I admire Peyton Manning more than any other athlete in sports. If I had a son, I’d want #18 to be his favorite player. But instead of enjoying his seven-touchdown performance Thursday night, I found myself cringing with every perfect spiral landing safely into the awaiting and capable arms of each wide open receiver.
Welcome to the new era of tackle football. Roger Goodell’s tackle football. A final of 49-27, 824 yards passing, and then let’s have NBC and ESPN tell us how magical the game was before we go to bed.
When I was a kid, going to baseball games with my Dad, sitting in the right field bleachers because Dad convinced me it was the best place to watch a game, I would root for the long ball and bases clearing triples, an inning where a team batted around and crooked numbers on the scoreboard. 12-10, that’s the kind of game 10-year-old Chuck wanted to watch. Of course, 10-year-old Chuck also thought the best food in the world was Chicken McNuggets and that Rocky III was the best movie in the series.
Now, I’m all grown up. My taste in all areas has been refined. Now, I’m more than a fan of baseball. It’s one of my great passions in life. I’m a connoisseur of sorts. And anyone who describes himself as a connoisseur of baseball will tell you that 2-to-1 is the ideal final score (or 1-0 or 3-2, you get my point). I’m not a soccer fan, but true futbol enthusiasts claim the perfect match is a 0-0 tie. And boxing purists aren’t rooting for the big early knockout, because it will deprive them of seeing the sweet science of the sport on display.
Well, I don’t know what the perfect final score for a football game is, but I know it isn’t 49-27. And yet, this is today’s NFL.
Protect the quarterback, protect the receiver, no hits high, no hits low, no hard hits period. I understand doing a better job of protecting players, and I’m all for it. But the game needs to strike a better balance between offense and defense, and do it now before the sport becomes a joke to its base. And yet — just like Selig did during the steroid era — Goodell seems to love his new high-scoring Arena football league.
7 touchdowns in a game?
I wasn’t overly impressed, because I’m fairly certain that six or seven TD passes in a game is about to become commonplace.
Scoring in the NFL has risen each of the last four seasons, and yards per game has gone up eight years consecutively. In fact, the NFL record for Yards Per Game has been broken four years in a row.
And now!! Teams are speeding up their offenses to create an additional advantage. No time to sub, no time to rest, offenses are snapping the ball every 14 seconds and exploiting their numerous advantages over hand-tied defenders. NFL coaches didn’t need to wait and see if Chip Kelly’s philosophy will work at the NFL level. They knew it was going to work, so they implemented the scheme before the Eagles ever took the field.
Look, I love offense. I truly do. I’ve always enjoyed watching the artistry of a precision passing game over the brutality of a strong running attack or the brilliance of a seemingly impenetrable defense. But enough is enough. My favorite food is ice cream. I don’t want it every meal. I like action movies, but there’s a reason Harrison Ford has never come to close to winning an Academy Award.
Balance is the key. Balance clarifies excellence.
As of this moment, I don’t know if the great Peyton Manning did something special Thursday night or if the mediocre Tony Romo is going to match the effort Sunday.
Roger Goodell’s attempt at bringing in new fans by flashing the shiny object known as offense is hurting the league’s credibility with its diehard fans who appreciate the art of sport.
Well, at least, that’s the case with this diehard.