Thursday, December 31, 2009

Laying down

Why, exactly, are people lauding NFL teams for throwing games?

This was a consistent point in the coverage of the Colts fold over the weekend -- that since they had won enough games to have the #1 seed, that they had earned the right to lose games on purpose. But seriously, why is this laudatory?

You can't sell this on the Preventing Injury front... because the simple fact of the matter is that the great majority of NFL players that have the most obvious impact on a win or loss are not at the highest risk to injury in the current game. Kurt Warner is a guy with concussion issues, a pass-happy offense, and a willingness to hang in the pocket forever; he's also made, by my count, 39 out of his last 40 starts. Brett Favre has made so many consecutive starts, even the Favre-happy media has gotten tired of mentioning it. Peyton Manning is at 191 consecutive starts, Eli Manning is at 86, Drew Brees is at 79, and the list goes on.

If you really want to push the injury angle, at least push it to the running backs, who are seemingly the most concussed position on the field. Or the defensive secondary, which is where the blown hamstrings happen from guys making bursts of speed on recovery. You can also feel free to feel for the linemen on either side of the ball, who are always a leg sweep away from a lost career, and could also be at risk for long-term brain damage due to the constant head collisions.

Still, there's a lot that you can do to limit the risk of injury in a game without just pulling the starters en masse. You can split the snaps among more backups. You can slow the pace of the game by calling more running plays and fewer timeouts. You can also have your QB use up the game clock on every snap. It's not that hard to manage the game while also minimizing the injury risk.

But since there is no way to make things foolproof, and it's been well-established that teams who have won enough games have earned the right to do whatever they want, regardless of the integrity of the game... well, why are the Colts (and to a very similar extent, every other team that can't substantially change their playoff seeding, such as the Bengals, Patriots, Packers and Cardinals) even playing the game at all?

See, there's really no reason, once you've opened up Pandora's Box of Not Trying, you can *really* not try... and protect your special teams players and backup linemen, who, after all, have value as well. And I'm sure all of the people who have paid top dollar for seats and satellite rights will be happy to know that these are just the rules of the game now.

So, by all means, gentlemen... go all the way with this abuse of the regular season. Just forfeit the game by refusing to play at all. According to the NFL rule book, it will all go into the books as 2-0 victories, we'll get to watch the spectacle of paid Lemur heads having to defend the move, and the gamblers and fantasy honks of the world will all have their heads explode, leading to untold benefits to the species.

Or, um, better yet? The NFL, the league that chooses to spend its time figuring out how to fine people for touchdown celebrations, will finally get around to fixing something that people actually give a damn about.


Tracer Bullet said...

Okay, but how? Brees is the Saints' 3rd QB today. Payton doesn't even have to screw around with the injury report. He can say Brees has been benched for any number of bullshit reasons. Or, the Saints could play starters for one snap, then claim they were all injured or benched for performance. To me, that kind of mocking the system is worse than just not playing the starters.

DMtShooter said...

Jeez, now I get to fix the problem, rather than just bitch about it? That's a whole 'nother post. One I might make today, or tomorrow, or later this week when I'm out of grist (in other words, thanks)...

Ads In This Size Rule