One of the great things about the National Football League is that with every single season, week or game, you have a chance to see something you never thought would happen.
This past week was no exception, and I’m still shaking my head.
Donovan McNabb, quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, didn’t know the NFL’s overtime rules.
Donovan McNabb, who is paid handsomely to be the field general for a team that’s been in steady contention for several seasons, didn’t know the rules.
I personally agree with McNabb that ties are lame, and I favor something along the lines of the overtime process in college football, where each team gets the ball at least once and, no matter how many possessions it takes, a winner eventually emerges.
Regardless of how McNabb or I feel about the NFL rules, though, rules are rules. And as the leader of the offense in a sport that has become a full-time job, how do you not know such an important rule?
If I were an Eagles fan (and thank God I’m not), I’d have to wonder if the offense would have operated a little more efficiently if McNabb knew the rule. I didn’t watch this game, so I can’t pick out any examples, but is it possible that the Eagles took their time in the huddle and didn’t urgently get back to the huddle after plays because they assumed the game would go on once the “fifth” quarter ended?
I’m obviously not saying the Eagles weren’t trying to score. The aim of every offensive possession is to score. And in an overtime situation against a weaker team, the last thing you want to do is give that weaker team an opportunity to end the game with one play.
I’m just baffled that the quarterback of an NFL team was completely clueless regarding the overtime rule. How is that possible?
And before you think I’m picking on a team I hate, my favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, won a huge divisional game at the Washington Redskins but still continued to make the types of mistakes that make me want to heave a beer bottle through the television.
As I said in a previous blog (I’m allowed to plagiarize myself, aren’t I?): The days of NFL players using training camp to get into shape are long gone. Now there are mini-camps, passing camps, organized team activities and countless other opportunities for players to work with their teammates. By this stage of the NFL season, teammates have worked together so much that everything should be running like a finely tuned machine.
So why is it that a huge first down by the Cowboys was wiped away by an illegal-formation penalty? How many times was this play worked on in practice? And the wide receivers still didn’t know that they had to line up behind the line of scrimmage, and not on the line of scrimmage?
And don’t even get me started on the constant false-start penalties.
To quote a good friend and fellow Cowboys fan: “This is NOT a hobby … this is what you do for a LIVING.”
I sometimes think the eight-on-eight rough-touch bar-league team I played on for years was more disciplined than some of these NFL teams. We paid to play on the bar team, unlike these stooges, who get paid millions upon millions of dollars. And the Eagles and Cowboys are supposedly upper-echelon squads — hell, the Cowboys were Super Bowl favorites in a lot of national publications.
I guess they can’t fit getting a clue under the salary cap.