Sometimes Symbolism is Good, Sometimes its Bad! But Symbolism is Sports…Tells Us The Truth!

Posted: November 2, 2010 in NCAA Football, NFL

…symbolism is powerful, Images are powerful!  I thought that there were a lot this past weekend in both pro and college football…image! Images like when Brad Childress picked up Brett Favre at the airport. The image a couple of years ago that was sent was “this is Brett Favre’s team” You don’t go to the airport to pick up Nickelback (I’m not even sure if I’d go to the airport and pick up Nickelback) But the point is that it was symbolic. It’s why dad sits at the head of the table…symbolism.

Let me start with college football. It wasn’t that Oregon beat USC, it was the symbolism where Oregon grabbed a big steak, jammed it into the Coliseum and say “We are now the college football power n the west coast…it is no longer USC…it will go through Eugene, Oregon!” it was not beating USC, it was the symbolism of it.

Before the game, they asked USC coach Lane Kiffin “you won the coin flip, why’d you take the ball?” and he said “have you seen Oregon’s offense?” That’s how people use to react to USC 5 years ago. It was all about Leinhart, Bush “just give us the ball; we’ll get into the endzone. We’re not overly consumed with you, this is about us!” Oregon went into USC and said “all we care about is us” and seemingly ninety percent of what USC cared about…was Oregon.

Oregon didn’t just win the physical battle, Oregon won the mental battle! They controlled USC’s entire game ideology; it was honestly fascinating to watch! I’m not even sure if Oregon respects USC, because they sure didn’t play like it! Symbolism… “It is now our conference and we’ll dictate the terms”

Now, sometimes I like symbolism and sometimes I don’t. On Sunday, it was a one possession game with two minutes left – three weeks ago we’re all saying “Donovan McNabb may be the MVP of the league” and Mike Shanahan yanks him for Rex Grossman. It’s a one possession game; two minutes left….a two minute drill. Shanahan said after the game “he’s still our starter!”

For the record, McNabb had a 76 QB rating, not awful but not overly effective either. He was 7 for 30 with a TD and a pick. Roethlisberger wasn’t that good either, Sanchez wasn’t as well. Manning had a game against the Chiefs this year that was far worse than that. Symbolically, Mike Shanahan said “close games, two minutes left…I don’t feel great about McNabb!”  I think that horrible symbolism.

Now, those who will criticize McNabb and there are many. Monday morning I was looking at an interesting drive chart. Since 2005, so that’s 5 year sample size,  when Donovan gets the ball with less than 5 minutes to go and the Eagles are losing or are tied, McNabb since 2005, is 2-12-1. Nobody has ever thought that McNabb is good on the two minute drill, but yanked for Rex Grossman. I am not down with that symbolism.

By the way, Shanahan was asked after the game why he made the move. He said “I thought he [Rex] gave us the best chance to win because Rex is very familiar with the terminology of the two minute system, that’s why he was put into that situation. And also in a situation, relative to Rex, I thought Rex came in and would be able to handle the various formations that we wanted to change and attack with”

Let me just tell you something. In the two minute drill, there’s NOT that many formations. There are not that many formations. Two minute drills? It’s not like you have seventy plays in the two minute drills. I mean you’re just trying to get the ball downfield and the defenses generally are just trying to keep you in front of them, so I don’t necessarily buy that answer. I’ll tell you something though, to me, Donovan McNabb has earned the right – especially this year – to have the ball. Now for the third bit of symbolism.

Gradually over the last year, I have become now – for lack of a better word – I have become the great defender of Mark Sanchez. Once again, the symbolism from Sanchez is all very positive. On Sunday, and here come the “Mark Sanchez is no good, the sky is falling” crowd. Last year, when the Jets were bad, Sanchez lost the game for the Jets.

He was terrible, had 5 picks, 4, 4, 3, often against mediocre to below average teams. This year, Mark Sanchez, is just ineffective. Peyton Manning was against the Chiefs, Big Ben was on Sunday night, McNabb was as well. Ineffectiveness happens to ever QB in the NFL. It happens about 3 or 4 weeks a year. Manning and Brady are the exceptions, being ineffective is okay. Dumpster fire Jay Cutler…not okay.

The symbolism for Mark Sanchez once again is “Listen, nobody can catch us, we had 9 drops, I only had one true pick, the other one should’ve been overturned but my coach whiffed and made ridiculous challenges earlier, killing an oppourtunity to get the ball back and only be at one pick, which would’ve been ours, symbolically, I’m not going to lose the game for you!”

I can be ineffective, I cannot be very good, but Sanchez on Sunday didn’t lose the game for the Jets, like he did 6 – 7 times last year, he was just simply ineffective, welcome to the NFL, welcome to Big Ben’s world last night or Peyton Manning against Kansas City or Tom Brady against the Chargers two weeks ago. Ineffectiveness in the NFL happens regularly.

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Comments
  1. Mike Crack says:

    Yeah, I love the romanticism and theatre that is sports, especially in football. The lead up to the game, with the media talk and the analysis, really makes the game interesting.

    About D-Mac, former Eagles back-up Tim Hasselbeck was saying that during Eagles meetings/practices, there were often concerns from the coaching staff about McNabb’s lack of urgency while practicing. I remember SB XXXIX, when the Eagles were down 10 late and needed two scores, quickly. Their offense moved at a leisurely pace, especially considering they were in the SB. So I can see why Shanahan was concerned, although I don’t agree with switching your QB in that situation.

    Yeah, Sanchez had a bad game. Everyone is entitled to some sloppy play every once in awhile. Had NYJ won, no one would have talked.

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