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THE TIME HAS COME FOR A STUPIDITY COORDINATOR (or, if you prefer, an anti-stupidity coordinator) by Brad Eastland, Your Friendly Neighborhood Sports Philosopher

September 27, 2010
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      I’m trying to not get too excited.

      Because as you read this it is Monday morning, and tonight’s Monday Night Football telecast features my beloved Chicago Bears, who seek to defeat the consensus best team in football in the over-hyped (I hope) Green Bay Packers, which would make the Bears 3-0 right out of the gate on their way (according to Jeff Eastland, America’s #1 crazed Bear fan) to a “magical” season.   The pressure is suffocating.   Victory would be Rapture.   Defeat, the very wages of Despair.   Suicide would not be out of the question.   At least in Jeff’s case….

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C'mon, Meg ... help us out, will ya?

C'mon, Meg ... help us out, will ya?

 

      Tabling all issues Bear for a moment, I believe it is time for us to dissect, over-analyze, and in general obsess over the first three weeks of another thrill-packed NFL season.   Is there anything more decadent and sloth-satisfying than sitting through six (make that nine) hours of NFL football on a Sunday?   Any red-blooded American male will do anything to get his Sunday fix.   Doesn’t matter how old, or young, he is.   Back in the 60s my mother had a standing deal with us three Eastland boys.   After Sunday School, if we wanted a ride home from the church we had to sit through the main church service with Mom, Dad, and our little sister; but if we wanted to watch football, we had to walk home.   All two miles of it.   All uphill.   Usually in the heat, sometimes braving wind, rain, and cold.   And of course in our suits, our ties, and by definition our least comfortable shoes.  

      Suffice to say we three Eastland boys suffered through a whole lot of two-mile walks.   (Single file, of course….the two older kids in front, little Brad trailing behind and struggling to keep up.)

      I still love NFL football, and every week is an adventure.  Much of the NFL’s first three weeks can be summed up in one long, comprehensive paragraph: Brett Favre is very very old, most other players look so very, very young, Pittsburgh’s defense is unbelievable, Michael Vick is not only reborn he’s stronger-armed and faster-afoot than ever (as dogs all over America go into hiding), Sam Bradford is for real, the Redskins and 49-ers probably aren’t, Peyton Manning is still the best player, Eli Manning is still the most over-rated player, and Andy Reid and Rex Ryan are still the two fattest coaches ever to fill up a wide-screen TV.   So no need to go into any of that.

      No, what I want to talk about is a subject both aggravating and near-and-dear to my heart.   The overwhelming need for a “Stupidity Coordinator” in pro football.

      You may recall my column on the absolute need for an additional coach, what I would call a Stupidity Coordinator, to be added to the staffs of all coaching conclaves everywhere.   Pro, college, Pop Warner, prisoners vs. armed guards games, I mean everywhere.   If you missed it read it now, and then return to this point in the column: http://www.laverneonline.com/2009/09/14/the-trouble-with-football/

      Okay.   Now you know it is obvious, at least to me, that the number-one overriding factor affecting football games is stupidity, i.e. the making of stupid moves and decisions that aren’t just merely dumb, but in fact are so far below the minimum baseline common denominator for identifying human intellect that they should never, ever, happen.   We had at least three such examples of no-excuse, unconscionable stupidity around the NFL yesterday, two of which cost their teams the game and one almost did and should have, examples which, as your loyal correspondent, I now bring to light.

      No-excuse stupidity violation #1.   Happened in the Lions/Vikings game.   The Lions were in the process of ruining the Vikings’ season.   Already 0-2 on the year, Minnesota was losing 7-0 to Detroit late in the 1st quarter, but it was worse than that.   The Lions defense was making life miserable for Favre.   They were throwing him around like the 41-year-old rag doll he is.   The Vikings’ offense was a confused, dispirited band of men, and everyone on the team was doubting himself, you could feel it.   And then the Lions forced the Vikings to punt, another chance to grind up some clock and maybe score again.   So what happens?   The Lions punt returner tries to make a difficult, bent-over, shoestring catch of that punt with one eye on the on-rushing defender, rather than letting it bounce or calmly calling for a fair catch.  Naturally he fumbled it.   It was the whole game.   The Vikings recovered the ball, Favre threw a touchdown pass on the very next play, and then the suddenly rejuvenated Vikings cruised to an easy victory.   This is exactly the kind of mistake that would never happen, if a Stupidity Coordinator were roaming the sidelines to warn players not do to it!

      I would equate this particular act of hubris with a department store employee already having a 40% employee discount on all merchandise, but then also trying to stuff a Ralph Lauren shirt down his pants while watching the store camera at the same time, only to forget about the store detective who comes barreling down the aisle to tackle him….before dragging him off to the general manager’s office in handcuffs.

      No-excuse stupidity violation #2.   This one happened in the Seattle/San Diego game.   The Seahawks are leading 10-0, with only 16 seconds to go in the 1st half, and are on the Chargers’ two yard line.   And they have no time outs.   Obviously they can’t run a play where they might get tackled in-bounds, because then there would be only about 11 seconds to go and everyone knows that you need 17 or 18 seconds to get the offense off the field, get the field goal team on the field, get them set and motionless, and then snap it and kick it.   Seattle head coach Pete Carroll knows this.   He’s been a head coach in college, twice in the pros, he knows this.   So what does he do?   A quarterback draw.   Right into the middle of the line.   I was dumfounded.   Naturally it doesn’t get them the touchdown, but worse, they don’t get the field goal either because they don’t have time to get the field goal team into place.   So instead of 13-0 it was only 10-0 at the half, with the home crowd booing their Seahawks right off the field.   It was a play stunning in its stupidity.   Seattle held on, barely, but it’s a mystery as to why the football gods didn’t punish them with defeat….

      No-excuse stupidity violation #3.   This one was the worst.   Another inexcusable gaffe by a so-called “great” head coach.   And the football gods would not let this one slide.   World Champion New Orleans was hosting the Atlanta Falcons.   The game went into overtime, tied at 24.   It’s now sudden death, first team to score wins.   The Saints march right down field to the Atlanta 11-yard line, 1st-and-ten.   Time to take three shots at the end zone and then, if needed, kick an easy field goal.   So what does New Orleans’ “genius” head coach Sean Payton do?   He sends in the field goal team to kick it right away.   My heart sank.   Not because I like the Saints or was rooting for them.   Neither is true.   I just hate seeing rank, unconscionable stupidity!   I abhor imprecision!   I loathe vagueness of thought!   In other words, an over-paid NFL head coach doing something really dumb offends everything I believe in….

      Now the argument for kicking on 1st down is that anything can happen in football; a fumbled center snap, a fluke interception, a blind-side sack etc.   But it is the argument of cowards.   Because these things rarely happen in that situation, especially if you are guarding against it.   And kickers sometimes do miss easy kicks under pressure.   Therefore, there is no legitimate reason to willingly give up three free chances to win a game!   If you fail, you can still try the easy field goal on 4th down!   And here’s the final ingredient that makes Payton’s decision perhaps the dumbest of his career.   He has Drew Brees as his quarterback!   This isn’t some callow youth, some untested rookie or mistake-prone 2nd-year man, this is one of the three or four best quarterbacks in the world!   And he’s the quarterback of the defending World Champions!   Is this really all the faith Sean Payton has in Brees or his championship offense???   You guessed it.   The kicker missed the laughably short 28-yard field goal by a mile, and the Falcons then drove right down the field and won.   A coach that dumb or cowardly doesn’t deserve to win a game like that.   The football gods were watching.

      I would equate Payton’s sudden and alarming lack of football gonads and judgment with the guy who gets drunk in a bar and despite his living walking distance from that bar he gets into his car anyway and crashes….into the front door of the local police station….and then refuses to take the breathalyzer test….and then drools on the arresting officer, pleading with him to let him go because he didn’t trust himself to walk home so he was obviously doing the right thing.

      I hope I meet Sean Payton some day so I can ask him about what he was thinking.  (Maybe he had a bet down….maybe he has personal problems….but he obviously needs a Stupidity Coordinator.)

      I guess the only question is what can we all, as fans, do about this.   We can’t very well write our congressman about it.   And head coaches, no matter how dumb they are, rarely listen to anybody, much less meat-and-potatoes America types like you and me.   So what, then?

      All I can think of is Meg Whitman.   She’s running some pretty vicious, insulting campaign ads on TV nowadays.   And she’s pretty rich I hear (If you call $1.3 billion rich, that is.).   Maybe every time one of these players or coaches does something as unconscionably stupid as the examples above she could, I don’t know, plaster the airwaves with attack ads saying so.   Sort of as a public service.

      Then I’d vote for her!

      Well, maybe not.

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0026

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered fictioneer, and hater of unnecessary dumbness—in no particular order.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels and over 20 short-stories.    Samples of his best fiction work can be discovered within the mysterious links below:
 
http://www.bosonbooks.com/boson/fiction/gamble/gamble.html
http://www.bosonbooks.com/boson/fiction/basket/basket.html
http://www.bosonbooks.com/boson/freebies/freebies.html

 

 

 

 

One Response to “THE TIME HAS COME FOR A STUPIDITY COORDINATOR (or, if you prefer, an anti-stupidity coordinator) by Brad Eastland, Your Friendly Neighborhood Sports Philosopher”

  1. Brad Eastland (The Sports Philosopher) You ought to stick to sports writing and quit trying to discredit Meg Whitman as part of his sports column. The segway from a Stupidity Coordinator to a slam on Meg Whitman was really lame.

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