Khalil Mack has been a top-level talent since he was drafted by Oakland in 2014. In 2016, only his third pro season, he was named Defensive Player of the Year. Naturally, Oakland picked up his contract’s fifth-year option. When he couldn’t get a long-term deal done prior to his fifth season, Mack held out. The sycophantic media that follows the league was quick to remind fans that Mack was under contract, and that once the season started, he would start missing game cheques. Of course, what they wouldn’t tell you is that if Mack had reported and played in his then current deal, there was nothing to stop the team from stringing him along for a couple of years on the franchise tag.
Amazingly (stupidly), Oakland traded Mack to Chicago, where he got his big deal, and flourished, while Oakland, under $100 million-dollar coach Jon Gruden (remember him?) floundered.
However, while Mack excelled, Chicago did not, owing to dreadful coaching and front-office decisions. Last season, Mack injured his foot in Week 3. He gutted out the injury for a while, but finally had to stop playing after Week 7. Despite his injury, he was enjoying another standout season statistically, with 6 sacks and 6 tackles-for-loss.
In the offseason, Mack was traded from a terrible Chicago team to the Los Angeles Bolts.
All Khalil Mack has ever done is play the game as well as he could, and he has been excellent. He was disrespected by Oakland, wasted in Chicago. He underwent surgery on his foot for his 2021 injury. This past Sunday, his first with LA, Mack played great, sacking Las Vegas QB Derek Carr three times to lead his team to victory.
After all of this adversity, and the triumph of his Bolts’ debut, what is Khalil Mack’s reward?
He gets to play KC on a Thursday Night, on three days’ rest.
That’s what the league thinks of Khalil Mack. For all he’s given the fans and the game, he’s just a replaceable part.
Los Angeles (Bolts) at KC
There’s a lot about the game tonight that explains why my column is called “Hate-Watching the NFL.” Khalil Mack’s situation is only one example.
Take Keenan Allen. Allen got hurt in the second quarter of Sunday’s win over Las Vegas. The Bolts are wisely keeping their top wideout out of this game, owing to the “short week.” Also, LA’s other big defensive acquisition, JC Jackson, who has not played yet because he is recovering from ankle surgery, will be a game-time decision, again due to the “short week.”
I’ve said it many times before, but it bears repeating: Thursday football is wrong. It exposes players to unnecessary risk due to insufficient rest. It also cheats the fans by providing a subpar product. The NFL is supposed to be the best players playing at the highest level, but Thursday football is not that. It might be entertaining, but it’s a lie. Star players playing tired and hurt, or not at all, is not “Prime” time football.
(Yes, that was a shot at Amazon Prime, which is streaming the game.)
One player that SHOULD be missing this game is KC defender Frank Clark. Clark finally had his day in court last week, to enter a “nolo contendre” plea stemming from his multiple gun arrests from last year. Despite the fact that Clark has now been sentenced (no jail time, quelle surprise…), neither the league nor the team has seen fit to suspend him. Clark suited up for the season opener, and is expected to play again tonight.
Anyway, as for the football…
Both of these teams looked good in their openers on Sunday, particularly the QBs. Neither Patrick Mahomes nor Justin Herbert was sacked or intercepted. Mahomes put up gaudier yardage and TD numbers, but they came against an inferior opponent. LA’s defense, playing against a talented Vegas squad, looked much better than last season’s iteration. Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa combined for 4.5 Sacks on Sunday, and I’d sure like to see them chasing Mahomes around on a full week’s rest. Alas…
One more note: KC Kicker Harrison Butker, who I recently discovered is an anti-choice asshole (File his views under “It’s none of your business, shut the fuck up.”), got hurt on Sunday, and will not play tonight. Would it be a shame if he was denied access to necessary health care, or nah?
Los Angeles 33, KC 26