Thursday, July 30, 2020

Guest column: Yanda among all-time greats

·         By Tim Hollett Guest columnist
 2 hrs ago | July 30, 2020

At Marshal Yanda’s retirement ceremony, it was announced that he will be introduced into the Baltimore Colts/Ravens Ring of Honor.
He will be the 21st member honored that includes 19 players, one coach and one owner. The Colts have nine players, eight of whom were enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Ravens also have nine players, three of whom are enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Marshal was mentioned by the Ravens as the all-time best guard in Baltimore history. He is also the only guard of the 19 players in their Ring of Honor.
What an honor it is to be selected as the best at your position in the history of your team.
I believe these 20 players are the top-2 players at their position in the history of their NFL teams: Green Bay quarterbacks Bart Starr and Brett Favre; Chicago Bears running backs Walter Payton and Gale Sayers and linebackers Dick Butkus and Brian Urlacher; St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams running backs Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson; Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers Jack Lambert and Jack Ham; San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young; Dallas Cowboys quarters Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach; New York Giants linebackers Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson; Minnesota Vikings wide receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter; Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Johnny Unitas.
All of those 20 players were enshrined into the Hall of Fame expect for Manning, who should be enshrined in 2021.
I can remember watch all 20 of those athletes play over the years. To put Marshal Yanda in this group as an NFL team’s all-time greatest position player is a tremendous honor.
The NFL 100th anniversary team is the greatest team ever assembled. Seven guards were selected to that team. Marshal earned more Pro Bowls than two of these Hall of Fame guards.
Marshal has played the game right. He is old school, blue collar, tough, disciplined, a great leader and great teammate. He lets his action speak for themselves.
Believe me, Canton has been watching the last 13 years. Welcome home Marshal.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Detroit Lions training camp preview: Trey Flowers leads new-look defensive line

Updated Jul 26, 2020; Posted Jul 26, 2020

Detroit Lions defensive lineman Trey Flowers (90) looks on in the fourth quarter of their NFL game against the New York Giants at Ford Field in Detroit, on Sunday, October 27, 2019. The Lions won the game, 31-26, and are now 3-3-1 on the season. (Mike Mulholland | Mulholland |

We still don't know definitively what training camp will look like due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Detroit Lions are expected to arrive in Allen Park next week and MLive is kicking off its annual camp preview. Today: Defensive line. Previously: Running backs | Wide receivers | Offensive line | Tight ends | Quarterbacks

Roster locks: Trey Flowers, Danny Shelton, Da'Shawn Hand, Julian Okwara, Romeo Okwara, Nick Williams

Competing: Austin Bryant, Kevin Strong, Frank Herron, Jashon Cornell, John Penisini, John Atkins, Olive Sagapolu, Jonathan Wynn

Notable departures: Snacks Harrison, A'Shawn Robinson, Mike Daniels

Breakdown: To say Detroit’s defensive line failed to meet expectations last season would be a massive understatement. The Lions spent $90 million on Trey Flowers and added Mike Daniels to a group already featuring Snacks Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson and Romeo Okwara. Instead of continuing its ascent into the league’s elite, the group fell to defensive depths not seen ‘round these parts since 2008.

What went wrong? Well, that's a question that will garner you more than a couple of answers.

Trey Flowers, Mike Daniels and Snacks Harrison struggled to get things rolling, while Da’Shawn Hand couldn’t get or stay on the field. Flowers continued to improve as the season progressed, but he was a man fighting on a revolving door without much help coming from the second level or other side.
Lions coach Matt Patricia’s defense rushed only three men on 26% of plays, which was fewer than any other team in the NFL. The Lions also blitzed fewer than anyone else (12% of plays). Detroit lined up in its base defense 19% of the time, while most of its formations were in the nickel (45%) and dime (34%). Detroit seemed to fail to adjust to its crumbling roster and results, as the defensive line was left on an island to create pressure. This data comes from Warren Sharp’s preview for the upcoming season.

The Lions won 24% of their pass rushes, which was by far the worst mark in the NFL. Detroit’s defensive line ranked 23rd against the run and 31st against the pass, according to Football Outsiders.

Even with all of that said, Flowers was still outstanding last season. Maybe not as good as some were expecting for $90 million, but he was still really good. Flowers was at his best when the year was already in shambles. The 26-year-old looked like a different player from Week 7 on, picking up six sacks in nine games after working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery. His personal pass-rush win percentage of 20.7% was fourth in the NFL, trailing only Za’Darius Smith, Aaron Donald and Joey Bosa.

Flowers finished one spot behind Jadeveon Clowney in PFF’s pass-rushing marks, and behind Nick Bosa in terms of stuffing the run for those wondering how he stacks up. He ranked among the top 10 edge defenders in pass-rush productivity and led the way in run-stop percentage while finishing 19th overall among edge defenders per the analytics site.

Flowers was far and away Detroit’s highest-graded interior/EDGE defender as the only one with double-digit forced hurries and quarterback hits. His seven sacks tied (now Cardinals) linebacker Devon Kennard for tops on the team.

Now, the team moves forward banking on the likes of Hand and Austin Bryant to bounce back from injury-riddled campaigns. Hand appeared in only three games, while Bryant was limited to four and 133 snaps. Hand’s return from injury would have been one of the primary focuses under typical camp circumstances in the coming weeks, as the darling of Pro Football Focus could be one of the keys to flipping the script.
Bryant was a fourth-round pick and comes with some versatility off the edge, but a shoulder injury kept him off the practice field for most of the year. He’ll now look to develop and find a role without a preseason.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn and Patricia are also banking on Danny Shelton to fill Harrison's spot in the middle of the line. The best argument for the former first-round pick doing so is that he turned in his best season in New England's system after mediocre play with the Browns.
Shelton racked up three sacks and 18 pressures, while ranking 58th against the run among interior defenders per PFF. That’s better than Harrison (70th) or any other Lions defensive lineman or edge rusher finished.
Nick Williams was another free-agent addition, coming over on a two-year deal from the Chicago Bears. Williams went into last season as a 29-year-old without a sack to his name but racked up six while taking advantage of his first consistent playing time. He appeared in only two games in 2018, but then logged a career-high 532 snaps last season.
Another aspect we’ll miss from a typical camp and preseason setting is watching the development and deployment of rookie Julian Okwara.
The Lions took Julian Okwara, the younger brother of defensive end Romeo Okwara, out of Notre Dame in the third round. The 6-foot-4, 250-plus pound pass rusher was considered a first-round prospect by many, but broke his leg late in the college season and missed the scouting combine. He had five sacks in nine games and pressured the passer 32 times on 202 pass-rushing snaps.
Pairing him next to his older brother was a wise move for the field and locker room, with Romeo Okwara just one year removed from a career-high 7.5 sacks in 2018. If the two of them can form a solid rotation on the other side of Flowers with Hand moving up and down the line, this unit could far exceed expectations.
For the Lions and Patricia to turn this thing around, they're going to need players like Hand, Bryant, and Julian Okwara to bounce back from injuries while getting consistent production from Shelton and Williams.
The Lions opened the season with eight defensive linemen last year, and might be wise to enter 2020 with even more after watching the trenches fall apart. John Penisini and Jashon Cornell were the sixth- and seventh-round draft picks. They will compete with Kevin Strong, John Atkins, Olive Sagapolu, Jonathan Wynn and Frank Herron for depth positions.
Strong, Atkins, Herron, and Wynn saw live reps last year, with the former making the roster as an undrafted free agent. Strong will have to hope his progress from last year will be enough to keep him in town while the NFL pushes forward with fewer opportunities for fringe players.
Flowers is a cornerstone player, no doubt about that. The fact that this defense was as bad as it was while he was as good as he was last year is concerning when looking at all the young, unproven faces around him.
In an ideal world, Hand and Bryant stay on the field while Julian Okwara arrives as the disruptor many pictured him as this time last year. Shelton and Williams will also need to prove their respective breakouts aren’t blips on the radar as the new-look defensive line will need them to fill holes as the rookies and those coming back from injury get up to speed. The talent and scheme familiarity are there. It’s just a question of whether or not it can come (and stay) together.
Roster projection: Trey Flowers, Danny Shelton, Da’Shawn Hand, Julian Okwara, Romeo Okwara, Nick Williams, Austin Bryant, John Penisini, Jashon Cornell

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Best of the Black and Gold: BHGP Ranks the Greatest Tight Ends of the Ferentz Era

With tight ends this good, who needs wide receivers?
By MattReisener  Jul 24, 2020, 6:31am CDT

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

This offseason, Black Heart Gold Pants is undertaking the unenviable task of ranking the greatest players of the Kirk Ferentz era. From 1999-2019, we’re emptying the memory banks, popping in the highlight tapes, and embracing the controversy as we try to determine who stands out as the best of the best. We’ll start by ranking the top five players at every position group before moving on to the top 25 players regardless of position. Rankings are based on college performance and do not take professional success into account.
Iowa football has become a veritable tight end factory under head coach Kirk Ferentz. Between the runaway NFL success of George Kittle, the long and productive career of Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion Dallas Clark, and the two Hawkeye tight ends selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft (the first time one school has ever accomplished this feat), Iowa has established a reputation for producing productive college players and top-flight NFL draft prospects at this position. At a time when more and more schools are abandoning the pro set in favor of spread schemes, Iowa regularly deploys two-tight end packages and finds creative ways to incorporate these players into their offense.
Picking the best tight ends of the Ferentz era is a challenging proposition, but we gave it our best shot. The absence of “The People’s Tight End” George Kittle may raise a few eyebrows but remember that this list is based on college feats, not success at the professional level.
5. Brandon Myers (2005-2008)
In another life, Myers might have spent his whole career stuck behind Tony Moeaki, one of the most talented tight ends in program history whose college career was constantly derailed by injuries. Instead Myers was given a chance to play major snaps during Moeaki’s frequent stints on the injured list, and he more than made the most of those opportunities. A first-team All-Big Ten selection as a senior, Myers caught 34 passes for 441 yards and four touchdowns and parlayed a strong 2008 campaign into a solid NFL career.
Myers was not the most athletic tight end to come through Iowa but was arguably the most technically sound. The Prairie City-Monroe alum showed great hands, was an able run blocker, and was one of the best route runners I’ve seen at the tight end position. Myers was an absolute weapon on third down due to his ability to adjust to defensive coverages and find holes in opposing zones and became a real security blanket for Ricky Stanzi when the Hawkeyes went to the air. Myers may not have had the recruiting pedigree of some of his fellow Hawkeye tight ends, but he was one of the top players at his position as a senior and is more than deserving of a place on this list.
4. Scott Chandler (2003-2006)
Scott Chandler began his Iowa career as a wide receiver in the shadow of his older brother Nathan, Iowa’s starting QB in 2003. By the end of his tenure in Iowa City, the not-so-little brother had established himself as one of the best tight ends in program history. Despite never earning above second-team All-Conference honors, Chandler was consistently excellent over the course of his Hawkeye career, finishing with 1467 yards and 10 touchdowns while establishing himself as one of the most dangerous red zone weapons in college football as a senior.
Chandler’s imposing 6-7 frame made him an absolute matchup nightmare for opposing defensive backs. He had wide receiver ball skills and fantastic hands, both of which helped him produce a spectacularly memorable juggling catch against Iowa State.

Chandler's 117 career receptions rank first in program history among tight ends, and from 2005-2006 he was consistently one of the most dangerous receiving weapons in the country at his position.
3. Noah Fant (2016-2018)
Noah Fant was a wide receiver in a tight end’s body. A 6-5, 232lb with 4.5 forty speed, Fant looked like he was designed in a lab to obliterate existing notions of what was possible at the tight end position. Fant could torch defensive backs deep and outjump/outmuscle anyone in the red zone. These skills helped Fant pull in 19 touchdown receptions over his three-year career in Iowa City, easily the most of any Hawkeye tight end and the fourth most in program history. BoilerHawk pointed out that nearly one out of every four of Fant’s catches produced a touchdown, which is absolutely incredible.
Fant never lived up to his potential as a blocker and the coaches often struggled to find the best way to operationalize his unique skillset, particularly once his running mate and co-first-team All-Big Ten choice T.J. Hockenson emerged as legitimate #1 option. Still, Fant’s production over the course of only three seasons (78 catches for 1083 yards) is undeniable, as were the impressive highlights he produced during his time in the black and gold.

Watching Fant beat Ohio State's star defensive back Jordan Fuller deep and absolutely embarrass Nebraska in 2017 are some of the most exciting highlights Iowa has produced in several years and speak to Fant's exceptional and unique talent and his place on the pantheon of Iowa's all-time great tight ends.
2. T.J. Hockenson (2017-2018)
T.J. Hockenson only played for two years at Iowa, and only spent one season in the starting lineup. But when you produce on the level of Hockenson’s sophomore season, it’s tough to argue with his inclusion on this list. In his All-American Mackey Award-winning season, Hockenson pulled in 49 catches for 760 yards and six touchdowns and produced arguably the most dominant season of any tight end in program history.
Hockenson was a true every down player at tight end who excelled as both a blocker and a pass catcher. His soft hands and incredible leaping ability made him impossible to cover on passing plays, and his physical, hard-nosed blocking made him a legitimate asset in the running game. His breakout performance came as a redshirt freshman when he scored two touchdowns against Ohio State, while his evisceration of Indiana the following year solidified him as one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the country.

Had he returned for his junior season, Hockenson likely could have contended for the top spot on this list. As it stands, however, he will have to “settle” for a #2 ranking.

1. Dallas Clark (2000-2002)
Dallas Clark played three years at Iowa and spent one of those seasons as a reserve linebacker. For Clark to have established such an unimpeachable legacy in such a short time speaks to just how dominant a player he was at the tight end position. Clark burst onto the scene in 2001 with his 38 catches for 539, but eviscerated all expectation the following year, earning Consensus All-American honors and winning the Mackey Award while catching 43 passes for 742. Clark was our unanimous pick for the #1 spot, and the superlatives from my colleagues speak to exactly how dominant he was as a collegiate tight end:
“A legend among heroes. He did it all at Iowa and outdid that as a pro. No doubter in my view.” – JpinIC
I wanted to ‘hot take’ Noah Fant in the top spot but Clark’s two-year career at tight end is unassailable with a career 15.3 yards/reception.” -BoilerHawk
"Part of one of arguably the best Ferentz era team and has one of the most memorable moments of that season." - tnels20
The "memorable moment" mentioned above came in the form of two plays against Purdue in 2002 which remain among the most iconic of the Ferentz era.

Iowa has produced several elite tight ends, but it was a no-brainer to put Clark at the top of this list.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Bengals special teams unit a major strength heading into 2020 season

Russ Heltman
Jul 11, 2020

Last season was arguably the worst stretch of football in Bengals history. They were awful on defense and injuries derailed a talented offense.

Despite the struggles, the special teams unit was a bright spot and looks to be a building block moving forward.

Often the most overlooked aspect of the game, special teams can be the difference between a good team and a great team. The Patriots are a great example. Bill Belichick’s special teams unit has finished in the top 10 in 14 of his 20 seasons with New England. 

The Patriots have finished among the top five in eight of those seasons, including two of the last three years according to SI's Rick Gosselin.

The Bengals have a lot of work to do in the other two phases, but Darrin Simmons’ group proved they’re one of the NFL’s best last season.

The Bengals’ special teams unit was top five in virtually every metric in 2019 and arguably the best in the league.

Simmons was promoted to assistant head coach after the season. Heading into year 17, he is the longest-tenured coach on the Bengals' staff and one of the few holdovers from the Marvin Lewis era. Simmons has turned Kevin Huber and Clark Harris into the preeminent punting duo in Bengals' history.

With 11 seasons in the books, Huber seems to age like a fine wine. Almost 50 percent of his punts in 2019 finished inside the 20-yard line (49.33 percent). Only 33 percent of his punts were returned by the opposing team (lowest since 2013).

Huber didn’t play under great circumstances either. He had to deal with an offense that constantly forced him into bad field position. Harris has done his part along the way, delivering 1,428 consecutive playable snaps. Huber and Harris can always be relied on, but fans had questions surrounding the kicking unit heading into last season. The duo exceeded expectations and were a big reason why the Bengals’ special teams was so successful.

The kickoff return game turned out to be the biggest strength of the whole team. Cincinnati finished third in average return yards (26.4) and kickoff starting point (26-yard line). A lot of this success can be attributed to Brandon Wilson. After missing time due to injury, he was the best returner in the league from Weeks 5-13.

He led the league in kickoff return average (31.3 yards) and finished the year with PFF's highest return grade (85.0). The stage is set for Wilson to have an encore in 2020, assuming he can stay healthy for all 16 games.

On the flip side of the kicking unit, the much-maligned Randy Bullock had a career year in 2019. The Texas A&M alum set a career-high for field goal percentage (87.1 percent) and field goals made between 40-49 yards (10-of-12). Bullock has always been accurate, but has never been a consistent threat from 50-plus yards. He drilled a 57-yarder in Week 16 (a career-long). Maybe that’s a sign of things to come.

It would be hard to highlight this special teams group without bringing up one of the best gunners in the NFL: Stanley Morgan.

Morgan, a wide receiver, thrived in the role. He earned the sixth highest PFF grade among special teams players (90.4). The Nebraska-product can get downhill in a hurry with 4.53 speed and seemed to relish the role after being called up from the practice squad in October.

The Bengals have the continuity and experience to continue their reign amongst some of the best special teams units in the NFL.

One question surrounding this group is the captain's patch. Clayton Fejedelem donned the capital "C" in 2019 for good reason. He’s played 1,435 career snaps on special teams and his 14 special teams tackles in 2017 ranked second in the NFL. Fejedelem has been a consistent contributor according to PFF boasting an average career special teams grade of 73.7.

All of that experience packed up and moved to South Beach after he signed with the Miami Dolphins in free agency. It’ll be up to Simmons to find a player that can step up and lead the special teams unit.

The Bengals have obviously struggled over the past few years, but through it all Simmons has crafted one of the most consistent special teams units in the league.

It’s time for the offense and defense to catch up with the special teams in Cincinnati.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Ravens Will Miss Future Hall-of-Famer Marshal Yanda

NFL offensive line rankings: All 32 units entering the 2020 NFL season

By Steve Palazzolo
Jul 6, 2020


The Ravens finished with the second-best offensive line last season, ending third in run-blocking grade and first in pass-blocking grade. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley continued his progression, leading all tackles with a 92.8 pass-blocking grade while allowing only 10 pressures on 543 attempts. Stanley also ranked first in pass-blocking grade on true pass sets and had the lowest percentage of negatively graded plays in the run game. He has firmly established himself as one of the league’s best. On the other side, right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. isn’t as nimble as Stanley, but he’s gotten the job done since the Ravens drafted him in the third round in 2018. Brown engulfs linebackers and moves linemen at the point of attack, but he still lets defenders get into his pads at the point of attack in the run game. That led to a 59.6 run-blocking grade that ranked just 47th out of 89 tackles last season. However, Brown has been an effective pass blocker, ranking 11th in that area with an 83.3 grade last season.
On the interior, the Ravens must replace retired, future Hall-of-Famer Marshal Yanda, who was still one of the NFL's best last season. Veteran D.J. Fluker will get the first shot, and he was once one of the better run-blocking guards, but he’s not a lock after three straight years grading in the 50.0s. Baltimore has drafted guards in the fourth round in each of the past two years — Ben Powers and Ben Bredeson, who were both better pass blockers than run blockers in college. Third-round pick Tyre Phillips brings a more physical presence at 345 pounds, so this line doesn't lack developmental options. At left guard, Bradley Bozeman is the expected starter after a solid 63.8 grade that ranked 35th out of 83 guards last season.
Matt Skura starts at center, where he earned a 68.7 grade last year before going down with an injury, good for 16th among centers. This should be one of the best offensive lines in the league once again, aided in part by Lamar Jackson’s ability to open up the offense, but they’ll miss Yanda’s all-around game up front.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Boston Sports Info Tweet: Rex Burkhead

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Scherff named to BTN's All-Decade Team

BySEAN BOCK 20 hours ago

Over the past few days, the Big Ten Network has been publishing its all-decade team for the Big Ten.

On Monday, it was announced that former Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell made the cut, and other Hawkeye made the list on Tuesday.

Former Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff is the newest member of BTN's all-decade team.

"To understand what an unusual athlete Brandon Scherff was, you have to go back to his high school days when Scherff first gathered a claim as a 6-foot-5, 270-pound quarterback," said BTN's Rick Pizzo. "Throwing for more than 1,100 yards as a quarterback and even rushing for four touchdowns. Scherff eventually switched to the offensive line, ultimately earning a scholarship from his home state school, but that athleticism continued to pay off."

During his time at Iowa, Scherff started out at guard, and then moved over to left tackle after Riley Reiff graduated. After his junior season, Reiff decided to come back to Iowa City for his senior year. Scherff went on to win the 2014 Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior offensive lineman in college football.

Scherff was selected by the Washington Redskins with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Dan Parr of said that Scherff was the 2015 NFL Combine's strongest man after Scherff put up insane hang clean numbers.

"It was Scherff's hang-clean numbers that had people talking Thursday in Indy as the former Hawkeyes star took the podium," wrote Parr. "He said his one-rep max in the lift is 480 pounds, and there's evidence to back that up in this video from last summer of him doing three reps at 443 pounds. The guy can hang-clean about 100 pounds more than all-time mammoth offensive lineman Aaron Gibson weighed during his playing days."

Over the course of his career in the NFL, Scherff has become one of the most reliable offensive linemen in the league.

Injuries have hindered his overall performance at times in the league, but he has been selected to three pro bowls and was franchise tagged by the Redskins this offseason.

Scherff is scheduled to make $15,030,000 this season while playing for the Washington Redskins, which makes him the highest-paid former Hawkeye in the NFL.

"Brandon Scherff was one of my all-time all freaks guys in terms of super warrior workout guy, but also as an all-around athlete," said Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman. "I think he's one of the ones that seems like if you want to look back and say 'okay, we obviously know that Kirk Ferentz is a brilliant offensive line guy and he's had a ton of success for a long time at Iowa. I think Brandon Scherff really epitomizes that. He was really just a dominant force for them."

As annual 'Team Jack Trifecta' goes virtual, Rex Burkhead continues to shine light on pediatric brain cancer funding

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2020 01:43 PM
Angelique Fiske

When Jack Hoffman and Rex Burkhead first met in 2011, neither could have known it would be the start of a friendship that would span years and thousands of miles. Hoffman is relentless in his support of Burkhead, and in turn, Burkhead uses his platform as an NFL running back to shine a light on an under researched and underfunded area that directly affects Hoffman: pediatric brain cancer.

In 2011, when Hoffman was just 5-years-old, he had a seizure and doctors discovered a brain tumor. He underwent two brain surgeries within five months, and to this day, his battle with pediatric brain cancer, as well as epilepsy, continues.

After meeting Hoffman and his family just weeks before his second operation, Burkhead quickly joined Team Jack – both as a friend and as an advocate for pediatric brain cancer research. The Team Jack Foundation has raised more than $8 million for research since its inception, and while folks continue to practice physical distancing in light of COVID-19, its annual Team Jack Trifecta event is going virtual.

The event features a 5k, a free-contest and a football clinic, all taking place from July 11 to 18. Though the Trifecta typically takes place in Plano, Texas, a silver lining in this moment is that now anyone can participate no matter where they are.

"We're excited to have not just my hometown or the state of Texas involved, but really just the whole country. Anyone can sign up," Burkhead said. "We've had people all over, Nebraska, California, Florida, all signing up. That's really neat that we can stretch out and really reach out to anyone."

Instead of a routed 5k, runners can choose their own path. Instead of a 3-on-3 basketball tournament that Burkhead said can get "pretty competitive," people can take on a free-throw contest. Signing up for the football camp gives participants access to prerecorded drills. They will then have the option to send their own videos back for critiques.

It will be a very different experience from years past, but the important thing is it will continue to raise money for an important cause.

"Pediatric brain cancer, it's still not heavily funded. It's a rare disease," Burkhead said. "It doesn't get much funding. It still needs a cure to be found and better treatment options really for these kids. That's the thing. A lot of these treatment options are over 30-years-old."

Despite the push for funding and research, the Hoffman family has made it their mission to do something about it by raising money and being a beacon of hope for families who share in their struggles.

Hoffman himself has managed to show strength at every turn. After consulting doctors, Hoffman competed in his first season of tackle football last fall.

While attending the Patriots 2018 AFC Championship win over the Chiefs in Kansas City, Hoffman suffered a seizure during halftime. After leaving the stadium and taking some time in the parking lot to recover, Hoffman insisted that he and his father go back in for the second half.

Burkhead went on to score two touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime, and because of Hoffman's fortitude, he was in the stands to see it.

"It was unreal …. I got to see them afterwards and they told me," Burkhead said. "It was cool to have them there and experience it, and him and his dad flew out and watched the Super Bowl in Atlanta two weeks later."

To support the Team Jack Foundation by registering for the Trifecta, donating or bidding on the auction, you can visit its website here.

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