The Sixers 2-5 season has thus far been the total opposite of the miracle turnaround Doug Collins never promised but everyone pretty much assumed anyway. But fortunately in Philadelphia, when one sport is dragging your guts out and smearing them all over the court, you can turn to one of the other local teams to put you back together.
If the Eagles are your antidote, they do seem to have the ability to fix you; they’ll just be slapping innards back together in sort of a half-ass, made-up way; your liver winding up where your pharynx should be, maybe 10 feet of intestine still hanging out of your eye socket; and all this is completed within seconds of your death, which, before their hurried surgical efforts, seemed all but imminent.
One game behind the G-Men, the Birds kept themselves in contention this week with a thrilling and sort of uncharacteristic victory, in that they were required to hang on for dear life, and then actually did. Michael Vick was a sniper, the offense was able to keep the ball and chew up a lot of the 4th quarter with a nine point lead, and safety Nate Allen went down with a neck sprain. Which doesn’t fit into the whole “list of good things” motif I had going there, but it transitions into the next segment somewhat flawlessly.
In 2004, Butte High School was doing more than being a probably hilarious play on words in the community. It was producing three-sport phenom Colt Anderson, whose origins in Montana and rusty pistol of a first name personified him as a western roughneck even before he started busting heads. After graduating from the Butte, he wandered onto the University of Montana campus and wrangled up some All-American honors.
Colt was going to prove himself, whether teams wanted him to or not.
The trend continued as he trespassed into NFL territory. Two training camps have gone by in Minnesota, and both times, Anderson was slashed from the roster on the final day. This, of course, didn’t mean the Vikings wouldn’t use him as a bloodied dish towel on the practice squad, if he wanted.
Even when other offers came through, Anderson claimed loyalty to the team that had cut him. Not that the Vikings were blatantly evil or taking advantage of Anderson, but you’ve got to wonder how strong loyalties to a practice squad have to be when you could be playing pro football on national television in a city where the biggest star wasn’t Brett Favre’s penis.
Finally, Colt Anderson will get that chance.
Nate Allen’s neck sprain opened up a safety shortage for the Philadelphia Eagles, and the team had had their eye on Anderson for some time–they had been one of the sirens attempting to seduce Colt away from Minnesota.
The higher exposure, more playing time, and jarring pay increase were enough to bring Anderson to the east coast. Minutes before, the Dallas Cowboys had given him a call of interest; which at this point must be like a man covered in leprosy soars knocking on your front door and demanding an audience. The fact that the Eagles swore he’d play this coming Monday Night was probably a little more enticing than hopping on a 1-7 train to nowhere.
Rushing past the diseased corpse from Dallas on his front step, Anderson hopped in a cab and landed in Philly Tuesday night, where he immediately headed to the Linc to pick up a playbook and say hello to his new second place, 5-3 friends.
The Vikings, dealing with some pretty serious off the field issues of their own, should be bringing plenty of drama into Philadelphia December 26 when the teams collide for a post-Christmas war of the sagging baggage-handlers.
But Nate Allen wasn’t the only casualty last Sunday. On the other side of the ball, Indianapolis’ Austin Collie was granted a concussion by a couple of Eagles defenders, and what was a catch and fumble was ruled not that, and boy what a mess this whole “HEY WATCH IT GUYS” style of hits the NFL is inflicting has become.
It could be hardest on the zebras.
All these men have been officiating football for years, working their way up from high school to the pros, and in that time they formed an idea of what was a clean hit and what wasn’t. Now they are being told to call it closer.
As a result the line that once was clear in their minds now is blurred.
The NFL can rule whatever it wants–clearly–but its the officials who’ve got to turn their words into law. Somewhere between a conference room and a concussion there’s a line, and its now up to these trained professionals to decide where exactly a line is that wasn’t there before and is pretty hard to see even now, when the NFL says its there.
Subjectivity on a hit is going to be hard to decipher. What if the guys involved have a personal vendetta and the hit was pretty hard, but the guys on the next play help each other up, despite their hit being harder? How can you draw a line regarding the level of intensity, danger, or malice in a hit? You can’t measure it like the speed of a fastball or the length of a pass.
If you’ve got humans out there, and you have every intention of keeping them out there, then you’re going to get some very human decisions. Its this strange, convoluted ruling that’s going to lead to some pretty sharp arguments down the road. At least Kurt Coleman didn’t get fined.
We can only assume they refs have a learning curve like the players do and in time, they’ll know exactly what constitutes the whistle in that breed of scenario.
Until then, let’s all enjoy the safer, blue-balling, anti-bloodlust style of football that would make guys who played before there were face masks or league safety memorandums barf in their graves.