Excuse me while I whip this out. No, not that…I mean the big, embarassing thing called “politics.” Supposed to be verboten for a sports blog, right? Well, this isn’t Deutschland, Adolf. And we’re all adults. And besides, this isn’t really about politics, much.
Last night, by most accounts, President Barack Obama gave history’s most uninspiring acceptance speech. I don’t know; I didn’t see it. I’m only going by what seems to be the virtually unanimous opinion of the media and blogosphere, left and right. But it was one phrase in one negative assessment, by Michael Tomasky—hardly a right-winger himself—in The Daily Beast, that caught my attention:
This was the rhetorical equivalent, forgive the football metaphor, of running out the clock: Obama clearly thinks he’s ahead and just doesn’t need to make mistakes. But when football teams do that, it often turns out to be the biggest mistake of all, and they lose.
I’m sorry: “forgive the football metaphor”? Forgive? Because, why? …football is so un-vegan? But still, Tomasky’s essential point is a good one: it seems the Obama camp believes it has this one sewn up, and is playing it safe. No need to throw long—just come out in the victory formation, bleed the clock, and go home a winner. (As a personal aside, my all-time favorite Saints play was Drew Brees taking a knee in Miami.) But why do they believe the election’s in the bag?
Because of polls.
Also, of course, because they’re mentally challenged, and delusional into the bargain, but we won’t go there. What’s interesting is this: they don’t know what the score really is. Nobody does. And that’s what got me thinking, and writing this long-winded introduction to what is actually a pretty simple what-if scenario: what if a football team never knew precisely what the score was?
What if all they had to go by was the emotional tone of the crowd, their own gut instinct…or polls, known to be unreliable? How would they proceed?
Well, for one thing, they’d never try to run out the clock. They would always be trying to score, even if it meant they wound up winning by scores like 212-3 and the media crybabies took to calling them “arrogant.” And while it might not seem as though it would affect the defensive strategy quite so much—the goal is always to stop the other team from scoring, after all—it might be that it would affect it even more.
If you didn’t know what the score was, of course you’d throw that TD pass to Darren Sproles with 2:51 left. You might even go for two. But what if you didn’t have the ball? What if, say, there was only 40 seconds left, and your opponent had to go 67 yards, and the likelihood of a score seemed pretty low—but, on the other hand, as far you knew, they were ahead by three? You need the ball back. Now. So you attack the offense in the best way you know how; if you’re a blitzing team, that means you blitz. To hell with leaving their best playmaker in one-on-one coverage by a safety: go for the quarterback. Try to kill the head. Strip-sack, recover, punch it in, go home.
Of course, if you do know what the score is, you’re mentally challenged, and delusional into the bargain, to opt for such a strategy. And that may explain what happened in San Francisco last January. But I don’t think so: surely Gregg Williams knew the score, right? Because if he didn’t, he’d have to be…mentally challenged. And delusional into the bargain.
What he should have done, looking back on it, is to have given the speech of his lifetime before the game. A real stem-winder of a speech, something to fire up the troops and send them out ready to eat glass and spit nails. But if you give them nothing but a bunch of tired cliches, things they’ve been hearing for years and long ago ceased to take seriously, there’s a chance they may collapse in the fourth quarter. And if you let the speech be recorded…well, there’s no telling what trouble might come from that. It could be the end of your career.
Maybe the first week of November will resemble the last four minutes of the Saints-49ers: both teams trying desperately to score, both teams trying desperately to stop the other. Or, maybe it will be a long, slow grind, as one team runs out the clock, only to check the scoreboard and find their assumptions were a bit off. No one knows. That’s why they play the games.
Gosh, I hope you’ve enjoyed this short diversion into the minefield. For me, it’s been fun getting away from sports into the desert of the real for awhile. Find out what’s going on, catch up on popular culture and vegetables and stuff. And who the fuck is Honey Boo Boo?
On the Jukebox
Ah, pop culture. I said to myself I would put up whatever is currently #1 on the pop charts, and here it is: a man singing about his dick. I don’t see anything culturally ominous about this, do you? No worries. Forward.