondering: Does he have an ex-teammate who's 60 years old? I looked into that and it took me down a rabbit hole that led me to one of the most fascinating players in NFL history and that player is Lee Johnson, who actually does turn 60 this year (He was also drafted in 1985, which means Brady is teammates with someone who was drafted 36 YEARS AGO).
Here's a quick look at Johnson's career:
- Lee spent 18 seasons in the NFL with six different teams, but the spent most of his career with the Bengals (1988-98). He was my dad's (Jim Breech) teammate in Cincinnati during my dad's final five years in the league.
- He played for 10 different coaches in his career, including: Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, Andy Reid, Jerry Glanville, Marty Schottenheimer, Denny Green and Sam Wyche.
- He played in three conference title games and one Super Bowl (SB XXIII) and in that Super Bowl he set the record for longest punt, which is a record that stood until Rams punter Johnny Hekker broke it in February 2019.
- Johnson has the seventh most punt yards in NFL history.
- He has the ninth most losses of any player in NFL history and he arguably might have been on the field for more heartbreaking losses than any other player ever (He played for the Browns when they lost the 1987 AFC title game to the Broncos on an Earnest Byner fumble. He played for the Bengals when Joe Montana hit John Taylor for a TD with 34 seconds left to give the 49ers a 20-16 win in Super Bowl XXIII. He was on the field when Bo Jackson's career ended in a playoff game where the Raiders would beat the Bengals even though Bo was out. He was also on the field for Brett Favre's first comeback win in September 1992).
As for that Brady stuff, Johnson is THE REASON Tom Brady wears No. 12. Coming out of college, Brady wanted to wear 10 -- because that was his number at Michigan -- but he couldn't have it, because Johnson had it.
The crazy thing is that if Brady had asked Johnson for the number, the longtime NFL punter says he would have given it up in a "heartbeat."
"I don't recall him ever talking to me or reaching out to me," Johnson said. "Had he reached out to me, I would have given him that number in a heartbeat."
Johnson wore No. 11 for most of his career, so he wasn't too tied to No. 10. Of course, Brady probably didn't ask because he was a rookie QB and Johnson was going on his 15th NFL season at that point and that's just not a request that a rookie would usually make due to how far down they are on the totem pole... but that's how close we came to getting TB10 instead of TB12. Should Johnson be getting a cut of the TB12 royalties? Probably.
Anyway, to listen to the full interview with Lee Johnson -- and to follow the podcast -- be sure to click here.
2. Josh Gordon reportedly applies for NFL reinstatement
In what seems to be an annual tradition in the NFL, Gordon has applied for reinstatement. The beleaguered receiver hasn't played in the NFL since being hit with a suspension in December 2019, which was the sixth suspension he's faced since his rookie year in 2012. Gordon was actually reinstated from his suspension in December 2020, but that reinstatement was rescinded after he suffered a setback.
According to ESPN.com, the 30-year-old is once again applying for reinstatement because he's passed every drug test the NFL has given him over the past three months.
Although Gordon has missed more than 60 games due to suspension, he keeps getting signed because he's proven that he can still be an effective receiver when he's on the field. During the 2019 season, Gordon caught 20 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown with the Patriots. After an injury in New England that led to him being released, Gordon made his way to Seattle, where he caught seven passes for 139 yards over seven games.
At his peak, Gordon was one of the best receivers in the NFL. During the 2013 season, he actually led the league in receiving yards (1,646 yards) even though he only played in 14 games that year. Although he's not in his prime anymore, he's proven that he can still make big plays, and if he does get reinstated, he'll come at a low cost, which is why there will likely be at least one team willing to take a gamble on him.
3. Predicting every game on the Vikings' 2021 schedule
Now that the summer is here, that means the dead part of the NFL offseason is upon us and although things can get kind of boring during this period, we're going to keep things spicy around here by going through and predicting every game on each team's 2021 schedule.
There are 32 teams and we'll be doing one team per day until we make it through every team, which is actually about to happen. After 29 days of doing this, we're down to our final three teams -- Minnesota, Chicago and Green Bay -- and we'll be knocking the Vikings off that list today.
Our Cody Benjamin went through Minnesota's entire schedule and picked out all the games the Vikings are going to win and all the games they're going to lose.
Here's a look at how Benjamin sees the Vikings doing in three key games, along with the final record he sees them ending up with:
- Week 3: Seahawks at Vikings. "Russell Wilson is elusive as always, but his line -- even with new starter Gabe Jackson -- can't slow down Danielle Hunter, who forces several key three-and-outs. Dalvin Cook, meanwhile, has another big day at U.S. Bank Stadium to lead the upset." Prediction: Minnesota 26-23 over Seattle.
- Week 8: Cowboys at Vikings. "A prime-time Halloween shootout. Dak Prescott airs it out pretty much all night, targeting the Vikings' youngsters opposite Patrick Peterson, but Kirk Cousins does the same, hitting Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson for big scores. Then new kicker Greg Joseph nails a game-winner." Prediction: Minnesota 34-31 over Dallas.
- Week 16: Rams at Vikings. "Coming back home is nice, but going up against Los Angeles' offense isn't. Matthew Stafford plays one of his best games ever against Minnesota thanks to a killer game plan from Sean McVay, who spreads the Vikes out with short and deep balls." Prediction: L.A. Rams 31-27 over Minnesota.
Overall, Cody is predicting that the Vikings will end the season with a 9-8 record and that's going to happen because they're going to end up collapsing over the second half of the year. After starting the season 5-2, Cody has them going 4-6 over their final 10 games.
If you want to see Cody's prediction for each game, be sure to click here so you can check out his entire story.
Coming tomorrow, we'll be continuing our run through the NFC North by predicting the Packers' final record. Can someone please tell Green Bay to get this Aaron Rodgers drama figured out so we can make an accurate prediction.
4. Ranking the top 10 punters
Over the past few weeks, we've been ranking the top 10 players at every position group heading into the 2021 season. From running backs to receivers to quarterbacks to kickers, I'm pretty sure we've hit every position group possible. Actually, there's one position group we haven't hit yet and we're going to be hitting it today: PUNTERS.
Since I interviewed a former NFL punter on the podcast today, I thought I would stick with the punter theme and rank the top 10 punters heading into the 2021 season. Most people probably can't even name 10 punters, but punters are people too, so we're giving them a top 10 list.
Top 10 punters
1. Michael Dickson, Seahawks
2. Tress Way, Washington
3. Jake Bailey, Patriots
4. Logan Cooke, Jaguars
5. Johnny Hekker, Rams
6. Brett Kern, Titans
7. Cody Bojorquez, Rams
8. Jack Fox, Lions
9. Mitch Wishnowsky, 49ers
10. Sam Koch, Ravens
If you'd like to tell me how perfect this list is, or if you'd like to argue me about it, you can do that on Twitter by clicking here. If you'd like to check out a more in-depth look at the top 10 list, you can check out my entire story by clicking here.
On a very sad note, we are now done ranking positional groups, which means I no longer have anything to argue about with my co-workers.
5. One veteran player from each team who could get cut this year
I don't want to sit here and say that cut day is around the corner, but guys, cut day is right around the corner. Final cuts for each NFL team will be coming exactly eight weeks from tomorrow (cut day is on Aug. 31).
When final cuts are made, there's almost always a few big names who end up on the chopping block and this year likely won't be any different. With that in mind, our Patrik Walker made a list of veteran players who could be released on cut day this year.
Here's a look at some of the notable players on Walker's cut list:
- Tim Tebow, Jaguars. "Tebow had to know this was a long shot when he signed on, and his only saving grace might be his relationship with Urban Meyer -- the reason he's getting this shot in the first place."
- Jaylon Smith, Cowboys. "Smith did himself no favors by telling everyone to "watch the film" on the back end of his disappointing 2020 campaign and incoming defensive coordinator Dan Quinn apparently did, leading to the selection of Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox in the 2021 NFL Draft -- along with the addition of Keanu Neal in free agency as a linebacker."
- Zach Ertz, Eagles. "To be fair here, Ertz doesn't fear the chopping block in Philadelphia. If anything, he welcomes it. The problem is nobody knows if the Eagles will be able to work out a trade to land assets in return for him, but what is clear is how his career with Philly is likely at its end in 2021."
- Sony Michel, Patriots. "Michel entered the NFL with a ton of promise that's since been consistently derailed by injury. That's led to the Patriots declining to pick up the fifth-year option on the former first-round pick -- leaving his future drenched in uncertainty."
Walker's list also includes other notable veterans who could get cut like DeSean Jackson and Jimmy Graham. If you want to see everyone who ended up on the cut list, be sure to click here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup
It was a somewhat busy weekend in the NFL and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Trevor Lawrence signs his rookie contract. There's not much drama with rookie contracts anymore, but it's always notable when the No. 1 overall pick signs his deal. In this case, Lawrence signed his contract on Monday. The four-year deal is worth a total of $36.8 million and includes an unprecedented payment structure, according to NFL.com. According to ESPN.com, the most notable aspect of the deal is that there's no offset language and he's going to get his $24.1 million signing bonus paid out within 15 business days (Most signing bonuses aren't paid out that quickly).
- Saints interested in Richard Sherman. Sherman is one of the best corners still available in free agency and it appears the Saints have their eye on him. The veteran corner wants to play for a contender and the Saints certainly check that box. Of course, there's also a chance that he could end up reuniting with one of his former teams in Seattle or San Francisco.
- Darren Waller wants to mentor Tim Tebow. Although Tebow didn't get invited to "Tight End University", he could still get a chance to learn the position from one of the best. Raiders star Darren Waller has offered to work with Tebow to teach him the ins and outs of playing the position at the NFL level.
- Ex-Vikings star wants to return to the Vikings. After spending time with the Cowboys and Lions last year, former Vikings star Everson Griffen would like to return to Minnesota for the 2021 season. Griffen spent the first 10 years of his career with the Vikings, but they might not be interested in him due to some tweets he sent out this year. Back in January, Griffen ripped Kirk Cousins in a series of tweets that you can check out by clicking here.