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What About This? By Wayne William Cipriano

By Wayne William Cipriano

If you don’t care much about football, this bit isn’t for you. At one time, I would have said the dudes might want to read this and the chicks shouldn’t waste their time, but that chauvinism was pounded out of me about the time my daughter Renee` took eight cents off me in two consecutive football games during which she not only picked the eventual winners (and I did not) but doubled our two-cent bets during the halftime of each game and artfully explained to my doubting ears why doubling made good football sense.

Maybe it’s just me, an old guy who has played some organized tackle football and watched a lot more. Maybe I’m not as sharp as I used to be. Maybe I’ve not been paying as close attention as I should. But, this new “attitude” I’ve seen over the last few seasons is beginning to turn me off of football. OK, not really, as Rosalie laughs out loud, but I’m not as pleased as I used to be. What’s the problem? BUBBLEWRAP!

Yes, this kinder, gentler, regulation-driven bubblewrapping of the quarterback has done it. Sure, I understand great quarterbacks are rare and very expensive. And they are valuable to the game by upping the excitement quotient. And that position, along with wide receivers, are vulnerable to heavy hits and serious injury. Well, to that I say, welcome to the NFL!

This game is not basketball, not soccer – perhaps not as suicidal as rugby – but it is a contact sport that has physical toughness and stamina as integral components. And physical intimidation of the opposition, particularly their quarterback, is part of that.

I’ve noticed over the last couple of seasons how quarterbacks have been taking more chances when contact with the defense seems more probable, because, it seems to me, there is an epidemic of quarterback bubblewrapping among the defense.

Defenders slow up as they approach the quarterback, seem to be satisified with a box rather than a tackle, and reach for shoelaces rather than thighs when they touch the quarterback at all.

I’m not sure, nor, I suspect, is anyone else, about the exact rule changes that have fostered this outbreak of pansy football, but whaever they are the zebras are determined to be on the “safe” side of them – those fists on forearms and downard arm obliques populate each and every quarter of each and every game.

Especially when electing to keep the ball and run, rather than hand off, lateral or pass, quarterbacks, even enjoying the protection from big hits by sliding feet first, are being treated way too gently by defensive players. This almost reflexive care with which quarterbacks are being treated has begun to, almost unconsciously, ooze over to affecting the entire game. More protections for quarterbacks means more time for them to set up and release, which means more time for receivers to execute routes. Thus, we get longer pass plays and therefore fewer runs. I don’t have the stats to back me up, but I think this bubblewrapping is related to less interceptions, less incompletes when the quarterback feels safe from contact.

Wasting the leader of the enemy has been an important part of warfare since we and the ants invented it, and anyone who disputes how this affects football need ony watch the betting odds on a game change as news of the health of the quarterbacks emerges.

I’m not all that eager to see quarterbacks hurt, but when this overabundance of caution changes the game, as I’m sure it will, into more and more gentle football, I believe I will lose some of my enthusiasm. I’m not advocating Rollerball, but I am campaigning for a return to football as I remember it. Of course, I”m in the minority here, sounding like a Hun, but if you really prefer your sporting events bubblewrapped, watch basketball…or soccer. 

Leave football alone!