If we asked you to guess who you think the NFL’s “most liked” player is at the moment, who would you pick? At this exact second, it would be a little bit hard to argue against J.J. Watt. The guy has single-handedly helped raise more than $25 million—and counting!—for the city of Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
It would also be hard to argue against a guy like Drew Brees, who has meant so much to the city of New Orleans over the course of the last decade. There are also a handful of players—Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Brown, and Matt Ryan come to mind—who have been fantasy football beasts over the last few seasons, which makes them plenty “likable” in the eyes of many NFL fans out there.
But the guy who is actually the “most liked” NFL player? According to a recent poll conducted by E-Poll, it's…
That’s right. The Cardinals wide receiver, who is now entering his 14th season, topped the list of the NFL’s most likable players. The poll was based on a variety of factors, including “awareness,” “dynamic,” and “exciting.” While Fitzgerald didn’t land at the top of the rankings for all of those factors, he did rate very favorably among them all. That helped him land the title of “most liked” player in the NFL.
NFL fans aren’t the only ones who like Fitzgerald: according to a report that came out this week, Fitzgerald has gotten into the habit of offering to pay fines for defensive players who hit him high instead of going low and taking out his legs. Lions safety Glover Quin revealed that Fitzgerald is more than happy to pick up the tab for opposing players if it means extending his career.
“He’ll tell you on the field, like, 'Hey, bro, I’ll pay your fine for you,'” Quin said. “Like, 'Don’t hit me in the legs.' He’ll rather you hit him up high. Don’t take his legs, because obviously, you need your legs to run.”
The NFL might not necessarily want to hear that, due to all of the controversy surrounding concussions these days. But it sounds like Fitzgerald has turned into a real people-pleaser both on and off the field.
The absurdity of it all hit in the third inning. Stepping up to the plate in a scoreless game, runners on first and second with one out, one of my teammates yelled, “Let’s go, Yeezy.”
Digging into the right-hand batter’s box, trying to get comfortable for my second at-bat, I had to stifle a smile. Rocking a pair of exclusive cleats in an amateur baseball game was ridiculous enough. But to be stunting in Central Park in a pair of unreleased Adidas Yeezy 750s? This was on another level.
Complex Sneakers was laced with an ultra rare pair of Yeezy cleats not too long after they first debuted on Von Miller last September. And despite the fact they’re most definitely football cleats, I begged Sneakers for months and months to let me rock them for one of my baseball games. All in the name of content.
Two weeks ago, they finally said yes.
So I picked a day when my team had a doubleheader, that way I could compare what it was like rocking my normal cleats—Nike Huarache 2KFilth Pro Three-Quarter—in the first game to the hype, hoopla, and expectations in the second that comes with taking the field in a pair of cleats that were supposed to retail for $300 but never released.
It was going to be an exercise in indulgence, because in the league I play in—the Pancho Coimbre Baseball League—nobody takes themselves too seriously. Sure, everybody’s trying to win and not embarrass themselves. Everyone wants to perform and prove they’re a ballplayer and not some scrub. But the overwhelming majority of the guys in the eight-team league don’t really care what kind of cleats they’re wearing, or whether their batting gloves share the same logo as their footwear.
I’m way more cognizant of my ‘fit on the field than most. But still, rolling up to the plate in the first inning in a pair of Yeezys was big-timing it. I explained to my teammates what was going on—that I was laced up to write about the experience and get it on video and that the pressure was on to perform. Wearing them meant I had a responsibility to square up a few fastballs and launch a couple of moonshots. My fielding had to be flawless. The squad had to win. You can’t stunt and play like shit.
Only problem is I did.
When word got around the Complex office that I’d be wearing them for a game, my colleagues told me I better gear up for a royal roast session if I didn’t get a couple of hits. So as if dropping the first game of the doubleheader and needing a win to salvage my team’s Sunday wasn’t enough, I had a handful of my colleagues’ voices in my head every time I stepped to the plate.
While I was pressing up at bat, I wasn’t worried about the performance of the cleats themselves. A size bigger than I ideally would have liked, the Yeezys were surprisingly snug and responsive. You never see suede on the diamond, but they looked better—or at least I felt like they looked better—than I expected. I thought they would stick out like a sore thumb, since I’ve never seen a high-top cleat on the diamond as tall as the Yeezys. But I tipped off my teammates in between games and didn’t get hit with a “What are those?” from our opponents.
My feet were, however, pretty toasty for an overcast day with temps hovering around 60. If it was a blistering hot and humid July day, the Yeezys would have been an oven. But I was pretty satisfied with how supportive they were and wasn’t worried about them slowing me down. They’re comparable in weight—they’re much lighter than they look—to just about any cleat I’ve played in recently. Manning shortstop, I was flawless with my five opportunities, including turning a textbook double play. I just didn’t get a chance to test them out on the basepaths.
That’s because I went a disgraceful 0-4 at the plate, with three strikeouts and grounding into a double play. After smoking a fastball down the third base line in my first at-bat, that was fielded cleanly by the third baseman on two hops and thrown around the horn for a double play, I didn’t see a fastball I could do damage to with my next three trips to the plate. Seeing curveball after curveball, I started pressing, putting pressure on myself to get a hit with the voices of my colleagues bouncing around my head. So I swung at pitches I shouldn’t have. In my last at-bat, I missed a hanger that I pulled foul down the left field line before getting called out on a suspect third strike. It was too far outside and I let the ump know before sulking back to the dugout, embarrassed and pissed. The only solace? We were three outs away from wrapping up a 7-1 victory.
For the record, with my Nikes on in the first game, I went 2-3 with an RBI double, a single, and a walk. So I’ll blame 0-4 on the Yeezys. But deep down I know I played myself. I tried way too hard to knock the cover off the ball, flash some leather, and straight up dominate because that’s what you’re supposed to do rocking the flyest gear. Then I remembered I pay to play baseball. Not the other way around.
Where in the world is Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl LI jersey? As it turns out, it might have spent the last month in Mexico—and it might have been sitting right next to another Brady Super Bowl jersey that was stolen a couple years ago.
Initially, some people within the Patriots organization thought the jersey may have just been misplaced. But when it didn’t turn up, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that he was going to have the Texas Rangers launch an investigation into the missing jersey. And while the Houston Police Department wasn’t exactly thrilled about the idea of spending a lot of their resources trying to hunt down a jersey, it was valued at $500,000 in a police report, which meant they had to take the search seriously. Even if Brady himself wasn’t necessarily doing the same:
Over the course of the last month, details about the missing jersey have been few and far between. But early Monday, Fox Sports reporter Jay Glazer shared some new details about the stolen jersey story, and they are pretty wild.
Breaking: FOX Sports has learned the FBI & NFL Security believe they have located Tom Brady's (cont) https://t.co/kxAaxUl3c5
According to Glazer, the Houston Police Department and the FBI worked in tandem to track the jersey down in Mexico. In addition to finding Brady’s 2017 jersey, they also reportedly found the jersey he wore during the Patriots’ Super Bowl win over the Seahawks in 2015. And as if that wasn’t enough, Glazer is also reporting that they may have found a helmet and cleats belonging to Broncos star Von Miller that were worn during Super Bowl 50. Glazer talked about all the crazy details during an appearance on FS1's Undisputed:
So how did all of the gear get to Mexico? The NFL released a statement shortly after Glazer’s report hit and said that “a credentialed member of the international media” is to blame for the thefts involved in the case:
The alleged suspect has been identified as Mauricio Ortega, a former executive at a news company called Diario La Prensa. FS1 aired a video on The Herd with Colin Cowherd on Monday afternoon that appears to show Ortega walking out of the Patriots' locker room after this year's Super Bowl with something tucked under his arm. The authorities believe it may have been Brady's jersey. Watch here:
The Houston Police Department held a press conference on Monday afternoon and spoke about the investigation into the jersey theft. HPD Chief Art Acevedo revealed that police were able to track down the jerseys in Mexico after an informant came forward and provided them with information. He also called for the NFL to put better security practices into place in locker rooms while providing an update on the case.
At this time, the jerseys are reportedly in the FBI’s possession in Boston and are being authenticated. If they do turn out to be Brady’s jerseys, they are going to be given back to him soon.
Brady and Miller are yet to respond to the news about the FBI investigation, and the NFL has already said that it will withhold any further comment until the investigation is over. But it’s probably safe to say that it won’t be easy to score a media credential to next year’s Super Bowl after everything that transpired in the moments following Super Bowl LI.