Football is destroying itself
Gary Sanchez's benching gall is perfect way to head into 2021
NFL pregame shows are consistently useless
Puzzling Giants error part of messy week for TV
Bad beats, Pete Rose union show sad side of gambling
There’s an old gag about the fellow asked why he keeps banging his head against the wall. “Because,” he explains, “it feels so good when I stop.”
That’s what the NFL has become under his Royal Negligence, Roger Goodell. Every week we’re presented with more sensible reasons to cease watching, to stop banging our heads against the wall.
So what was this week’s greater scandal:
The coach of a 4-11-1 team showing little to no interest in winning his flexed-to-prime-time game against Washington, Sunday? Or the “robbery” of a 6-10 team eliminated from participating in the playoffs and competing for the Super Bowl despite a highly undeserving season?
Then again, such realities are grasped slowly. In January 1815, the Battle of New Orleans erupted after the British and Americans signed the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812 in December 1814.
Well before the Eagles seemed to surrender to Washington despite trailing by only three, two other games with playoff eligibility significance were lost, not to football the sport, but to malfeasance by players who apparently had no idea that football is — or was — a team game.
In the first quarter of the Cowboys (6-9) at Giants (5-10), Giants WR Sterling Shepard was head-butted to the field by CB Trevon Diggs. It was unsettling to witness, as if the hit were designed to maim. But it went undetected or at least unpunished.
Meanwhile, away from the play, DB Jourdan Lewis hit unsuspecting TE Kaden Smith in his helmet with his helmet. Lewis didn’t even try to avoid detection. Fox’s Troy Aikman said Lewis wasn’t “smart” to have done this, “and the fact that he’s laughing, I won’t even comment on it.”
Why not? Here was a chance to scream about the NFL again collapsing under the weight of its senseless brutalities. Yet Aikman chose to take a pass?
And it changed the game, helped make losers out of winners. Instead of third-and-10 from their own 18, the Giants had a first down from their 33 and Dallas next got the ball at their own 20, before punting.
Then, just to emphasize matters — that the Cowboys refused to win — in the second quarter, DT Randy Gregory was hit with an unnecessary roughness 15-yarder that gave the Giants strong field position from which they soon scored a TD to take a 13-3 lead in a 23-19 final.
Remarkably, after Gregory’s mindless foul, Aikman said, “Both teams understand the urgency of this game,” when all we saw was vivid, repetitive proof to the contrary.
And not once were these brainless, game-altering penalties mentioned in the second half of the telecast, as if selfish, self-inflicted defeats are standard, excusable elements of every game.
A league that wants its fan base to bet on its games as much and as often as possible, increasingly can’t ensure the integrity of its games.
The Cardinals went deep to re-sign WR DeAndre Hopkins — $54.5 million over two — after procuring him from the Texans.
Sunday, with the Cards down eight, 5:30 left and in desperate need of a win to make the playoffs, Hopkins was hit with a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. In all, he was called for consecutive penalties —the first for offensive pass interference — totaling 25 yards. The Cards were soon forced to punt, then pack it in for the season.
How does the NFL respond to such rotten, non-football results? Who knows? Goodell doesn’t like to make waves; he likes to pander to those who leave the league in disrepute while unwisely taking the NFL’s wiser fans for fools.
But this week in Gotham was devoted to Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson, whether he tanked for a draft pick, whether he intentionally lost a game to deprive the Giants of reward for losing 10 of 16 games. And so Goodell’s Nero Fiddles League presented another week of lost credibility: suspicion of scandal, draft-tanking, NFL-invited gambling fixes and games determined by the misconduct of college-delivered me-firsters.
And the league, even more than last week, is in need of an industrial cleansing.
Blaming losses entirely on QBs
Recall that Dec. 6 game the Jets lost to the Raiders on a late bomb against a no-show defensive secondary, the one that cost defensive coordinator Gregg Williams his job?
Did you know it was all Sam Darnold’s fault?
Yeah, CBS, on Sunday, posted a graphic during Jets-Patriots that read Darnold is “13-24,” meaning he lost that game to Las Vegas.
By the way, why would CBS bother to start that telecast showing players linking arms in solemn silent tribute to those who have lost their lives to COVID-19, only to have play-by-play man Tom McCarthy talk completely over it?
Did I have a deal for you! DirecTV offered a free NHL preview, Jan. 1 through Jan. 7! Except that was more than a week before the season was scheduled to start. Grateful reader Earle Farnham: “We got a whole seven days to watch nothing — for free!”
I messed up here, Sunday writing that the victorious under-20 U.S. hockey team at least twice wore black Nike uniforms. They appeared to be black, but were dark blue. Still, why can’t our Nike-sponsored international teams wear traditional red, white and blue uniform? They don’t have that color in slave-wage Chinese factories?
Not until late in the Giants-Cowboys game last Sunday, after Ezekiel Elliott caught a short pass for a first down, did Fox’s Troy Aikman tell us, “This guy finishes runs and catches better than any back in the league. He’s as tough as they come.” For the day, Elliott totaled 42 yards on 14 carries, three catches for 19 yards.
Reader Don Reed alerts us to a thoroughbred named Ouch Ouch Ouch. Two dollars across the board will cost you nine Ouches.
Not too impressed by these talking heads
NBC’s Cris Collinsworth, having crossed the boundary into the Land of the Insufferable, is still an expert on knowing it after it happened, and still thinks players are paid “to impress me.”
Speaking of leaving us impressed, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit can’t simply tell us the play gained two yards, but chooses the vague, ridiculous, “made positive yardage.” A nice catch? That translates to, “He has good ball skills.”
Networks next season will post graphics indicating which is the wide receiver’s “back shoulder.” It’ll appear as “BS.” It still hasn’t dawned on experts that all players who turn to catch a pass create a back shoulder.
COVID-19 has canceled the Connecticut-Baylor women’s basketball game, which would have matched the two most notorious, remorseless, run-it-up, stomp-’em-when-they’re-down, undignified Division I college sports programs in the country.
Geez, miserable, shifty Bill Belichick and now crotch-grabbing Marshawn Lynch. That’s the best Subway sandwiches could do?
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