By all accounts, this has been a historically devastating and saddening week for the NFL. Hopefully, we have all taken some time to reflect about the game we love and about our responsibility in helping the league, its players and its owners establish the highest standards of accountability moving forward.

 

In the ultimate “the games must go on” irony, it is Ray Rice’s former team who kicks off the NFL’s Week 2 with a match-up against the Steelers. Let’s all make a commitment to continue to ask ourselves the tough questions as we try to celebrate all that remains good about the game.

 

Indeed, we believe there is still plenty to celebrate, and each week we will use this space as a platform to highlight the on-field storylines we find most intriguing, significant, curious or even wacky. It’s our version of a weekly Top 5, ranked in order of importance.

 

We know you’re excited, and we agree with you that something this special needs a superhuman name. Something that is reflective of the ultimate force of nature, with a gridiron twist. It is in that spirit that I humbly introduce to you “The Gronknado” – part Gronkowski, part sharknado, 100 percent awesomeness. Each storyline will be graded on a Gronknado scale. The more Gronknados, the bigger the story.

 

Without further ado, let’s get Gronked for Week 2.

 

Category 5 Gronknado: King of the Cassel?

We have so much reverence for Gronk, that we have reserved the pole position in our inaugural countdown for him and the Patriots. Suddenly, New England’s visit to Minnesota has apocalyptic implications.

 

Tom Brady and the Pats wilted in the Miami heat in Week 1. Now they’re traveling as north as possible to change their vibes. Brady’s former back-up, Matt Cassel, may just be the game changer that Minnesota needs to make a playoff run.

 

New Vikes coach Mike Zimmer has given Brady fits as a defensive coordinator in years past, and Adrian Peterson will be licking his chops when staring down a defense that made Knowshon Moreno look like, well, Adrian Peterson. The main event for us, though, is Cordarelle Patterson vs. Darelle Revis. Let’s hope it happens.

 

Category 4 Gronknado: Wel-Cam Back

It may seem that Cam Newton is genetically-predisposed to not flying under the radar, but in some ways he’s been the forgotten man leading into Week 2.

 

Forced to sit out the first game of his career in Week 1, Cam must prove that he can regenerate the excitement of a 12-win 2013 campaign, with what feels like an entirely new cast of characters.

 

We have yet to see Cam at full strength since January, and we can’t wait to watch him roam free. Oh yeah, that Kelvin Benjamin guy doesn’t look too shabby.

 

Category 3 Gronknado: Fool Me Once…

If you’re watching Cam, you won’t have to look far to check-in with our favorite perennial underachievers, the Lions, who do face Carolina in Week 2.

 

Detroit was firing on all cylinders (gratuitous auto reference) versus a hapless Giants team, but we’ve all seen this movie before – and it usually ends with people from Detroit weeping uncontrollably.

 

Time for the Lions to answer the bell and to embrace the c-word: consistency. Gosh, we love Megatron, and we think this could be the year his teammates finally get their heads on straight.

 

Somewhere, in a dark place far away, Jim Schwartz is challenging someone to a fight.

 

Category 2 Gronknado: They Can’t Be That Good…Can They?

How far will we allow ourselves to take the hyperbole surrounding the Seahawks? Even Ron Jaworski feels like we’re not effusively breathless enough in our praise of the defending champs.

 

In our irrational effort to declare a new champion every single week, we could do a lot worse than to stick with Seattle. The global domination train rolls into San Diego on Sunday, and we expect more of the same.

 

For the record, we like having Percy Harvin back in our lives again. And maybe Richard Sherman will even get a ball thrown his way this week?

 

Category 1 Gronknado: Do the Right Thing

As mentioned above, Week 1 kicks off in Baltimore on Thursday. We’re not sure about the quality of football we’re likely to see (don’t get me started on the Thursday snooze fests), but we hope the best statements will be made by players and fans before the game.

 

Let’s set a tone of humanity and decency, even as two bitter rivals prepare to square-off. Undoubtedly, there will be some uncomfortable moments in Charm City, but the Ravens should make the most of their (second) chance to be remembered for the right reasons.

 

Feel free to comment below or reach out to me @endbadly.