Despite ESPN's continuous reports that both sides are "very close to a deal", the NFL lockout continues. We hear about workouts organized by players themselves--trying to stay in game shape and to work on offensive timing. Well, if the two sides aren't as close as those who absolutely depend on having games every Sunday hope and pray they are, I have a suggestions for those idled NFL players: Join Team USA for the Rugby World Cup.
Those of us who enjoy rugby here in the US have wondered for years what would happen if they guys tearing it up in the NFL gave up the helmets and pads and decided to take up rugby. The US is considered a "sleeping giant" within the sport--but the lack of big money opportunities here--and practically no TV exposure of rugby--there doesn't appear to be much urgency to "wake up."
But the NFL lockout provides the perfect opportunity to show just how awesome we could be if our elite athletes took on the best of the rest of the world. Think about the lineup Team USA could roll out. Chris Johnson from the Tennessee Titans at Flanker. The fastest man in the NFL would be practically untouchable on the rugby pitch--outrunning everyone to the outside and using lethal cutback moves to get into the clear for easy Touches. Throw in guys like Maurice Jones-Drew from Jacksonville and Adrian Petersen from the Vikings (provided he can hang on to the ball and avoid knock-ons) at the wings and Team USA would spend much of the day running up and down the field racking up the points.
Add in about eight or nine linebackers to play as Centers, Scrum Halfs and Fullbacks and I doubt Team USA would ever be scored upon. You think anyone not wearing protective equipment wants to get anywhere near Ray Lewis from the Ravens or James Harrison of the Steelers? And think of the instant "sexiness" that will be attributed to rugby when the ladies get a look at Clay Matthews Jr's flowing blonde locks--unfettered by a helmet--as he runs down and punishes a Fly-Half from England forcing a turnover in their own end.
With Team USA's unbeatable speed in the back and the outside, we can load up our Locks and Props with 380-pound offensive and defensive linemen and pretty much guarantee that we win possession in every ruck and maul. Throw in Adam Vinatieri (the greatest clutch kicker in the history of the NFL) to handle all tries for goal and put Peyton Manning at Fly Half to direct the attack and I don't think anyone stays within 50 of the US. Unfortunately, the best potential rugger in the NFL--Troy Polomalu--won't be able to join our team. He's Samoan--meaning he would be joining one of the strongest teams in the world already.
So what do you say Locked Out NFL Stars, why don't you don the Red, White and Blue and show the rest of the world just how tough really you are by destroying the field at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand starting on September 1st? Right now, it doesn't look like you'll being doing anything that month.
Oh, and Soon-To-Be-Locked Out NBA Stars, this might be a good time to call about USA Team Handball tryouts. I'm getting a little tired of the Czechs and the Poles dominating in that sport.