What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Forget about this not being your father’s NFL anymore. This is barely MY NFL anymore. Seriously, I’ve been saying this on Twitter for weeks. On an unrelated note, you should really follow @Dubsism because it is the best way to tell when I’ve had too much to drink while watching sports.
But I digress. I’ve been watching the NFL for damn near half a century now, and I’m really beginning to think that I don’t understand this game anymore.
Let’s work backward from Sunday’s conference championship games. It used to be that a team that committed a shitload of turnovers didn’t win in the play-offs. The Seahawks shattered that belief. Go back to the divisional round. I’d sure like to know what is and isn’t a catch anymore. As long we are talking about the passing game, the wild-card round has me completely confused as to what is and isn’t pass interference.
That’s just for starters. There is so much about this league right now about which I don’t have the first fucking clue, which is why I’m taking an inventory on things I believe to be true about the NFL.
You tell me if I’m wrong.
1) Running the ball still wins games; defense still wins championships.
No matter who wins the Super Bowl, this statement will still be true, because both Seattle and New England can do both. The key to this game will be whoever can stop their opponents’ ground games. The Patriots used LeGarrette Blount as a blunt instrument to bludgeon the Colts into submission, and for the large parts of the NFC Championship Game when the Seahawks were ineffective, the Packers kept Marshawn Lynch under control. There’s no coincidence that when the Packers could no longer stop Lynch, that was when the collapse came.
The inverse is also true. The Packers lost a lot of momentum when Eddie Lacy could no longer batter his way through the Seahawk defense. But the best example of this was the Indianapolis Colts The Colts put on such a weak showing in the AFC Championship Game exactly because they can’t run the ball and they can’t play defense. I said that about this team after the Week 2 loss to Philadelphia; this outcome in the playoffs was entirely predictable.
2) Passing statistics are meaningless.
Am I the only one who noticed that two of the top three leaders in passing yards missed the playoffs, while two of the three leaders in rushing yards were on playoff teams? Neither of the two Super Bowl quarterbacks this year finished in the top ten. In fact, Cleveland’s Brian Hoyer threw for more yards than Seattle’s Russell Wilson.
3) Andrew Luck is the prototype for the next generation of quarterback.
This may seem odd considering how badly the Colts performed last Sunday, and that Luck is NFL’s leader in passing yards, but Luck is not the problem in Indianapolis, and while the importance of the passing game is over-rated, the consistency of quarterback play is still critical.
Denver is out of the play-offs because nobody wants to admit Peyton Manning is an old man who wore down at the end of the season. The collapse of the San Francisco 49ers went hand in hand with the inconsistent play of Colin Kaerpernick. Then, there’s train wrecks like the New York Jets. They’d all love to have Andrew Luck.
Now, it’s important to understand that I’m not saying Luck will be the best or winningest quarterback of his era; I’m saying he is what NFL talent scouts picture when you say “franchise quarterback.” Face ti, that phrase translates to Andrew Luck, a guy who is 6’4,” 230 pounds, a rocket for an arm and can scramble out of the pocket when needed, but is the essential “pocket-passer.” Oh, and he’s also not a head case.
In other words, they are looking for a guy who has all the tools. The problem is there’s only two or three guys like that in each generation. That means NFL team keep looking for guys that don’t exist, then when they can’t find them, they try to make them. This is how teams end up with a $120 million ice cream sandwich like Jay Cutler.
4) Jerry Jones proves being ridiculously rich and batshit crazy are not mutually exclusive.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; as a life-long Philadelphia Eagles fan, I absolutely fucking love Jerry Jones. Face it, he’s the reason the Cowboys have languished in mediocrity for nearly 20 years. this past playoff disaster was yet another exercise in the oh-so-mercurial nature of the owner of the Dallas Cowboys. When a blown call goes his way, he can’t be more complimentary of the officials; when it doesn’t he wants them converted into cattle feed.
But say what you will, I loved the story (which got buried pretty damn quick, by the way) about Jerry and some compromising photos with a couple of bimbos. It’s pretty obvious what these photos are, but Jones’ story regarding them is prototypical.
Ol’ Jer says this photo is a “misrepresentation.” Let’s break that down, shall we. Now, unlike a lot of bloggers, I’ve had the opportunity to be in the same room with Jerry on more than one occasion. Jerry and I share a love of bourbon, and that damn Manna from Tennessee can make you do shit like this. Now, if a picture like that of me surfaced, I’m pretty sure Mrs. Dubsism would break most of the bones in my face with my prized old-school cast iron skillet. Then again, I’m not a multi-billionaire owner of a football team.
So, by labeling this as “misrepresentation,” the Jer-Bear wants me to believe this isn’t full-on, titty-grabbing, back-door dry humping with a picture we know can’t be a “selfie” since all four hands of the participants can be seen. If this were a Vine video, I would bet you a sizeable amount of cash that girl is gyrating her rock-hard, twenty-something buns against Jerry’s 72-year-old soft-serve Cowboy spur.
Don’t deny it, Jerry…embrace it. America is the country which allows dirty old men with enough money to live out any damn fantasy they want. If yours is dry-humping off-duty strippers, then go for it. Not to mention, the NFL has always been run by crazy old men. Now, its’ Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft. Thirty years ago, it was Al Davis and Robert Irsay. Thirty years before that, it was George Halas and George Preston Marshall. That just means Jerry is continuing the tradition, and he’s doing all he can to pas the scepter to the Dan Snyders and Jim Irsays of the world.
You do whatever you need to do, Jerry…Just make sure you keep the Cowboys mediocre for the rest of your life.
5) Parity is making this league unwatchable.
This doesn’t come into play as much here as it does during the regular season, but let’s face it. The difference between a great team and a shitty one is thinner than Karen Carpenter with a tapeworm. I simply can’t fucking tell who is good anymore.
Just look at your two Super Bowl teams. Back in October, they had both been given up for dead; the Patriots after that Monday night drubbing they took at the hands of the Chiefs, and the Seahawks after that three game losing streak. Needless to say, they both got their issues figured out, but during that time, how many bandwagons has the casual NFL fan been on and subsequently off?
At some point this season the Cardinals, the Cowboys, the Packers, the Eagles, the Steelers, the Colts, the Chiefs and the Broncos were all “sexy” Super Bowl picks. Shit, there was a three-week period around Thanksgiving when even the Buffalo Bills were a legitimate play-off contender.
Sorry, but I really am not that interested in a league of 30 teams who are pretty much the same. The NFL was at its’ best in the 1980’s when it had about 5 or 6 really good teams, about fifteen mediocre ones, and the rest were dog vomit. The reason is unless one of those five of six at the top of the pile was your team, you likely hated them, and you tuned in on Sunday to watch them get beat by the dog vomit of the league. The fact that it was a rare occasion made those times it did so much more special.
Take the aforementioned Buffalo Bills for example. Thirty years ago, it was headline news when the pre-Jim Kelly era Bills beat anybody. Now they are a goddamn play-off contender. Now, Rex Ryan will get them to the AFC Championship game with some shit-heap of a quarterback. He’s done it before and nobody wants to see it again. That’s what parity gets you.
6) Don’t invite me to your Super Bowl party, I won’t come.
Don’t take that personally, but there’s a damn good reason. Cue “Grumpy Old Man” rant in 3..2..1…
Like it or not, Super Bowl Sunday is now a de facto national holiday, and it has some heavy duty numbers to back that up. Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest food consumption day in the United States second-only to Thanksgiving; pizza delivery places look at this day like retailers look at “Black Friday.” Employers reports the Monday after the Super Bowl is now one of the most commonly-requested days-off; some even call it a holiday and give it off to employees.
So, does that mean I hate holidays? You’re goddamn right I do.
If you’re me, holidays mean family, and nothing will piss a person off faster than that. Don’t act like you don’t know what I mean, especially if you have a lot of worthless-ass in-laws. A Super Bowl party is like being in a room full of your in-laws, except instead of hearing some bullshit about somebody’s new fugly-ass baby, you get to listen some ass-clown pretend to be a football expert.
Thanks to the Patriots and this “Deflate-Gate” bullshit, I already know what kind of shit I’d have to listen to at a Super Bowl party this year. The other day, I got to listen to a glorified grease-monkey recite his theory on temperature relative to the pressure in a tire, and while he’s telling me this shit, this guy keeps looking at me I’m supposed to take him as the be-all, end-all expert on this matter because he used to be the “big man on air hose” at a Jiffy Lube.
Tell you what, buddy…when they start playing NFL games with steel-belted radials, I’ll call you. Until then, shut the fuck up, don’t get your fingerprints on my upholstery, and don’t show me any pictures of your fugly-ass kid.
7) Roger Goodell is slowly destroying football, but football will survive.
The NFL is proof that when you have a high-margin, high-demand business, you can make monumental mistakes and get away with it. Having billions of dollars in operating revenues in a business which just keeps growing in demand means you can do things unimaginable to the average business owner. Tell the story about the guys who changed the 100-year old formula for Coca-Cola to the guy who owns your local “Mom n’ Pop” barbecue place whose entire retirement is tied up in his home-made recipe for smoked brisket and you can literally watch his eyeballs explode.
The point here is that everything is about branding; this is why Kommissar Gooddell loves that jingoistic line of his about “protecting the shield.” He is talking about protecting the NFL brand. From a business perspective, what that means is the local guy who sells you a brisket sandwich once a week keeps you coming back because he’s got you believing in the quality and consistency of his product.
That was the cardinal sin committed by the Coke guys.
Because they were worried by external pressures from competitors, they changed their product because they thought people wanted a product more like their competitor. Never once did Ford start building Chevrolets, never once did the local brisket guy start selling barbecued tofu, but the Coke guys started making Pepsi.
But Kommissar Goodell is all about trying to make the NFL into the English Premier League.
I can already hear you. Why the fuck would he want to turn the NFL into soccer? Because they are trying to market the NFL in Europe and to do so means fixing some common problems.
First of all, soccer has a huge problem with racism. Governing bodies across the sport are getting tired of dealing with bananas being thrown at African players and various and sundry chants across the board. Remember when the Kommissar wanted to make dropping the “N-Bomb” a 15-yard personal foul? Check.
Secondly, soccer has a problem with flopping, and the NFL has a problem with the accurate calling of penalties. Believe it or not, but it’s the same problem. Flopping is all about getting a referee to call something that didn’t happen, and right now the NFL is all about an instant replay system which can turn a catch into a non-catch, and can probably turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse if the replay official in New York says to do so. Check #2.
Then there’s the obvious stuff…the continued playing of games in England and the never-seems to-die talk of a Europe-based franchise. Check #3.
Doubt that? Consider two facts. The NFL has hit its growth ceiling in America,; the only place left to grow is internationally, and the English Premier has become the most popular sports league in the world. The EPL has television contracts all over the world, including right here in the “don’t give a shit about soccer” USA. NBC Sports Network is your American home for the EPL, and when their deal is up, somebody else will bid big dollars for it. There is no such reciprocal deal for the NFL in Europe, but the Kommissar wants one in the worst way.
In other words, the Kommissar is trying turn turn football into soccer so he can sell it in Europe. Coke becomes Pepsi all over again.
Because the NFL has maximized the American Coke-drinking market. Goodell is betting on the fact Americans will continue to drink Coke until every single one of us has an ulcer the size of manhole cover. He might be right. The dirty little secret is Goodell wants the Pepsi-drinkers too.
Still doubt that? Look back at the three aforementioned checks and ask yourself why does the NFL keep playing regular-season NFL games in England. Why does that keep happening? Nobody in this country cares about that. Consider the whole “violence in the NFL” angle. There’s a reason why (besides the concussion lawsuits) the NFL wants to soften it’s violent image. Americans love brutality, and Europeans don’t.
Every NFL fan should see that as the big problem. Kommissar Goodell wants you to watch him try to make the NFL become a softened product marketable to Europeans, because that’s where the growth market potential is. At the same time, he wants you not to notice what has to be done to take this game to the international level, because he’s afraid you won’t like it. But the fantasy of doubling the NFL’s operating revenues is too strong a vision for the Kommissar and the NFL owners to ignore.
Think about that with your next Coke.