UW Health Sports Medicine 

The Voice: Following NFL Badgers an enjoyable challenge

The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgGood to see that Russell Wilson wasted little time before he got involved in one of the more controversial plays in NFL history.

There's just something about Mary, as in Hail Mary, that will always be a part of this state.

If nothing else, the former Badgers quarterback showed his usual coolness under fire, and the last-second throw was where it needed to be, giving Golden Tate a chance (push-off or not).

While that was a stand-alone Monday night game, I have become addicted to a channel called NFL Red Zone, which on Sundays in the fall takes the viewer from game to game. The big sales pitch is the Red Zone channel will show every touchdown. It is great for fantasy players and anyone else who just likes to keep tabs on what's going in the league.

I am not one of those fantasy players, but for me the Red Zone channel helps me watch all those former Badgers making an impact in today's NFL.

Last Sunday I watched J.J. Watt come up with a big sack of Peyton Manning. In his second year, Watt is becoming a force. In last week's edition of Sports Illustrated, longtime NFL writer Peter King noted that he thinks by the end of the year, Watt will be the league's best 3-4 defensive end.

Owen Daniels isn't half bad, either. A teammate of Watt's in Houston, Daniels scored a big fourth-quarter TD against Denver. But I can't pull too hard for the Texans because Jim Leonhard is a Bronco. Right now his primary role is as a punt returner, but I will not dismiss his chances of working his way into the Denver secondary.

Before Monday night's game with the Packers, the channel allowed me to watch Seattle's first two games, including Wilson's regular-season debut, when he nearly led the Seahawks to victory at Arizona. It is fun to watch the not-quite 5-foot-11 quarterback continue to impress, if not amaze, the doubters with his play-making ability. I also get a kick out of watching John Moffitt and Chris Maragos.

It is much the same with Kevin Zeitler and Chris Pressley of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Joe Thomas with Cleveland. Then there is O'Brien Schofield with the surprising Cardinals, DeAndre Levy with Detroit, Matt Shaughnessy with the Raiders and Brad Nortman with the Carolina Panthers.

While I felt badly for Travis Beckum when he was hurt in the Super Bowl, I had to smile knowing his Giants won it all, and the one-time Badgers tight end had earned a championship ring.

There are others of course, but you get the idea. For a program that supposedly doesn't land very many Parade All-Americans, the Badgers sure have a lot of guys in the NFL.

Yes, I make every effort to set aside three hours to catch the Packers. You can't live in this state nearly half of your life and not get caught up in the rich tradition of the franchise. The fact that it is such as well-run operation makes it even more fun.

However, being a fan of the game in general, it is my own Sunday tradition to keep an eye on those former Badger standouts that are making a mark at the next level.

Considering there are some two dozen Badgers getting NFL paychecks, keeping up with them is a challenge, but it sure makes Sundays more enjoyable.