With businesses and public gatherings rapidly returning, that means movies are BACK. So many of the blockbuster releases that would have occurred in 2020 in the theaters are now getting their shine at the box office with families lining up and gathering to get their popcorn for the first time in what feels like forever. The biggest blockbuster franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has been able to continue their massive control of the cultural zeitgeist through weekly series on Disney+, including Loki, which debuted last week, but Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the The Ten Rings, and Eternals are all slated to bring heroes back to the big screen this calendar year.

It’s incredible to be able to see your “heroes” on the grand stage again after having been without them for so long; whether they are real or merely fictional, we all need someone to be inspired by.

That’s why this upcoming NFL season is going to be so fantastic- we’ll get a full year of full-capacity crowds again getting inspired by their athletic heroes in person once again. As both have the capability to inspire us all, these are the Avengers of the upcoming NFL calendar year.

Iron Man- Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams Quarterback

Tony Stark, or Iron Man as you all may know him, came to be the hero he is after being thrown into the fire. He went from using his mass wealth that was normally being spent on lavish expenses and weapons manufacturing because he lacked hubris to humbling himself and using his weapons and money to the greatest of his abilities, taking down criminals and saving mankind for the moral good. He was rehabilitated and uncovered his true potential after surviving being held captive in imprisonment.

Matthew Stafford has that opportunity. He has been freed from his imprisonment of an incompetent ownership in Detroit, where he only had a total of 4 winning seasons, 3 playoff appearances, and 0 postseason wins. He’s going to come out to LA equipped with a weaponous supersuit of Sean McVay’s offense and a defense with Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. At 33, he finally can become the hero we thought he could be after surviving the Lions.

Captain America- Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback

The Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers are bringing back all of their free agents that won them the Lombardi last year. All of those players, Chris Godwin, Ndamukong Suh, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Lavonte David, and Shaq Barrett are all coming back because they believe in their leader: the 43-year-old greatest of all-time, Tom Brady, who rallied this group last year.

Who’s the man who gives out orders, rallies the team, is the fearless leader no matter the odds,

Photo: Ed Zurga / marca.com

and even yells out, “Avengers, assemble”? Steve Rogers’s Captain America.

That’s Tom Brady. He’s the leader that brings everyone together, including a full team of veterans to play in Tampa just because he was there, establishing his culture.

Also, you could easily convince me that Tom Brady has also taken a super-serum and was actually frozen for years the same way that Captain America was. He’s the ageless wonder.

Winter Soldier- Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns Defensive End

The Winter Soldier has a checkered past in which he murdered hundreds of people for a terrorist organization under their hypnotism after he was captured. However, after being free from their brainwashing, he wants to use his powers for good and wants to better himself and overcome his reputation and his demons. 

We’re still not that far removed from Myles Garrett ripping off Mason Rudolph’s helmet and clubbing him in the head with it on national television. We want to root for Myles Garrett! He was a number one overall pick who on HBO’s Hard Knocks we found out loves writing poetry and dinosaurs and was nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his acts of kindness! He also might just be the most ripped human being on the planet to the point where it looks like he was created in a lab- just like Winter Soldier’s bionic muscular arm except it’s his entire body. 

Unfortunately, we’re all still going to be thinking about that hit for a while. As long as Myles doesn’t blow up again in the heat of the moment and dominates on a winning team like he and the Browns are capable of, he’ll use his powers for good.

Thor- Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts Guard

Quenton Nelson might be the most scary human being in the NFL because of how massive he is and how much he embraces violence. He gets fired up to get violent at the line to protect his quarterback. He loves to pancake and plow defenders onto their backs. He even celebrated a touchdown that unfortunately got called back with an imaginary beer keg stand celebration with the rest of his line.

This is Thor. The brute God of Thunder who drinks beer, loves his action, and uses his violence, toughness, and love of the action to protect his people.

Hulk- George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers Tight End

Bruce Banner, AKA the Incredible Hulk, has two personalities: one in which he’s one of the most intelligent scientists the world has ever known, and another when he turns into a giant green hulk in ripped purple pants with muscles on top of muscles as he plows through anything in his way.

George Kittle is one of the most charismatic and charming personalities off the field in the league, but he’s described himself as having an alter ego on the field, turning himself into an entirely different person that embraces chaos. He’s a tight end that loves contact. He loves to block. He loves to shove anyone trying to tackle him back with a stiff arm. He goes Hulk during games.

Spider-Man- Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills Quarterback

There’s a sense of innocence around Peter Parker, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, as he finds joy in figuring out as a high school boy that he can crawl on walls, sling webs, has enhanced senses, and super strength.

Josh Allen plays like he learns about his powers every game. It’s pure joy.

He went from a highly-touted recruit out of Wyoming with a baby face, a rocket arm, and a massive build that can throw down pass-rushers to making the leap to potential MVP candidate last year as he took the Bills to a 13-3 record and the AFC Championship. It’s like he finally figured out the extent of what his physical attributes can do with the situational awareness that he now plays with. Sometimes he’s even too confident of his powers as he refuses to just take a sack or throw the ball away as he drags the defender with him backwards. He’s still growing like Peter Parker, and it’s going to be so much fun to watch him discover he can actually fly or something along the way.

Ant-Man- Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams Defensive Tackle

(I realize that Aaron Donald might be the greatest defensive player of this generation and is 284 pounds of pure destruction and nightmare fuel while Ant-Man’s superpower is to literally be the size of an ant, so these are very contrasting concepts, but HEAR ME OUT.)

When Aaron Donald first entered the NFL, he was ridiculed for his undersized height and short arms. He fell to 13th in the draft in 2014 and was the 5th defensive player selected. Turns out, even with the smaller frame, he turned out to be meaner, stronger, and tougher than us all.

Because of quantum mechanics, Ant-Man is actually the strongest Avenger pound-for-pound when he shrinks- it’s the same logic that applies to ants being the world’s strongest animal because they can lift up to 1,000 times their body weight on their necks.

Aaron Donald: 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, 6-time First-team All-Pro, 7-time Pro-Bowler, strong as an ant.

Black Widow- Jamal Adams, Seattle Seahawks Safety

Black Widow is slated to get her first solo movie this summer, so everyone will get a better look at her backstory, but she essentially started out as a skilled Russian spy assassin working for the KGB until eventually being discovered by the right group of people, Clint Barton and S.H.I.E.L.D. and eventually was a founding member of the Avengers. She’s a master of hand-to-hand combat. She is the embodiment of stealth. She is a pure athlete. She is able to read and process people and situations on another level.

That is entirely how Jamal Adams plays. He’s the observant safety, the tone-setter from his leadership in which he reads and analyzes the upcoming plays just better than everyone else. Despite being a defensive back, he’s all over the field, able to spring into pursuit of the quarterback acrobatically; he set the NFL record for sacks recorded by a defensive back in 2020 with 9.5. He’s the biggest wildcard on a field from his side of the ball, a complete wild card, and has the same “spy” skills as the Black Widow herself.

Also, Black Widow went from the KGB to the Avengers. Jamal Adams went from the Jets to the Seahawks. Both of these heroes were rescued.

Doctor Strange- Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers Quarterback

Packers president Mark Murphy called Aaron Rodgers a “complicated fella” this week, which might just be another way to say “Doctor Strange”,

Doctor Strange, the “genius wizard and I know it” of the Avengers, can summon magic, shoot energy beams at his enemies, has universal awareness, and access to other dimensions.

Aaron Rodgers, the MVP and he knows it, can create magical plays with his legs before throwing off a dime off of his back foot, shoots rocket passes through the smallest windows of defenders to his receivers, and possesses game-situational awareness on a Hall of Fame level.

However, because he also has universal awareness, he wants access to another dimension: one that is not in Green Bay.

After season after season of not being involved in front office decisions like rarely spending money on big names in free agency, drafting almost exclusively defensive players, and trading up to draft his successor in Jordan Love, Rodgers is able to see the possible outcomes, exactly like Doctor Strange with his Time Stone. In his mind, few of those outcomes involve success with the Packers after how strained the relationship between him and the front office has become, and he wants out.

As Strange famously said, “we’re in the endgame now.”

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