By Mardeio Cannon | OBSERVER Columnist

The 2022-23 NFL season is finally underway this weekend after another off-season of off-the-field drama. No matter what goes on in the lives of many NFL players and with the 32 franchises, the NFL is still more popular than ever. 

Most of the drama that occurred this off-season involved African American quarterbacks. It is ironic that the top three guaranteed contracts in the NFL this season also belong to African American quarterbacks. Here’s a reminder:

Deshaun Watson: This former starting quarterback of the Houston Texans made headlines on two fronts this off-season. After being released by the Houston Texans, Watson signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent with the largest fully-guaranteed contract in NFL history. The Special Arbitrator hired by the NFL only gave Watson a six-game suspension for his involvement in the massage scandal where more than two dozen women said he assaulted them during appointments. The NFL then sued and both parties agreed on a 11-game suspension.

Lamar Jackson: This very talented former NFL MVP quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens, as I pen this column, has not agreed to a new contract with the Ravens. Jackson so far has participated in all football activities with the team and has said he will play out the season without a contract. Even though Jackson most likely has an insurance policy that will pay him handsomely if he suffers a career-ending injury, in my opinion, this is not a wise decision to play this season without a contract. If Jackson is holding out for a guaranteed contract higher than Watson’s, then I don’t believe that he will get that much guaranteed money.

Kyler Murray: After an off-season where Murray gave every indication that he didn’t want any more to do with the Arizona Cardinals, The Cardinals and Murray agreed to a contract with the second-highest guaranteed contract in the NFL. However, a clause in the contract caused quite a media firestorm. The contract had a clause that if Murray didn’t put in a certain amount of off-field video study, then a part of his contract can be voided. Murray received a lot of criticism because he signed the contract with the controversial clause in it and the Cardinals received criticism because they felt it necessary to place the clause in the contract. However, the Arizona Cardinals removed the clause and this embarrassing episode was put behind both parties. This still was an embarrassment for Murray, because his work ethic as an NFL quarterback was questioned.

Note: Thursday night NFL football will be harder to find now because all the televised games will be shown on Amazon Prime. 

In other news…this weekend, I will be celebrating a milestone birthday in New Orleans, enjoying one of my favorite artists and visiting the amazing Niagara Falls in Canada. I am truly blessed and I thank God for allowing me to do this column over 30 years.