I was sitting in a Mexican restaurant Monday night drinking a beer when I looked up at a big screen TV that was tuned to ESPN’s Monday Night Football preview show. There was no sound, so I hadn’t been paying attention, but a question posed across the bottom of the screen caught my eye and reminded me why I don’t like the NFL and do like college football.
It was a simple question about the upcoming NY Giants – New England Patriots football game: Do the New York Giants owe it to the rest of the league to play their starters against New England?
You see, both teams have already clinched playoff spots and the outcome of this game makes no difference to either team’s seeding. But the Patriots are on course to set history by going undefeated over a 16 game regular season. The question essentially is, should that matter to the New York team? And the answer is, at least in the context of the NFL, nope. There’s no reason for the Giants to jeopardize their postseason with an injury to a key starter in what has become a meaningless regular season game.
Those are scales I hope I never see a D-1 football team have to balance.
I’m not opposed to a playoff. But I am opposed to a postseason format where considerations like that could become part of the equation. The day I hear Mark Richt asked a question like that before a Georgia Tech or Auburn game is the day I find another sports interest.
Is the run and shoot making wimps out of opposing teams’ defenses? Here’s an argument that says yes, but maybe not for the reason you might expect:
I have long felt that tackle football, especially at the NFL level, has been migrating toward 11-man flag ball. I think it may be inevitable if the game is going to continue to be a significant part of a society that has become softer and gentler, and I think that the NFL, by investing in youth flag football, understands this.
Watch a pass-only team (such as Hawaii) on offense. There often isn’t a whole lot more contact when they’re on offense than you’d see in flag ball.
Yes, receivers (and occasionally a runner) are taken to the ground, but with the exception of sacks and the occasional big hit on a helpless receiver (which, despite my dislike for receivers as a class, I would like to see outlawed), most of the time the ball carrier is tripped up, pulled to the ground, or pushed out of bounds (if he doesn’t go out of bounds voluntarily). The tackles are rarely violent, and the blocking mostly consists of holding a defender at arm’s length.
The game we’re playing now is a different one from the game I played 50 years ago when I was in college, and considering the way football has evolved from the days of the flying wedge to today’s pass-crazy game with its push-and-grab “blocking”, there is no reason to believe that the game we see today will be the same one they’ll be playing 50 years from now.
I fully expect blocking below the waist – on all plays – will be the next thing to go. Other than when backs have to pick up a blitz, it’s no longer of much use to pass-first teams, anyhow.