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More Football

Here's a suggestion for all those complaining about my football posts -- DON'T READ THEM.

That's what I do, when I visit the Live Journal of one of my Friends and discover that the latest post concerns something that doesn't interest me. I don't feel the need to add a comment berating them just because their interests are not my interests.

This is my Not A Blog, and I'll post about whatever the hell I want, thank you.

This past weekend was two solid days of NFL football, the divisional round of the playoffs. With both the Giants and the Jets eliminated, I no longer had a strong rooting interest, but I'm enough of a football fan so that I still watched all four games. (And I do like some teams better than others, so I usually found someone to pull for, or against). Chris Berman and Tom Jackson at ESPN like to say this is the best weekend of the year for an NFL fan, and I think they're on to something... all four games were tense and exciting, with the verdicts in doubt right down to the end, and there were plenty of terrific plays and memorable moments. My congratulations to the winning teams and their fans, and my condolences to the losers. You can join us Giants and Jets fans in a chorus of, "Wait till next year."

The biggest postgame controversy came out of the Patriots - Chargers game, where some of the Patriots celebrated their upset victory by dancing on the Chargers logo at midfield, making choking motions, and mocking the sack dance of Charger defensive star Shawn "Lights Out" Merriman. Needless to say, all this public gloating and taunting upset some of the Chargers and their fans, and led to bad feelings and harsh words afterwards. I can understand why. Rubbing salt in the wound, especially when the wound is fresh and raw, is pretty classless. If it had been one of my teams that had lost and was being mocked, I would have been pretty honked off too... and, indeed, during the season, it did anger me whenever I saw a member of an opposing team mocking the Giants' "ballin'" celebratory lay-up shot gesture after doing something against the Giants (a sack, a TD, whatever).

I really wish the NFL would have the guts to put an end to all these goddamned dances and celebrations and other nonsense. They add nothing to the game, in my opinion. There are rules against "taunting," yes, but they are narrowly defined and selectively enforced. The league should go much further.

It was one of my own who started all this, I know -- Mark Gastineau, a pass rusher for the New York Jets in the 1980s, was the first guy to become famous for a "sack dance." Early on, I think, it was just an expression of Gastineau's natural exuberence at making a sack, but when the cameras started focusing on it and commentators started commenting, Gastineau made it his trademark... until the NFL outlawed it. The "Gastineau Rule," as they called it, defined Mark's sack dance as taunting and made it subject to a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. As a Jets fan, I will admit, I did not like the rule (maybe because Gastineau was never the same after they prohibited his dance). These days, however, I find myself wondering what the hell ever happened to the Gastineau Rule, and why it is no longer enforced. We need it now more than we ever did in the 80s. These days, gloating, taunting, and bad sportsmanship have become so common that no one even seems to see them any longer.

Plenty of that was on display this weekend. The postgame celebrations of the Patriots were the most flagrant examples, yes... but you know, mocking Shawn Merriman's "Lights Out" dance is only marginally more offensive than Shawn Merriman's "Lights Out" dance itself. They both have the same purpose -- to rub the other guy's nose in it.

Every time the NFL tries to crack down on this crap, some idiot sportswriters and TV commentators are sure to start making noises about how that makes 'em the "No Fun League." Says who? None of this stuff is fun as far as I'm concerned. Not even when it's my own team. When Michael Strahan makes a sack, it's the sack itself that I enjoy, not the phantom basketball shot afterward. When one of my teams scores a touchdown, it's the play that excites me, not some silly dance that the receiver does in the end zone. If I wanted to see dancing, I'd go to the goddamned ballet.

I say, outlaw all of it. The sack dances, the end zone celebrations, the receivers who signal "first down" when catching a ball for a first down (that's a job for the zebras), the receivers who mime throwing a flag when they think they have been interefered with (never works anyway). Fifteen yards unsportsmanlike conduct for all of it, I say.

The networks could help put an end to all the stuff as well, if they would only stop putting it on camera. When the networks stopped showing the drunken fans running across the field being pursued by security, the drunks stopped running across the field. They should do the same for the TOs and Shawn Merrimans and... yes... Michael Strahans of the league. Show their touchdowns and their sacks, and then CUT AWAY as they go into their chicken dances and "look at me" celebrations, and let us get back to football. That's what we came for.


( 161 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 15th, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
It's your journal, talk about whatever the heck you want. I always skim over your football posts, but hey, you've got a right to like and be excited about football if you want. Go for it.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC)
Honestly? I think it'd be cool to hear more about your other hobbies, like your collecting of soldiers! :o

Seconded! =D
I don't think I know anyone anywhere who collects miniature knights.
(no subject) - idemandjustice - Jan. 15th, 2007 07:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bigmont - Jan. 15th, 2007 10:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fan_of_happosai - Jan. 16th, 2007 01:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC)
I bet football is a nice diversion after all of those renovations. How are they coming along? *memo-loss* I think you said they were all good and done, but I’m very forgetful.
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC)
Not a fan of American football on the whole, but you do provide better color commentary than most of the crap I hear on tv. And refreshingly free of Terrell Owens comments too. So thanks for that.
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC)

This is one of the most frequent suggestions being thrown at lj users everywhere - don't like it, don't read. However, so far I've seen very little proof of people actually acting on it.
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:48 pm (UTC)
*raises hand* I follow that guidline. Do I get a cookie?
(no subject) - youngest_son - Jan. 15th, 2007 07:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC)
Giving the Chargers a first down and another chance at the kick would not have, in my opinion, been unwarranted.

Jan. 15th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC)
And what sport would this be? I suppose lap dances by the Chargers Cheerleaders (how come no rant about cheerleeding?) wouldn't have been unwarranted either.

Bring back the XFL!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Jan. 16th, 2007 07:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - timill - Jan. 16th, 2007 01:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Jan. 16th, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC)
Wait, people actually complained about you posting about football?

Man, this whole information superhighway thing is not what it was cracked up to be. And where are my rocket-pants? I was promised rocket-pants!
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:44 pm (UTC)
I agree with your message to people who have the nerve to complain about what you post on your own blog. If they don't like it, they don't have to read it. Personally, if I got complaints from people about what I write on my blog, I'd invite them to defriend me so they don't have to be bothered.

Now for taunting. Why the hell is it necessary? Why the hell is it tolerated? Does it add anything to the game? And if you can't watch the game without having grown men dance around like ravers after a 24-hour X binge, why bother?

I'm pretty pleased because the Bears are going to the NFC Championship--but I'm also certain they'll lose. Grossman is beginning to bug me with his on-and-off performances, and the Saints are looking like Cinderellas. And Reggie Bush, a boy I think will rack up Hall of Fame numbers, is playing for New Orleans. I'm hedging my bets on this game.

Jan. 15th, 2007 07:44 pm (UTC)
I hate football, but...
But I agree with you 100%. That scroll bar isn't that hard to use. I'm shocked that people are complaining about them! But I guess I hadn't noticed because, when you post about football, I skim to see if you have anything to say that I'm more interested in reading, and if not, I move on with my life.

I've had people make similar complaints when I post about feminism, a topic dear to my heart. And role-playing. And national novel writing month. And obviously, you also get a lot of criticism for your political posts, but I love them, as do those on my friends list, when I alert them to some of your more inspiring posts. Can't please everybody, I guess, but I know you know that.
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:44 pm (UTC)
the Pats have always seemed classless to me. i cant really give any examples of why. its just been an underlying sense when thinking about the Pats. But yeah, the celebration dances have got to go.

remember the Ickey Shuffle?
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:45 pm (UTC)
the Pats have always seemed classless to me. i cant really give any examples of why. its just been an underlying sense when thinking about the Pats. But yeah, the celebration dances have got to go.

remember the Ickey Shuffle?
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:45 pm (UTC)
Remember that writing in blogs can bring out the worst in all of us, but COMMENTING can bring out the VERY worst even more. (I'm hoping writing this here isn't that time for me.) Don't sweat the silly people.

I don't really get football nearly as much as I get basketball (Tobacco Road childhood) but it seems to me you must be right. You train animals just the same way: reward good behavior by acknowledging it in a positive manner and you discourage bad behavior NOT by giving it attention in a negative sense but by completely ignoring it. It works.

Besides, all that TV time is expensive! Those people should be charged for their antics by the second if it's going to be shown. That would amuse me. (Yes, that's completely unworkable, but somewhat funny on the first thought.)
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
I agree with you personally. Some of the behavior is cringe-worthy. I’m a die-hard Steelers fan, and they certainly aren’t immune. I would be hard-pressed to cheer for some of the worst offenders – T.O., for instance – if he ever came to Pittsburgh.

I just wonder how motivated the networks are to avoid showing this type of thing. After all, I believe ESPN had a series of promos in which they were sitting with a player in a board room pitching celebration ideas.

I can only guess that there is a certain significant segment of the football-watching public that enjoys this type of shtick, and that’s why the NFL and the networks allow it to a certain degree. Maybe they feel they are striking a balance and are eliminating the most brazen taunting while still allowing some of the flamboyant characters to "do their thing."

I personally hate it, and I respect the classier guys in the NFL who don’t engage in that type of nonsense.
Jan. 16th, 2007 02:36 pm (UTC)
I always respected the heck out of Barry Sanders for that reason. When he would score, he would hand the ball over to the refs and let the fans celebrate for him.

I can handle a flex of the muscles after a TD or the "Lambeau Leap", things which are more fan centric, but stuff that enters the field of play is where I draw the line. TO should have been expelled from the game for saluting on the Dallas star. He might as well have spit in someone's face. If you want to dance, do it on the sidelines, or it should be 15 yards.

In the San Diego game on Sunday, the moment I knew that San Diego was going to lose was when they had stopped New England for a 4th and long, and one of the defensive players gets in the face of an offensive player and headbutts him.
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:50 pm (UTC)
I think a big part of the problem is that the NFL has to consider marketing, and a lot of the antics are considered "colorful" and entertaining. As a Seahawks fan, I was especially outraged with TO and his autographing of the football in Seattle. My friend, however, thought it was funny, entertaining, and saw nothing wrong with it. I even see it in college games these days. A receiver for USC pointed at a Michigan defender just before stepping into the end zone during the Rose Bowl game. Absolutely no reason whatsoever for that kind of behavior.

These athletes are supposed to be professional. Many of them don't act that way, but then neither are most athletes held to professional standards. How many hold out on contracts without being sued for breach of said contract? How many are allowed special privileges. But, they bring in the money and the general public seem to enjoy the antics, so the flamboyant are allowed to continue with, maybe, a fine that means little to their pocketbooks.

I certainly agree with you in wishing that the dances and choreography would go away. But then am I a hypocrite for liking things like the Lambeau Leap? It draws attention, sure, but the players are also sharing a moment directly with the fans, but, in turn, it can be seen as a taunt. That line is difficult to dileneate at times, therefore, the subjective rule of the officials and what the league allows becomes a blurry matter. If you get rid of Merriman's dance, do you also get rid of the Lambeau Leap?
Jan. 15th, 2007 09:01 pm (UTC)
I think that the Lambeau leap, and things like it, are a different animal altogether. It doesn't happen after anything less than a touchdown, and not even after every touchdown. It isn't showboating, it isn't taunting, it is an exuberant show of appreciation to the fans, who love their team so much they bought it so they could never leave. Brett Favre, for all the years and all the touchdowns in Green Bay, never took the leap until this year. The TO crap, the Ickey Shuffle, the Merriman jig, all those things should go. But to take away a moment that is purely for the fans, that seems wrong to me.
Jan. 15th, 2007 07:50 pm (UTC)
"idiot sportswriters and TV commentators are sure to start making noises"

Are these the same guys who have a segment on Monday's show called "Jacked Up" showing guys getting their heads removed? Or the same ones who show videos of the stupidest antic of the week by TO instead of an actual replay from the game? Those guys?
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( 161 comments — Leave a comment )


George R.R. Martin
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