Hey, what’s up football fans! Who Dey?!
My Bengals are 2-0 and my college team, Ohio State, are 3-0 — it’s early but what’s not to like?!
Every NFL team dreams of going to the Super Bowl, and to do that you got to find a way to get to the Playoffs. And winning your division guarantees you a spot in the Playoffs, that’s huge. So, if we can take care of the AFC North, then you put yourself in position to have a shot to do some great things. You can’t put a pricetag on the importance of divisional games, and our next game this Sunday September 27 (the first of 6 total games we’ll play against our AFC North rivals) is in Baltimore for their home opener. The Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII (47), and have Joe Flacco as their leader, so we’re going to get their best shot. No one’s desperate at this point, but continuing to improve and get better is our goal.
There are no guarantees, that’s why we play the game and that’s the fun part. But there’s only 16 regular season games, that’s why it’s so popular, there’s so much riding on every game. And, as the season gets deeper, watch for the physicality to step up even more. But it’s fun to be a defensive player in those colder, wetter conditions, and not as much fun being the quarterback!
As for early NFL storylines, the Pats Tom Brady has been lighting it up. Whatever you think of “Deflategate” and Brady, our union (NFLPA) and his lawyers did their job. Let’s also give credit to the former players that sacrificed so much for us to have a strong union with great benefits.
There is a big fraternity of former Ohio State players. My Buckeyes are ranked #1 and have a huge game coming up October 3 against also undefeated Indiana. Our defense, the Silver Bullets led by co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, has been great from top to bottom. But the big storyline in our last game, a narrow win, was playing both quarterbacks, Jones and Barrett. Coach Urban Meyer, whom I have a lot of respect for, was asked if playing both would impact their effectiveness by reducing the number of reps they get in practice. He honestly said he’d look into that, so watch for what happens with the quarterbacks from here on. Lastly, if you survive a “hiccup” and still win, you’re on your way to being a great team.
I’m a huge fan and I watch pretty much every game Ohio State plays at my home. But on road games after our Bengals’ jet lands, I’m scrambling to get to our hotel to at least watch the second half on TV! Go Bucks!
Oh yeah, my wife Laura and I had a blast seeing Ed Sheeran play at Riverbend Music Center, a great outdoor venue in Cincinnati. We were both impressed with his live performance in front of a packed 21,000 fans. It was just him by himself with two microphones and a couple of guitars, and he creates all his music using a loop pedal system which allows him to layer voice and guitar parts. Everything is done by him. Just awesome, he plays hard for over two hours, I don’t know how he keeps it up for the whole tour. But, his overhead must be nothing compared to a regular band with 20 semi trucks and all the extra equipment!
Stay tuned for more installments of this Ticketmaster Insider series with Super Bowl champion and Bengals linebacker A.J. Hawk. A.J.’s not only an incredible athlete, he’s also a total music lover and live entertainment fanatic. He named his kids Lennon and Hendrix after all. A.J. will be posting throughout the season (see his previous column here), so keep coming back for behind-the-scenes talk, thoughts on the game, and more. And stay plugged in with A.J.’s Podcasts (The Hawkcast) and his charity site Hawk’s Locks for Kids.
Catch your favorite NFL team as they charge the gridiron at a stadium near you.