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Saints!

Thursday
February 29th, 2024
L&T Opinions Page

larry phillips mugshotGUEST COLUMN, Larry Phillips, Kismet

 

Watching football last weekend, both college and professional, reminded me how much the game has changed in 51 years since I played my last high school game as a Liberal Redskin.

Everything about the game, from TV announcers, pre-game and post-game analysts, the games themselves and the penalties have become infuriating, incomprehensible and even laughable, to me anyway.

It starts with the announcers and analysts. Have you ever noticed when these men, mostly former players or coaches, are standing during their shows – you know, on their little miniature football field or in the open square amongst the fans or in front of on-set video screens where they can use their fingers to show us the exes and ohs – they can’t stand still?

Their feet are shuffling like a drunk trying to learn the Two-Step, and they sway back and forth and pitch to and fro. I get sea sick just watching them. They look like the fishing crews on “Wicked Tuna” during rough seas. 

After watching them a few minutes, I start looking through the medicine cabinet for motion sickness remedies, or … just hit the remote.

Another thing I’ve noticed during games, announcers usually say somewhere during play, “That was a great move, too bad the ref saw him, he got caught. He had to do that to stop a touchdown.” 

Really? 

We’re teaching our kids that doing something to an opposing player that is known to be illegal; like holding, clipping, hands to the face, face-masking, tripping, kicking, punching, stomping their heads are all okay as long as you don’t get caught?

Unbelievable, but listen for it in the next game you watch.

I also like the way they – whoever “they” are – protect the poor, little, sickly and fragile quarterback.

Let’s see. You can’t hit him above the breast bone, or touch his head in any way, or hit him from somewhere a little south of his family jewels down to his ankles. 

Once you do manage to grab him somewhere around the waist and do the ol’ belly-rub dance (spin and whirl), you can’t forcefully throw him to the ground (another form of grounding?).

And if you do get him down, you can’t jump up, stand over him and ask, “How do you like that, #&@*!%?” 

Flags will be flying everywhere. Can’t taunt the poor little, sensitive guy? Might hurt his wittle feewings

What’s with this “late hit” or “targeting?” We called it “piling on” in the old days. If you got to the guy being tackled, and he still wasn’t down, we hammered him. It was an abject lessen for him to quit fighting fate, bud. You’re stopped.

Nowadays, if you hit another player “with the crown of your helmet,” it’s targeting. I guess it’s okay though, “If you don’t get caught” by a referee, eh?

Then on the next play, you see a hand off to a 265-pound fullback, and he slams into the line, breaks through into the secondary and aims at a defenseman who is standing his ground; legs spread and hunched forward ready to tackle this monster coming at him at 20 mph and what happens?

The fullback drops his head and nearly decapitates the defender – helmet to helmet. Where’s the targeting on that? The poor defender is assisted while staggering off the field looking like he was just floored by Mike Tyson. He staggers all the way to the bench, mumbling, “Whaaaa hit me? Where am I?”

Then we have “special teams” players who are kept on the squad as backups, usually. So I believed. 

But no, I’ve come to the realization these guys are rejects from “special ed” classes. You know, players with learning disabilities or mental challenges? They either were never taught or can’t retain the rules.

The reason, and I’m whispering here because I don’t want to insult special ed kids in any way – students with learnign challenges can still be taught and can learn. I’m not sure these players on “special” teams can do the same. 

I’m convinced these special teams are made up of young men who can’t remember the rules; like against blocking in the back, hands in the back, tripping, grabbing face masks to bring a man down, a collar tackle or holding, especially holding.

And what about the most wasted time in football games? 

The kickoff return. 

It used to be one of the most exciting plays in the game. But, because of the NFL, it has all but phased out the kickoff return – with about three out of four kickoffs now resulting in touchbacks (kicked into or through the end zone). 

That’s a complete reversal from 10 years ago, when 76.4 percent of kickoffs were returned, according to the NFL. And the one of four where the ball is returned? Voilá, there is a flag thrown for a flagrant foul against a “special teams” player.

Guess why the kickoff return is now redundant?

The “special teams” players can’t remember the rules or simply refuse to play by the rules. They’re special teams and need special classes, I guess, to learn how to play football, ethically. Yet owners pay the “special needs team” players wads of cash – each.

You’d be hard pressed to watch a game where a flag was not thrown on a special teams play – during the whole game. I have never seen one in decades.

I also like all this video replay nonsense. The refs on the field make a bad call, but the “Head Replay Ref” in “New York” – or in heaven wearing a white robe with a halo – covers their butts and agrees with the call even when video shows the opposite. 

The announcers then usually say, “I guess there wasn’t ‘indisputable evidence’ that would overrule the call on the field.” 

Who gets to define what “indisputable” means? The Ref God in NYC. How convenient.

The whole system reminds me of having someone like Adam Schiff in charge of investigating James Comey, James Clapper and John Brennan, eh?

Then there’s half-time and post-game analysis. These guys and gals are needed to tell us what we just watched. You must understand – we’re too stupid to trust our own eyes and ears. They’ll straighten us out on their show. Heh. Heh. Oops, they’re headed to the studio’s big video playback screens.

Whoa, now where did I put that Dramamine?

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