Rami’s Roundup: Aaron Rodgers as MVP, Tom Brady’s Newest Collector’s Item & More

Syndication: Green Bay Press-Gazette
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Here is League of Justice’s Rami Lavi with his latest roundup on hot topics happening around the leagues.

Will Aaron Rodgers win the MVP he deserves?

Aaron Rodgers is the clearcut favorite to win the NFL MVP this year, leading the Packers to the number one seed in the NFC.

That is according to all, but one. The one is Hub Arkush, a longtime Chicago sports writer who holds one of the 50 votes given by the Associated Press for who wins the league MVP.

Why won’t he vote for him? Because according to Arkush, Rodgers is a “jerk” and a “bad guy”, and as he said on 670 The Score in Chicago, “I don’t think you can be a bad guy and the most valuable guy at the same time.”

Now there are no guidelines or criteria the players must meet for one to vote for him, however, in my opinion, a player’s personality and demeanor off the field, should not change the way you view his value to his team on the field.

What did Rodgers do that bothers Arkush so much?

We all know how this past offseason went. After an MVP season from Rodgers last year and the Packers falling short in the NFC title game, Rodgers said he was done and wanted out.

All offseason he made a big fuss about being traded. He dragged the Packers ownership and front office in the mud and didn’t show up to OTAs. Ultimately he said he would return for one more season but would be done at the end of it. The Packers obliged and by the time the season came along ,Rodgers was back, better than ever, and the Packers are favorites to win the title yet again. 

So was that annoying for the franchise? Yes. Did it affect the value he brought to the franchise this season? Most definitely not.

Then there was the Vaccine saga. Early in the year, when asked if he was vaccinated, Rodgers said he had been “immunized.” He then reportedly followed all protocols that pertained to vaccinated players but did not take extra measures required of unvaccinated players.

When Rodgers contracted the virus, the issue rose again, and it was confirmed that Aaron misled the media and was indeed not vaccinated. The media went crazy and Rodgers was vilified for a few days, but by the time he came back from his one game off it seemed like a moot point (see the numbers above).

So why does Arkush hate Rodgers so much? Is it because he told Arkush’s hometown Bears “I own you” after years of, for lack of a better term, owning them?

Well, Rodgers has an opinion. When asked, Aaron said Arkush is a “bum” and the only reason he won’t vote for him is because he’s unvaccinated. Rodgers added, “maybe just for this season, make it the Most Vaccinated Player.”

Rodgers also made a point that Arkush had his mind made up prior to the season. If that’s the case, his privilege to vote should be taken away.

Arkush did apologize, but not for his view on Aaron Rodgers. He apologized because he violated his sacred oath to reveal his vote prior to the award announcement. However, when asked if he had his mind made up before the season, Arkush said yes, “the way he carried himself was inappropriate, and the vaccine was only one more log on the fire.” Arkush also admitted that despite it all, Rodgers was the reason the Packers are currently the best team in football. But, with the race being closer than people think, this is the difference maker to him. (I think those two statements contradict each other.)

When you are given 1 of 50 votes, you have a duty to use it the right way. From what we have seen, Arkush has not.

I do believe Rodgers will win the MVP he deserves, and knowing Aaron, when he does, he won’t hold back his thoughts.

Discipline in the NBA

I have often said about the NBA, that it is a league that disciplines it’s talent– until there is money on the line. We’ve seen this with countless NBA superstars who ask for trades in the middle of their contracts. James Harden became so unplayable, Houston had no choice but to trade him before they lost too much of his value.

What we have seen over the last few weeks in the NBA has illustrated just this point. Athletes and teams across all sports have had a very difficult time dealing with the recent outbreaks of covid-19 and the new variants. While the NHL shut the league down for a week, the NBA did not. The NBA has had countless games rescheduled and allowed teams to play shorthanded, but refuse to shut the league down.

Some of the league’s past heroes are even getting opportunities to fill in on 10 day contracts. Lance Stephenson, Isaiah Thomas, Joe Johnson, Gregg Monroe and others have returned to the league to fill-in for depleted rosters. That was cool, and the league has milked the money it could out of those headlines. 

But why hasn’t the NBA decided to take a brief hiatus?

I thought that after Christmas Day games revenue, it could afford a quick break. Yet, the league has plowed on. With more players going down and replacements coming up, the league has shown no indication that it will go on hold.

The NBA always talks about the players’ well being as the top priority, but the loss of money and chaos that rescheduling and canceling games will cause, apparently is not worth the players’ safety. So on we go.

But is anyone truly surprised? The league has always only been about the money. The most recent example happened today. Kyrie Irving is unvaccinated and thus by law cannot play in New York. The Nets (who play in Brooklyn) decided to take a stand and disallow him to play in road games despite being eligible, saying a player should either be all in or all out. That was until they started losing games, at which point they seemed to have said (my thought bubble here) ‘the hell with it! Who cares about principles, he helps us win, and we’re paying him anyway so he might as well play.’

Kyrie was great in his return, and the Nets won.

The league has been this way for a while but I don’t think most fans care. Sure this causes some hiccups for the league but overall the league is incredibly entertaining and making a ton of money. The question is, how do the players really feel about it all?

Tom Brady’s newest one-of-one collector’s item

The recent Jets-Bucs game made headlines for many reasons. One of the less talked about stories occurred after the loss when Jets’ rookie defensive back Brandin Echols approached Tom Brady and asked him for an autograph on a football. Brady gladly gave it to him. I thought it was kinda cool. Echols appreciated and recognized greatness, and saw a rare opportunity. Brady was cool enough to sign it.

Some Jets fans took issue with it, but it didn’t gain too much national media attention.

The next part did.

Before I talk about that, who is Brandin Echols? Echols was a Jets 6th round draft pick in the 2021 NFL draft. He barely received any playing time early in the season. However, in the Jets game vs the Bills he was forced into action due to injury. Since that moment, all the rookie has done is cement his spot as one of the Jets’ best corners. The highlight of his young career came in the second quarter of the Jets-Bucs game, when he stepped in front of a Brady pass and intercepted it.

The greatest quarterback of all time doesn’t throw many picks and Echols recognized that. He had the ball removed from play and authenticated on the sideline, for a souvenir.

That was the ball he had Brady sign. Now it makes even more sense, and I gotta say, that’s a pretty cool souvenir.

Brady was also made aware of this, and it seems that at the time he signed the ball he was not. He said that he doesn’t like to celebrate mistakes and signing a ball that was a mistake (an interception) has never happened and likely wouldn’t again.

Just like that, the ball became a one of one collectors item.

Brady is pretty well versed in the NFT and Crypto spaces and clearly understands the value of rare memorabilia in today’s market. We all remember earlier this season when a fan gave up roughly $800,000 by giving up Tom’s 600 TD pass ball.

I do hope Brandin Echols goes on to have a great career, but should he ever need a quick buck, he may have the rarest Brady ball of them all.