Tuesday, February 1, 2011
The X List: The 6 biggest NFL myths perpetrated this Super Bowl Sunday
Not included: The myth that Neil O'Donnell was actually an NFL-caliber quarterback.
Good news, those who pack and those who steel: Super Bowl XLV is finally upon us! It's been nearly four months since the city of Arlington last held a championship game in one of the four major sports leagues; or 20 minutes, if you count Competitive Pole Dancing. Here's a fun drinking game the whole family can enjoy: Every time you hear a Deion or a Howie or a Joe Buck utter one of these common NFL myths, take a drink. At halftime, make sure to stumble back onto this site and provide me with your credit card number, down there in the comments section. Include your zip code and that little three-digit thingy on the back. You'll be glad you did, and frankly, you deserved to be taught a lesson for believing any of these myths for even a second.
Superbowl Myth #1: The Quarterback Is The Smartest Guy On The Field. For three and a half hours this Sunday -- provided you were born blind and have never actually seen a football game before -- you could be forgiven if you imagined an NFL game to be a sort of run-yell-throw competition between Aaron Rodgers and Ben Rothlisberger. This is because, as Americans, we are trained from birth to accept that only smart guys hold onto the ball. Guys rejected from MENSA for being "too smart," like Va-Jay Jay Cutler and Terry "SuperHunk" Bradshaw.
The Problem With That: According to both actual scientific studies and '80s movies about nerds thirsty for vengeance, it would seem QBs are not exactly the sharpest tools at the line of scrimmage. They're not even the third-smartest guys in their own huddle, fourth if you've got a kicker hanging out where he's not wanted. That honor belongs to...
Superbowl Myth #2: Offensive Linemen Are The Dumbest Guys On The Field. According to Heisman and Superbowl MVP voting, offensive linemen are about as important to football as nipples painted onto the backs of jerseys. To make matters worse, there's five of them, which severely limits the number of additional quarterbacks and running backs on the field. Also, it's exceptionally easy to defeat them in single combat, provided you belt one in the head with a stone launched from the sling of a small child. That's just basic Bible Science, people.
The Problem With That: According to the same scientific studies that revealed what a brainless class of mouth-breathing imbeciles our Bradys and Mannings are, it would seem that offensive tackles, centers, and guards are the smartest guys on the field. Their average scores on a Wonderlic test roughly equate to a journalist, meaning that those totally huge 300-pound half-ogre half-rhino warbeasts are not just smarter than you, but also capable of writing at a 7th-grade level.
Superbowl Myth #3: Players Who Appear On The Cover of Madden Are Cursed. You know the drill: player does well one year, gets to be on the cover of the newest Madden game, and promptly goes 1-for-427 with 296 interceptions as his team loses its next 87 straight games. After all, no less a source of unquestionably correct information as Wikipedia confirms this. Enjoy your Superbowl victory, RothlisRodgers, 'cause after next August you'll be losing games to the Detroit Lions.
The Problem With That: Considering most of the cover-boys were having their greatest seasons ever, it actually makes statistical sense that the following season would not be as good. Especially when you consider that in any given season, 50% to 67% of all NFL players get injured, and that the average NFL career only lasts three years anyways. Of course, when you take the time to pause your game, put down your bong (not necessarily in that order) and take a look at what really happened to these players, more players had Pro Bowl/MVP seasons following their appearance on the cover than not. Not that Pro Bowls and MVP-type seasons mean anything in the grand scheme of things. We're all gonna die eventually, right? When the Mayans take over next year?
Superbowl Myth #4: You Must Punt On Fourth Down. Your team fails to convert on a 3rd-and-long, ending up a yard shy of a first down on the enemies' 34 yard line. Time to trot out the punt unit, right? I mean, you have to, right? Only homeless losers like Bill Belichick ever go for it on fourth down. Punting on fourth-and-inches is the 'safe' play. And FOX announcer Troy Aikman knows a thing or two about Safe Play. His safety word? "Herschel Walker."
The Problem With That: According to several recent studies, going for it is actually the statistically less risky option, especially considering that you passed up a 50% conversion rate just to give the other team a free possession. In gambling terms -- terms any NFL fan can understand -- that's like going to Vegas to bet on black at the roulette table, then getting there and just handing the ball-putter-downer-guy a wad of all your money and not playing. While it may work for Troy Aikman, it won't work for you. In fact, there's a high school football team in Arkansas that never punts at all. Pretty crappy team, right? Nope. They reeled off 13 straight wins and snagged the State 5A Championship. All because they always go for it on fourth down; most likely because every other team in Arkansas sends out their punt return team anyways. It's what you're supposed to do.
Superbowl Myth #5: The West Coast Offense Originated On The West Coast. Any time a team attempts a pass shorter than 40 yards, you will hear a TV announcer indicate that this is due to the team in question employing a "West Coast Offense." This is an offense where quarterbacks throw to guys five yards downfield, and was invented by Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers in the 80s. San Francisco is an iconic American city located on the West Coast of the continent of North America, which is something even most NFL television announcers can be made to understand.
The Problem With That: According to Bill Walsh himself, the name is a misnomer, and should be called the Cincinnati Offense. Walsh didn't even technically invent it, as the Cleveland Browns -- you know, the winners of eight NFL championships ... You knew that, right? -- used it to perfection in the 1950s. When former Browns coach Paul Brown moved on to the Bengals in the 1970s, he worked with then-offensive coordinator Bill Walsh on the system, to take advantage of their QB who had a weak arm. Remember that next time you see Kyle Orton complete a two-yard checkdown pass to a covered tailback on 3rd-and-12. That's Bengals offense, baby!!
Superbowl Myth #6: You Need A Big-Arm, Big-Game Quarterback To Win It All. Any football expert will tell you that without a top-flight elite Chucker of the Ball, your team just shouldn't even bother to show up past its first preseason game. It's simply not worth it, and an affront to the game of Footworshipthequarterbackball. Hard-throwing, hard-sexting guys like Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning -- these are the guys you need to win Superbowls. Guys like John Elway and Johnny Unitas will win you the big game when the chips are down and the eurotrash terrorists have seized your family and the nuclear bomb under the rec center goes off in 20 seconds.
The Problem With That: All of that is true, except for all of it. Turns out that when you use your eyeballs to see who wins and who loses, Big Game QBs suck at winning Big Games. In fact, close analysis has shown that guys like Favre, Manning and Marino might actually cost you games. And as for legendary quarterbacks like Johnny Unitas? The only time he ever won a Superbowl is when his backup came in after he sucked and led them to victory. And don't even get The Truth started on the criminally inaccurate knob-slurping "stat" of Fourth Quarter Comebacks. For added drinking game fun, take five drinks when an announcer uses Myth #1, Myth #6 and the Fourth Quarter Comeback stat all in the same sentence. Just don't ralph in my car, OK?