Twilight of the running back

To flip 2014 positions with the Browns, Buffalo surrendered only 2015 draft choices. The current front office knows the team will be sold soon, and if Buffalo fails to break its playoff drought, everyone who doesn't wear cleats will be fired. So there's no point in saving for the future. Either Buffalo makes the playoffs this season and all is well, or a new management team inherits a mess with future picks already spent.

Carolina Panthers: Steve Smith was the franchise's star, with five Pro Bowl appearances and more honors to come. Yet he was shown the door. This is not unprecedented. Wide receivers of similar achievement -- Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Randy Moss, Andre Reed and Jerry Rice -- were shown the door at about the same stage of their careers. TMQ has called Rice the greatest football player ever; the 49ers told him to hit the road. Rice wandered to the Raiders, Seahawks and Broncos, hoping for just a little more of a glory that was waning.

Why does this happen to wide receivers and not fading greats at other positions? The explanation is the Randy Ratio. Wide receivers tend to be egotistical; the game is not about who wins but about how often they see the ball. As things went downhill with the Vikings, Randy Moss demanded a Randy Ratio: 40 percent of the passes had to be targeted to him. Passes should go to whoever's open. In recent seasons with the Cats, Smith has complained unless the stat sheets shows enough balls targeted to him. Fine athlete that he is, Smith had begun to harm the team. There's the door, sir.

Chicago Bears: Considering contract guarantees, the Bears essentially traded Julius Peppers and $10 million for Jared Allen. Will this keep the Chicago defense a monster? Actually, in 2013 the Bears were last versus the rush. Considering Allen's habit of giving up draws and sweeps in pursuit of sacks, Chicago's rush defensive numbers may stay low. That the Bears' first three choices were on defense shows management is aware of the team's non-Monsters of the Midway situation.

Michael Sam is just another gay football player: There have always been gay players in NFL locker rooms. If the Williams Institute at UCLA is right about the percentage of the American population that is attracted to the same gender, that correlates to approximately 50 gay NFL players and 20 NFL cheerleaders. The cultural stereotype is that gay men spend their days watching Julie Newmar movies and baking macaroons, while lesbians wear lumberjack apparel. But gay men are as likely to be as macho as any other kind of men; gay women as likely to be as feminine as any other kind of women. There's no inherent reason why a gay man cannot be a football star or a gay woman be a beauty queen.

Cautionary note on Sam's NFL chances: Five years ago, a player at Michael Sam's position, Antonio Coleman of Auburn, was an SEC star defender, leading the conference in sacks -- just as Sam starred in the same conference last fall. Coleman had poor combine numbers just like Sam, and wasn't drafted, a fate Sam barely avoided. Coleman bounced around the practice squads of NFL teams, never seeing the field. Last autumn he donned pads for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Sexuality had nothing to do with his pro career. The NFL is so competitive, even really good players may not make the grade.

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