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Quick Inside Slant: Week 13

Impressions of the 2012 NFL Season as perceived by a Creative Writing graduate student, part-time amateur stand-up comedian and collegiate intramural flag football legend.

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Mark Sanchez may not find it funny but try not laughing when you say “butt fumble.”

I am so glad to hear that people are already calling that play the “Butt Fumble” without even needing my assistance.

There has rarely been a single play that can sum up a team’s entire season than the Butt Fumble. Actually, a case can be made for the Chargers giving up a 4th and 29 to lose a game they literally had in the bag (OK, figuratively had in the bag) with under two minutes to go. But there are just too many angles to the Butt Fumble, which are words I will never get tired of typing or saying or even thinking. Butt Fumble.

First, Mark Sanchez is in the game. This is usually funny enough even when he doesn’t slam his head into the back of his own lineman and drop the football. Also, Rex Ryan is coaching. But somehow, after a three-game losing streak more typical of the Jets, they won a game. And Sanchez looked good. That’s what he does. Every third or fourth game, he finds a way to make you forget about all the Butt Fumbles of Sanchez past and you start to think he’s gotten it together.

But then…

It was a simple enough looking play. It looked like a power run with the fullback leading Shonn Greene up the middle. Only Shonn had no idea. I think he was punk’d in the running back meeting on Saturday. He immediately fakes as if he was getting a pitch to the opposite direction of the run, much to the chagrin of poor Mark Sanchez. Having an arm extended and nobody to take the ball from him, he actually does what he is supposed to do on a botched handoff and follows everybody into the hole in which the play was designed to go. Great. Nice instincts, Mark. But how much of a panic do you have to be in to run your head full speed into a 300-pound lineman’s ass who was literally (this time I mean it) standing still since the snap of the ball?

His head hit his own offensive lineman’s ass with such force, it snapped back worse than on most concussion hits. In real time, I assumed he got clobbered by one of the Patriots defenders. That’s the last time I will assume that Mark Sanchez didn’t just clumsily ram his head into his own teammate’s ass.

I’ll bet if this happened to Tebow, he wouldn’t have Butt Fumbled the ball. So if your game plan involves running backs getting punk’d in meetings and quarterbacks needing to operate in a state of panic on simple power runs, maybe Tebow is the best guy for the job.

This play put the Patriots up 21-0 early in the second quarter and with no other reason to watch than to enjoy the feeling of failure exuding from Rex Ryan, I grabbed another beer. Best Thanksgiving ever.
Beating That Same Dead Horse

I wrote about the stupid challenge flag rule last week just before it went live for everybody to see in the Detroit game on Thanksgiving. So now everybody knows. But Woody Paige brought up a hell of a good point, and I don’t ever say that and mean it.

What if the Texans had thrown the challenge flag?

For those who spent their Thanksgiving eating turkey and enjoying conversations with their family, let me review. There is a world class stupid rule in the NFL that has a loophole so big, it has its own moon. All scoring plays and turnovers are already reviewed. Great. But if a team challenges one of those plays, the team gets a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty AND the play isn’t reviewed anymore. If you’re confused, I explained it last week. Also, I don’t blame you. It’s tough for people with the capacity for abstract thought to understand this.

On Thanksgiving, Jim Schwartz cost his team a touchdown and likely the game and almost definitely a playoff spot by throwing the challenge flag on a scoring play, negating the chance at a review of a play which was obviously called incorrectly on the field. HOWEVER, the same thing would have happened if the Texans had thrown their challenge flag. The Texans would have gotten a 15-yard penalty, but the play would not have been able to be reviewed. Now why would any team challenge a play on which they scored? Well, they wouldn’t. Unless it would negate a review, in which case I think all 32 coaches would do it. Tampa Bay would probably even throw it into the official’s eye for good measure.

In an article on Yahoo!, the NFL says it didn’t envision scenarios like the one from the Detroit game, let alone my (and Woody’s) brilliant loophole plan to get garbage touchdowns we don’t deserve. How could you not envision those scenarios? Those are the only scenarios this new rule affects.

They have also said they will not change the rule mid-season, but may change it for the playoffs. I once made a crappy rule that affected the enjoyment and fairness of our intramural soccer games. Without going into needless detail, the rule sucked and I knew it five minutes into the season. And I decided to be proud and leave it in for the rest of the season and cringe every time I witnessed the effect it had on the game, because I didn’t want to admit failure. That’s what the NFL is doing now.

I beg you, NFL. Not only in light of the Detroit debacle, which was bad enough. But for the Woody Paige (and Dustin Fisher) loophole, which can give a coach who figures this out a way to get a garbage touchdown in a league where refs are taught to let the plays play out because an early whistle will stop it dead, but a late whistle can always be overturned through the use of replay.

But not all the time.

Be smart and suck in your pride before somebody figures this out and steals a game with this loophole and there’s nothing you can do but wish you had done something sooner. This is not the wall-jumping shortcut in Wario Stadium. This is the game malfunction in Frappe Snowland. It’s cheating made possible by an oversight, innumerably more times worse than anything the replacement officials did to Green Bay.

And if you decide not to change the rule, good luck with the finger-crossing. Hopefully your inability to admit your oversight doesn’t cost your league the credibility it will have for riding out this atrocious rule for the rest of the season.

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Dustin Fisher is an amateur standup comedian, storyteller, freelance writer, and stay-at-home dad, all of which are just better ways of saying “unemployed.” He worked in the area of collegiate recreation for the previous 14 years at UMBC, Miami University and the University of Baltimore. There, he became somewhat of a folk legend on the flag football field and actually got paid to play fantasy football. Dustin is currently in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore seeking a Masters degree in Creative Writing. He has made contributions to various publications including The Good Men Project and the Baltimore Fishbowl. For more about Dustin, check out his stay-at-home dad website, Daddy Needs a Nap. Dustin lives with his wife and daughter in New Carrollton, MD in a house surrounded by too many trees to get the Dish Network.

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