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Quick Inside Slant: Week 9

Impressions of the 2016 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

I was wrong. The Patriots can actually be more polarizing. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Sherman’s Dilemma

sherman-carpenterLast Monday night, Richard Sherman was demonized for his hit on Bills’ kicker Dan Carpenter at the end of the first half. Everyone has written and spoken ad nauseam about how the refs botched the call and the Bills botched the play clock and Richard Sherman needs to be castrated for being such a meanie. But what I haven’t heard or seen so much is anyone defend Richard Sherman, probably because nobody knows as much as I do about football. Or maybe because other stuff has been clogging my news feed since Tuesday.

Sherman jumped offsides. And not just regular offsides. It was the kind of offsides you only really see when you play red light green light with a bunch of adults and one 3-year-old. He was actually too offsides, and that was the problem. He jumped early and found himself in the backfield. No one else was moving, no whistle was blown, and he knew immediately he was caught and had some decisions to make and fast.

There are free plays in football when a defender jumps offsides and the play continues, allowing the offense to run a play with complete impunity of any negative outcome of the play, because they can always just accept the offsides penalty if anything goes wrong. But the play is supposed to be whistled dead once the defender has an unabated path to the quarterback, punter, or kicker. This never happened. Whistles were not heard until after Sherman had already plowed into Carpenter.

Back to Sherman, running around the backfield like Neo from The Matrix amongst a bunch of completely motionless people. I’ll bet he kinda wished the refs would blow the whistle to give him an idea of what to do next. But they didn’t. He even slowed down for a second, either assuming the whistle would be blown or trying to figure out what to do. Being a regular edge rusher on the field goal defense, he knew that he was so offsides, he would actually dive passed the ball if he tried a normal kick block, laying on the ground as the ball was kicked over him. And as he was sure the Bills would already have another chance to kick the ball on the next play from five yards closer, he didn’t want to give them a chance to get three free points. So he went directly for the ball, which had just gotten to the holder. This trajectory, given the volume of offsides that he was, the nanosecond of hesitation, the slight push by the tight end, and finally locating the ball in the holder’s hands, sent him into Carpenter’s knees. Had he been on the other side, he would have probably hit the holder or maybe missed everybody altogether. Heck, he still almost missed the ball, as it did make it to the end zone in the air.

The play itself was not dirty at all. It was an unfortunate set of circumstances arising from Sherman’s offsides, the rules, and the officials swallowing their whistles that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in all my years of watching the NFL. I would have agreed with a roughing the kicker call despite his touching the ball just because of the egregious nature of the play, but I’m not even sure it should have been by the letter of the law. What was dirty was the dismissive shoulder shrug while Carpenter lay on the ground in either real or fake pain and the staredown of Rex Ryan after his interception later in the game. If he hadn’t done those two things, he may not have gotten that $9,115 fine. But hey, Sherman gotta be Sherman. Now he’s just not as Rich.

OK. Now back to your regularly scheduled internet political argument.

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Dustin Fisher is a writer, comedian, storyteller, and stay-at-home dad. Follow along with his dad blog at http://daddyneedsanap.com/ or buy his first book, Daddy Issues.

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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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