Whither the NFL?

February 9, 2010

As a contrarian and New Yorker I have to take issue with much of the post-Super Bowl chatter that I’ve heard.  Though there was a decent narrative (local wunderkind Peyton Manning takes on his hometown team, a franchise representing a beleaguered city) I do not believe it was a great game.  The NFL has continuously approved rule changes that favor the passing game.  Not only does this cheapen certain benchmarks (10 NFL QB’s threw for 4,000 plus yards this season) it brings a great imbalance to the game.

I have great respect for Drew Brees’ efficiency and the highly cerebral approach and rigorous preparation of Peyton Manning.  I also recognize that there great skill is required to protect these passers as well as these offensive linemen do.  Quick: think about the number of sacks and relative pressure in this Super Bowl; now compare that to how the Giants rattled Tom Brady’s cage two years prior.

But getting quick leads on opponents because of big passing plays leaves a sour taste in my mouth.  Watching a team march down the field consuming yardage and game clock like a pack of ravenous animals is true victory.  It is disheartening for a defense to be pushed backwards – it requires a psychological victory that the passing game simply does not.  While I recognize that Peyton Manning has revolutionized the position and I have tremendous respect for his ability to process, analyze and disect a defense in roughly 40 seconds, I’m not as impressed by the fact that “there’s no defense for a perfect throw”.  Watching a 300 guard pull block or a big halfback get out to the next level and take on a middle linebacker is not as aesthetically pleasing to the untrained eye, but it’s what football’s always been about to me.

“Smart bombs” and aerial bombing campaigns do not give us actual victory or any real sense of a “mission accomplished”.  Territorial acquisition is control.

3 Responses to “Whither the NFL?”

  1. Does your description of the psychological game not describe the second quarter? Even if two-if-by-air, the Saints dominated the time of possession, giving the mental impression of winning though they still trailed.

  2. Rabbi Dr. Prof. Jurgen Haverstam, DHL Says:

    Peyton Manning was given enough time to win the game. Because of the Colts’ inability to run the ball they could not convert on third and short and were forced to punt on one series; that they chose to run the ball at all was quite surprising because the ground attack is based on establishing a rhythm. Then, in the fourth quarter, his receiving corps let him down by failing to come up with routine catches down the stretch. Sean Payton’s decision to start the second half with an onside kick is only vindicated by its success. It’s a reckless, brazen play call that 9 times out of 10 fails; it implies lack of trust in his defense’s ability to stop Peyton Manning. It’s just not the kind of football I like to see rewarded.

  3. Isaac Says:

    “but it’s what football’s always been about to me.”

    which is why you’re not in charge of rule changes in the NFL. If the game was only about the so-called “psychological victory”, I’m sure we’d see different rules, different stars, and a different team on top. Just like all other team sports, football changes as different players/coaches with different skillsets take advantage of the rules and their available resources to win the game. If they won the game, they’re the best.

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