My only football diary ever …
Like most fans, I had no rooting interest in this Super Bowl, and couldn’t even figure out my usual, ‘cheer for the underdog’ deal, because both teams were underdogs/favorites depending on where you looked. But, I started to cheer for the Pats because the rest of my family was cheering for the Giants, and because New England became the dog by getting down early by 9.
But then Tom Brady got into a groove, and I realized, “This is what I’m watching for, guys at the top of their game, showing how beautifully this game can be played.” For a stretch, he was playing quarterback as well as anyone ever has in a Super Bowl, and he set a record for most completions in a row, 16.
But then it was over. Justin Tuck sacked Brady, Brady landing hard on his already injured left shoulder. Pre-sack, Alex Speier reports, he was 20-24, 201 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and an absurd 141.9 QB rating. Post-sack, Brady went 7-16 (excluding a clock-killing spike on the final drive), 75 yards, 0 TDs, 1 interception, and a 32.0 QB rating.
Admittedly, injuries are part of the game, but injuries to the NFL’s transcendent stars damages the attractiveness of the game, doesn’t it? Well, apparently not, or at least not if you read the mainstream sports press, which hardly has commented on the damage done to the game by Brady’s injury. Admittedly, though, the injury evened things up between the Giants and Pats, and likely led to the on-edge game finale, which featured an excellent catch by Mario Manningham. I just wanted to see an epic battle between two of the game’s greatest quarterbacks playing at their best, and did start to see that, but then it was taken away.
The problem the NFL has is that the players have become too large and fast, so the violence that results causes too many injuries to the somewhat smaller high-skill athletes. You can’t legislate away speed, so the way to solve the problem is to legislate weight limits.
First of all, no one under any circumstances over 300 pounds. The league did fine for several decades without 300+ pound athletes, so what is the point of the fat guys? (A ban on 300+ will have the subordinate effect of improving the health of countless NFL and NFL-wanna-be athletes.)
Secondly, certain heights would have weight limits, and there would be two classes of big and normal players, with only four or five of the ‘big’ athletes allowed on the field. The controlling idea is to make player weights much more similar to what they were in the 1960s, when most linebackers were 210 to 230 pounds and Dick Butkus was a huge one at 6’3″ 245, and Merlin Olsen a man-mountain lineman at 6’5″ 270.
Not that the preceding would solve all problems with the oversized and therefore excessively injury-prone NFL. In fact, it might not even solve the Justin Tuck ‘problem’. The man was nicknamed ‘The Freak‘ by his Notre Dame classmates for his combination of speed, athleticism and size. But I hope it would downsize the problem. Tuck, 6’5″, weighed 256 when he was drafted in 2005 but now weighs 274 (according to Wikipedia). It would’ve been nice if NFL regulations had discouraged Tuck from putting on pounds, but I’m not saying 18 pounds would’ve prevented Brady from reinjuring his shoulder.
But, in general, moving toward lower weights, not only among linemen but also among linebackers, edge rushers, tight ends and running backs, would reduce injuries, which is a good thing in itself. And a good thing because the main entertainers, the high-skill players, will get injured less often and less severely. And, hey, what are the drawbacks? None as far as I can see.