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Happy Holidays from Shutdown Corner … here are your NFL-related gifts for Christmas

Frank Schwab
Shutdown Corner

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The holidays are a great time if you're a football fan. Well, it's great if you're a fan of one of the 18 teams whose season is still alive heading into Week 17. For the other 14 teams' fans, we feel your pain.

But no matter who you root for, it can always get better. Maybe you'll get a stocking stuffer of a new cornerback or offensive lineman in the offseason, or have the big franchise quarterback gift under the tree from Santa. And hopefully not the lump of coal that is the recycled head coach you know isn't going to work out.

With Christmas here, we at Shutdown Corner are giving out our presents that should make all NFL fans perk up:


To Peyton Manning: Many more years of health and great football

I'll be honest, there was a thought in the back of my mind in August that this might be the year Manning started to slip, just a little bit. I didn't think he'd become Blaine Gabbert overnight, especially not with those receivers, but he's 37. That's about the time the football Grim Reaper comes to take a quarterback's elite skills, if he hasn't done so already.

Now, I wonder if Manning can play at this level into his 40s. It's hard to imagine he's going to go from the greatest regular season in NFL history to being just another guy next year. So how long does he have left as an elite quarterback? Hopefully many more years. He's amazing to watch.

To J.J. Watt: A winning team in 2014

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It has been hard to watch Watt dominate on a terrible Texans team. The defensive end has had an unbelievable year yet again, and might be defensive player of the year again if he wasn't being compared to 2012 J.J. Watt and on a 2-13 team. If you re-drafted the entire NFL, Watt would be the first defensive player taken. Even if someone else wins the DPOY award, Watt is still the best in the game.

So here's the plan: The Texans get the No. 1 pick, Teddy Bridgewater comes out of school and is an instant star, and Watt is back playing meaningful football. The best defensive player in the NFL deserves that.

To the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo: A new start

Most Cowboys fans seem to be either sick of Jerry Jones, sick of Tony Romo, or sick of both. The franchise and its followers seem to be perpetually waiting for the roof to cave in. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy after a while.

So it's time for a change. Jones isn't going anywhere – he's a billionaire who likes running his team, and isn't going to stop anytime soon. Romo? It's time for a change of scenery. His great moments are instantly forgotten and everyone can't wait to blast him for any mistake. I don't recall another athlete who is so harshly (and in many times unfairly) criticized. It's not healthy. Let him go to a place where he'll be appreciated and not under the intense microscope. It's time.

To Green Bay Packers fans, and anyone who likes NFL football and an awesome story: Aaron Rodgers getting the thumbs up from the doctors and the organization to return for Week 17

That would make Sunday's game at Chicago a lot of fun, now wouldn't it?


To Detroit Lions fans: A new coach

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You have to feel for a fan base that has been forced to deal with Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, Matt Millen, and an 0-16 season. It's the kind of pain Lions coach Jim Schwartz forgot when he decided to yell at Lions fans on Sunday as his team was in the process of losing to the Giants and getting bounced from playoff contention. Lions fans deserve a coach who can win consistently with class, not lose regularly with arrogance. The Ford family is horrible at hiring coaches and front office personnel, but they need to find a way to hire a competent coach who can give Lions fans a reason to believe it'll get better.

To all of us: A moratorium on any coaching speculation involving Jon Gruden

Seriously, it has to stop. Every few weeks Gruden’s name surfaces as a possible candidate for a position in college or the NFL. Most football fans would rather have updates about Snooki than hear more rumors about Gruden’s alleged interest in a job he will not take. Either Gruden’s agent has found a creative way to keep his client in the news, which helps during negotiations with ESPN, or he is just an easy target for gossip. Regardless, I would love to end this cycle for all football fans.


To the NFL fan whose team is not in the playoffs (and whose fantasy squad fell short again this year): The hope of a good postseason to enjoy without any personal connection

Oh, sure, if you're a Vikings fan, you'll root against whomever wins the NFC North and all that, but rooting interest aside, let's hope we have what we've been blessed with for the past several seasons: an unexpected and bountiful postseason.

To the Browns fan, for the 19th Christmas in a row: Hope

It gets old, right? I know. But pretend the gift is coming from the love of your life. Pretend it's coming from someone who has very little else to offer. Make believe that hope is the last thing on earth you need. That's the place where it comes from. Hope is everlasting. Yes, it's frustrating to go year after year without a real sense of whether there is a future for your team. But there is. It's coming. Soon. I promise.

To Patriots fans, and all of us, really: All of Bill Belichick's heart and joy

May it pour into your heart ...

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