Gregg Easterbrook wrote last week about how the Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl rematch may end up like the Super Bowl did. Except, it didn't. Gregg also talked about concussions (again) and pointed out the later-life neurological decay that occurred in football players. It was smartly pointed out in the comments that nearly every adult suffers from some sort of neurological decay later in life. This week Gregg talks about the NFL trying to control the message and has a new ridiculous curse that has befallen the San Francisco 49ers. What is it about that team that Gregg doesn't like? He creates the Crabtree Curse, then once that is proven wrong he decides the read-option is dead, and now he has created another fake curse suffered by the 49ers.
The NFL has gotten into trouble before, but never has the reaction been
so ardent. Many football lovers are sick of every game being prefaced
with 15 minutes about controversy, and if you switch to a newscast, it's
all about the NFL being denounced.
Peter King wonders whether it is worth giving up on the sport entirely, thereby making him unemployed and forced to work a regular job that wouldn't involve staring at strangers all day and criticizing their behavior. So no, "we" should not give up on the NFL.
What's behind the vehemence of the anti-NFL sentiment? Two basic factors
are at play -- one that is the league's fault and one that is unrelated
to the NFL.
Thank God that Gregg Easterbrook is here to break this all down for us into easily digestible pieces. I would want someone with Gregg's integrity and strict adherence to facts to explain the two factors at play.
What is the league's fault is that the chickens are coming home to roost...The result is they have no reserve of goodwill to fall back on when
times are tough. If the NFL's owners were beloved -- or perceived as
playing positive roles in their communities -- they would have a reserve
of public goodwill. They have none.
While I agree on a macro level, that the owners as a whole are not beloved, I would disagree more on a micro level. I think within each team's fan base many of the NFL owners are beloved or at least liked on some level to where they have some goodwill. Now in terms of "the owners" as a generic term, as it deals with all 32 of them as a whole, I would agree the owners are not beloved and have no goodwill. I like Jerry Richardson as the owner of the Carolina Panthers. As one of the 32 owners of an NFL team, he can annoy me at times with his actions.
Some think a violent game should not be the United States' national sport.
Some think a national sport is decided by which sport is the most popular in a certain country, so what or what should not be the national sport is irrelevant.
Some think football has become the eggplant that eats the budget of big
public universities or is accorded too much importance at high schools.
Some people are angry with how the super-rich owners of the NFL wallow
in subsides while restricting health care assistance to former players
and are happy to have cheerleaders dance half-naked but refuse to pay
them minimum wage, let alone treat them fairly.
I think that Gregg Easterbrook is reflecting a lot of the things he thinks as being the thoughts of many. I understand the NFL gets subsidies and the players get injured, but I enjoy watching the sport knowing that having an NFL team isn't something many cities can claim and the players now understand better what they are doing to their bodies. It doesn't make it right, but I think Gregg's thoughts are the main ones reflected in the "some" who think these things.
And some people simply can't stand that blaring inanity from football
drowns out conversation at family gatherings at Thanksgiving and through
the December holidays.
And some people like there is an event to build the day around in order to avoid watching shitty and boring holiday movies or re-runs of television shows. It's nice to watch sports rather than watch a dog show or some other boring holiday-themed, event, or special.
It's one thing when The Huffington Post is hammering the NFL. It's quite
another when hardcore sports lovers are angry with the league. The
chickens have come home to roost, and the NFL has only itself to blame.
I guess the chickens have come home to roost. The NFL has had a lot of hubris in the past. The odd part is much of the hubris they have been accused of having in the past, such as acting like a dictatorship who is the judge, jury and executioner, is where the media thinks the NFL messed up. If Goodell acted tough and semi-draconian towards Ray Rice as he had in the past towards guys like Adams Jones, Ben Roethlisberger and Chris Henry then he and the NFL wouldn't be in this situation. Having a tighter hold and stronger reaction to player discipline as the judge, jury and executioner could have prevented from Goodell from being hammered by women's groups and the Rice tape would have been more irrelevant. Yet, Goodell's tight grip on punishing players strongly is an area where he has been criticized in the past, but his punishing Rice strongly would have avoided this current situation.
But what about the second factor, for which the league should not be
assailed? As the most important sport in the most important nation, the
NFL holds up a mirror to American society. What we see in the reflection
is not an athletic organization but ourselves.
Hmmm...I think I still see an athletic organization.
Just five years ago, the fact that football causes neurological harm was
a forbidden topic. Not only would the NFL not talk about it, but
high-school coaches and principals also wouldn't talk about it. When
concussions came out of the closet as an issue of concern, anger was
expressed at NFL indifference. But we were really angry at ourselves.
How many youth and high-school coaches, how many teachers and trainers
and physicians and nurses, had seen football cause head harm and done
It's very true. I was pissed off at myself because I was thinking, "I am not in high school or college, did not play football at either level, did not coach at either level, and really could have had no impact positive or negative on this situation...so why didn't I do more to prevent concussions from happening?"
A generation ago, the notion that a muscular, 300-pound man was being
bullied would have caused people to laugh. But society's view of
bullying has shifted. Bullying is no longer seen as just bad manners; it
is now an ethical or even legal question. The NFL was the mirror for
that social change.
I mean, not really. I don't think the idea a 300-pound man being bullied would have caused anyone to laugh then more than it would cause a person to laugh now. I don't see the big shift in attitudes towards bullying, but perhaps I'm not in touch with the world like Gregg Easterbrook is.
When an openly gay player was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, the NFL
became the mirror in which the issue of prejudice against gays was
This is pretty laughable. Yes, there was a mirror in which the issue of prejudice against gays was reflected, but it wasn't "the" mirror. This is not only inaccurate but also slightly offensive that Gregg thinks prejudice against gays wasn't reflected onto society until a football player was drafted by an NFL team.
With Ray Rice, the NFL has become the mirror in which we see society's
changing attitude regarding domestic violence -- that it should no
longer be hushed up.
So it's a good thing that Roger Goodell lied and tried to cover up whether he had seen the video before suspending Ray Rice for only two games. After all, it helped society change their attitude about domestic violence. See, Roger Goodell DOES care about women! He's taking the hit so they can have issues that concern them brought to the forefront of society.
In competition news, what a game at Seattle! The Seahawks and Broncos
played the contest football enthusiasts had longed for at the Super
Bowl. Despite scoring just 11 points in seven quarters against the
Seattle defense, Denver did not lose heart in the eighth quarter.
And here I thought the Broncos would have just quit and walked off the field.
Still, many of the Broncos' choices were puzzling. At the Super Bowl,
Denver kept trying to throw sideways against the Hawks' press coverage.
Your columnist noted,
"Denver didn't try to move the ball down the field until the contest
was out of hand -- the Broncs' longest first-half gain was 19 yards."
The Broncos tried to move the ball down the field in the Super Bowl, but they failed at doing so (by throwing an interception, taking a sack) or couldn't get the ball down the field for fear of committing a turnover. A smart quarterback isn't going to force the ball downfield if he doesn't have a man open or there is the risk of a turnover.
Rinse and repeat at Seattle: Lots of super-short passes and nothing deep
in the first half. Even as the Broncos were reaching panic time in the
fourth quarter, they kept throwing hitches for no gain.
Again, Seattle was taking away deep passes and forcing the Broncos throw underneath where the defense could make tackles. Can't throw the ball deep if there isn't a guy open to catch the ball.
Gregg is echoing the constant complaint of fans that teams don't "go deep," but it's not easily done. NFL players are very fast and against a great defense like that of the Seahawks "going deep" to a guy who isn't open can result in a turnover.
For a guy who runs a pass-wacky, high-tech offense, Denver coach John
Fox sure is conservative. Taking possession down 17-3 with 12 seconds
remaining in the first half and all three timeouts, Fox had his charges
kneel. Why not try one long pass and then, if it works, call time?
John Fox has been a head coach in the NFL since 2002. He runs the type of offense that works best for his personnel and with Peyton Manning as the quarterback the current offense works. Anyone who has watched Fox coach any amount of games know he is a very conservative coach. It almost goes without saying at this point. Fox had Manning kneel in the 2013 playoff game against the Ravens and go to overtime instead of trying to drive down the field and get in field goal range. He's conservative, no need to marvel at it.
As the for Bluish Men Group, their leader, Russell Wilson, is now 8-0 in
starts against Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks -- Tom Brady, Drew
Brees, the Manning brothers and Aaron Rodgers. Of course, football is a
team game, so this stat mainly tells us the Seahawks are really good.
Which is a point that Gregg failed to mention in last week's TMQ when he stated Russell Wilson was 7-0 against Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. But this week it's "of course" football is a team game. Yes, of course it is. It wasn't as much last week, but this week the fact football is a team game is obvious.
But if individual statistics did not matter, no one would care who the league's leading rusher is.
Individual statistics do matter when being compared to other individual statistics. When an individual statistic is used in the context of a team statistic then it can be a bit more problematic. It's just like the "win" statistic in baseball. There is more than just that individual player's performance represented in the data.
Stat Of The Week No. 5: The Cardinals, who blocked a field goal
at a key juncture versus Santa Clara, have blocked 17 field goals since
2008, most in the league in that span.
In totally related news, the Cardinals drafted Calais Campbell in 2008. You know, the 6'8" defensive end who blocks field goals.
Stat Of The Week No. 6: The Bengals are on an 11-0 regular season home streak and an 0-3 postseason home streak.
This statistic is very misleading and pointless. The 11-0 regular season home streak doesn't encompass as much time as the 0-3 postseason home streak. So if Gregg really wanted this statisic to not be misleading then he would use the same time frame for the regular season home streak and postseason home streak. But that would also involve him not misleading his readers and throwing flashy numbers up like an 11-0 record at home.
Your columnist loves the tactic of bringing in a guy who never gets the
ball and sending him deep. Leading Minnesota 7-0, the Saints faced
second-and-5 on the Vikes' 34. Backup tight end Josh Hill, with seven
receptions in two seasons, lined up right. Drew Brees looked left,
looked left, pumped left -- and then threw deep right to Hill, who ran
uncovered for the touchdown. Sweet.
I'm not even sure that's a tactic. I think it just so happened the route called for Hill to go deep and he ended up getting open.
Against Tennessee, Dalton caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from wide
receiver Mohamed Sanu on a gunslinger. The play was sour for the Flaming
Thumbtacks, whose cornerback, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, had what appeared to
be an easy tackle on Dalton as the pass was caught and bounced off him.
Normally, defenders crave the moment when a quarterback is a runner or
receiver because taking a shot is legal. Instead, Wreh-Wilson appeared
to pull up.
Wreh-Wilson didn't pull up and he didn't bounce off Andy Dalton. He went up for the interception and failed to catch the ball. If he had caught the ball, it would have been a pick-six, which Gregg believes is a play that is the most game-changing turnover. So Wreh-Wilson went for the big play and failed. That's it. He didn't miss the tackle really.
With Green Bay at Detroit tied at seven in the second quarter, the
hosts faced third-and-long at midfield. Matt Stafford's deep pass was
intercepted by the Packers' Davon House, who tumbled into the end zone
for a touchback. Sweet!
No, wait. Sour for Green Bay because on replay the spot was
reversed, and House was ruled down at the Packers' 1. That made the
result of the play the same as a perfect coffin-corner punt. On the next
Green Bay snap, Detroit's DeAndre Levy shot a gap unblocked and dropped
Packers' running back Eddie Lacy three yards deep in the end zone for a
safety. Green Bay free kicked, and the Detroit possession ended with a
field goal. The Packers' interception turned into five points for
Detroit. Green Bay would have been better off had House simply swatted
the ball down for an incompletion.
Using hindsight this is true. John F. Kennedy would have been better off if he had not gone to Dallas on November 22, 1963, but he didn't know that at the time. Just like Davon House didn't know that he was down at the 1-yard line and on the next play the Packers would give up a safety. Though he can intercept passes, he is not able to predict the future as Gregg believes he can do. So yes, House would have swatted the pass down if he were omnisicient. He is not though.
Now Gregg takes on the tyranny of unrealistic fictional television shows.
Okay, it's television. But what's disturbing about Chicago P.D. is
audiences are manipulated to think torture is a regrettable necessity
for protecting the public. Three times in the first season, the antihero
tortures suspects -- a severe beating and threats to cut off an ear and
shove a hand down a running garbage disposal. Each time, torture
immediately results in information that saves innocent lives. Each time,
viewers know, from prior scenes, the antihero caught the right man.
That manipulates the viewer into thinking, "He deserves whatever he
Yeah, but he's the anti-hero so he tortures people to get information. That's why he isn't a hero, because he uses methods that other police officers would (hopefully) not lower themselves to in order to make an arrest. The viewer can make up his/her mind on whether the suspect got what he deserved or not. Not everyone is stupid, though I will admit those people who read and enjoy TMQ are probably the same ones gullible enough to be manipulated into taking a view on torture based on watching "Chicago P.D."
Some ethicists say there could be a ticking-bomb exception -- if the
prisoner could reveal where a ticking bomb is, then torture becomes
permissible. But how could a law enforcement officer be sure what a
captive knows? And if by this logic torture is permissible, wouldn't
that justify torture by, say, the Taliban if they captured a U.S. airman
who could know the location of a planned drone strike?
In a way, but the perception is a prisoner has done something wrong to be a prisoner, so torturing him to find out where the bomb is would be hurting the guilty to save the innocent. The (American) perception is a U.S. airman hasn't done anything wrong and isn't guilty of a crime, so torturing him to know the location of the drone strike would be hurting an innocent person to save innocent/guilty people.
Down 17-0 in the third quarter at Jersey/A, Houston took a field goal on
fourth-and-inches from the Giants' 9. Sure, a fourth down try by the
Texans failed on the previous possession, but that was then, this is
now! That a coin has come up tails 10 straight times tells nothing about
what will happen on the 11th flip.
No, it doesn't. Of course a team going for it on fourth down isn't just a coin flip. If one team has failed 10 times to convert a fourth down then there is a good chance that team won't convert the 11th attempt. There are more factors in play on a fourth down than just the flip of a coin. A fourth down attempt involves 22 people in motion, not just a flip of the coin. So 10 failed attempts could indicate whether an 11th attempt would work or not.
Now it's 17-3. Facing third-and-2 on the Moo Cows' 44, the Giants throw
incomplete and are called for offensive pass interference. Bill O'Brien
declines the penalty, confident Tom Coughlin will punt on fourth-and-2
in Houston territory, which Coughlin proceeds to do.
And this told the Giants that Tom Coughlin wasn't serious about winning this game and the Giants went on to lose because Coughlin didn't go for it on fourth down? Oh, that's not how it worked out?
Baltimore tried on fourth-and-1 early in the fourth quarter at Cleveland
and failed, but the Ravens went on to victory, which shows sometimes
it's better to try and fail, which tells players their coach is
challenging them to win, not launch a kick.
So in a game where both coaches are not going for it on fourth down, then both coaches being chickens offsets and failing to go for it on fourth down has no effect on the outcome of the game. In a game where one team goes for it on fourth down and the other does not, a tone is set, which means the coach is challenging his team to win. I think teams should be aggressive, but Gregg's insistence on tying fourth down tries to a coach challenging his team to win seems very anecdotal to me.
Then Gregg begins to speak about how the United States is in for tough times because of entitlements and government spending. He wrote a lot about this topic and it was all just an excuse to pimp out something else he had written.
Everything in this long item assumes longevity does not increase, so the
retired don't demand benefits for a longer time. What if longevity
increases? See my cover story in the new Atlantic Monthly.
Gregg wrote 1,500 words of non-football related material just so he could then push the cover story he wrote for the "Atlantic Monthly." Not only does TMQ have large sections that aren't about football, but it serves as a great forum for Gregg Easterbrook to advertise for his other writing endeavors. It makes you wonder where Gregg's focus lies.
Not That Politicians Have Any Shame: Last week, Minnesota Gov.
Mark Dayton said he was "embarrassed" by the Vikings' handling of the
Adrian Peterson mess. Why wasn't Gov. Dayton embarrassed by the fact
that Minnesota and Minneapolis handed nearly $500 million of taxpayers'
money to the Vikings' ownership family to build the new stadium from
which those super-rich owners will keep nearly all the revenue?
This is sort of a strawman argument isn't it?
"Mark Dayton is 'embarrassed' by the Vikings' handling of the Adrian Peterson mess, then why isn't he embarrassed that millions of people are starving while Vikings fans gorge themselves on food in preparation for a recreational sporting event?"
"Mark Dayton is 'embarrassed' by the Vikings' handling of the Adrian Peterson mess, then why isn't he embarrassed that his last name is 'Dayton' and he doesn't live in Ohio?"
The Football Gods Chortled: Since fleeing the wonderfully
romantic city of San Francisco for the office buildings and parking lots
of Santa Clara, the 49ers are 1-2 and have scored just three points in
the second half.
I don't know what Gregg has against the 49ers, but he seems to always have some curse or problem that he believes the team is encountering that is usually not football-related.
-There was the "Crabtree Curse" which basically said because Michael Crabtree held out for more money after being drafted, and the 49ers eventually paid him what he was supposed to earn at the slot he was drafted, that the rest of the 49ers team didn't like the team caved to Crabtree and so the team couldn't win games as a result. It was ridiculous. Then, in a miracle turn of events, the 49ers started winning games with Crabtree being their best receiver and Gregg turned this "Crabtree Curse" into a curse that only hit the 49ers when Mike Singletary was the head coach. Because when called on your bullshit, deflect quickly. If it was the "Singletary Curse" then why did the reason behind the curse have nothing to do with Mike Singletary and it was called the "Crabtree Curse"?
-Then last year, Gregg wrote off the 49ers and stated that the read-option was dead, never to return. It was a gimmick that NFL teams had figured out. In a shocking twist of events that wasn't shocking at all, Gregg forgot he had said this after the 49ers made their third straight NFC Championship Game.
-Now Gregg is trying to conjure up a curse where the 49ers are cursed because they moved from San Francisco to Santa Clara. Gregg will claim the team sold out to corporate interests and that's why they can't win games. Who knows what his excuse will be when the 49ers go on a run like they did last year?
Football And Taxes Note: Two weeks ago, TMQ excoriated the Hall
of Fame for being tax-exempt yet extolling O.J. Simpson, who personifies
violence against women. I said the Hall "sheltered $31 million" from
taxation in the most recent year for which records are available.
Several readers familiar with the nonprofit world, including Susan
Denton of San Francisco, countered that I inaccurately characterized the
Hall's balance sheet -- had it been a for-profit in the most recent
year, it would have been taxed on about $1.4 million. So my number was
wrong -- I should have said the Hall of Fame sheltered $1.4 million.
Hey, Gregg was only off by $30 million. It was just an accounting error that caused Gregg to be off by 2,100%. But hey, his point remains you know!
The point remains the same: Why should taxpayers subsidize a
professional sports exhibit of any kind, much less one that adulates
someone like Simpson? Corporate taxes on $1.4 million would be about
$475,000 -- not huge in the scheme of things, but many dozens of average
families must be taxed to cover that sum.
Yes, the point remains the same. The point also goes to show how Gregg will intentionally mislead his readers or won't do enough research so that he doesn't knowingly hand out incorrect information. It's clear already that Gregg doesn't read the links he links in TMQ and so I would imagine he also doesn't do a ton of research on the information he provides. He can't be lying if he doesn't do enough research to know the truth, can he?
Versus City of Tampa, Devin Hester not only set the all-time record for
return touchdowns but also played well at wide receiver. Hester had a
catch for 25 yards and during a turnover, stripped the ball from a Bucs
player and fell on the rock and cradled it, which is proper form. TMQ's NFC preview
expressed dismay at Chicago's lack of interest in retaining Hester:
"The Falcons benefit from the Bears' puzzling decision to show the door
to Devin Hester ... the Windy City is known for its sports curses --
soon the Devin Hester Curse might be added."
And that explains why the Bears are 2-1. What a curse!
If the Falcons make the playoffs this year and the Bears do not, the
Devin Hester Curse will join the Shoeless Joe curse and the billy goat
curse in Chicago lore.
No Gregg, it won't. The Devin Hester curse isn't real and wouldn't be made real due to one season where his new team makes the playoffs and his old team does not make the playoffs.
A huge embarrassment awaits Chicago management if Hester plays well when the Bears and Falcons meet on Oct. 12.
Not really a huge embarrassment. Difficult personnel decisions are made in the NFL all the time. At some point every NFL team will have to face a player they released or traded. It's the state of the NFL with a salary cap.
On the City of Tampa side, the first two Atlanta touchdowns went to
receivers who were not covered by anyone at all -- what a smooth move by
the Buccaneers' new management to waive Darrelle Revis in the
How silly of the Buccaneers to choose to free up $16 million in salary cap space. Why in the hell would they do that? It's just another example of the Buccaneers new staff blaming the previous regime and not at all an example of them correcting mistakes made by the previous regime. If something isn't working, keep trying to make it work.
City of Tampa's patchwork offensive line surrendered three sacks to the
Falcons, who came in as the only NFL club without a sack. Waiving left
tackle Donald Penn in the offseason -- that was a smooth move, too!
Penn was going to make almost $7 million and he was overpaid. He was 31 and the Buccaneers signed Anthony Collins, who is 3 years younger and making almost a million less than Penn.
Last week the league fined Bruce Irvin of the Seahawks $8,268 for a late
hit and Courtney Upshaw of the Ravens $16,537 for an illegal hit. Why
wasn't Upshaw fined $16,537.95? The recent collective bargaining
agreement spelled out fines with odd specificity, though the last digit
He wasn't fined $16,537.95 because that's not the amount he was fined. I know Gregg could give a shit about details, facts or anything else that involves minutia he finds to be below him, but he really needs to stop calling any number that doesn't end in "0" as "oddly specific."
Obscure College Score: Greensboro 37, La Grange 35. The Panthers
joined The 500 Club by gaining 516 yards and losing. Located in La
Grange, Georgia, La Grange College offers previews of previews.
It's not exactly a preview of previews. The day is called "Preview Day" and if Gregg would click on the link he provided he would see that the video simply tells prospective students who are invited to "Preview Day" what to expect. That's all. I hate it when Gregg does cutesy shit like this. He's about 10% as clever as he believes himself to be.
The video preview of "Preview Day" is sort of like Gregg writing a column on football and providing a preview of another column he will later link in that football column.
Next Week: The NFL hires Paul Tagliabue to conduct an independent investigation of its "independent" investigation.
Don't give Roger Goodell any ideas.