The Little Things That Make Football Great
Sometimes in life, it is the little things that make something great. Football is no different. While I am sure everyone has their own list of “little things” that they love about football, here is mine.
Different strokes for different folks- I think it is fantastic that there is more than one way to be successful in the NFL. Look at Bill Belichick of the Patriots and Bruce Arians of the Cardinals. They are arguably the two best coaches in the league right now.
Arians has admitted publicly that he is not a “grinder”. He has a date night with his wife during the week and never misses a family get-together. He is also the sharpest dresser in pro football. He always wears a suit and tie in his trademark red beret hat to press conferences.
At the other end of the spectrum, Belichick is known for sleeping at the team facility. Also, in a recent NFL network special, there is footage of him working out, eating, and studying game film all the same time. Belichick also wears his sideline here to post-game press conferences. Quite frankly, he looks like a man that just got picked up for DUI or something. The point is, their approaches, though vastly different, work for both of them. I think that is awesome.
A well-run screen pass- To me, this is art. The athleticism required by offensive linemen to spring the ball carrier on a screenplay is quite substantial. When not blocked well, the screen almost always loses yards and kills a drive. However, when done well it really is a sight to see. Coaches have figured out that screens can be an easy way to pick up yards. Thus, there are many variations of the play now.
In my book though, you cannot top the original version, a simple slip screen to the running back. Look at the way the receivers and linemen get downfield and block to spring then Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray for a huge gain. The play-action fake to Murray adds a little wrinkle to the original blueprint, giving Murray a little extra pizzazz in his great catch and run. Once you pay attention to it, you cannot help but appreciate it more.
Receivers that block- These are dying breed, but they are awesome. The wide receiver position has justly earned the “diva” label in the past decade or so thanks to guys like Terrell Owens and that Chad guy that used to play for Cincinnati. I am not sure what his last name is this week. Those two guys dominating the league helped produce the current iteration of wide receivers that can only catch the ball and are mostly afraid to get hit.
There are still a few guys who can dish out punishment as well as take it. Ever since Steelers great Hines Ward retired, Larry Fitzgerald has become the best blocking wide receiver in the league. The way he tattoos Richard Sherman of the Seahawks to allow his teammate to pick up a first down makes my heart smile.
Raw emotion- People have all kinds of theories as to why the NFL is America’s most popular sport. The answer is simple- nothing in this country can compare to the way NFL fans live and die with their teams. The accompanying video from the Max Funke YouTube channel is a perfect illustration of this. It captures reactions from both Seahawks and Vikings fans after kicker Blair Walsh missed a chip shot field goal that would have sent the Vikings through to the divisional playoffs, and sent the heavily favored Seahawks home. Again, what else can elicit this kind of raw emotion from so many people in this country? Nothing. Every fan can relate to the video, because every fan has been on both sides of it.