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Topic: Football (Read 2279 times)
September 15, 2009, 10:46:11 AM »
DBMA has as its mission statement "Walk as a Warrior for all your days" and in this regard, football is something we look to to inform our sense of multiple players operating in 360 contexts, our sense of contact, footwork, and more. My thanks to Chris Gizzi for opening my eyes in this.
By CHARLES SIEBERT
Football, for allof its brute force and ferocity, is a game of guile and gamesmanship. This is especially true today, when the space in which the sport is played has been foreshortened by the size and speed of the athletes playing it, and outcomes are increasingly decided as much by the quality of a team's game plan as they are by the level of play. Football has essentially become hour-long sessions of high-speed, crash-helmet chess, and more fun to watch because of it. Even the biggest and most heavily favored juggernauts can on any given day be suddenly undone by a group of scrappy upstarts with a wealth of passion and a well-wrought stratagem: some riotous, rhythm-ruining array of timely defensive blitzing packages, or a stunningly inventive attack formation such as the new "Wildcat" offense.
The NFL, with its dizzying speeds and hard hitting—to say nothing of its preponderance of high-salaried stars—has long had a way of tempering the more fanciful, free-wheeling schemes of high school and college ball. And yet all that seemed to change last year, when the then-struggling Miami Dolphins overwhelmed the mighty New England Patriots in game three of the season with a sudden, whirlwind display of Wildcat wizardry. Six times in the course of that game, the Patriots' defenders suddenly found themselves standing opposite an odd-looking offensive alignment. Rather than the traditional front line of a guard, a tackle, and a tight end on either side of the center, the Dolphins now had a guard, two tackles and a tight end all stacked on one side. More disturbing still, standing a few yards behind the center, awaiting the snap in the quarterback's traditional "shotgun" position, were two running backs, the dual run-and-pass threat of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. As for the Dolphins' quarterback, Chad Pennington, he was positioned up on the overstacked side of the line, just outside the tight end, now an entirely misplaced and therefore unknown proposition.
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Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
The Miami Dolphins used the overstacked ‘Wildcat’ formation against the New England Patriots, Nov. 23, 2008.
.This is the most subversive, the nearly mutinous aspect of the Wildcat, and the very essence of its explosive potential: the way in which it wholly bypasses the quarterback, the traditional pillar and field general of the offense. Among the things that a defense likes to see when an offense lines up opposite them before the start of play is the quarterback at his traditional post, either directly under center or a few yards behind center in the "shotgun." This gives the defense an edge, some would say an 11-on-10 advantage. Because, unless the quarterback is that exceptional dual run-or-pass threat in the mold of Vince Young or Michael Vick, or the 2008 champion University of Florida's Tim Tebow, then a defense can focus less on him and more on the action that he, through either a hand-off or a pass, is about to set in motion.
The most fixed figure in an offense, the middleman, the interlocutor of each play, the quarterback is the guy through whom a defense—via the lean of his body or the direction of his gaze—often gets the best fix on where a play is going. By removing the quarterback from his predictable hand-off, passing-machine role and enfolding him into the larger offensive mix, the Wildcat makes him one more variable for the defense to consider, and thus neutralizes their tacit one-man edge. The Wildcat is, in effect, a classic instance of eliminating the middleman and cutting, or snapping, directly to the chase. That could be a straight run behind a phalanx of blockers, or a hand-off to another back or roving flanker or "wingback," who was set in motion behind the line before the snap. Or it could be just pulling up and passing the ball down field to an open receiver, possibly even to the quarterback—a dizzying array of options that tends to slow a defense down, give them pause.
Collegiate Images/Getty Images
George Gipp of Notre Dame, shown here in 1920, was one of the multipurpose ‘wingbacks’ who gave the early ‘Single-wing’ formation its name.
.In chess, even in speed chess, one has time to ponder a response to a new formation. In football, even the slightest hesitation equals loss. In fact, before the Patriots' vaunted defense was able to get a read on what was going on around them that day, the Dolphins would score four touchdowns with the Wildcat (three rushing and one on a pass from Brown), abruptly ending the Patriots' 21-game regular-season winning streak with a 38-13 drubbing. Over the next 11 games, the Dolphins went on to average seven yards per play from the "Wildcat" and qualified for the playoffs. They have since acquired West Virginia's multitasking quarterback, Pat White, in the draft, a potentially lethal move that has teams around the league including the Eagles (with the newly acquired Michael Vick), the Baltimore Ravens, the Atlanta Falcons, the New York Jets and even the New England Patriots dreaming up Wildcat packages of their own.
There's something at once sleekly high-tech and decidedly throwback, nearly sandlot, about the Wildcat: an elaborate and well-honed version of that basic backyard-pick-up-game ethos of "let's just get as many of the best players on the field as we can and then wing it." Winging it is, after all, increasingly difficult to do within any organized field of endeavor. But this is especially so within the parameters of a football field. While nuns may not fret their convent's narrow room, as Wordsworth wrote in his famous sonnet about the paradoxically liberating powers of the sonnet form's strictures on the imagination, offensive coordinators are forever scratching about for ways to pry open and fly the confines of a 100-yard gridiron.
In this regard, the Wildcat is an inspired bit of football poetry, affirming as it does that there are still an infinite number of new ways to re-imagine inherently finite spaces. And when one considers the growing number of big, fast, multidimensional, run-and-throw style quarterbacks that high schools and colleges are now churning out—to the extent that some pro scouts are lamenting the imminent extinction of the classic drop-back, field-general style—then the Wildcat formation begins to look less like a passing fancy and more like something permanent.
Still, for all the talk of the Wildcat representing football's future, it is, in fact, a direct derivative (some would say a near carbon copy) of an early offense formation known as the "Single-wing," which might well have faded into extinction if not for a few high school coaches who kept it percolating in their playbooks. One of the game's very first attempts to fly its own inherent confines, the "Single-wing" was the brainchild of the University of Pittsburgh's Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner, the father of modern football, and it was advanced by football inventors like Notre Dame's Knute Rockne, and Warner's protégé at Pitt, Jock Sutherland.
After the ploddingly crushing rugby-like scrums and somewhat oxymoronically named "Flying Wedges" of yore were outlawed, in the interest of safety, back in 1905, Warner took advantage of new rules allowing, among other things, the forward pass and arrived at a scheme that should by now sound familiar: an unbalanced offensive line with a quarterback positioned just behind one of the strong-side tackles, a pair of running backs waiting in the quarterback's shotgun position to take the snap from center, and off beyond the strong-side end, the roving, multipurpose "wingback," who gave the Single-wing its name. The best athletes of their day, wingbacks are now the stuff of football legend: George Gipp of Notre Dame, Michigan's Tom Harmon, Nile Kinnick of Iowa and Western Reserve's Steve Belichick, father of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
The Single-wing would dominate college football right up through the 1940s and then gradually yield to newer formations. As the forward pass and freer substitution rules became ever more prominent in pro offenses of the 1950s and '60s, formations began to accommodate and codify the quarterback's emergent field-general stature, placing him directly under center and the running backs behind him in a "T" or "I" formation. The "T" and the "I" soon morphed into the "Wishbone" and from there into more widely dispersed formations, designed to make use of every inch and angle of football's blank page—offenses that, in name alone, "Flexbone," "Triple Option," "Veer," and "Spread," suggest the evolution of some huge, flightless bird struggling to free itself from the confines of its own proscribed shell.
College and high school have long been the Petri dishes of football innovation, and it is there that the Wildcat's recent emergence can be traced. In a 1998 article for Scholastic Coach and Athletic Director magazine, a high-school football coach and Yale graduate named Hugh Wyatt wrote of a direct-snap, single-wing style formation that he named the "Wildcat," after the mascot of the school where he coached at the time. Seven years later, Gus Malzahn, the offensive coordinator for the Arkansas Razorbacks, implemented a single-wing style package that he'd used successfully coaching high school ball. Conspiring with Razorback running back coach Danny Nutt to get their best players on the field at the same time, he put the multidimensional running back Darren McFadden, now of the Oakland Raiders, in the quarterback position and fellow running back Felix Jones at wingback. The Wildcat was soon spreading like wildfire.
An estimated 80% of high school and college teams are expected to be featuring the formation this season, including, of course, Arkansas, Tulsa (where Gus Malzahn now coaches) and Ole Miss (coached by Danny Nutt's brother Houston), as well as Alabama, Michigan State and Minnesota. And when Gus Malzahn's replacement at Arkansas, David Lee, moved on to become the quarterback coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2008, the Wildcat was soon baring its claws in the pros—appearing as a bizarre and uncontainable creature to a stunned New England Patriot defense but wholly recognizable to an astute football historian like Bill Belichick.
"Call it what you want," the Patriots' coach would tell Sports Illustrated after the Patriots-Dolphins game. "But that's single-wing style football."
Corrections & Amplifications: Football star Steve Belichick attended Western Reserve University, a forerunner of today's Case Western Reserve University. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said he played for Case Western Reserve.
The making of the football itself
Reply #1 on:
January 12, 2011, 12:10:47 PM »
Reply #2 on:
March 29, 2011, 09:31:19 PM »
A whole new look!
Reply #3 on:
December 07, 2011, 10:57:05 AM »
I might be small.....but, I'm not little
Reply #4 on:
December 07, 2011, 06:42:50 PM »
, been a fan since 2009...The Temptations are playing in Ontario on the 15th!
C-Mighty Dog small dog...Big Balls
Englishman chooses football over soccer ;-)
Reply #5 on:
December 20, 2011, 08:24:01 PM »
By GERARD BAKER
I'm a traitor. I may as well come straight out and admit it. I've betrayed my family, my friends, and my country. If Dante were around to update his roll-call of infamy, I'd be right down there in the ninth circle, feeling the heat with Brutus, Cassius and Judas.
The occasion of my sin isn't political or religious. It's much more grievous. I've betrayed my cultural heritage, cut the most binding filial ties, abandoned my national loyalties.
The shameful truth is this. I like football better than soccer.
I realized only recently the depth of my treachery when I found myself actually referring to football—the game played over here by the big men in spandex with the little oval ball—as "football." This alone would be considered a kind of verbal treason to my countrymen.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow carries a British flag onto the field before an Oct. 23 game at London's Wembley Stadium.
.Growing up in England, I played football. I went to football games—with other football fans dressed in football attire at crumbling, violence-infested football stadiums that hosted teams with names like Charlton Athletic Football Club. (There was, confusingly, rugby football too, commonly called rugby, but I always hated that.)
"American football" (the term was usually enunciated in a sneering tone that dripped with derision, the way you might say "the Italian military") was something very silly, a far-off pastime of which we knew little and cared less, played by softies who apparently needed helmets and padding to protect their delicate frames.
If we ever thought about "American football" at all, we thought about all that protective gear and considered it a source of some pride that the average English football fan was in more physical danger on his way to the toilets (we called them that) at halftime than a roly-poly lineman in a scrimmage.
But I discovered football when I first came to New York in the late 1980s and my prejudices melted away. It was the era of New York Giants greatness and I was hooked instantly: Lawrence Taylor, Phil Simms, Mark Bavaro, Jeff Hostetler. Yes, I did just say Jeff Hostetler. That should tell you how hooked I was.
I didn't immediately abandon what I slowly came to call soccer. I'd keep in touch with the fortunes of my team, Coventry City (don't ask), every Saturday. But steadily, I lost interest. I'd find myself forgetting some weekends to check out the score on a Saturday in my sweat of anticipation for Sunday. I was drifting apart from family and friends.
There is no more powerful alienation than that of the displaced from his erstwhile peers. Every weekend I call my father back in London. At 91, he's as engaged as ever in events—sporting and otherwise. He wants to know what I think about Liverpool's latest signing. All I want to talk about is the 72-yard touchdown pass Victor Cruz caught from Eli Manning. He thinks Victor Cruz was a 1950s band leader (OK. I thought Victor Cruz was a 1950s band leader till the start of this season).
I'm desperate to find someone among my family or friends to compare notes on the remarkable success of the Houston Texans' third-string quarterback. My uncomprehending friends just shake their heads.
"Why?" they ask. How could you do this to us after all we did for you?
Some might say it's simply, predictably, a man's reaction to his habitat. If you're a sports nut and you move, you'll probably take up whatever's on offer in your new milieu. But that won't do as an explanation.
On that theory, if I moved to Canada I'd like hockey and I can assure you, that's not happening.
It's none of the usual explanations: lots of scoring being better than endless nil-nil draws—I've been to cricket matches in which 1,000 runs were scored and you could hardly call them riveting. It's not the hoopla or the sport-as-family-entertainment thing either which soccer fans accustomed to English hooliganism are supposed to appreciate. (Have you ever been to an Eagles game?)
Baseball fans will have to forgive me here, but the answer, I think, is that football is the quintessential American sport. It's no accident it hasn't really caught on elsewhere (the annual NFL game in London notwithstanding) whereas baseball and basketball have at least a claim to a global following and participation.
In its energy and complexity, football captures the spirit of America better than any other cultural creation on this continent, and I don't mean because it features long breaks in which advertisers get to sell beer and treatments for erectile dysfunction. It sits at the intersection of pioneering aggression and impossibly complex strategic planning. It is a collision of Hobbes and Locke; violent, primal force tempered by the most complex set of rules, regulations, procedures and systems ever conceived in an athletic framework.
Soccer is called the beautiful game. But football is chess, played with real pieces that try to knock each other's brains out. It doesn't get any more beautiful than that
WSJ: Fran Tarkenton on the Bounty Scandal
Reply #6 on:
March 07, 2012, 10:52:21 AM »
By FRAN TARKENTON
Football is a tough, physical game. It is violent. But there is a line between being violent and being vicious. Former New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams crossed that line when he established a bounty system that rewarded players—not for tough, clean football plays but for injuring other players.
While coaching the New Orleans defense the last three seasons, Mr. Williams paid bonuses to players for knocking opponents out of the game. The rewards were $1,500 for a knockout, and $1,000 if the player had to be carted off the field. In the playoffs, rewards doubled and tripled.
Following his coach's lead, linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered a $10,000 bounty to any Saints player who could knock Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the NFC Championship Game during the Saints Super Bowl run in the 2009 season.
Former players from Mr. Williams's previous career stops in Washington and Buffalo have come forward to describe similar schemes he ran for those teams, as well.
These bounty systems are despicable.
I played football professionally for 18 years. I played against some of the toughest men imaginable. Mean Joe Greene. Deacon Jones. Bob Lilly. Ray Nitschke. Dick Butkus. Jack Youngblood. And I risked getting hit more than any other quarterback of my day. No one ran more than I did—forwards, backwards, and side-to-side.
Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams
.But in those 18 years, I only missed five games due to injury. My opponents wanted to beat me, and they certainly wanted to hit me to achieve that goal—but no one wanted to hurt another player deliberately. For all our competitive fire, and despite that strong desire to destroy our opposition, as professional NFL players we were part of a brotherhood. There was no joy in seeing someone injured on the field of play, even if it gave our team a better chance to win. After all, we wanted to prove that we were the best; and to be the best, you have to beat the best—not beat the JV.
But with the bounty system run by Mr. Williams, football as a fierce but honorable competition is dropped on its head.
Over the past few days, there have been many current players and NFL analysts saying that this story is no big deal. Every team does this, they say.
That is ridiculous. Bounties are not part of the game in any way.
Since news of this story broke last week, I have talked to dozens of former teammates and opponents. On my Sirius XM radio show Monday night, I talked to the toughest of them all, Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik—who played every snap on both sides of the ball for the Philadelphia Eagles. The response was unanimous. They did not put bounties on other players, and those who do so are not tough—they are cowards.
Peyton Manning's neck injuries, which kept him out all of last season, may have something to do with a vicious hit during a game against the Washington Redskins when Mr. Williams was coaching there. It was one of the worst hits I have ever seen, as one player tackles him low from the side, before another hits him high head-on, bending him backwards and ripping his helmet off in the process.
During the Saints' Super Bowl run, opposing quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Brett Favre were hit repeatedly. Mr. Warner went flying through the air and was briefly knocked out of the game after one particularly vicious hit. Mr. Favre was hit on almost every play, including many inexcusable late hits coming well after throwing the ball or even handing it off to a running back. That was the last game Mr. Warner ever played.
This is a particularly nightmarish scenario for the NFL in light of the league's concussion problem. For years, the league denied that football hits and concussions had a connection to health problems in former players, but now studies have shown that there are devastating long-term consequences from head trauma.
Football is a violent, dangerous game that leads to terrible injuries even when the players are not deliberately trying to knock one another out of the game. Players, like all people, respond to incentives. When you incentivize them to get opponents carried off the field on a stretcher, they are going to attempt to cause serious injuries.
This opens the NFL up to serious legal consequences and risks a fan backlash. Audiences love hard competition. They do not want to see gang warfare on a football field.
The NFL has to come down hard on this scandal because every team, coach and player needs to get the message that this is not ok. Gregg Williams should never be seen in the NFL again. Others in the Saints organization who knew about the bounties and did not stop them, including General Manager Mickey Loomis and Head Coach Sean Payton, both of whom I like and respect, must also be severely punished. Players who participated should face consequences, and the Saints 2009 Super Bowl championship will be forever tarnished.
These are harsh punishments, but the game of football must purge itself of this heinous blight.
Mr. Tarkenton, an NFL quarterback from 1961-1978, is the chairman and founder of OneMoreCustomer.com.
Jason Taylor’s pain
Reply #7 on:
January 13, 2013, 01:58:44 PM »
But he wanted to play. He always wanted to play. So he went to a private room inside the football stadium.
“Like a dungeon,” he says now. “One light bulb swaying back and forth. There was a damp, musty smell. It was like the basement in Pulp Fiction.”
The doctors handed him a towel. For his mouth. To keep him from biting his tongue. And to muffle his screaming.
“It is the worst ever,” he says. “By far. All the nerve endings in your feet.”
That wasn’t the ailment. No, that was the cure. A needle has to go in that foot, and there aren’t a lot of soft, friendly places for a big needle in a foot. That foot pain is there for a reason, of course. It is your body screaming to your brain for help. A warning. The needle mutes the screaming and the warning.
Read more here:
Reply #8 on:
April 30, 2013, 03:48:56 PM »
Hat tip to Jared Wihongi for this one:
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