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Quick Inside Slant: The Post Season

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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By: Dustin Fisher

The same people that yelled saying RGIII should not have played are the same people who complained when the Nationals benched Stephen Strasburg so it was really just a no-win situation for Mike Shanahan and the Redskins.

The same people that yelled saying RGIII should not have played are the same people who complained when the Nationals benched Stephen Strasburg so it was really just a no-win situation for Mike Shanahan and the Redskins.

One bad snap deserves another.

Let’s play alternate Reality for a little while here. In one reality, RGKnee realizes how hurt he really is, actually admits it to himself and tells Shanahan to take him out of the game because his inability to plant and run is costing the team its chance to win this game. His coach obliges. Kirk Cousins comes in and loses the game. “R.G. Soft” is trending on twitter the next day. An ESPN poll is taken and 87% of football fans think he’s a pansy for coming out of the game. “We want a warrior in there! Not some level-headed pragmatist who is doing what’s best for the team!” is the general sentiment in the D.C. area, though phrased largely differently. He is mocked on the Metro. People spit at him at Wizards games. He doesn’t get free Sun Chips at Subway anymore.

In reality number two, Mike Shanahan sees RGKnee’s inability to run and throw and knows he has a decent lead with a capable backup who came in and beat the freakin’ Ravens earlier this year without any first team practice. The 22-year old starter says he’s fine and sells Shanahan that tired line about the difference between being hurt and injured. Sorry kid, I’m going with the white guy. Redskins lose. @MikeScaredyhan joins twitter the next day and has 500,000 followers in the first four hours. Fans criticize his gutlessness. An ESPN poll says that 87% of all fans think he should have let RG3 finish the game. He is no longer allowed into the Gentleman’s Gold Club or the National Tanning Salon on U Street.

In reality number three, RG3 stays in the game and they hang on to barely beat Seattle and folk songs are written about both his “heroic effort” and Shanahan’s “gutsy call.” #HTTR blows a hole in the Twittersphere and Eagles’ fans only have to hear about how great the current team is rather than “Where’s your Superbowl ring?” over and over. An ESPN poll says that 87% of the fans think they are the best quarterback/coach combo of all time.

Of note is that in all three of these alternate realities, Doctor Andrews was confident in RG3’s health the whole time. Also in these realities, the Patriots converted that 4th and two from their own 28 and the Saints didn’t recover their onside kick in the Superbowl.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

That is a Latin phrase that literally means “after this, therefore because of this.” It is a logical fallacy that states that the causal relationship between two events is based solely on the chronology between the two. In other words, “The Redskins lost the game because Mike Shanahan left RG3 in too long” or “RG3 got hurt because Shanahan left him in the game” or “Shanahan can suck my #@%$!” It’s like blaming your wife for the new sound your car is making because she drove it just before it started. That sound may just be your conscience telling you that you shouldn’t have bought a car off of Craigslist.

In a poll I conducted inside my own head made up of mostly fictional people, 87% of Skins fans think RG3 should have been taken out of the game and blame Shanahan for both the playoff loss and for mortgaging the team’s future. Funny. Nobody seemed to mind him limping around that much in weeks 16 and 17 against the Eagles and Cowboys. Maybe because he was winning then? Nah. Probably some other reason.

The biggest issue I have with the people committing this fallacy is that most of them would have complained if a different decision was made, committing the post hoc’s half-brother “hindsight fallacy.” But I’m assuming you all got that from my open. It happens all the time. That “bold” and “gutsy” onside kick in the Superbowl would have been “stupid” and “unnecessary” had Indianapolis recovered the ball. And Bill Belichick’s 4th and two from their own 28 in the fourth quarter would have instead been “bold” and “gutsy” had Kevin Faulk caught the ball cleanly for the first down. As the great Ron Jaworski said, it’s easy to claim you knew it all along with access to the results. There are a lot of parts of this argument to discuss, so let me isolate them for you wonderful readers out there.

The decision to play RG3 for the benefit of the game. There has been a lot of rhetoric from both the actual paid (overpaid) media and the facebook and twitter make-believe media about how they would have benched RG3 in the second quarter after he reinjured his leg. And I’m sure some of them actually would have. But 87%? No. Not without access to the results. Personally, I would have benched him. On Thursday, when the medical doctor they’ve paid to make these decisions said to. Kirk Cousins has proved to be a very capable quarterback. But that’s easy for me to say now, what with the access to the results and all.

Mike Shanahan cares about RG3’s well-being. A friend of mine wrote in response to a passive-aggressive sour-grapes type of comment I made about the Redskins that Shanahan should have taken RG3 out because above all, he has to care about the well-being of a man. This is the same guy who put a man into the Superbowl who was plagued with migraines and currently blind to make a play-action pass more believable. And he was applauded for this. If you think he’s got RG3’s health in mind, I assume you also believe Lucy really isn’t going to pull the football away from Charlie Brown next time.

Mike Shanahan cares about the future of the Redskins franchise. Sure, he has some stock in this. I’m sure he was at least consulted when the team traded 87 picks to St. Louis to get him. And by no means was he on the hot seat after this season. But I won’t pretend the pressure to win their third playoff game since 1992 wasn’t a huge Gorilla on his back. A playoff victory or two may have saved his job following a 3-13 2013 season. Besides, Adrian Peterson ruined the way people look at injuries now, especially young athletes who think they’re invincible. That guy is a freak show. But if there’s one guy who survives Niagara Falls in a barrel, everybody figures they have a shot. Especially super athletes like RG3. And he’s got eight months to lick his wounds now anyway. The odds of him actually snapping his ACL and LCL on that bad snap vs. him only finishing with whatever minor damage he had prior to the 4th quarter were enough for Shanahan to roll the dice. And personally, I don’t blame him. Not when you look at some of the other possible results of the decision he didn’t make that may have created a trust rift between coach and quarterback.

So whether you agree with him or not, the decision in the moment certainly wasn’t “stupid.” Unless of course, you consider the fact that RG3 snapped two ligaments in his knee. In which case, he should have been taken out in the 2nd quarter. Or at least the play before that bad snap.

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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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