Ten Minutes To Win It

In order to find that perfect balance between player safety and what draws the optimum TV audience (I guess), the NFL adapted a rule change that will shorten overtime periods in preseason and regular season games from 15 minutes down to 10. 

I don’t know why overtime is needed in preseason games, so I’d be okay with getting rid of that altogether. But reducing regular season OT down to 10 minutes strikes me as lunacy, as it will likely create more tie games. 

I know most of the world has soccer, where tie games are commonplace. That is unless you need a winner, and they have penalty kick shootouts for that. But we here in America like to have winners and losers to everything.

It kind of reminds me of how boxing reacted to the death of Duk Koo Kim in 1982. Within five years, the sport’s governing bodies thought they had the answer: reduce title fights from 15 rounds to 12. It didn’t prevent fighters from dying, as a punch thrown at any time could still, hypothetically do that. But it looked good and made the “TV gods” happy. 

I don’t know how well this is going to go over, so we’ll see. I could be wrong. 

The Games Played With Games

As a sports fan almost all my life, I do find it meddlesome at times when the rules of sports get tweaked. 

Recently, MLB changed the rules concerning intentional walks. The runner is now just awarded first base with no pitches thrown. I’ve seen wild pitches thrown during intentional walks. Now that can’t happen. 

Ditto the NFL a couple of years ago making the extra point after a touchdown. Takes out the possibility of a team faking a kicked extra point and going for two points with a run or pass out of a kicked formation. 

NASCAR keeps changing their standings points system. This year, they are dividing races into segments and awarding points to who leads 30 percent and 60 percent through the races.

To me, this is a bit strange. Do they remember who had the lead a quarter of the way thru the Kentucky Derby, or the Boston marathon?  Probably not. 

The Lottery Ticket

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I hope Marcus Paschal, the football head coach at my alma mater of Largo High School in Largo, Florida, doesn’t mind me sharing this photo with you.

He is one of only three players from my school to play in the NFL on a full-time basis. (Leonard Johnson and Dexter McCluster being the other two.) The numbers are probably similar in other sports, whether they be baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, what have you.

Very few make it in the world of sports. As the photo illustrates, a million kids play high school ball across the country, but roughly 150 of those players will be around to see their 4th season in the NFL.

Just as you can’t plan on winning the lottery, athletes have to realize that as much as they dream of winning a Super Bowl, the odds are definitely not with them.

Football On The YouTube

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If you miss football “the way it used to be” on TV, you’re in luck.

The NFL channel on YouTube has been releasing full games every week as of late, as aired by the original broadcasters, with commercials taken out. Some of these games go back as early as Super Bowl VI, which took place in January of 1972 on the CBS network.

If you have the means to download YouTube material onto your hard drive (for example, the Video Download Helper that you can use with the Firefox browser), it’s a great way to build a library of classic NFL action.

Who knows if the NFL will ever be great again, to coin a phrase heard so often in 2016. But these games show the legendary players and teams at their best.

Blowout In The Desert

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The Bucs got whipped like a government mule (as opposed to a mule not employed by the government), losing to the Arizona Cardinals 40-7 yesterday.

It’s bad the Bucs got beat that soundly, but Arizona’s no slouch. They were a game away from the Super Bowl last year before the Carolina Panthers blew them out, much the way the Cards beat Tampa yesterday. I’d rather see the Bucs lose bad early and learn from their errors as opposed to winning a bunch of games and then losing bad.

Does that make any sense? I don’t suppose it does. I had the Bucs going about .500 this season, then perhaps becoming an elite NFL team next year. They’re not there yet, but these are the kind of games that you learn from, and those kind of games are important, too.

Death To The Color Rush!

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When the Rams (then from St. Louis) played the Bucs last December, they looked like condiment bottles playing football.

I can’t be the only fan on the planet that hates these “Color Rush” uniforms that the Thursday Night NFL games use, can I?

(For that matter, remember when the NFL games were either Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, and Monday night? When will we get an NFL game every day of the week? It can’t be too far behind now.)

When the Bills and Jets played each other last year, they looked like human-shaped Christmas ornaments on a football field. When the Bucs and the then St. Louis Rams played (as I mentioned in the caption), they looked like human condiment bottles of mustard (the Rams) and ketchup (the Bucs).

Needless to say, I hope this is a short lived fad, because to me, this looks like a freak show. Now, if they livened up the helmet designs a bit, that would be a nice touch. But that’s just me.

Concussion Protocol, Or A Lack Thereof

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I watched the first NFL game of the 2016-17 season the other night, with Denver beating Carolina 21-20. Both teams played well, and I’d be shocked if both of team aren’t in the 12-team playoff field come January.

The one thing I noticed in the second half is that Cam Newton, the star Carolina quarterback who led the Panthers to the Super Bowl last season, was looking more and more unlike himself as the game progressed. He got into a shoving match with a Denver player trying to pump the crowd up in the first half, and should have been penalized for it in my view.

He was getting hit in the helmet by Denver rushers leading with their helmets on at least four occasions. The helmet-to-helmet contact should have been penalties on the Denver defense, but several such incidents went uncalled. Newton was looked at for possible back and ankle injuries, but kept playing through the barrage of battering he was getting.

After the game, he couldn’t remember the final drive that resulted in a missed field goal that would have given Carolina the win. That reminded me of an HBO fight back in the 1980’s I watched when a boxer named Marlon Starling got knocked out on a punch that didn’t land until after the bell for the end of a round had sounded. He then couldn’t recall being knocked out when interviewed after the fight. (Initially, it was ruled Starling had lost the 1988 fight, though the decision later became a no-contest, a ruling rarely used in the sport when something takes place beyond the control of the fighters.)

The NFL has a “concussion protocol” system in place so that players under the suspicion of being concussed during a game can be looked at. It was revealed after the game that no one bothered to look at Cam. Why? Because he’s a star player? In that case, doesn’t the protocol hinder better players and help protect the weaker gladiators? (It was revealed later on Friday that to physicians at the game, Newton didn’t show any symptoms of a concussion.)

I get football is a physical game, and a violent one at that. But it’s clear to me that the current system is very flawed. Thursday night was quite an example of the loopholes in the present scheme of things. The last and only death on an NFL field was when Chuck Hughes of the Detroit Lions died on October 24, 1971 of a heart attack in the middle of a game. I was a little over a month and a half old when that happened. I truly hope it’s not about to happen again.