- Jason La Canfora NFL Network
Can't top Cam's debut
This will resonate for years to come. His season, both running and throwing the football, are unlike anything I have ever seen from a kid QB. For him to be so raw, with just one year of starting in major college football under his belt, and coming out of a lockout to boot, is pretty astounding.
Newton dropping 422 passing yards on the Cards will stick with me. He's going to be proving a lot of people wrong for a long, long time.
- Jeff Darlington NFL.com
2011 always will be the Year Of Tebow
Among the many complaints I've heard about the overabundance of Tim Tebow coverage, one stands out the most: Why isn't Aaron Rodgers getting the same amount of love? Here's my answer: How many times in the past three months have you had a conversation -- whether seated on a barstool, in a church pew or at a family gathering -- about Rodgers' season? How many times have the debates instead entailed Tebow?
At some point soon, I'm confident we'll shift our collective focus toward teams like the Green Bay Packers. In the past two weeks, many probably already have. But as it pertains to 2011, no story in football –- perhaps no story in all of sports –- will resonate the way Tebow has. Whether you love him or hate him, whether that pertains to his play on the field or his actions off of it, Tebow has captivated a country. 2011 was Tebow's year. And 2012? Well, that's anybody's guess.
- Albert Breer NFL Network
Lockout's end left indelible impact
For me, it has to be the moment that members of the NFL and NFLPA stood in front of PA headquarters in Washington in late July, with the lockout resolved. Thirty years from now, 2011 will be remembered as the "lockout" year of this era, like 1982 and 1987 are remembered for strikes, more than anything that happened on the field.
That moment in front of that building really stood as a tribute to a lot of smart people being able to bridge their differences and keep the game growing as it has over the past 20 years.
- Steve Wyche NFL.com
Lockout ends and the Dream Team is born
I've got two: The lockout and the dream team.
There is no way to ignore the labor strife that shut down football operations in the offseason. People got laid off or took pay cuts on top of the constant reality that we could lose games. There was the nasty back-and-forth between both sides to the point where it seemed like it broke down to a sandbox squabble over who's dad could beat up the other's. There were our guys, Albert Breer and Jason LaCanfora, sweating through their suits outside of labor-related meetings.
Finally, though, an agreement was reached on a 10-year deal. Was it all worth it? Tough to say because it seems like it could have been settled a lot sooner without so much collateral damage, but the fact we won't face such trepidation again for a long time is a great result.
Then there's the Eagles, who came out of the lockout as if they hit Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket. They tried to buy a title by hording the top free agents on the market. Expectations were raised. Even I thought they were going to be fearsome. And it failed. It proved, as the Vikings learned with Brett Favre the year before and the Redskins have learned over the years (well, hopefully they've learned), that there is no substitute for continuity and chemistry.
- Charles DavisNFL Network
Lions return to national prominence
The moment that resonates with me the most in 2011? The Monday night game when the Lions hosted the Bears. Reminded me so much of the return of the Saints to the Superdome against the Falcons without the human tragedy involved.
For long-suffering Detroit fans, a return to the Monday Night Football stage, where the eyes of the nation were trained on the the Honolulu Blue and Silver, and a GOOD Lions team to boot? The atmosphere was incredible. So good that I felt it through the screen in Los Angeles where I watched the game at the NFL Network studios. There was no way that crowd, that city, that state, all of Detroit Lions nation was going to let the team lose on that special evening.
- Elliot Harrison NFL.com
Tebow's Thursday miracle
Tim Tebow's game-winning touchdown run against the Jets was the exclamation point on a wacky season, a comeback story for a great athlete, and muzzler to the people who doubt players for personal reasons.
From a personal standpoint, watching the run from the set of "NFL.com Live," it was almost like you could see the moment unfolding before it did. The Jets contain guy, Eric Smith, was going to get sucked in, and the Broncos quarterback would just scoot around him to the end zone as if the whole darn thing had been scripted for Thursday Night Football's national audience.
You also realized there's something special about a young guy doing things his way and still getting grown men to rally around him. Maybe Tebow's career doesn't amount to much, or maybe it does. But it's the perfect snapshot of both the unpredictability of the NFL and why the game is a game, played by people and not just schemes.