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Those Crazy Football Rules

Those Crazy Football Rules

Those Crazy Football Rules

While we wait the couple of weeks before the Super Bowl, we can chat about how Pittsburgh and Seattle taught everybody else how to play football.

Do you watch March Madness? The team that ends up with the trophy is the one that has the endurance. Some years ago, Utah was in the final game. They pooped out before the end of the first half to my utter disappointment having spent 8 years of my life at the University of Utah.

March Madness, of course is basketball. Football is the more rugged game which would have been explained and described by Charles Darwin if it were invented in his day. However, American football came from Rugby. That’s the game where all the players have had their teeth knocked out but still love the game. Only the most fit survive.

I loved football when I was a kid. My mother would not let me put on the high school football uniform with all of the pads, helmet, and other protective devices. Because of that, those of us non-players went to the church grounds and played on the lawn without any uniforms with the safety gear. Our season ended when everybody’s knees had turned to mush from playing tackle (without knee pads) rather than touch football.

In Korea we played tackle football with no protective gear. We could only do this when we were back in reserve. We played as hard as we could. If we broke a leg or an arm bad enough the worst that could happen to us would be that they would send us home. We couldn’t play football on the line. We would have rolled down the mountain. (Besides we had telephone lines to repair during the day which got blown apart again every night. The lines were necessary to call in mortar fire at night on the mortar concentrations we set up during the day.)

No one ever received the slightest scratch in one of our tackle football games. Our season always ended when the C.O. said, “No more tackle football. You’re going to get killed out there.” (Each of us had heard that from the Regimental Commander when we joined the unit. He always said, “Half of you will not be going home, not alive anyway.” Thankfully, he was wrong. Our Regiment lost about 1000 G.I.s plus a large number of ROK soldiers that served in our units over the three years of the Korean War. When I was there, the losses were lower than before I got there and after I left.)

The above is called by football commentators a sidelight. I don’t like sideline sob stories (or human interest stories) while watching television football any more than you liked the above sidelight.

Anyway, my wife has taken up football. After resisting for 70 years she finally gave in. She can’t believe that she now likes football. What I mean is: She has not suited up yet. She likes to watch it on television. Therefore we now talk about the game.

I’m usually reading a book or doing a logic puzzle during the game, but she gives it her full attention and she gives me a steady stream of chatter that actually gets me interested in the game.

Today she asked me about penalties and how they are applied. The penalty she was talking about was when Seattle had Carolina on the one yard line. It was a 5-yard procedural penalty. That meant the ball would be put half the distance to the goal. I said, “I think that should be an automatic safety. The ball should be placed on the minus 4-yard line. Now I know that the refs probably have not had algebra, so they should just call it a safety.

My wife wanted to know more. I said, suppose you are on your opponent’s 16 yard line and they get a 15-yard penalty. The ball would be placed on the 1-yard line. Now suppose you are on the 14-yard line under the same circumstances. The ball would be placed half the distance to the goal and you would get the ball on the 7.5-yard line.”

Stupid, right? (If I said the ball should be put on the minus 1-yard line, everybody would moan, “That’s no way to get a touchdown!”)

Here’s what should happen in the second instance. The ball is put on the 1-yard line and then half the distance to the goal. You should be on the ½-yard line. They should give you as many of the penalty yards as possible and then ½ the distance to the goal of what’s left. That will always put you on the 1/2-yard line where you belong.

I also would like the fumble rules put back where they belong. The ground can’t keep coming up and knocking the ball out of the player’s hands like that and getting away with it.

Well, I’ve got to go feed my horse.