Everyone’s raving about the Broncos/Cowboys game. How exciting it was. How “entertaining,” to use a word that’s been bandied about zillions of times already, it was.

Meh, if scoring touchdowns is the only thing that excites you about football.

And while I understand that some Cowboys fans might be saying, “But it was such an entertaining game!” to themselves to mask the pain of losing yet another heartbreaker, I have to say that scoring is not what football’s all about. In fact, rampant scoring is almost anathema. In no universe is 51-48 a “good” professional football game. It’s Oregon-versus-A&M. Or flag football. Or basketball in cleats.


“Oh, shut up, old man,” I can hear you saying. (I can.) “Why don’t you go back to 1977, when players ate dirt for breakfast and stuck nails in their J Pads. Grrr! Smashmouth football! Grrr! Eat dirt!”

Fine, but that’s not what I’m kvetching about. I admit, there’s nothing better than watching your favorite team jam the ball down the other team’s throat or your defense stuff an opponent’s ground attack, but great throws and catches are mind-blowing and damn near edifying in their grace and power.

It’s just that 51-48 is not good or, to me, even “entertaining” pro football.

And there’s been more of it now than ever, with the 2013 Broncos on pace to top 600, possibly even 700 points themselves.

All of this offensive ejaculating probably owes to collective bargaining. Thanks to the deal struck by the league and the players’ association in 2011, NFL players hardly ever practice in pads in-season (just one day a week), which isn’t a big deal for offensive backs and receivers and defensive backs –– they don’t need pads to practice. All they have to do is run around and play catch and/or keep-away. Offensive and defensive lineman and backers, on the other hand, do need pads to practice –– their livelihoods consist of running into opposing players at high velocities. Furthermore, while offensive linemen spend most games passively getting in other people’s ways, defensive lineman and backers are constantly fighting through blocks, constantly fighting for ground, constantly swimming upstream. Without padded practices, without upper-body cardiovascular conditioning, defensive lineman and backers get soft, and a soft front seven –– plus well-oiled quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs –– is a big explanation for 51-48 and other gross bastardizations of everyone’s favorite sport.

You’d better believe the NFL wants more garish Broncos/Cowboys scores. As if the league doesn’t already generate enough money ($9 billion annually), commissioner Roger Goodell wants more, and he knows that to compete in the global marketplace, one ostensibly obsessed with soccer, the NFL must begin to create new fans. Goodell’s looking at you, recent immigrants. Some easy ways to snare football newcomers include offering them extravagant (or “suburban movie theater-esque”?) stadiums, extravagant (or “dumb and annoying”?) halftime shows, and oodles of touchdowns. Constantly clicking scoreboards can be directly linked to the commish, whose heavy hand has forced refs to throw flags at defenders with the gall to even breathe on quarterbacks or tackle ball carriers with anything resembling genuine malice. As Jason Whitlock once wrote, “The rules of the game are tilted way too heavily in favor of the quarterback. There’s going to be a moment in the next year or two in a very big game where the league jumps the shark, loses credibility with ‘real’ football fans. Some of us don’t play Madden anymore and don’t want to see it on Sundays.”

There’s no indication that the big O trend will continue. Pass-happy teams don’t win many Super Bowls, and if winning a Super Bowl is the crowning achievement of any NFL franchise, then you can expect the smashmouth spirit of ’77 to hang around a bit longer.

But maybe only a bit.

If Peyton Manning wins the Super Bowl this season –– and against another golden arm like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees or even a double-threat like Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick –– the game we all know and love may be no mas.

“And with their first pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars select … Johnny Football!”


  1. so, in closing I think you were trying to say, and it took you a while to get there. well, you really never got there…but I surmise from the article that 0-4 heading into the bye is very entertaining pigskin play..

    Thanks Uncle Tony,

    Mike Webster’s Brain..

  2. Damn Mike, that was harsh! Shit man, reminds me of when we used to play the Cowboys in that Battle of Superstars, man remember how damn big that my thighs looked on TV during those tug o wars against the Cowboys..

  3. Man that thing really smelled like sweat and urine..Couldn’t they have thrown me a clean jersey..I’ve had to wash every item of clothing I’ve had since at least 3 times. #tidestocks #smellyjerseyphobia #largesweatymen

  4. No matter what happens this season, I will always be looking up at the Sixburgh Steelers and their six Super Bowl rings.

  5. Yesterday’s game reminded me of how irrelevant some of these defensive backs have become. NFL rules have made it difficult to defend a receiver, even if a defender has position some of these calls get overlooked by refs. And then you get defenders like Mario Manningham and Dez Bryant who like to push off, which again is often goes unnoticed. Running backs are becoming a rarity in the NFL, Adrian Peterson is a gem. But most are an old race horse at 30 yrs old in NFL playing running back. Defensive ends are too fast and too strong like JJ Watt, JPP and D-Ware.

    As far as running up the score, recent Super Bowls have been no exception. Only defense to hold opponent to one score was 2000 Ravens.

    Packers weaknesses were exposed in past playoff scenarios. Rush Rodgers, make him uncomfortable, they have an unreliable running game, and their defense is not used to playing from behind. NYG exposed Brady’s weakness. Fold the pocket and it forces Brady to get rid of the ball. That’s how they beat them twice in Super Bowl. And then it’s clock management with the Giants’ running backs.

    I’m loving the 49ers. Aldon Smith, once he returns, is a beast. Frank Gore is solid. And Kaepernick is a smart QB with legs.

  6. We need to have QBs spiked headfirst into the turf more, like Joe “Turkey” Jones did to Terry Bradshaw. Bradshaw was fine afterwards, aside from his inability to use the correct verb tenses and spell (but come to think of it, he had those problems before the Turkey Jones smashed his head).

  7. I agree with you, Crystal. D-backs might as well play in handcuffs. You have Goodell to thank for that. And the 49ers are tough because they have a running game and a solid/not-great defense. As I said, pass-happy offenses normally don’t fare well in Super Bowls. Or even in the national championship game, come to think of it. Otherwise Oregon would have won at least three national championships by now.