Three years ago, I came up with 25 Game of Thrones comparisons for NFL players and other personnel. In honor of the final season beginning today, I've added another 10 to the list. Some are repeats, but I felt compelled to post more-apt comparisons.
Season 8 NFL-Game of Thrones Comparisons:
Mike McCarthy: Daenerys Targaryen
I compared Chip Kelly to Daenerys Targaryen in the previous entry. After careful thought, I believe Mike McCarthy and Daenerys have much more in common.
Is there an NFL head coach who has gotten more undeserved fanfare than McCarthy? Fan bases for every team that needed a head coach this offseason were begging for their franchise to hire McCarthy. I know some people in Philadelphia who wanted the Eagles to fire Doug Pederson and replace him with McCarthy. This was mind-boggling to me, and I feel the same way about everyone's obsession with Dany. There are so many fanboys of hers who, as Kenny from our podcast correctly pointed out, cry, "Khaleeeeesi, Khaleeeeeeeeesi." It's sickening. Take a listen if you haven't already:
I didn't always hate Daenerys. She was great in the early seasons when she had so much potential. Likewise, Packer fans adored McCarthy in the early years. However, as seasons have passed, it's become very apparent how incompetent Daenerys and McCarthy have been. Daenerys wasted so many years in Slavers' Bay, then, when she finally came to Westeros, she listened to a bunch of idiots concoct one of the dumbest plans of all time, which was the mission to capture a wight beyond the Wall. McCarthy, meanwhile, has wasted so many years of Aaron Rodgers' career with atrocious coaching. Rodgers should have won multiple Super Bowls by now, yet he has just one ring, which he was lucky to receive because the Packers snuck into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed the year they won it all.
Aaron Rodgers: Jon Snow
Speaking of the Packers, Aaron Rodgers fits the new Jon Snow comparison.
This one is rather simple. Jon Snow is a great presence from the North who is both well respected and heavily criticized at the same time. The men of the Nights Watch elected him as their leader, yet some of them tried to kill him later. In subsequent seasons, Northern lords were quick to anoint him as King of the North, but then questioned his decision to sail to Dragonstone to form an alliance with Daenerys.
Rodgers, meanwhile, is also a great presence from the North, who is both revered as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL, yet highly questioned at the same time. This is obviously referring to the Tyler Dunne article that saw many of his former teammates throw him under the bus. Everyone acknowledges how important Rodgers is to the Packers' success, much like how Jon Snow is the key to stopping the Night King, and yet people are quick to tarnish both of their reputations. It's not easy being on top, apparently.
Jason Witten: Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion Lannister began the series as Hand of the King for his double nephew Joffrey Baratheon. He was primarily responsible for stopping Stannis Baratheon's siege of King's Landing, as he both unleashed the wildfire to burn half of Stannis' fleet, and then rallied the troops once Joffrey was revealed to be a coward. Tyrion, however, was eventually blamed for Joffrey's death and turned into a drunk once he killed his father. Fortunately, he was able to redeem himself by earning his former post once more, becoming Hand of the Queen for Daenerys.
Does this trajectory sound familiar to you? It reminds me of how Jason Witten's career has unfolded. Witten began on a high note, enjoying a Hall of Fame career for the Cowboys. He then retired unceremoniously to go on TV. Witten's broadcasting career was certainly the lowlight of his life, as he sounded like a man drinking Dornish wine on live television. Sure, Witten didn't kill his father, but he might as well have, given how bad he was as a color analyst.
Witten, like Tyrion, is returning to his former post. He'll once again be tight end of the Cowboys in 2019. And I imagine that like Tyrion, he won't be as effective the second time around.
Jeff Fisher: Varys
Varys used to be one of the coolest characters on Game of Thrones. He knew everything. He was even more informed than Littlefinger, as we know from the one scene in the brothel when Littlefinger gloats that he finally knows something Varys doesn't, as he informs Catlyn whom the assassin's dagger belongs to. Jeff Fisher had a similar start to his career. He was regarded as one of the best coaches in the NFL, and he even took the Titans to a Super Bowl, where his team was literally a yard shy of potentially winning the game.
Unfortunately, the mystique surrounding the two men has vanished. Varys' story arch has been butchered by the exclusion of the book character Young Griff, and our favorite eunuch this side of Brian Stelter has turned into an incompetent fool. Varys no longer has any sources, for some reason, and he is now being outsmarted by Cersei.
Fisher's fall from grace was quite similar. Fisher went from being a top-five NFL coach to a guy who nearly ruined the careers of both Jared Goff and Nick Foles. Fisher has become so utterly clueless that I imagine that he, too, would be outsmarted by Cersei, even though Cersei probably knows very little about American football.
Patrick Mahomes: Arya Stark
There was no NFL player with more potential heading into the 2018 season than Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs quarterback had all the ability in the world, but only started one NFL game prior to this past season. Mahomes exceeded all expectations, winning the MVP award for 2018.
Like Mahomes, Arya had immense upside once she completed her training at the House of Black and White. We knew she'd return to Westeros, but what would she do when she got there? Umm... how about killing Walder Frey and poisoning his entire bloodline!?
With many of the character arcs and storylines making no sense from Season 7, it's safe to say that Arya, despite her poor decision to return to Winterfell, was the MVP, just for avenging her mother and brother for what happened at the Red Wedding.
Roger Goodell: Night King
This is a fairly easy comparison to make. Is there any football fan who thinks Roger Goodell is doing a good job? Maybe there's some hermit living in the woods and banging goats who believes that Goodell is a great commissioner, but that has to be it. But don't just take my word for it. I might be biased because Goodell has banned us from the Combine, but let's have all the other fans do the talking. There's a reason why Goodell is heavily booed everywhere he goes.
Likewise, no one likes the Night King. Sure, he has his zombies and White Walkers, but they are forced to do what he commands, much like NFL personnel have to listen to Goodell.
By the way, can you imagine what Game of Thrones would be like in more modern times? Rather than killing everyone, as Goodell would've done in the past, the Night King would contact the Westerosi Broadcasting Company and demand that the WBC fire anyone who badmouths him, much like Goodell has interacted with ESPN.
Nick Foles: Jaime Lannister
Nick Foles began his career with a bang, throwing 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions in 2013. Likewise, Jaime Lannister was a great upstart, murdering the Mad King as a young man. He became the Kingslayer. No one in Westeros was cooler than Jaime Lannister. He and Foles were on top of the world.
Foles, however, nearly retired because of Jeff Fisher's horrible coaching. Fisher destroyed Foles' confidence, mirroring when Locke sliced off Jaime's hand. Both became utterly useless to those surrounding them. Cersei didn't even want to bang her brother anymore. I imagine Foles would've experienced the same with his sister if he happened to be guilty of incest.
Fortunately, both men have revitalized their careers. Jaime trained with his left hand and now should be an important ally to the North in the fight against the Night King. Foles, meanwhile, won the Super Bowl with a great playoff run, then was ready to repeat history, only to see Alshon Jeffery have the ball slip through his hands. The only real difference here, besides the whole incest thing, is that while Jaime has fled north to Winterfell, Foles will be going south to Jacksonville.
Antonio Brown: Cersei
Has anyone burned as many bridges as Antonio Brown? It's amazing how quickly everyone has grown to hate him. Things got so bad in Pittsburgh that Brown refused to play in a must-win Week 17 game, and then Brown made everything even worse!
Cersei, like Brown, has a cancerous personality. She has driven everyone away from her, including her brother-lover. She's now all alone, save for her two allies: a necromancer who gossips with young children, and an undead monstrosity who can't speak. Brown is now with the Raiders, which seems just as miserable as Cersei's supporting cast.
Kirk Cousins: The Golden Company
Speaking of Cersei, she's really counting on the Golden Company. Even though the Lannisters are bankrupt, she managed to find enough gold to pay these sellswords to fight for her. Unfortunately for Cersei, this is a futile attempt to remain in power. What are some swordsmen and elephants going to do against dragons? It's a complete waste of money.
On the subject of wastes of money, we have Kirk Cousins. The Viking quarterback has talent, much like the Golden Company, but the person who hired him is definitely not going to get their money's worth for him. Much like sellswords and elephants are irrelevant against dragons, Cousins is completely useless when he has to battle a great defense.
Kareem Hunt: Ramsay Bolton
If you're confused by this comparison, you're on the wrong page. Go watch Game of Thrones!
JaMarcus Russell: Hot Pie
I have no idea what JaMarcus Russell is doing with his life right now, but if someone told me that he was currently baking bread at an inn somewhere, I would not be surprised!
Seasons 1-5 NFL-Game of Thrones Comparisons:
Peyton Manning and Eli Manning: Jaime and Tyrion Lannister
Let's begin with the face of the NFL, Peyton Manning, who bears an uncanny resmeblance to Jaime Lannister. Perhaps not in appearance; when I told my girlfriend I compared these two, she quickly responded, "Eww, no, Jaime Lannister is actually attractive."
This comparison has nothing to do with looks, obviously. Like Jaime, Peyton is the older brother who carries the banner for the family. As with Jaime, he is seen as being more successful, but that really isn't the case. Eli has done more, much like Tyrion. Whereas Tyrion had a big part in winning the Battle of the Blackwater (penultimate episode of Season 2) and came up big when it mattered most - thinking of the wildfire ploy and rallying the troops upon Joffrey's cowardly departure - Eli has done the same; Peyton has choked in the playoffs, while Eli has thrived there, winning two Super Bowls.
Also, I'd have to think that if the Game of Thrones world had TVs and commercials, Jaime would be all over the place. Like Peyton, he would be peddling everything, from Gatorade to Buicks. Tyrion, meanwhile, wouldn't get any screen time, unless, of course, Jaime demanded it. I wonder if that's how Eli snuck onto those Oreo commercials with his older brother...
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady: Tywin and Cersei Lannister
I'll give Body Burner credit for the Bill Belichick-Tywin Lannister comparison. Tywin is (was) the head of the most powerful family in Westeros. He is (was) conniving and ruthless, and did anything to give his family an advantage. Belichick, meanwhile, pulls the strings for the most-successful franchise in the NFL over the past 14 years. Like Tywin, he'll do anything it takes to win. Whether it's cutting beloved players once they're too old, secretly videotaping other teams, or deflating footballs, Belichick will stop at nothing to put his team on top.
I think it's safe to compare the Red Wedding to Deflategate. Tywin orchestrated the mass murder to ensure his family's victory in the war. Belichick, meanwhile, had Jim McNally (Roose Bolton?) deflate the footballs prior to the two playoff games before the Super Bowl. Sure, it's not as extreme as slaughtering countless people, but I imagine Belichick doing something of that nature if he happened to be in a war.
Tom Brady, on the other hand, has to be Cersei Lannister. Cersei tries to emulate Twyin, but does so unsuccessfully for the most part because she's just not as smart as her father. Brady also had a hand in deflating the footballs, but appeared flustered in front of the media. He stuttered, shifted his eyes and contradicted himself, much like Cersei would do if she had to talk to the press following the Red Wedding. But like Brady, Cersei would at least look good while fielding questions from the Westeros Times reporters.
Johnny Manziel: Seasons 4-5 Tyrion Lannister
Few play the game of thrones better than Tyrion - when sober. Though Tyrion was too concerned about Cersei when he was hand of the king, allowing Littlefinger and Varys to manipulate him, he did a good job otherwise. He even saved the city during Stannis' attempted siege. This mirrored Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M, where, despite being undersized, he led the Aggies to some great victories. Tyrion was eventually married to Sansa (Manziel to the Browns), and that's when the drinking began. Tyrion, now unfocused, was framed for murder, which eventually led to his exile from Westeros. Manziel, like Tyrion, partied way too hard, and Cleveland cut him as a result.
Trent Baalke: Season 5 Cersei Lannister
Here's another comparison for Cersei, though specifically the character that we saw in Season 5. This new Cersei, now without her father, is effectively in charge. This has prompted her to become even more paranoid than usual. She has gotten rid of smart people like Tyrion and Kevan Lannister, and instead put a**holes like the High Sparrow in positions of power. This is a good comparison to Trent Baalke, general manager of the 49ers. Baalke was put into power and lost great personnel around him, including Jim Harbaugh. Baalke has since hired horrible coaches and signed overpriced players. The High Sparrow himself probably would've been more effective than Torrey Smith.
Greg Hardy: Joffrey Baratheon
Do I have to explain this one? Greg Hardy beat his girlfriend, but got away with it because he had the money to pay her off. Joffrey Baratheon slaughtered a whore, but got away with it because he happened to be the king of Westeros. Ah, if only someone had the courage to slip poison into Greg's wine.
Speaking of Littlefinger...
Ozzie Newsome: Littlefinger
Littlefinger is the smartest man in Westeros. He's the puppetmaster pulling all of the strings, and his ability to effectively make gold dragons appear out of thin air has put him in a position to be Master of Coin.
Ozzie Newsome, meanwhile, is the NFL's brightest general manager. Some panic or pronounce the Ravens dead when the team loses key players, but Newsome just laughs silently and goes about his business, constantly putting the Ravens in contention for the Super Bowl.
Ray Lewis and Aaron Hernandez: Gregor and Sandor Clegane
Unlike my other dual comparisons, Ray Lewis and Aaron Hernandez aren't related by blood, nor were they ever affiliated with the same NFL organization. What they share is much more serious.
Both Ray Lewis and Aaron Hernandez are considered murderers by the public. Many believe Lewis killed someone and got away with it, much like Gregor Clegane, who does (did) all of Tywin's dirty work. Hernandez, meanwhile, ended Odin Lloyd's life (allegedly), but wasn't as smooth. He got caught, and now he's going to spend the rest of his life in prison. Sandor Clegane similarly killed people and is now being persecuted for it. He's a wanted man, all because he didn't want to serve King Joffrey. Perhaps Hernandez should've stuck to videotaping and deflating footballs instead of murdering people.
Andy Dalton: Robb Stark
Let's move on to the protagonist family, shall we? I think the Andy Dalton-Robb Stark comparison is perfect. Robb never lost a battle during the majority of the war. Dalton, meanwhile, tends to thrive during the regular season. He and Robb are (were) great in the preliminary contests, but they lose (lost) everything when it matters most. Dalton flames out as soon as he gets to the playoffs every year, while Robb was foolishly deceived by Walder Frey, the Boltons and the Lannisters at the Red Wedding. It's a good thing for Dalton that unlike Game of Thrones, the NFL is not life or death.
Charlie Whitehurst: Sansa Stark
Charlie Whitehurst was voted the NFL's sexiest man by some magazine, as seen here:
Sansa, of course, is attractive, but like Whitehurst, she doesn't really do much. All she does (at least so far) is talk about how much her life sucks and how she wants to marry a handsome prince and have beautiful children. Whitehurst, meanwhile, just holds clipboards and barely plays. He even has flowing hair like his Game of Thrones counterpart.
Russell Wilson: Arya Stark
Arya is small and ignored by most, as they don't see her as a threat. Sound like an NFL quarterback you know? Russell Wilson was chosen in the third round because of his height, but like Arya, he has proven to be absolutely cutthroat and lethal. There's still some learning to do for both of them - Arya has to master swordsmanship, while Wilson threw that Super Bowl-losing interception - but the fact remains that many have lost to both Wilson and Arya because they underestimated them.
Jadeveon Clowney: Bran Stark
Bran Stark once had great dreams of becoming a knight. Now, all he has are dreams. Bran's life was derailed when Jaime Lannister pushed him out the window. Jadeveon Clowney, meanwhile, never had a chance in his rookie season; he tore up his knee and needed microfracture surgery as a consequence. Now, all Clowney can do is dream of playing in the NFL one day.
Now that I think about it, I wonder if Clowney shredded his knee because he caught two siblings having incest sex.
Daniel Snyder: Stannis Baratheon
Stannis Baratheon believes he is the rightful ruler of Westeros, and he actually is (unless you count Jon Snow). The problem is that no one likes him. That reminds me of Daniel Snyder, a "rightful" owner of an NFL team, but a guy no one is particularly fond of.
That's not the only similarity between Snyder and Stannis. Both come up with grand schemes that seldom pay off. Stannis tried to invade King's Landing via the Blackwater, but failed. He then went to the Wall, but that doesn't seem too promising either. Snyder, meanwhile, has signed countless high-priced free agents, most of whom have busted. To be fair, Snyder doesn't have a redheaded sorceress aiding him.
Norv Turner: Stannis Baratheon
My podcast co-host Kenny Ortiz made this comparison in the Game of Thrones Season 6 Preview. Stannis believes he is the rightful king, but he's actually not a great candidate because no one wants to follow him. His brother, Renly, built up a much larger army despite not being the legitimate heir to replace Robert Baratheon.
Stannis probably would've been better off supporting Renly and being a strong No. 2. Meanwhile, guys like Norv Turner and Wade Phillips are amazing coordinators, but don't seem to realize that they just weren't meant to be head coaches. Like Stannis, they are much better right-hand men than No. 1s. I've chosen Turner as a comparison because he sort of looks like Stannis.
Chip Kelly: Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen and Denarius Moore have a lot in common, but perhaps Chip Kelly is a better comparison. Body Burner came up with this one, and he offered this explanation:
"New, young leader. Shows some talent, but refuses to take advice from more experienced people and ultimately gets rid of them."
Kelly has also dismissed some talented players like LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Does that remind you of Dany? Her greatest asset is her dragons, yet she foolishly locked them away in some tomb in the Season 4 finale. This comparison would be so much better if Dany replaced her dragons with ducks.
Brett Favre: Daenerys Targaryen
I made this comparison in the Game of Thrones Season 6 Preview. Brett Favre is beloved by all - at least ESPN tells us this - despite all of the mistakes he's made throughout his career. He was addicted to pain killers; he threw countless dumb interceptions; and he sent pictures of his wang to some chick. All of these were dumb errors Favre shouldn't have made, yet he was still everyone's favorite player (according to ESPN).
Like Favre, Daenerys Targaryen is a fan favorite despite countless blunders. She has remained in Slavers' Bay for far too long; she senselessly locked away her dragons; and she banished Jorah, when he knew all of her secrets and could've informed all of her enemies on how to defeat her. Daenerys is utterly clueless, yet most Game of Thrones fans adore her. I've lost all interest, despite her looks.
Josh Gordon: Jorah Mormont
Jorah was once a trusted adviser to Daenerys, but was caught doing something stupid and was sent into exile. Josh Gordon, meanwhile, had a brilliant start to his NFL career, but was caught doing something stupid and was sent into exile. Like Jorah, Gordon tried to come back, but was turned away by the ruler. If Roger Goodell were the Queen of Dragons, he would've re-banished Jorah as well.
Matt Ryan: Jon Snow
Like many of the other Starks, Jon Snow is extremely honorable to a fault. He joined the Night's Watch not because he was a thief or a rapist; but because he was honorable. Jon Snow is a goody two-shoes, much like Matt Ryan. Jon's scenes tend to be boring, just like Ryan's press conferences. Despite this "honorable" attitude, Ryan has yet to win a Super Bowl. Jon managed to win the Battle at the Wall, but failed to save the love of his life. It's like he got to the NFC Championship, but couldn't completely get the job done.
Jay Cutler: Hot Pie
While everyone is concerned with which family is going to win the war and who is going to sit on the Iron Throne, Hot Pie is more than content to live his life out at some inn, baking bread every single day. This reminds me of Jay Cutler, who doesn't seem to give a crap whether he wins football games or not. Cutler is perfectly fine with sitting on his couch and staring at the wall for the rest of his existence.
Darrelle Revis: Bronn
No one has played the NFL free agent system as well as Darrelle Revis. He has made so much money over the past few years. In fact, you could compare him to a sellsword, taking money to play for the highest bidder. Bronn has done this, working his way from Tyrion to the other members of the Lannister family. You can never fully trust a sellsword, so don't be surprised if Revis catches an interception, begins running the wrong way and scores a touchdown for the other team.
"What can I say, they paid me more!" Revis would exclaim to the befuddled coaching staff.
Marshawn Lynch: Hodor
"You know why I'm here ... You know why I'm here ... You know why I'm here ... You know why I'm here."
"Hodor ... Hodor ... Hodor ... Hodor."
It's almost like Marshawn Lynch and Hodor are long-lost brothers. I wonder if Hodor has a Web site where he's peddling cool baseball caps.