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Monday, 14 October 2013


Enough money to spread it around? Are you dafted? All the owners are waaaaay too poor to afford a crazy idea like that.

I'm curious...why should there be a weight limit for the defensive linemen, but not the offensive? (I don't know much about the details of pro football.) It seems to me that the defensive linemen are already at a disadvantage: they need to be fast to get to the QB / running back, but they also need to be big, so that they have some chance of pushing the offensive line around. Isn't that why offensive linemen generally outweigh their defensive counterparts? It seems to me that if you put a weight limit on one group, you have to apply a weight limit to the other group as well...

Your "Nuthin" is mostly better than my "sumpin." Actually, one of my major downfalls is writing consistently. That is, producing saleable articles all the time, which brings me to the "How does Mike do it ALL the time, almost everyday?"
SO here's to Nuthin, Mike and please keep it up...pool stick and all.
(Someday I'll tell you a pool story worth the sharing...but it could also be Nuthin.)

Sorry to hear you had a bad week and are on antidepressants. Hopefully writing will make you feel better and knowing how much we enjoy your blog should definitely help. Hang in there!

And, hey, I read this with interest and I don't even like football.

I think your comparison between RGIII and Jim McMahon are conflating two different issues. RGIII's destroyed knee is one thing, but McMahon's memory issues are from repeated hits to the head, i.e. concussions. PBS's League of Denial was just released and addresses concussions in American Football. It seems that the NFL may be in the same position Big Tobacco was a few decades ago: they know that concussions are happening, they know concussions are dangerous, but they have done very little to address the problem. Your idea about doubling rosters is interesting, but it won't keep players from getting concussions and suffering the cumulative deleterious effects. I believe that as the public becomes more aware of the health issues (both physical and mental) of playing football, the NFL will be forced to alter its rules. It may be that one day we'll be watching flag football, but at least we can be entertained with a clear conscience.

Sorry to hear you don't like New England. The coach is an annoying asshole, true, but Brady? If he played in Green Bay, he'd already have been canonized a saint. People would name their daughters after him.
As for yesterday, even the Globe picked the Pats to lose big - as did I.
But that was only the first huge win for us. Don't forget Big Papi's grand slam last night.
I wonder if the Twins regret letting him go?

Yeah, for guys like us, away from bars is a better place to be!

Søren in Denmark

The problem with football is the same one that afflicted boxing -- the head injuries are common and debilitating and now undeniable (see the PBS show "League of Denial.") I'm not sure, but as in boxing, I don't think it can be fixed. Last week, I was in Minneapolis and heard a sports commentator talking about this, and he said that years ago he was chatting with an NFL owner or manager (I forget which) and they were watching a game, and a guy got injured and carried off the field. The owner said, "In 75 years, they won't believe we were allowed to play this game." The commentator said that the NFL's big fear is that mothers won't allow their talented kids to play football, and that will cut down on the available talent. Well, yeah. I have three grandsons, all really big bruisers, and smart, and I told my daughter, "You're crazy if you let them play football." She won't. It's a great game, maybe the best one, but it's just too dangerous.

The lucky ones now are the NFL players who get injured and are forced into retirement early in their careers. They've already detected traces of brain damage in... HS football players. Only the most cosmetic of 'changes' will occur. And I hate to think what these MMA guys are going to be like in a decade.

I was a hardcore boxing fan all my life, and watching Ali raise the sport to visual poetry and have it in turn savage him to the point I could no longer watch was lesson enough.

Sports injuries are insidious. I don't know much about (American) Football; our games are soccer (that's 'football', actually, of course) and rugby. As far as football is concerned, there has been an study into the number of ex-players who have developed dementia in old age - it's a higher proportion than the average. They think it might be down to heading the ball. The technique was to brace your neck muscles and hit the ball with the forehead, and that could give the player's entire head a significant blow. Especially in the days of leather balls, often extra-heavy because they were soaking wet.

Rugby, too, has changed since professionalism 15 years or so ago, and as in your football the players are bigger, heavier and stronger than ever before. There are many injuries. Rugby coaches used to say proudly that there were fewer injuries in rugby than in soccer, but I don't think that's true now.

In fact there is one good thing about soccer - it's still all about skill. Being bigger or heavier or even faster isn't necessarily an advantage. Being those things can be useful if you have the talent to use it, but equally being small, nimble and light can be good. Lionel Messi of Barcelona, possible the best player in the world in recent years, is 5'7".

Mike! It was a fantastic win, made more so for the loss of the two starting receivers. If the Packers can rely on a great defensive effort and consistent running game (and that is a big if), they will have addressed the biggest bugaboos of the last two years.

First off, have to confess I'm not really a sports fan. But we Brits play rugby without ANY body armour! Well maybe shin guards.

Never, Ever, Ever leave the game before the end. You're there to support your team.

And if you stay you might see this


Highlights (well, the 7 goals) at http://youtu.be/gwCDYc-r3iI

Sport and support is about staying to the bitter end. Although you pay to go to the game, your duty as a fan is to sing and support for the full, 60,80, 90, 90+ minutes. I spent 7 happy years as a season ticket holder at Anfield, (for those not on this side of the pond, that's Liverpool's home) and never once left before the final whistle. I sang, whistled, cheered and boo-ed (the opposition, never my team) myself hoarse.

Help!! Anything but football, or any sport played with a ball-just about covers them all fortunately. I'll even read about vinyl and old speakers, just not any more sports. I need one sports-free venue in my life.

[C'mon, Del, I'm being *critical* of football. Don't I get any anti-sports cred for that?

(Admittedly, I do love football, so maybe not.) --Mike]

I used to like watching football. I still think it's fundamentally a good game, but I just can't stand to sit and watch a game any more. My big gripe about it is the way the game is played for presentation: it takes three or four hours to play a one hour game. How dumb is that?

So, sez I, why not change the rules a bit? No substitutions. Period. No separate offensive and defensive teams playing half the game each. No timeouts except under exceptional circumstances, such as a serious injury. You get out there and you play for an hour. Then the game might take an hour and three minutes to play. And you could have three or four games in the time it takes to play one now. Maybe a couple of high school games, a college game and a pro game to headline.

If a player gets hurt or just plain exhausted, his team is a man short. OK, the other team probably will be too, sooner or later. Tactics and strategy become flexible by necessity. There's more variety in the game.

Then all the old injury news makes headlines again. So, sez I, maybe there's a connection here. Maybe the root of those excessively common, excessively debilitating injuries is that players and coaches know that if somebody gets hurt, somebody else will finish the game for him. There's a huge built-in incentive to take risks. Not just the sort of risk you need to take to win, but potentially career-ending or life-ending risks. If everybody knew the players had to at least try to finish the game, maybe they'd try to survive it first.

Right on. Hang in there. I am praying that that cloud lifts. My day is not complete w/o TOP.

I can't help but wonder if the helmets give the players a greater sense of invincibility. An economist once said that if you want people to drive safer put a large spike on the steering wheel. Maybe going back to leather head/ear covers may change the playing style to where the head is treated more cautiously. Maybe not, they went to the hard shell for a reason. Time to do some research.

Or play like rugby union (the real man's game) - no helmets - no pads - it would reduce hard object to head and head to head contact!

Surely American "Football" (a complete misnomer as kicking the ball is such a small part of the process) is more of a metaphor of capitalism than a true sport? It is also partly explains why it has not and is highly unlikely to ever gain a genuine foothold outside North America.

You have a massively rich owner of the team whose toy it is. The coach who designs the plays is the manager; the quarterback the foreman; (and the only player with a scintilla of autonomy) while the offensive, defensive and kicking units of the team are disposable manual workers, used without consideration of their health and safety, who are freely traded or disposed of when deemed surplus to requirements.

The chunked structure of the process with all its surrounding hoo-ha is perfect for TV advertising, while the fans are forced to pay large sums for the privilege of watching, while risking being exploited further by the sale of dubious hotdogs, etc.

If the above, written by someone who is not a North American, is considered unreasonable, consider this. Football (soccer), cricket, hockey, rugby and basketball, which can reasonably be considered world wide sports, are all capable of being played, or close facsimiles, with minimal resources by individuals, often children, unsupervised and with the most meagre of resources. Also, such games are essentially continuous, mostly getting by with a single break for the two teams to change ends.

Too bad to hear about the depression, Mike. I wish you all the best.

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