One Yard, One Thousand Questions: How the Play that Changed the Super Bowl is Misunderstood

It was like being down five with less than 30 seconds remaining in a clinching game of the NBA Finals.  Or, being down the your final half inning and down 3-0 in the American League Championship Series.  It is over.  Get on the bus, it is over.  The remaining few moments are just torturous.  Unless some crazy Buffalo Wild Wings intervention took place, you need to just watch the other team do confetti angels and make laps around the stadium.

But, sometimes after you exited the arena, the Miami Heat nail two three-pointers in the shadow of the O’Brien Trophy.  Sometimes, a pinch runner swipes a base against the best reliever of all time and the Boston Red Sox come back from the dead and win the ALCS 4-3.  Sometimes, the impossible happens.

So, here we were; Super Bowl XLIX.  A Super Bowl that may go down as the greatest of the 49 ever played.  It had it all — a virtual toss-up matchup; Tom Brady versus the NFL’s best defense; pre-game storylines [“deflate-gate”; Silent Marshawn; nut grabs; a budding dynasty versus a previous dynasty]; and the game itself was entertaining.  Even the Halftime Show was noteworthy, if only for the psychedelic singing trees and dancing sharks.  The commercials could have been more entertaining, but it will go down as one of the most memorable championship games for any sport.

And yet, the entire game is being encapsulated in one play…one impossible play that prior to that moment, many were believing that it was virtually over.  Dan Patrick was going to have to give away a Chevrolet truck in Seahawk blue…or green.  Or, whatever.  The question that was being developed centered on Brady and if he could lead the Patriots downfield, if he was even given that chance at all.  The narrative that was emerging was that the Pats once again fell to team that benefited from an impossibilities.

But, the impossibilities were not over, as on 2nd and goal from the one-yard line, Seattle and Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell opted to throw the ball rather hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch and let him bring “that New Jack City, boy!”  According to post-game comments, the play was based on the defensive package that the New England Patriots had on the field.  But when you have a running back known as “Beast Mode” and often seen casting off defenders like a bad case of fleas, to not run is crazy.  And, that Malcolm Butler stepped up and intercepted the ball is something that should have never happened.

Because of these things, that impossibility turned what seemed to be another Patriots loss into a miraculous Super Bowl victory.  And, it brought forth a blitzkrieg of criticism for the play call there.  However, such criticism ignores the realities of the play, of the entirety of the game, and of football as a whole.

The Play

The Play; and the moment that Butler broke on the play.

The Play; and the moment that Butler broke on the play.

First, the play itself is less about Bevell’s play call, Russell Wilson’s throw, or Ricardo Lockette’s [lack of] effort and more about the play and effort of Butler.  Go watch the play again and give credit to Butler.  Yes, some have noted the play Butler made, but when they do it they typically do it when chastising the offensive play call.  But, Butler knew what was coming.  Jermaine Kearse jams/picks Pats DB Brandon Browner.  Browner even knew it was coming as he reach out to make contact first as soon as the ball was snapped.  Butler knew; he jumped the route as soon as he saw that pick.  He takes off to the spot even before Wilson squares his shoulders to throw.  By the time Wilson gets ready to cock back and throw, Lockette and Butler are approximately equidistant from where the ball ended up; Butler made a hell of an effort to get there and make the play.

Ignore the play call.  We can second-guess that all day.  Fact is that if Butler does not make that play, then Lockette scores.  If Butler did not feel the play and jump the pass, Seattle likely takes the lead [assuming Lockette did not somehow drop it].  The play was called and thus what played out is what it is…Butler stepped up when he needed to.  Yes, Lynch would have been the better play call, but that was not the played call so we should not — nay, CANNOT — play the what if game.  What if they give it to Lynch and he’s stuffed or loses two yards or fumbles?  What if I’m taking a shower and I slip on a bar of soap?

We’ve discussed before the celebration of gutsy calls, at least when it works.  The thing is, what if Butler did not make the play?  I know that I just stated to not play the What-If game, but if people want to do that, then what if Seattle scored with the play that was called?  Wilson would be clutch; Bevell and [more audiably] Pete Carroll would be praised.  This happens all of the time.  When “controversial” plays like this fail, the Blame Game begins.  But when those plays hit, the acclaim never stops.

We don’t have to look far to see proof of that — six seconds to go in the first half, to be exact.  Less than two hours earlier, Wilson and the Seahawks gambled by running a play rather than kicking a field goal.  The field goal would have been virtually automatic and made it a 14-10 Patriots lead.  But, a touchdown?  With the Seahawks getting the ball to start the second half??  It was too tempting.  So, Seattle went for it and Wilson threw a quick strike to Chris Matthews for the game-tying touchdown.  While the risk was noted, the onions of Seattle could not be talked about enough.  Now, imagine that the play was picked off.  That’s what happened at the end of the game and we see the results.  That’s how quickly glory can turn into gore.

One final point.  Analyst Chris Simms noted on the Jim Rome Show that throwing the ball was not a bad play call; but calling that play was bad.  It was a typical play that the Seahawks like to run down by the goal line, so it was definitely a play that the Patriots were prepared to defend.  It is why Butler had his vision of making a play.  Think about the “Statue of Liberty” play that Boise State ran against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.  It was set-up so well because the Broncos ran a similar two-point conversion play, but where Jared Zabransky threw the ball instead of the behind-the-back handoff.  Oklahoma expected a similar play, and Boise State fooled them.  ANYTHING but ordinary and Seattle likely scores.  By playing tendencies, the Patriots got the best of the Seahawks.

The Game

But, the game was not decided just there.  Yes, it ultimately decided the game, but the game is 60 minutes and there were numerous plays that got us to that point in the game.  There were three big plays after the two-minute warning, all involving Butler including the interception.  There was the deep ball down field to Kearse that Butler went up and batted away.  There was then the acrobatic catch by Kearse.  Kearse made the catch on his back and then proceeded to get up.  Butler kept playing; he did not hear a whistle.  Had Butler not made a play and knocked Kearse out of bounds, the slant of doom would have never occurred.

But there were other moments in the game that are worth discussing.  What about Seattle running the ball just four times for ten yards after taking a ten-point lead [and prior to New England taking the lead]?  They had two three-and-outs and another drive of only four plays.  Some of those incomplete passes hit and we are not discussing it.  But, throwing on first down when you have Lynch, who averaged 4.6 per carry up until Seattle took a 24-14 lead, is crazy.

What about the errors made by Tom Brady?  Had the Seahawks scored — whether on the slant to Lockette or with a hypothetical Lynch run — Brady would have been questioned about the poor passes, especially the first interception to Jeremy Lane.  He would have been the goat rather being proclaimed the GOAT.

And, of course, what about Carroll’s decision to go for it with six seconds to go in the first half?  Remember Super Bowl XLIII?  First and goal at the one [hmm…] with under 20 seconds to go in the first half [hmm!!!] and Kurt Warner throws an interception that is returned 100 yards for a touchdown!  Any number of things could have happened there, but instead the Seahawks tied it up.

All of these mattered.  Heck even the lesser running-into-the-kicker penalty when it should have been roughing changed the trajectory of the game.  Even the possibility that Patriots wideout Julian Edelman was concussed yet played on changed the trajectory.  Hell, Brady drawing the Seahawks offsides to get them off of the one-inch line changed the trajectory.

Every play changed the direction of the game.  Football is not linear in that it does not just go from 15:00 to 0:00.  It weaves its way around like a “Choose Your Adventure” book.  Every decision has repercussions and every repercussion leads to new decisions.  And in the end, it is up to the players to do what they will with the situation at hand, even if the play called in is one that is second-guessed after the fact.

Thus, instead of wasting time questioning the play call, let us celebrate the plays made on the field in the situations that presented themselves.  Let’s give props to Malcolm Butler credit rather than wondering if Ricardo Lockette could have tried harder.  And let’s examine the game in its entirety and appreciate what will go down as one of the greatest Super Bowls of all time…

…sad Nationwide commercials included.

So, Cary Williams Said What?

Look, stoking this whole Riley Cooper “drama” fire is so unnecessary and (honestly) boring.  But, there is something ironic about the recent incident.

I do tend to believe with Stephen A. Smith that black DBs are going to target Cooper [and not because of Marcus Vick’s “bounty”].  But, other than that, it is not worth even really exploring.  Actually, even DBs targeting Cooper does not mean much.  I don’t really care.

However, this altercation [don’t call it a “fight”; it’s not a fight!] brought something potentially interesting.  Fights happen all the time in practice…especially after going against each other so many times; you’re just waiting to face actual opponents.  So, that this is being blown up is because of the overblown Cooper issue.

Hell, any time Cooper has some sort of “issue” with a black player, this shit is going to get played up.  So the fight…I don’t give a fly fuck about that.

But, it is what Cary Williams allegedly said:

I’m not a nigger to fuck with!

Whoa now!  I know that Riley wanted to jump the fence and fight a brotha or two, but geez settle down Williams.

Now, keep in mind, this is what Williams “allegedly” said (coming from an anonymous third party).  No one is really stating that he did (or didn’t) say that…just that the initial June incident “was not mentioned.”  But it does — if true — present and interesting twist to all of this because of what Williams stated back in early August:

We as a black community sometimes pounce on somebody who uses it in a derogatory way when there are times in the black community when we use it freely.  . . . I think there’s no place for that word in anybody’s language, in anybody’s mouth or off anybody’s tongue, whether you’re black, white, green, purple, blue.  It’s still the same meaning, it’s still a harsh word.

Oops!

Again, this is all based around an allegation that is still unfounded.  But, he DOES bring up a good point in his initial response to Riley’s uttering of “nigger.”  While it is “just a word,” it is one that needs to be eliminated from our vocabulary.  Yes, there is a sense of power gained by co-opting the word and altering the meaning, but this might be one of those words that should go the way of the interrobang.

Still, that Williams stated a very thoughtful response in August and “allegedly” said what he did during his altercation with Cooper is incredibly ironic.  Hopefully, for Williams, that did not happen.  I hope that it didn’t.

But then again, if it did, it brings to light the double standard of the word that he so carefully attempt to rally against.  Maybe it can be a good thing.

Or, perhaps we should take a cue from the Wu Tang Clan:

Leinart cut by the Bills, plans to keep sucking!

Since Tim Tebow got an entire article covering his release by the New England Patriots, I thought that it would be only fair to give Matt Leinart his own article.  After all, he won a Heisman trophy, too!  The media is always hating Leinart and trying to drag him through the mud!!!!

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — A Heisman Trophy, three season-ending injuries, a regional following.

Matt Leinart won all that in his football career.

On Saturday, he lost his third NFL job in 18 months.  It might be hard to find another.

The quarterback with two big problems — staying healthy and not being that good — was cut by the Buffalo Bills just five days after they signed him and only five days before the season.

But, as Leinart sees it, this long journey is not over.

leinart“True strength is keeping everything together when everyone expects you to fall apart,” he tweeted.

Coach Doug Marrone gave the player who could not even beat out Derek Anderson or Terrell Pryor what may have been his last chance when he signed him August 25, when QB injuries led to the Bills to consider starting undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel.  And Leinart is grateful.

After being out of football since the end of last season, he was thankful to be given yet another chance, even if it is with the Bills.

In a tweet sent out after the signing, Leinart stated that he was “really excited and thankful for the [Bills]” for giving him the chance, and that he had been “working hard for 8 straight months.”

The Bills cut 17 other players and put quarterback Kevin Kolb on injured reserve.  That left them with 55 players, two above the regular-season limit that they have to reach before 6:30 pm EDT.

Marrone didn’t comment on Leinart’s release.

He was unsuccessful with Arizona, for four seasons, when he went 4-7 in his first season in 2006 and compiled a 7-10 record in an injury-plagued tenure with the Cardinals.

But then a career of inefficiency descended into true adversity.

Kurt Warner retired and instead of seizing the starting gig lost out to friggin’ Derek Anderson, as well as Max Hall and John Skelton.

He was released prior to the start of the 2010 season and then signed with the Houston Texans on September 6.  He languished on the bench and ended up starting one game in 2011 and was promptly injured.

Released again, he signed with the Oakland Raiders in 2012 where, once again given a chance to possibly start, was passed over for Terrell Pryor.  He was not resigned in the offseason.

For eight months no team wanted him until the Bills signed him to a no-risk contract

Now, nearly four months after his 30th birthday, Leinart’s NFL career may be over.

The Bills had a total of five quarterbacks on their preseason roster.  So with E.J. Manuel the future and Kevin “Concussion” Kolb at the top of the heap, Leinart’s chances were a challenging one, even before that final preseason game.  Then he posted a quarterback rating of 0.0 with zero touchdowns, two interceptions and one sack against the Lions.

Leinart’s last play with the Bills, and perhaps in the NFL, was an interception thrown to 11-year veteran Rashean Mathis with 12 minutes remaining in the second quarter of the Lions game on Thursday night.

After his last game, Leinart said he wasn’t sure it would be enough to keep him on the team.

But he didn’t plan to worry.

He knows that he “could have played better, but you just move on.  . . . So yeah, it’s tough, but I was thankful to be here and you know we’ll see what happens.  Obviously, after that performance, you can’t feel too good.”

It’s Official: The NFL is Full of Whiners, Too

Stop it!  Just stop it!

You did it last year.  You did it two years ago.  Hell, you did it ten years ago!!!  So, just stop it.  It is getting old.

The “it” is whining.  And namely, whining about officiating.  But now, it is all about the replacement referees.  And while the routine of complaining about missed calls and lousy officiating is old, it appears that many players, coaches, and even fans are suddenly suffering from amnesia as they pretend this is a new phenomenon that exists only with replacement refs.

The quick background on the issue is that the NFL could not reach an agreement with the referee’s association.  Therefore, the NFL “locked out” the refs.  It is, of course, no different from last season during the NFL’s stalemate with the players.

But the NFL is in a tough spot.  Last season, with the lockout of the players, the league was willing to cancel the entire season.  Of course, this had a lot to do with the guaranteed money that would come from the television deal even if games were not played.  Nevertheless, while there could have been a possibility for replacement players, it seemed that the NFL was more willing to cancel the season rather than “force” replacements into the fold.  An argument could be made that the NFL would rather miss a season than have their brand suffer through what some may perceive as poorer quality football [on par with the UFL].

The situation with the referees is much different.  The NFL could not — nay!  would not cancel the season because of the referees, an element of the game that is supposed to be invisible and never in the spotlight.  You cannot have a season without “real” players, but you can have a season without “real” referees.

And so, the NFL attempted to move forward with these replacement referees.  And all hell broke loose…at least that is what we were made to believe.

Complaints ranged from the referees making the wrong spots to favoring heavily towards the home team.  Players, fans, coaches.  All complained.

But where is the problem?  Is it the replacement referees fault?  Is it the NFL?  Or is it more than that?

Blaming the Low-Hanging Fruit

The replacement referees have made mistakes.  That sentence should be filed under “obvious” in the dictionary.  So they are to blame for they are the ones spotting the ball incorrectly, granting extra challenges, and claiming simultaneous possession.  They do not get a pass on that.

However, they do get the benefit of the doubt for two reasons.  First, realize that they have suddenly been thrust into this position.  Instead of “replacement referees,” let’s call them “rookie refs.”  When a rookie player comes into the NFL, there is typically an understanding that there will be some bumps in the road.  The playcalling is much more complex and the athletic ability of all the players is much more balanced than in college.  Rookies will make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes are magnified, especially when the mistake lands the player in the “dog house” [see David Wilson].

If there are expectations that rookie players will make mistakes, then why not expect the same with “rookie” refs?  I mean, imagine that the Baltimore Ravens decided to start rookies at EVERY position!  That is what fans have faces with replacement referees…it is as though they are all rookies.  And, unlike players, the refs have to be out there at all times.  So the chances to make errors increases.  Yes, some calls have been egregious.  But, I think we are not placing these referees into the right context.

Again, these are NOT NFL referees.  The best correlation would be taking a middle school teacher and placing them into a college professor position with the expectations that they could handle the different nuances of the classroom environment and material without any issues.

Second, are we to believe that so-called “real” refs do not make mistakes.  The Seattle miracle was unbelievable, but the Seahawks have been on the other end of terrible officiating.  Recall Super Bowl XL, where even head official Bill Leavy later admitted to “kick[ing] two calls in the fourth quarter and impact[ing] the game.”  Which team was punished for those bad calls?  The Seattle Seahawks.  Or, the “Phantom Touchdown,” where in 1998 New York Jets quarterback Vinnie Testaverde scored a touchdown without even crossing the plane of the end zone.  Not only was Seattle at the receiving end of that low blow, but it also cost them a playoff spot as well as their head coach.

And, the list could go on and on to include the no-call of DeAndre Levy grabbing the facemask of Joe Webb, which could have given the Minnesota Vikings another shot at upsetting the Detroit Lions.  Or the mythical forward pass thrown by Jay Cutler in a 2008 game against the San Diego Chargers.  Or Calvin Johnson getting robbed of a touchdown in Week 1 of the 2010 season.

All of these gaffes were not committed by replacement refs, but by the “real refs.”  Hell, there is even a website called “Refs Suck,” which is dedicated to bad officiating and blown calls.  With the “real” refs now returning, what makes people believe that these “qualified professionals” will not continue to blow calls as they have in the past?

Simply, the replacements are easy to blame because they are only a temporary fix and not a permanent part of the NFL’s long-term agenda.  Thus, it is easy to blame the “outsider” rather than blame the major components of the machine.  Why criticize the money-makers or the League when you can go after the low-hanging fruit?

The $1 Experiment

If the replacement referees were partly to blame, the NFL makes up some of the remainder.  The NFL did not want to flinch to the lowly referees.  Caving in and giving them a slightly larger crumb of the massive pie that is the NFL was not on their agenda.  They’d rather face humiliation with an “inferior” product than give in.

But it is more than just the NFL’s stubbornness that is the problem.  By throwing these replacement referees into the fire, the NFL basically set them up to fail.  The NFL could not possibly have believed that the replacements would slide right in without a hitch.  So, they were set up to falter.

Basically, the NFL pulled out a scene from the movie Trading Places, where Roger Goodell and the NFL are the Dukes, and the replacement refs serve as Billy Ray Valentine.  Of course, Valentine foils the Dukes’ experiment by turning the tables on them, but basically it was as though the NFL could pull anyone in and make them a referee…all over a measly $1 (or, tiny piece of the NFL pie).  Unlike Trading Places, the experiment failed.

Still, blame the NFL for this.  But, there is one more group that deserves blame…in fact, one group that might deserve the most blame.

Anarchy in the NFL: Players and Coaches Lose Control

Let’s see.  Bill Belichick grabs an official.  Kyle Shanahan verbal murders another.  Ray Lewis is allegedly intimidating refs.  A tons of other players are pushing the limits to see what they can do.

So, why is there no blame being levied against the players and coaches who are attempting to take advantage of the situation?

We all remember the scenario in school.  You arrive at school and the teacher is late.  Then, an office assistant comes in to notify everyone of the best school day of the year — substitute teacher day!!!!!!!!!!  And, of course, the first thing that crosses your mind is “What can we get away with today?”

Hey teacher, we already covered Reconstruction.  Hey teacher, we usually take a break every 30 minutes.  Hey teacher, Deep Throat really is about Watergate!

When the substitute teacher day happens, students push the limits.  They want to see how far they can go.  Students know what they are supposed to do, but they suddenly set the rules on fire and flush it down the toilet.  They are going to act out because they know (1) the substitutes powers are limited, (2) the sub will be gone tomorrow [or at least soon], and (3) they do not have respect for the sub.

That scenario should seem familiar because the same thing happened while the replacement refs were being used in the NFL.  In the end, what we are seeing is players AND coaches acting out because the “real” refs are away.  When the sub is in, students all become morons.  Apparently, when the replacements are on the field, players and coaches all become morons.

Would Jim Harbaugh attempt to con a “real” ref into giving him another timeout?  Would Ray Lewis (or any other player) attempt to be overly intimidating towards refs?  Would Belichick grab a “real” ref like he did on Sunday?  [On second though, Belichick probably would do that].

Players and coaches knew that the replacement refs were not going to be around long so there was no reason to show them the proper respect afforded to “real” refs.  Hell, even using the term “real refs” reflected that lack of respect.  And, without that respect, players and coaches felt that they could get away with more.

And, by doing so, at least from the players’ perspective, they put their own health — and the health of their peers — in danger.  This does not absolve the replacement refs from being strict with their calls and doing their job.  But, the players pushed the boundaries on their own.  These are professional athletes, for crying out loud!  They know the rules just as well as the refs do.  And yet, they purposely chose to ignore them in order to see how much they could get away with on the field.

The replacement refs make for easy scapegoats once again because if a player gets hurt, they can blame the replacements for not “controlling the game.”  But, when the players are not respecting and pushing the limits, they are only endangering themselves.  The replacement refs are simply a justification for “acting out,” especially if someone became hurt.

Perhaps New York Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck said it best when he noted that the replacements were doing their best, that they were in an unenviable position, and that the “regular guys…miss calls, too.”  We could add to this that when the replacement refs get calls right or have a fairly-called game, we hear nothing about it.  All that we hear is the negative.

But, replacement refs were not the one offering to give away extra timeouts or replay challenges.  Replacement refs were not the ones trying to get away with murder (and not in the Ray Lewis sense).  Replacement refs were not the ones who even asked to be thrown to the wolves.  And, apparently, replacement refs were not the one in charge of the replay in the controversial Green Bay-Seattle game (and, according to ProFootballTalk, “real” refs may be to blame for not overturning the call).  Blame needs to be placed on players, coaches, and (as many have done) the NFL.

With the “real” refs now back, I suppose the players are suddenly going to “behave” and stop trying to watch Deep Throat in class.  All this will do is not damn the players but it will be painted that the “real” refs know what they are doing [and, to be fair, they do have a better sense of how to handle pampered NFL’ers] while it was all the replacement refs fault for the bad play and flubbed calls.

The “joy” over the return of the “real” refs humors me.  Everyone is making a big deal about “getting back to work.”  Yahoo! Sports even used a picture of a referee (a “real” one, i presume) shaking hands with Oakland Raider fans!!!  I guess players, fans, coaches, and “real” referees are all going to sit around and sing “Lesbian Seagull” while roasting s’mores!

But, this reeks of that feeling where you want your ex back.  You know, the time apart makes you feel all nostalgic about the happy times you spent with psycho!  The walks in the park.  The romantic dinners.  The gentle touch.  The fingernail-on-chalkboard sound of her laughter.  The fact that she criticizes all of your friends.

That’s right!  Now that the NFL has gotten back with their ex, it will not be long before those happy butterflies turn into terrorizing Mothras!  And players, coaches and fans will once again criticize officials.  And Raiders fans will be trying to stab refs in the back rather than shake their hands.

So, quit whining!  The replacement refs are gone and we now have “real” refs to fuck over games!

The NFL Preseason and Its Impact on the Regular Season

I was fairly happy to see that the Jacksonville Jaguars went 3-1 in the preseason this year.  Blaine Gabbert did not look scared; the team proved it might be able to survive without MJD.  All looked well.

But preseason is one big shitbag.  Sure, the team looks like it is on fire during the preseason, but once you stomp on it a little bit, you realize that it is just a bag of burning shit.

By all of this, I mean that every team resets to 0-0 beginning with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants game this evening.  And, after the dress rehearsal and allowing the “Rudys” of the world their chance to play a down or two before cutting them or banishing them to the practice squad, it is time to break out the big guns and go to war.  Let’s play some football!

But is the preseason really just a showcase of nothing?  Is it just a way to get fans hype about football again…and to line the pockets of the owners due to full-priced tickets for half-assed games?  Or, do the results of the preseason actually help predict regular season results?

Well, looking at the last five years of preseason and regular season results, I wanted to examine how winless preseason teams fared in the regular season, and how undefeated preseason teams did.  Here are the numbers:

WINLESS PRESEASON TEAMS

  • 2011: 3 teams (0.521 winning percentage)
  • 2010: 2 teams (0.656 winning percentage)
  • 2009: 3 teams (0.459 winning percentage)
  • 2008: 2 teams (0.469 winning percentage)
  • 20072 teams (0.375 winning percentage)
  • FIVE-YEAR TOTAL: 12 teams; 95 wins (0.495 winning percentage)

While there have been a couple of winless teams recently experience some success (Atlanta in 2011 had 10 wins; Chicago and Indianapolis in 2010 had 11 wins), many winless teams struggle.  In fact, according to Football Geography, only one winless preseason team has ever won the Super Bowl (the 1982 Washington Redskins in the strike-shortened season).  All told, in the Super Bowl era only ten teams (out of 77 winless preseason teams) made the playoffs, with three reaching the Super Bowl (Redskins winning it, and the 2000 Giants and 1990 Buffalo Bills losing it).

So, perhaps there is something in losing in the preseason.  The best way to check that is to compare losers to winners…how do undefeated preseason teams fare in the regular season?

UNDEFEATED PRESEASON TEAMS

  • 2011: 2 teams (0.375 winning percentage)
  • 2010: 1 teams (0.375 winning percentage)
  • 2009: 3 teams (0.438 winning percentage)
  • 2008: 1 teams (0.000 winning percentage)
  • 20070 teams (n/a)
  • FOUR-YEAR TOTAL: 7 teams; 39 wins (0.348 winning percentage)

Obviously, because there were no undefeated teams in 2007, I took the four-year total.  Nevertheless…wow!  Undefeated regular season teams actual perform worse in the regular season that their winless comrades.  Of course, this number is brought down by the woeful Detroit Lions of 2008, which went 0-16.  But, even removing that team from the equation yields a lower winning percentage (0.406) than winless teams.

However, while the recent trend may produce a lower comparative winning percentage, in general more undefeated preseason teams make the playoffs.  Again, using data from Football Geography, of the 78 undefeated preseason teams in the Super Bowl era, 43 have made the playoffs.  Six of those have won the Super Bowl (1967 Green Bay Packers; 1971 Cowboys; 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers; 1990 Giants; 2000 Baltimore Ravens; 2003 New England Patriots), with the latter three coming under the current 4-16 format for preseason and regular season games.  Four more of those 43 lost in the Super Bowl, including the Carolina Panthers in 2003 — the only Super Bowl to feature two undefeated preseason teams.  Super Bowl XXXV was the only Super Bowl to feature a winless preseason team (Giants) and an undefeated preseason team (Ravens).

Given the information above, it is difficult to draw any true parallels between preseason success (or failure) and regular season success (or failure).  Certainly, it appears that preseason success does give way to at least a playoff appearance.

However, it is also worth noting that 11 of the 35 undefeated teams not to make the playoffs have occurred since the 2001 season.  And, half of the undefeated teams to make the Super Bowl occurred within the first nine years of the championship game’s existence.  And, let’s not forget the dreadful 2008 Lions (though, they did make up for it last season).

I guess the best explanation is that while the long-term trend has been for winless preseason teams to struggle in the regular season while undefeated preseason teams motor ahead towards glory, the recent trend is one of indifference.  With teams more inclined to work out the kinks in terms of schemes and plays, give new guys and benchwarmers a chance, and rest the vets for the games that matter, preseason teams have begun to function as a shell of the “real” teams.  The nonchalant, testing-ground approach to the preseason has yielded parity in a league already ripe with it.

So maybe the preseason is exactly what many of us think it is — just a burning bag of shit!  So, let’s get on with the “real” season!

The NFL Starts a Day Earlier…So Quit Your Bitching!

Read this article.  Well, actually, read the comments section below the article.

Done?  Good.  I am excited that the NFL will start a day earlier this year.  Like opening presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day!  Sweet!

Unfortunately, a massive group of morons think that this is a bad idea.  Why?  Do they hate professional football?  Are they Canadian?  Are they afraid that they will miss some crime drama that uses the same premise as every other crime drama on television?

No!  These whiny individuals are upset because the game was move so as to not conflict with the Democratic National Convention!  Or, more specifically, President Obama’s “acceptance” speech that he plans to give at the DNC.   Nevermind that pre-empting the start of a game for politics has happened before; in 2008, the NFL moved its annual kickoff game up an hour so not to conflict with Republican Candidate John McCain’s acceptance speech.  That is not stopping the uninformed from making idiotic comments:

  • change a football game for a spineless leader with strings attached speech. GREAT! whats next canceling the whole season when that monkey gets re-elected?
  • This is nothing more than a convention B S speech. It has nothing to do with him being president. Would they have done the same for Romney……….This is the kind of crap that was going on in Germany in 1940. The gov. controlling the media to push their agenda. It is getting bad and it has to stop.
  • My God –this country is more looking like a dictator ship than a free society.
  • I will boycott the game and I think every red blooded american who isn’t a socialist shoud do the same. Obummer is now dictating when you can watch football. Well all these jail birds in the NFL and Obummer can have there stupid game and socialist convention. Probably cost Odumbo more votes lmao.
  • it’s a sad state of affairs when the opening of the beloved NFL season is dictated by a convention of liars, cheats, and blowhards. I love my NFL football, but I won’t watch this game. Not for a league that bows down for a @#$% speech. Shame NFL…shame and weak.
  • This is the end of the line as far as I am concerned.Over paid players,owners,and comish. and now this.I will not watch,listen,or buy a product endorsing or sponsoring the nfl ever again
  • Will not watch the game or the speech. Maybe a real low rating will jolt the lefties at the NFL…..
  • What a disgrace!….changing the NFL schedule to fit Osama’s speech….at a rally to help destroy what he’s left of our constitution!!!!……Hey Goodell, what’s next? CCCP on every NFL jersey?!?!?!?!?! or would you prefer stopping all afternoon games at sunset to bow toward Mecca?
  • I’m a die hard NFL fan but will not watch the opening game on NBC or any game on NBC. This @#$% president could care less for ALL Americans just the black asses and muslims!

Um, yeah!  You get the point.  One idiotic comment after another.  I try to keep my eyes away from the comment section, but this was too “good.”  I mean, comparison to 1940 German, using racial epithets, boycotting the game!?  Really, you are going to boycott the game just because it will be played ONE DAY EARLIER!?!?  It is not like the game is being moved to 1am!

Now, usually we leave the politics to others, but this vitriolic backlash is pathetic.  Again, check history.  The NFL, or more specifically NBC, have moved a game before to placate a politician’s speech (Senator McCain, as mentioned above).  There was no conflict in 2004 with the Republican National Convention that year (the NFL started a week later).  And, when the NFL and NBC made that move to give McCain his respect, how were both repaid?  By producing the second-lowest rated kickoff game since the league started this back in 2002.

Thus, from NBC and the NFL perspective, this move is a business decision based off of previous lessons learned.  If anything, the anti-Obama crowd that are claiming that he and the Democrats are forcing this move should recognize the decision and applaud the NFL for being so concerned about making a huge profit, which they will do regardless of however many morons “boycott” the game.  At least one commenter on the Yahoo! Sports article understood this:

The NFL made the decision – they want to have as many people watching the game as possible. And even if you personally were not going to watch the President speak the NFL is aware that there are quite a few people that will watch. This is a business decision by the NFL. The NFL is the #1 sport in America because of some pretty smart businessmen making decisions like these.

The NFL is going to maximize its profit and viewership as much as possible.  And while it might be hard to believe that “socialist” Democrats watch football, they do and the NFL understands this.  And those that are interested in what President Obama has to say will be conflicted, thus drawing eyes away from the game.  Yes, if the two were going head-to-head, the football game will have bigger ratings.  That is a no-brainer!  But, the NFL and NBC know that they can have optimal viewership if the game appears on another night (based off of past precedent).

By the way, I did find it humorous that most of the lowest rated comments for the article were those that told people to move on, or appreciate that the game is a day earlier.  NEVER interject reason and logic into a comment section!

The other interesting thing that I have noticed is the complaints that “now, I’ll have nothing to watch on Thursday.”  Really?  Your life is so miserable that the only entertainment you have is the NFL?  I cannot imagine what would have happened to these people had the 2011 season been cancelled.

Nothing to watch?  There are five baseball games scheduled for that day; three scheduled at night.  Try one of those.  Or, I am sure that there will be a college football game on, since the season begins the weekend prior to the DNC.  Or, maybe get out of the house; have a date!  But do not bitch that because there is no NFL game on Thursday night in early September that there is “nothing to do”; get a life!

Personally, if the NFL and NBC decided to leave the game on Thursday, you know what I am going to watch?  The fucking NFL game…even if the game is the Cowboys and the Giants.  Why?  Because I would rather watch football than empty suits, regardless of politics.  If it were the Republican National Convention competing against the NFL, I would also watch football!  Now that it is on Wednesday, I will still watch football…just a day earlier.  Thursday?  I’m sure there will be a decent college game on television.

And that is the thing that is puzzling about the backlash…people who are upset because the NFL moved the game were NOT going to watch the DNC anyway.  So, why should it matter that the game is on a Wednesday, or a Thursday, or even a Friday?  It doesn’t.  You were going to watch the game and ignore the DNC regardless, so it does not matter when each happens.

People just want to bitch about President Obama.  Or, in general (and in the words of Train), everyone “just like[s] … to rip on the president.”  Apparently these people are so unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives that they find it best to blame someone else for their woes, even if it is something as trivial (and out of their control) as the day on which the NFL will kickoff.  They want to blame President Obama or blame the “evil, liberal” NBC — a company that kowtowed to the Republicans in order not conflict with McCain’s acceptance speech —  rather than just thinking, “hell, football a day earlier!  Dyn-o-mite!!!”

So, boycott the game!  The NFL will somehow find a way to survive without you, I am sure.  Just quit bitching about the move.  If you are going to be too ignorant to understand the business decision made, too lazy to realize that it has been done before (albeit not move by a full day), too stupid to recognize that football will still be played, and too moronic that you resort to making racial and nonsensical comments, then the sports world is better off without you.

2011 Uncle Popov NFL Power Rankings (Week 9)

After looking at it, I was able to get it to where I like it.  Remember, it is a power ranking based on three-plus seasons…so Detroit is still hampered by that 0-16 season, but they are moving up.  I will still keep the 2011 rankings (for now), but I still need to figure out why San Francisco keeps ranking so high (number two).

WEEK 9!!!

POWER RANKING

Rank

Team

Points

Last Week

CHANGE

1

Green Bay Packers

14.329

4

3

2

Pittsburgh Steelers

13.402

1

-1

3

Baltimore Ravens

13.153

3

4

New England Patriots

13.005

2

-2

5

New Orleans Saints

12.592

6

1

6

Atlanta Falcons

12.590

5

-1

7

New York Giants

12.375

7

8

Chicago Bears

11.094

11

3

9

New York Jets

10.967

8

-1

10

Philadelphia Eagles

10.814

9

-1

11

San Francisco 49ers

10.645

17

6

12

Dallas Cowboys

10.144

14

2

13

San Diego Chargers

9.921

10

-3

14

Houston Texans

9.819

15

1

15

Cincinnati Bengals

9.637

19

4

16

Tennessee Titans

9.606

12

-4

17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

9.111

18

1

18

Minnesota Vikings

8.987

16

-2

19

Buffalo Bills

8.450

20

1

20

Detroit Lions

8.225

29

9

21

Carolina Panthers

7.818

22

1

22

Indianapolis Colts

7.401

13

-9

23

Washington Redskins

7.188

24

1

24

Oakland Raiders

7.034

21

-3

25

Denver Broncos

6.607

27

2

26

Arizona Cardinals

6.467

25

-1

27

Miami Dolphins

6.463

23

-4

28

Kansas City Chiefs

6.454

26

-2

29

Cleveland Browns

5.906

30

1

30

Jacksonville Jaguars

5.869

28

-2

31

Seattle Seahawks

5.347

31

32

St. Louis Rams

3.562

32

2011 RANKING

Rank

TEAM

Points

Last Week

CHANGE

1

Green Bay Packers

14.427

1

2

San Francisco 49ers

13.420

2

3

Detroit Lions

12.087

3

4

Cincinnati Bengals

11.562

7

3

5

New York Giants

11.049

9

4

6

Baltimore Ravens

10.950

8

2

7

Buffalo Bills

10.909

4

-3

8

Pittsburgh Steelers

10.614

5

-3

9

New England Patriots

10.452

6

-3

10

Chicago Bears

10.403

13

3

11

New Orleans Saints

10.220

10

-1

12

Houston Texans

10.189

11

-1

13

New York Jets

10.077

17

4

14

Atlanta Falcons

9.983

16

2

15

Dallas Cowboys

9.127

20

5

16

San Diego Chargers

8.926

18

2

17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

8.859

12

-5

18

Oakland Raiders

8.724

15

-3

19

Kansas City Chiefs

8.564

14

-5

20

Tennessee Titans

8.479

19

-1

21

Philadelphia Eagles

7.634

21

22

Denver Broncos

7.547

26

4

23

Cleveland Browns

7.508

22

-1

24

Washington Redskins

7.210

23

-1

25

Seattle Seahawks

6.628

25

26

Jacksonville Jaguars

6.619

27

1

27

Minnesota Vikings

6.497

28

1

28

Carolina Panthers

6.001

29

1

29

Arizona Cardinals

5.746

30

1

30

Miami Dolphins

4.708

32

2

31

St. Louis Rams

4.560

24

-7

32

Indianapolis Colts

3.611

31

-1

2011 Uncle Popov NFL Power Rankings (Week 8)

Not much in the way of altering the formula needed as the delay in releasing it got it to where I wanted it.  We do have a new number one in the polls — Pittsburgh.  Again, I will include both rankings (formula-based and ranking-composite) until I decide which one best reflects reality.

FORMULATED RANKING

Rank

TEAM

Points

Last Week

CHANGE

1

Pittsburgh Steelers

14.786

2

1

2

New England Patriots

14.369

1

-1

3

Baltimore Ravens

14.129

3

4

Green Bay Packers

13.842

4

5

Atlanta Falcons

13.401

6

1

6

New Orleans Saints

13.088

5

-1

7

New York Giants

12.586

8

1

8

New York Jets

12.186

9

1

9

Philadelphia Eagles

12.169

10

1

10

San Diego Chargers

11.970

7

-3

11

Chicago Bears

11.780

11

12

Tennessee Titans

11.273

14

2

13

Indianapolis Colts

11.089

12

-1

14

Dallas Cowboys

10.751

13

-1

15

Houston Texans

10.592

16

1

16

Minnesota Vikings

10.573

18

2

17

San Francisco 49ers

10.487

17

18

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

10.352

15

-3

19

Cincinnati Bengals

9.999

19

20

Buffalo Bills

9.402

21

1

21

Oakland Raiders

8.940

22

1

22

Carolina Panthers

8.889

20

-2

23

Miami Dolphins

8.611

23

24

Washington Redskins

8.444

24

25

Arizona Cardinals

8.407

26

1

26

Kansas City Chiefs

8.367

28

2

27

Denver Broncos

8.214

25

-2

28

Jacksonville Jaguars

8.132

27

-1

29

Detroit Lions

7.578

30

1

30

Cleveland Browns

7.568

29

-1

31

Seattle Seahawks

7.061

31

32

St. Louis Rams

5.069

32

COMPOSITE RANKING

Rank

TEAM

Points

Last Week

CHANGE

1

Pittsburgh Steelers

30.092

3

2

2

New England Patriots

29.317

1

-1

3

Green Bay Packers

28.893

4

1

4

New Orleans Saints

28.275

2

-2

5

Baltimore Ravens

28.156

6

1

6

Atlanta Falcons

28.075

5

-1

7

New York Giants

26.810

7

8

Philadelphia Eagles

26.020

8

9

Chicago Bears

21.631

9

10

New York Jets

20.561

11

1

11

Dallas Cowboys

20.105

10

-1

12

Minnesota Vikings

19.686

14

2

13

San Diego Chargers

19.092

12

-1

14

Tennessee Titans

18.790

16

2

15

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

17.500

13

-2

16

Houston Texans

17.000

17

1

17

Carolina Panthers

16.800

15

-2

18

Indianapolis Colts

15.820

18

19

San Francisco 49ers

15.750

19

20

Cincinnati Bengals

13.797

21

1

21

Washington Redskins

12.750

20

-1

22

Buffalo Bills

11.000

23

1

23

Miami Dolphins

10.772

22

-1

24

Detroit Lions

9.750

24

25

Arizona Cardinals

9.271

25

26

Oakland Raiders

7.500

27

1

27

Denver Broncos

7.250

26

-1

28

Kansas City Chiefs

6.017

30

2

29

Jacksonville Jaguars

6.000

28

-1

30

Cleveland Browns

5.750

29

-1

31

Seattle Seahawks

4.954

31

32

St. Louis Rams

2.250

32

2011 Uncle Popov NFL Power Rankings

Fun with numbers has now led me to do a power ranking for the NFL.  Yes, it is now entering Week 8, but it took a minute to get the numbers to flow accurately.

Just like the College Football Rankings, the NFL rankings is based on three-plus seasons worth of data.  Unlike the CFB rankings, there are a bit more weights involved, including divisional and conference weights, and an even heavier weight on success in the current season.  I found it was somewhat of an injustice that under the initial formula that Detroit was stuck at 31st.  However, even after tweaking it a bit, Detroit is only able to move up to 30th.  That 0-16 season really hurts.

So, what appears below is actually two rankings.  The first ranking is one using the secret formula that I devised and the other is a composite of the team’s rankings in the four major measures (record, competition, statistics, scoring), plus a playoff boost.  For now, I am going to include both until I determine which one best reflects the “power” of a team.

Also, I am working on a formula to determine player rankings versus competition.  We’ll see if that will work out.

FORMULATED RANKING

RANK

Team

Points

1

New England Patriots

14.8305

2

Pittsburgh Steelers

14.50723

3

Baltimore Ravens

13.8711

4

Green Bay Packers

13.75026

5

New Orleans Saints

13.64142

6

Atlanta Falcons

13.44772

7

San Diego Chargers

12.3892

8

New York Giants

12.33676

9

New York Jets

12.23704

10

Philadelphia Eagles

11.78655

11

Chicago Bears

11.67999

12

Indianapolis Colts

11.20726

13

Dallas Cowboys

11.06803

14

Tennessee Titans

10.9413

15

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

10.43857

16

Houston Texans

10.32693

17

San Francisco 49ers

10.19978

18

Minnesota Vikings

10.1433

19

Cincinnati Bengals

9.784424

20

Carolina Panthers

9.183861

21

Buffalo Bills

9.169663

22

Oakland Raiders

8.945386

23

Miami Dolphins

8.748644

24

Washington Redskins

8.708267

25

Denver Broncos

8.480375

26

Arizona Cardinals

8.455963

27

Jacksonville Jaguars

8.279993

28

Kansas City Chiefs

8.006228

29

Cleveland Browns

7.839625

30

Detroit Lions

7.330598

31

Seattle Seahawks

7.198756

32

St. Louis Rams

4.506914

COMPOSITE RANKING

Rank

Team

Points

1

New England Patriots

29.817

2

New Orleans Saints

29.775

3

Pittsburgh Steelers

29.592

4

Green Bay Packers

28.143

5

Atlanta Falcons

28.075

6

Baltimore Ravens

27.656

7

New York Giants

25.560

8

Philadelphia Eagles

24.770

9

Chicago Bears

21.631

10

Dallas Cowboys

21.105

11

New York Jets

20.811

12

San Diego Chargers

20.092

13

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

18.750

14

Minnesota Vikings

18.186

15

Carolina Panthers

17.550

16

Tennessee Titans

17.540

17

Houston Texans

16.750

18

Indianapolis Colts

15.570

19

San Francisco 49ers

15.500

20

Washington Redskins

13.250

21

Cincinnati Bengals

13.047

22

Miami Dolphins

11.022

23

Buffalo Bills

10.500

24

Detroit Lions

9.750

25

Arizona Cardinals

9.271

26

Denver Broncos

8.500

27

Oakland Raiders

7.250

28

Jacksonville Jaguars

6.750

29

Cleveland Browns

6.250

30

Kansas City Chiefs

5.517

31

Seattle Seahawks

5.454

32

St. Louis Rams

2.000

Pretending to Care: Hooters, the NFL and “Fake” Service

In his song “No Sex (In the Champagne Room),” Chris Rock makes the observation that…

No one goes to Hooters for wings!

Of course not!  They go for pushed-up hooters, tiny orange shorts, and fake-tanned legs!  The wings actually suck!

Yeah, this is going to bring the wrong type of traffic to this site!

But the commodification of the female body for Hooters serves a distinct purpose beyond innocent woodies and testosterone pumping.  They are there to distract you; to take your mind off of how ho-hum the food is, how limited the beer selection is, and how boring the Timberwolves-Grizzlies game is.  And the waitresses are there to entrance you in hopes that you leave a nice tip for marginal food and “fake” service.

I am not suggesting that the women who work at Hooters are just dumb broads with nothing else to offer society.  That type of stereotyping is no different than suggesting all men who frequent a Hooters restaurant is a dirty old man.  Some women work at Hooters to pay for school; to better themselves.  Sure, some fit the stereotype, but many more are educated (or becoming educated) and just working in the medium presented to them.

But the business model of Hooters is like the Sirens from Greek mythology.  They entice you.  You sit down and the waitress will playfully flirt; carefully if the significant other is there.  But they will flirt.  They will get you to think that they dig what you are saying about your shitty job or your hobby of collecting stamps or how you think Darko Milicic is actually not that bad of a player.

But the reality is that they do not care.  It is all a ruse.  Because in the end, if they can get you to buy into that flash pseudo-relationship, then you are more likely to tip more than normal.  If they can get you to buy into the false notion that you have a shot with this girl, then you will likely tip more.  It is all “fake” service.  They pretend to care so that you keep coming back.  And so, you tip $10 on an overcooked burger and she walks away with a good payday.  She played you because she knows she is going to get paid and you will come back for more.

How does this relate to the NFL (and sports)?  The NFL, like the Hooters waitress, pretends to care about you.  Certainly commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFLPA are going to say that they need to cut a labor deal “for the fans.”  It is all “for the fans” because that is who they care about and that is who the game is really for.  It is the fans who “pay” the salaries.

Yet, just like the waitress, the NFL is distracting you.  Certainly sports serve as a distraction from the daily grind of life.  But the distraction is that it is “for the fans” insofar as fans pay an exorbitant amount of money to billionaires!  And they are laughing all the way to the bank.

But, the reality is that it is not “for the fans.”  The labor dispute is an argument between millionaires and billionaires about simply shuffling the money around.  Think about this: 15 of the 20 most valuable sports franchises in the world — not just U.S. — are NFL franchises!  The television deal for the NFL is the richest in the world for a given sport (yes, including the Olympic Games).  So it is not like there is a shortage of money.

Owners are going to get paid.  Players are going to get paid.  They are basically nickel-and-diming the fans because they want a few extra numbers here or there.  They are not trying to get a deal done “for the fans”; they are trying to get a deal done for themselves.  If it was for the fans, they would have come up with a deal already.

When the NHL had their lockout and lost an entire season, they made a token gesture to the fans by embedding “Thank You Fans” in the ice.  It was hollow because had they truly cared about “the fans,” they would have gotten through their issues, made concessions, and the 2004-05 season would not have been lost.  As it was, the players and owners could not find a common ground and the lockout ensued.  Ironically, the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that expired was agreed upon to end an earlier NHL lockout in 1994.

In the wake of the NHL lockout, a slight majority of fans placed blame on the players rather than the owners.  Perhaps Jeremy Roenick essentially telling unsympathetic fans to “kiss his ass” sums up that notion.  Players will show deference to fans only to the point that it benefits them (positive face time).  Beyond that, they do not give a shit about you or your family.

Well, maybe that is a bit harsh.  Not all players fit that stereotype.  Just like maybe there is a Hooters waitress who really does care about how much sheetrock you hung today.  Players do take time to sign autographs and whatnot.  But when it boils down to money, you see where their allegiance lies.  It is not a bad thing to want to get paid, but given how much players already make it is simply a squabble over small change.  And the fans are left to pay the price…literally.

The entire Super Bowl XLV exemplifies fans paying the price for the general selfishness of the NFL.  The game itself was good (and granted, I like the Packers so the game was grrrrrrrreat!).  But from the silly $200+ fee to stand outside Jerry Jones Stadium — ERRR Cowboy Stadium — to watch the game, to the 400 or so fans who had tickets to the game, to the ridiculous fly-over that no one in the stadium saw live (other than on the Titanic-sized television in the stadium)…this had little to do with the fans.  This was all about maximizing profit and setting some sort of attendance record.  It was about self and not the fans.

If you need more proof about the selfish nature of Super Bowl XLV, read this e-mail published on the website for Business Insider.  It is from one of the “lucky” 400 who were denied the seats that they purchased.  Sure, the NFL is trying to “do the right thing” by offering tickets to either next year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis plus $2400, or a full-paid trip to any future Super Bowl (minus the cash…and non-transferable).  But that is more of a P.R. move as the NFL is getting hammered over this.

Again, if it was for the fans, wouldn’t Jerry Jones had been more prepared?  Dallas (or is it “North Texas”?) was awarded Super Bowl XLV in 2007!  Cowboy Stadium just completed its second season of use.  And the Cowboys’ last game was on 19 December…seven full weeks before the Super Bowl!?  And they still could not complete the task on time!?  Maybe they should have hired Hispanic workers, at least according to South Carolina State Senator Robert Ford.

If it were all for the fans then the NFL would not have allowed Jerry Jones attempt to pack as many people as possible into his stadium in an attempt to break the attendance record.  It was all about self.  The price of tickets for the Super Bowl is ridiculous to begin with; to think that those “luck 400” paid near $800 (at least according to face value) for seats that were to be constructed in a “standing room only” section speaks to that.  This is a reason why I have no problem with a Super Bowl in London…it is already too expensive for “average” people to go to the game!

Wow! $70 for tickets to a Jags game!? How fan-friendly!

And if it were for the fans then part of the negotiation would bring down ticket prices.  With advertisement, television deals, merchandise, sweet stadium deals, and revenue sharing, teams are already walking away with a ton of money.  According to Forbes, in 2009 only two franchises lost money — Detroit ($2.9 million) and Miami ($7.7 million).  Most teams made a profit, with the New York Giants turning the smallest profit ($2.1 million).  Based off the numbers in the article, only three franchises made less than $15 million (with the Lions and Dolphins losing money).

The NFL is a cash cow, so shouldn’t tickets to a Jaguars game not run $70+!?  That is, if it were really for the fans.

The labor dispute and potential lockout are not going to necessarily change the amount of money coming in to the NFL and team owners.  The dispute primarily focuses on the distribution of that money; currently anywhere from 56-60 percent of revenue going to player salaries.  The owners feel they got jobbed with the 2006 extension and are looking to hoard more of the money.  But it is expected to be the same about of money coming in.  It comes down to simply shifting the money around.

So, if players are still going to get paid and owners are still going to get paid…and they are all going to be handsomely paid…then why not compromise and meet somewhere in the middle?  For the fans?

Because it is not for the fans.  All the talk about getting a deal done for the fans is empty…it is fake service to make the fans think the sport is for them.  But let’s be real…while we love football in the U.S., it is still a business.  And when it comes down to it, all that matters is profit margins and getting paid.  And really, even if the lockout does wipe out the 2011 season, the owners are going to get paid anyway thanks to that outrageous television deal that guarantees payment even if no games are played!!! The players are going to be the real ones to suffer.  The fans?  Simply collateral damage.

But the thing is that when a deal is cut, the fans will come back.  Any notion that a prolonged lockout will irreparably damage the NFL’s reputation and fan loyalty is nonsense because it will not hit as hard as the NHL or Major League Baseball and their respective lockouts.  We, as fans, have been entranced by the Siren song of the NFL.  Like the Hooters waitress, the NFL “flirts” with us and makes us believe that they want us.  And in the end, we always go back because we have bought into the “fake” service — “it is for the fans.”