End Around: Regular-season wrap-up edition


Welcome to a very special edition of the Around The League End Around, where we take a look back at the best and worst of the 2013 regular season. Dan Hanzus serves as your guide.

It was a good season for ...

1. Peyton Manning: America's uncle just put the finishing touches on the greatest regular season of all time. Even the Peyton haters can't deny that Manning did something very special in 2013.

2. Dean Blandino: The first person to ever hold an Xbox controller and be productive during a weekday.

3. Jay Cutler: You can question Cutler's durability or the fact that the Bears have won exactly one playoff game in his five years with the team. And while you do that, Cutler will be throwing Benjamins off his yacht like DiCaprio in "The Wolf of Wall Street." More on this later ...

4. Papa John: One day he will rule us all. Fall in line.

5. Priyanka: The biggest upset of the season wasn't the Cardinals going into Seattle and knocking off the Seahawks in Week 16. It was Indian pop sensation Priyanka toppling Carrie Underwood for best primetime football intro. A shocker for the ages.

It was a bad season for ...

1. Eli Manning: To think there were people who thought Eli was better than his brother. Seriously, this was like five months ago.

2. Fantasy owners who used their first pick on Arian Foster, C.J. Spiller, Doug Martin or Ray Rice: You shouldn't have done that.

3. All the fired coaches: We honestly feel sorry for these guys. Especially the one who called his own press conference to talk about it.

4. This guy.

What the What?

Reminder: This happened. I still haven't heard a decent explanation. We're cool just moving on?

Halftime entertainment humanity will live to regret

One day the monkeys will rise.

The leader of the simians will deliver impassioned speeches to millions of followers as archival footage of a terrified forefather strapped to a Border Collie plays on loop behind him. The idea of "forgive and forget" will be socially repugnant to these primates. Revenge will be swift and total.

Brady left hanging all the time

Tom Brady is just like us! (No he isn't.)

Instagram of the year

This is the Bill Belichick who rocks out to late-period Bon Jovi records and chills out in dad jorts aboard 5 Rings. It's quite telling that a photo of Belichick holding a sword to a woman's throat is -- by far -- the most genial image on public record.

Joyful video that became sorrowful in retrospect

This footage was taken from the Browns locker room in the aftermath of an Oct. 4 win over the Bills that left Cleveland all alone in first place in the AFC North. Look at Chud! Look at the team! The Factory Of Sadness was set to announce massive layoffs with plans to shutter not far behind.

Then it all fell apart.

The video's one redeeming quality? Official record of Jim Brown using some all-time Old Guy Slang: "You've got 'em zingin' now, baby!"

#TBT of the year

What I wrote in October: "Why do we think Richie Incognito spent the totality of his elementary school existence stealing stuff from classmates and punching the quiet kids in the stomach?"

In retrospect, I might not have been too far off on this.

Quote of the Year, Bronze medal

"Today, he could play today. I saw him the other day. He's in the best shape I've ever seen him in, physically. His arms look like a blacksmith's arms. He rides a bike probably 30 to 50 miles a day. He runs four or five miles a day. He's coaching at the high school, and they're undefeated. He loves it. His body fat is 7.5 percent and he weighs 225 pounds. He could play today, better than a lot of them out there today."

-- Agent Bus Cook, getting awkwardly descriptive in explaining the physical state of longtime client, Brett Favre.

Quote of the Year, Silver

"I did not tell our players not to have sex."

-- Rex Ryan (What, you really want context? Fine.)

Quote of the Year, Gold

"When that happens to Frank, you're not going to sneak up on Frank again and hit him over the head with a bag of dung a second time."

-- Jim Harbaugh, who will almost certainly being speaking in a language only he can understand by 2017

Fan of the Year

One of these years, the Raiders will return to prominence. Scar will be there, a better and stronger man for the dues he paid.

Guest Rant: Matt Jones

When the Bears crawled deeper under the covers with Jay Cutler on Thursday, I knew I had to reach out to my buddy Matt Jones, "Breaking Bad" star and longtime Bears supporter. Here's his take:

"Breaking Bad" star Matt Jones is resigned to his fate as a Jay Cutler supporter for the considerable future.

Jay Bird gets paid.

I don't know how to feel about this. No Bears fan does. I was just at O'Hare and the curbside check-in guy looked at my Bears hat and asked my opinion. I said, "You really wanna know?" He said, "(Expletive) yeah."

It's been five years since Cutty got his way and came to the Chi. Five seasons and some success but many more injuries. Some teams go through five coaches in five years. "But he took us to the NFC championship!" Yeah, and with the same defense REX GROSSMAN took us to the Super Bowl.

But the sad fact is, he's the best quarterback we've had in 30 years -- and even a top-15 QB is a step up. The life of a sports fan is the constant rationalization of mediocrity.

Now that Walter White has floated off to that great big meth lab in the sky, you can catch Matt on the CBS sitcom "Mom." He wrote about his wish for the NFL's return to L.A. in an earlier edition of the End Around.

Hero of the Year: Rob Ryan

Can you even imagine what would happen if the Saints won the Super Bowl this year? Rob might do a bar crawl that hits every pub in Manhattan. He may not survive, but he will be remembered.

Read Option(al)

"Wild Card weekend game previews" -- Around The League team

The ATL gang divvied up the four games on the schedule this weekend and offered thought-provoking analysis. Hopefully.

"Hue Jackson, Jim Caldwell merit attention over Josh McDaniels" -- Michael Silver, NFL.com

Loved this Silver piece, which asks why McDaniels is viewed as legitimate "retread" option on the head-coach market while counterparts like Hue Jackson and Jim Caldwell exist in a state of purgatory.

Until next time ...

We previewed all four Wild Card games in the latest "Around The League Podcast."