WATT GETS HOT
"If you can't come in and put work in in the building, go out to the practice field and work hard, do your lifts and do what you're supposed to do, you should not be here. This is a job. We are getting paid a whole lot of money.
"There are a lot of people that watch us and invest their time and their money into buying our jerseys and buying a whole bunch of sh-t, and they care about it. They care every single week. We're in Week 16, and we're 4-11, and there's fans that watch this game, that show up to the stadium, that put in time and energy and effort and care about this.
"So, if you can't go out there and you can't work out, you can't show up on time, you can't practice, you can't want to go out there and win, you shouldn't be here. Because this is a privilege, it's the greatest job in the world. You get to go out and play a game. And if you can't care enough, even in Week 17, even when you're trash, when you're 4-11. If you can't care enough to go out there and give everything you've got and try your hardest, that's bullsh-t.
"So that's how... There are people every week that still Tweet you, that still come up to you and say, 'Hey, we're still rooting for you; we're still behind you.' They have no reason whatsoever to. We stink. But they care, and they still want to win, and they still want you to be great. That's why. Those people aren't getting paid. We're getting paid handsomely. That's why. And that's ... that's who I feel the most bad for, is our fans and the people who care so deeply. And the city and the people who love it and who truly want it to be great. And it's not. And that sucks as a player to know that we're not giving them what they deserve."
-- Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt launches an impassioned monologue about the current state of the Houston Texans. The Texans currently sit at 4-11, coming off four straight losses. (Joe Gleason, KTRK via Twitter)
BRING ON THE BUCKEYES
"There's no question Ohio State is good enough to beat us, to beat any of these four [playoff teams] and be the national champion. That's not a question at all. I didn't rank anybody who didn't play nine games or more in the top 10. That's why they were 11. I have all the respect in the world for Ohio State."
-- Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney compliments upcoming College Football Playoff opponent Ohio State while still doubling down on his decision to rank them No. 11 overall on his coaches' poll ballot. (ESPN College Football via Twitter)
GOING OUT TO PASTURE
"It did cross my mind. If things don't go the way you want this weekend, it could be ... I guess it's healthy to have that thought because we're not guaranteed anything going forward."
-- Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers confesses that he's thought about the possibility that Week 17 may be his final football game if the Colts fail to make the playoffs. Rivers quickly followed up by saying he does not intent this to be the end, he's just an honest guy. (Stephen Holder, The Athletic via Twitter)
'…AND AT CHRISTMAS YOU TELL THE TRUTH'
"This is a bad defense. Worst one I've ever had."
"You have to work pretty hard to give up 52. Couldn't stop the run, couldn't cover well, didn't get any pressure on the quarterback, couldn't tackle."
-- Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer unloads on his team's defensive effort following a Christmas Day bludgeoning from the New Orleans Saints. The Vikings allowed 52 points, 583 total yards of offense, 36 first downs, and an NFL record-tying six touchdowns by Saints running back Alvin Kamara. (NFL.com)
A CHILDHOOD DREAM
"I will say this: I grew up a Bears fan and the fact we helped the Bears makes me happy. Da Bears!"
-- San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle won't be returning to the playoffs this season, but a Week 16 victory over the Arizona Cardinals has improved the playoff odds for another team: Kittle's favorite childhood team, the Chicago Bears. (NBCSports Chicago)
NO SHIRT, NO HAT, NO DIVISION TITLE
"We've got to have a no-hat rule this week. We can't let opponents put division-win hats on at the Linc. There's a lot of pride in that, and all our focus has to be [on] accomplishing that this week."
"There's too much at stake. It might not be at stake for us as a team with a playoff berth and things like that, but we've got a lot of individual things that players still can accomplish. We've got guys that are trying to earn their way in the league, and we have a division opponent that's going to come and try to celebrate on our field."
-- Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has implemented a "no-hat" policy for his team entering Week 17. While the Eagles have been eliminated from a playoff berth, a win at home over the Washington would eliminate the Football Team from the playoffs. (Penn Live)
THE GLIMMER OF LIGHT IN THE BLACK HOLE
"It's kinda cool. You get to put on a helmet and shoulder pads, you get to be the outlaw, you get to be a bully. You get to be with a bunch of guys that love playing football. [You get to be part of] that whole aura on Sundays. And then Tuesday you can go out and help a community and see a spark in a kid's eyes. It is cool doing both of those things."
-- Las Vegas Raiders fullback and Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee Alec Ingold gives his perspective on what it's like to juggle the roles of hard-nosed football player and benevolent community activist. Ingold was active in a "Get Out and Vote" campaign ahead of Election Day, offered support to Special Olympics competitors from Nevada and California, aided the Three-Square Food Bank's Coronavirus Emergency Food Fund by providing 31,000 healthy meals for kids, but his nomination for Man of the Year stems from his extensive work with AdoptUSKids. (NFL.com)
MONEYBALL TAKES MIAMI
"We felt like we needed a spark, trying to win the game. If we've got to go to our relief pitcher in the ninth, that's what we'll do. Fitz, he's always ready to go. He went in and moved the ball for us, but we had contributions from a lot of guys."
-- Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores used a baseball analogy to help contextualize the Dolphins' win over the Las Vegas Raiders fueled by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's magic from off the bench.
"I don't want to put any labels on. The label is we're going to do what we've got to do to win. I owe that to the Dolphins fans, to the players in that locker room, the people in this organization. So that's what we're going to always do, so two-person, three-person quarterback, five-person quarterback; whatever we need to do to try to win, that's what we're going to do."
-- Flores walked back his "relief pitcher" label on Fitzpatrick, while simultaneously proposing a theoretical MLB-esque rotation of starting quarterbacks. (ProFootballTalk)
YOU THINK HE'S EXCITED TO GO TO THE PLAYOFFS?
"That's championship football, dog! THAT'S CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL, DOG!"
"I believe some of those analysts said it was going to be tough. It was gonna be tough for us to beat 'em. I remember that! I watched it this morning with my orange juice and toast."
"I need my hat and shirt, you hear me? Where my cigar at?"
-- Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams was mic'd up as his team clinched their NFC West title, and he put on a show. (NFL Films via Twitter)
THIS WEEK IN SOCIAL MEDIA
TROPHY SECURITY IS JOB SECURITY
— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) December 30, 2020
-- Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz lost control of the coveted Mayo Bowl trophy while celebrating in the locker room…
<extreme TO voice>
THAT'S MY QB? pic.twitter.com/3iegCNfbdr
— Duke's Mayo Bowl (@DukesMayoBowl) December 30, 2020
… but he fixed it. I'm a sucker for crystal footballs, but you can't tell me this improvised trophy isn't an objective upgrade.
BACKING YOUR WAY INTO SUCCESS
— Damien Lewis (@Damienlewis72) December 28, 2020
-- Seattle Seahawks guard Damien Lewis makes a play-saving block on third down without even realizing it.
— CJ Fogler #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) December 31, 2020
-- The Oklahoma Sooners celebrated their 55-20 win over the Florida Gators in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic by recreating Malcolm Kelly's freestyle verse, originally performed in the locker room after a win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Big 12 Championship Game in 2006.