Monday, February 07, 2005

The New England Patriots: Evil, Or Just Boring?

Can it be that the New England Patriots are the only team professional enough to win the Super Bowl any more? How do you not go into no huddle down 10 with less than six minutes left in the game? How in Bill Bergey's name can Donovan McNabb not know to have two plays called when you're under a minute with no timeouts and need to drive the length of the field? And how do you not try to field a punt when there's less than a minute to go, no matter where the other team is when they punt? Why would you leave your field position entirely to the other team?

This may explain a lot, but not enough. Football's an emotional sport, and that's part of what's unique and interesting about it. People go crazy around an active football game, on and off the field, especially in a championship game like the Super Bowl. It's the pinnacle of any player's career, and many former participants attest to the difficulty with which a newcomer or even a veteran manages his emotional state in order to make effective decisions. Players are human and have lots of time to imagine the Super Bowl experience and worry about it, and often something is lost in the heat of the moment, a certain thougthfulness. With HDTV, you can see that lost look on a QB's face better than ever.

I guess I'm still astounded when players making $10 million a year do dumb things that even a high school athlete should know to avoid. I'm not talking about fumbles, or missed tackles, or even throwing interceptions when there's not a teammate within 20 yards. Those are human mistakes and can be influenced by many factors not obvious to the viewer. But clock management mistakes late in any game, much less the goddamn Super Bowl, are unforgivable. None of the other Eagle players thought it was a good idea to huddle up with the clock ticking away after just one play, a pass complete for a yard that should never have been thrown, but McNabb insisted, and they complied. The pass was bad enough; even a Pop Warner QB knows you don't throw to the middle of the field for a one-yard completion with no timeouts and less than a minute to go. But not having a second play called is criminal negligence.

Philly fans are bound to be ruthless about this, and they should be. McNabb is the highest-paid player in the league, and he should damn well have mastered the basics by now. That's what he's paid for, not to make commercials and do ghastly Michael Jackson impressions in the end zone.

I have been deeply annoyed by the Freddie Mitchell/Rodney Harrison flap, Mitchell was joshing with reporters like he did the week before, but now everyone's decided that when you're playing the no-nonsense Patriots, it's not funny. Harrison has been holding court ever since, acting like he's the humble steward of a once-proud game that has been ruined by people who "just don't get it." Not that that isn't the case, but enough with the "If you ain't channeling Butkus, you ain't a real player" crap. There is not one single way to play a sport, or appreciate music, or any of the things absolutists are contantly trying to define for us. Holding things sacred is a good way to snuff them out entirely, I think, and

I've never been a fan football true believers, all those frothing, spitting assistant coaches on the sidelines, bellowing football platitudes at the players on the bench because they have no other outlet for their madness. Such silliness extends to the world of fandom, making people who root for one team their whole lives somehow superior to those who change their minds as coaches and personnel change. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, if you've been a Packer fan religiously since the first game they ever played, you're just rooting for the color scheme. Everything else is different.

It's some kind of weird true-believer mob mentality, and I remember it unfondly from my own high school football experience, but I guess I dislike watching players who have their end zone dance all planned out but can't remember not to throw the ball to a guy in the middle of the field for no gain with no time on the clock and no time outs even more than watching frothing zealots freak out over every little thing. The Patsies are a great advertisement for establishing a Pod People culture and demanding full compliance, even to the point of sacrificing salary to play there. Can't drink the Kool-Aid much more willingly than that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe Donovan is like the actor "
Dolamite". You see, Dolamite could only remember one line at a time. Wtach a movie and you will see him reading cards or excessive editing. Donovan can only remember one play at a time obviously blowing precious minutes that could have definitley been turned into two scores! You blew it sucka fool. See you on the golf course Naddy McNad