You know those people who are always saying they miss defense in football, particularly the National Football League? I’ve often encouraged them to go back and watch old games from the 1970s on YouTube.
You can do it, it’s actually quite easy—I know, because I’m now a streaming TV junkie, and I watch old football games all the gosh darn time. Now, if you are going to go back and watch some of these old football games, I strongly suggest you put your sleeping pills away; if you do have trouble sleeping, these games will cure that ailment easier than a documentary about other old stuff.
In all seriousness, you and I both know you don’t like defense as much as you say you do. It’s kind of like saying society should adopt some of its old ways of technology, technology that, for example, involves a phone receiver with a cord attached to it.
It might seem sexy and ironically progressive to suggest that the old ways are better, but they really, really aren’t.
Same with the style of professional football your grandfather used to watch on that giant tube looking thing that he had to walk across the living room and touch if he wanted to change the channel from the CBS Game of the Week to the NBC match-up featuring play-by-play man Curt Gowdy.
Speaking of the late Curt Gowdy, he’s the man who called the famous Immaculate Reception divisional round playoff game between the Steelers and Raiders at old Three Rivers Stadium way back in 1972. Sure, we all know how that game ended. Franco Harris rode in on a white stallion and rescued Steeler Nation from yet another year without a playoff victory. But that moment occurred in the final seconds of that game. As for the other 59 minutes and change? They were rather boring, blah, forgettable. You might not think so, but that’s because you only remember the exciting Franco play and not the other 120 or so that accomplished nothing.
If not for Franco’s heroics, the Immaculate Reception game would have been just your average 7-6 affair that nobody would have ever uploaded on YouTube.
Defense is boring, at least the kind fans must be referring to when they say 7-6 games can be exciting.
7-6 is rarely exciting. It’s certainly not exciting when it happens during your average August preseason game quarterbacked by Josh Dobbs. And it’s really not exciting when it happens during the Super Bowl, which it did when the Patriots took on the Rams in a 60-minute snore-fest just last week.
To be fair, New England and Los Angeles did combine to score more than 13 points—16, to be exact—but that didn’t happen until the bitter end, when the Patriots tacked on 10 points and saved us all from offseason rule changes that likely would have involved giving offensive players the option of scoring a touchdown in the end zone closest to them.
As it stood, Super Bowl LIII was still so lacking in actual offense—in addition to the 16 points that were scored, the two teams combined to go six for 25 on third downs and only one play was snapped inside the red zone the entire night—social media had an actual meltdown.
“This game is boring!!!!!!!” said your average fan on Twitter.
“SHUT UP!!!!!!” screamed Trey Wingo the next morning.
Actually, I’m going to side with your average fan on Twitter in this argument. And make no mistake, the NFL will, too. The NFL decided long, long ago that offense sells. We might rip the league for its plethora of rules that benefit offense, but it can’t be a coincidence that the beginning of the league’s popularity can be traced back to the 1970s when those footballs began to soar just a little more than they had before.
In my opinion, what makes football so special is you can have a 13-3 game break out at any moment, even in the Super Bowl. And regardless of how dominant an offense can be, there’s always that one defense that can render it totally inept—at least for 60 minutes.
I think 13-3 games can be beautiful. I also love 33-30 match-ups. But if I had to pick which one I’d like to see on a regular basis, well.....let those footballs continue to fly, baby!