Tuesday, November 13, 2007
No "Mercy Rule" In the NFL
Don't get me started on all this crybaby criticism of the New England Patriots. I am so sick of hearing about how the Pats are "running up the score" in games. Hey, Little Johnny, this isn't grade school -- it's the NFL. There's no mercy rule. Fans pay a LOT of money to buy tickets and attend games. Some people travel hundreds of miles and stay in hotels to see their team play. What they're paying for is the right to see two teams play as well as they can for 60 minutes. The team that's losing should maybe consider stepping up its defence instead of complaining about Tom Brady playing in the fourth quarter. No disrespect to the backup quarterbacks, but very few fans -- including the opposing team's fans -- are there to see Matt Cassel or Matt Gutierrez throw the ball. Consider a few things. If one team has a commanding lead going into the final quarter, why does it make any more sense for them to shut down their offence and play to less than their ability than it does for the losing team to concede the loss or forfeit? It doesn't -- in neither case is it what the fans paid to see. Both sides owe the fans their best effort. Consider also that keeping the premium players on the field late in the game exposes them to greater risks of injury. Does anyone seriously think Bill Belichick wants Tom Brady or Randy Moss injured? Why keep them out there? Either because the coach thinks there's a legitimate chance of the other team mounting a comeback or because he recognises a duty to the fans not to mail it in for the rest of the game. Is it disrespectful to another team to act as though there's still a possibility for them to mount a comeback? Isn't it more disrespectful to act as though the game were a fait accompli? Most players and coaches seem to understand this, but there is a distinct minority of crybabies out there who would seem to prefer if the Patriots just kicked field goals and punted the entire second half. Is that good sportsmanship? It's certainly not good entertainment. It may not be fun to be on the losing side of a record-setting blowout, but there's enough parity in the NFL as it is. And let's remember the Patriots were pretty much invisible for the first 41 years of their history. Let go of your jealousy and just enjoy watching what is possibly the greatest football team ever. And ease off Bill Belichick; he's just a coach in a comfy sweatshirt trying to do his job. It amazes me that people have nothing better to talk about than what a football coach wears. But that's a topic for another post; don't get me started.