A couple end-of-week, random things to help get you through Friday. (By the way, it could be worse … you could be me, who will most likely be shoveling snow as you read this. Upside: my three-year-old son “helping” by shoveling snow on the just-cleared parts of the driveway. Good times.)
Great news: apparently, the Steelers pass defense is improving! ESPN AFC North dude James Walker writes that “The loss to the New England Patriots in Week 10 was the turning point. Pittsburgh’s pass defense was carved up by quarterback Tom Brady, but responded well after that game.”
Walker’s wrong about getting Brady’d being a turning point — according to Football Outsiders, the Steelers ranked fourth in pass defense heading into the Pats game — but, hey, it’s progress.
This post is tangentially related to the Steelers, and even then just barely. But the Steelers’ next game is a week off, and this gives me an opportunity to talk about Roger Goodell’s recent comments on player safety and the 18-game season, presumably while somehow managing to keep a straight face.
Back in October, shortly after the NFL decided that a $75,000 fine sounded about right for James Harrison’s hit on Mohamed Massaquoi, I wrote this:
“…Where’s the research that suggests that suspending players is some kind of long-term deterrent? I mean, if we’re serious about player safety and removing these types of plays from the game, shouldn’t we have some notion about whether a punishment works before we proclaim that we’re serious about it?
Not only that, Roger Goodell’s doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to punishments fitting the crime. If anything, his approach can best be described at haphazard. That might make for good PR (“He’s coming down hard on offenders!”) but again, there’s no proof that randomly assigning punishments actually reduces crime. Isn’t that sorta the point?”
I’ve said it countless times, but Roger Goodell is a mouthpiece for the owners first, which means that their interests are his interests. I get that. He’s a skilled politician, which is an important attribute to have in a gig that involves a lot of BS-ing. That doesn’t make him smart or good for the game, but those traits aren’t at the top of his job description, either.
So I was interested to hear his answer to the question that concerns everybody — fans, players, people who don’t follow football but understand the relationship between fat guys running into each other at full speed and the increased chance of injury — but Goodell and the old-timers he answers to.
Florio had Rog on PFT Live Tuesday and asked him about it. Pertinent parts cut-and-pasted below (the entire transcript is here.)
PFT: …How do you reconcile those two things, player safety concerns with the possibility of expanding the regular season to 18 games?
Goodell: I don’t think you ever compromise on player safety. You always do what is in the best interest of making the game as safe as possible for the players. I keep seeing that throughout the season with an emphasis on making sure we take certain behaviors and certain techniques out of the game that can lead to risk of injury for either the player doing the striking or the player being struck. …
What the fans very clearly stated and I hear this from the players also is that they do not like preseason games. Unfortunately, we have injuries in preseason games….
Rog conveniently left out the part about virtually every fan and player being against the 18-game season even though we all admit that the preseason is boring as hell. (Worth mentioning: I know some fans are cool with the schedule expansion. In fact, I think either Cols or countertorque said earlier this season they didn’t have any real problem with it. Duly noted.)
Whatever, James Farrior seemed to grasp the reality of the situation. “They want 18 games, and I know it is going to happen one way or the other,” Potsie told the Trib. “There is nothing we really can do about that. We can fight it all we want to, but it is going to happen.”
Florio then asked Goodell about the guys at the top of the depth chart being more susceptible to injury if the season is expanded, and Dear Leaders offered this response:
“That is part of what we are doing not only in our own analysis but also in the analysis with all of our football people. I also asked John Madden and Ronnie Lott to get involved on the player safety issue in creating an injury panel that will look at how we continue to take certain contact out of the game with respect to the offseason.”
I mentioned this back in October but, in general, “panels” are a waste of time. It’s an excuse for important people to get together and eat lunch on the company dime. And I think Goodell should make any injury analysis available to whoever wants to see it. I don’t expect that to happen, but it’s certainly a reasonable request.
Credit to Florio for actually bringing the topic up, but I’m still looking for somebody to press Goodell. The Larry King softballs are nice, but everybody understands the issue, and more than that, most people think it’s an idiotic idea. Seems like Rog should have to answer the tough questions. I’m not holding my breath.
Speaking of FUBAR, I’m looking forward to the postseason overtime rules wreaking havoc.