The Port Arthur News
I was sitting alone in the Eagles' Lodge Refreshment Center, sipping on a young scotch, when one of my former players walked in and sat down at my table. I'll call him, “Sam”.
The lady bartender brought him a Miller Lite. We talked.
“I read most of your stuff in the newspaper, Coach. After all those years coaching football, why don't you ever write about it?”
“Well, Sam,” I answered, “Bob West writes the sports. I write editorials.”
“Yeah, but couldn't you sort of editorialize about football? That's what a bunch of those sports writers do anyway ... editorialize.”
I just sort of shrugged and let it go. But I've been thinking about it ever since then. So I’m gonna do it ... Two things have screwed football up completely since I played in high school and college and began my coaching career. Those are NFL professionals and television.
Football was wonderful in those years of yore when blockers were forced to keep their hands or fists on their chests. No damned pushing with your hands on offense.
Herbie Adkins, who played on our Nederland '57 State Championship team, then played at Baylor, made “all world” at Baylor, and is in Baylor's Hall of Fame, said it best...“I couldn't play nowadays, Coach. All they do is stand up and push each other.”
And he also played back before all of them went nuts throwing the ball, back when defense ruled, and we had sensible scores...like 6-3, 12-7, or 9-3. It was rare to see anyone score 30 points.
Now a blocker gets to stand up, use his hands, almost put a rusher in a straitjacket. And now there's all those pass interference calls by the zebras.
Used to be that a defensive back had to almost knock a receiver on his butt to have interference called. Now they call it if they dare to breathe on him. We used to call that kind of football “pass tag” when we were kids.
TV changed the rules. The NFL and the TV owners, together, decided that people who watched on TV wanted high scoring games and lots of offense. They were afraid if there weren't a lot of touchdowns viewers might change the channel. So what? One might ask. So TV would lose part of those expensive TV commercials and the NFL would lose money too.
Corporate America all over again...
So the pros began all that non-football crap and the colleges followed closely to do the same thing.
Take A&M and that kid, Johnny Football, whom everyone wants to make sure can't make money playing football.
Let us check and see how well Texas A&M and TV get along...
A&M recently expanded its football stadium. It paid Coach Sumlin $3 million a year, then gave him a $1.1 million raise. A&M made $37 million “off the media”, which, of course, means TV. And, since Johnny Football, Texas A&M University — state supported — made $72 million selling T-shirts with Johnny Football's picture on them. That's a 20% increase.
Then there's the quarterbacks. You can certainly dare not breathe on a quarterback nowadays. It's almost like quarterbacks are not playing football anymore. It's like they are in a glass cage so everyone watching — on TV or one of those $100 seats — can see them, but no one can touch them.
And if you chance to tackle a quarterback, it's like you committed a felony. TV does not like it either because it's the QB who makes the money with the high scoring. TV doesn't care about the right guard, you see. Nor do the corporations who pay millions for commercials during the game.
Football's become like everything else, except for high school ball, it's all about money. If you don't believe that, just check out the names of stadiums and bowl games. “Reliant” stadium? “ATT” stadium? And bowl games used to named for fruits or flowers or something.
Now they're called something like, “The Auto Repair Bowl, “The Dish Network Bowl”, or “Visa Credit Bowl.” Roses, Peaches, and Oranges are out.
Then there's those guys on radio and TV who say to each other, “Well, Joe, it's fourth quarter and Dallas is still behind and still on defense.”
“Yeah, Greg, the defense has been out there too long. They're worn out.”
The other team's offense has been out there the exact same amount of time. Why do those talking heads never say, “The offense has been out there too long, they'll get tired of scoring points...”?
Football just ain't football no more.
Television is screwing up everything.
Neal Morgan of Nederland is a retired educator. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.