Noise that annoys can be unfair
Good sportsmanship is a value that seems to be in short supply these days at football games, where, on occasion, a calculated crescendo of crowd noise can interfere with the visiting team’s snap count. It happened again the other day in Seattle -- where some sports fans, albeit not many, wondered if it happened deliberately.
The roar of the crowd in Seattle brought on more than one false-start penalty as the visiting San Diego Chargers kept jumping offside.
Such scenes happen frequently these days at football games, so frequently that nobody seems to care. The usual expectation is: athletes beware.
Yet the yardage gained in such cases comes courtesy of mass dishonesty.
There has always been some deception in team sports, going back at least to the days when a football coach, Knute Rockne, dressed a swift ballcarrier in the uniform of a slow-moving teammate.
That, of course, was team deception -- which has typically been deemed part of the game.
Crowd deception isn’t. Crowd deception by definition requires action by many presumably innocent, uninvolved onlookers.
Does anyone care?
Pass offense makes the NFL difference
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is a prominent candidate for All-Pro quarterback again this year precisely because he does All-Pro things.
It wasn’t so much that he kept completing passes to win last Sunday’s game against Jacksonville, it was the regularity with which he did it on a day when his side had problems running the ball.
In the NFL, pass offense and running-play offense are complementary activities. One sets up the other. Yet in this game, when the Patriots ran the ball ineffectively, Brady could as usual throw it with distinction.
Part of his success over the years has been due to the nature of pass offense. Though it’s difficult for any team to succeed on pass plays alone, it can occasionally be done by good passing teams. The opposite generally doesn’t happen. A good running game isn’t enough today without a pass-play threat.
Indeed, the reason to develop pass offense first, and the running game only subsequently, is that teams can sometimes win on pass plays alone, if they pass smartly enough. By contrast, a good running team is no threat to beat a good passing team.
Clock management up to coaching staffs
The San Diego Chargers won the game at Seattle in spite of their clock mismanagement at the end. Some sports fans, before applauding young quarterback Philip Rivers’ winning performance, blamed him for not keeping time when all seemed lost. But clock management is not properly a players’ function.
It is never their job or purpose to watch the clock. In football, that is always the employers’ responsibility -- in part because there are so many employers, most of whom are called assistant coaches. In any case, it was the San Diego coach, Marty Schottenheimer, who lost track of the time, not Rivers.
Schottenheimer has a bunch of assistants, whereas Rivers, like all quarterbacks, is out there on his own.
Helpfully for San Diego, Rivers bailed out Schottenheimer again. Just in time.