As the early Monday night game was going on the air, the camera focused on Derrick Henry walking through the stadium tunnel presumably toward the field. Play-by-play guy, Steve Levy, had the audio and was using the time and the visual image to praise Henry and to portend his impact on the game viewers were about to see. In his enthusiasm, Levy went just a bit “above and beyond”; I did not record what he said so this is a paraphrase:
- There is no running back like him in the league and maybe there has never been a running back like him in the history of the NFL.
Allow me, just for a moment here, to channel my inner Keith Jackson and say to Messr. Levy:
- “Whoa Nellie!”
I have no issue with the first part of Levy’s pronouncement; Derrick Henry is unlike any other running back playing in the NFL in 2022. In addition, I will stipulate that he is outstanding in what he does and would have been successful in any NFL era you might want to identify. However, the part about no player in history being like Derrick Henry? That is not simply an exaggeration; that is just silly. For starters let me offer 3 examples of a power runner who was also very fast and who carried a huge portion of their team’s offense:
- Jim Brown
- Earl Campbell
- Marion Motley
Feel free to add to that list. Feel free to add Derrick Henry’s name to that list of players who are already in the Hall of Fame because if Henry continues on his career arc, he too will find himself enshrined in Canton. However, do not feel free to try to convince me that Derrick Henry sits in a category of his own that no one else is fit to join him there.
Moving on… If you have followed these rants for any length of time, you know that I do not appreciate the delays and the interruptions caused by “instant” replays. They serve a very useful purpose when they show sufficiently clearly the rectitude of calls on the field – – or not. That is their benefit; the benefit is real. But they take far too long to adjudicate; in some cases, they are the sporting equivalent of a filibuster. Now, having said all of that, I am advocating for adding a new category of NFL coachs’ challenge to the menu. I do not want to change how many challenges a coach will have but I want the following issue to be reviewable:
- Did the offense get its play under way before the play clock reached zero?
Just last weekend, I saw at least a half dozen plays in various games where the offense was clearly and obviously late in snapping the ball. I understand the explanation given by former officials who lend their expertise to broadcasts about the mechanics for the officials and how those mechanics might lead to errors in such calls. However, if the call was challengeable at the choosing of the coach of the defensive team, some of those calls might be correctable.
And for the record, that is a replay that ought to be adjudicated in seconds after the video is cued up for review. There would not nearly be time for the networks to “go to commercial” while that challenge is adjudicated.
Switching sports … Reports say that the NBA and the NBPA are in negotiation to amend the CBA in a way that will allow players who are 18 years old – or older – to be eligible for the NBA Draft. If that becomes a fact, high school players could go directly to the NBA as was the case between the 1970s and 2005 when the NBA and the union imposed an age limit for players in the league. That decision by the NBA and the NBPA created the “One and Done Era” in college basketball. Maybe it is time to create a new era…
If this change is made, the result will be a reduction of star players at the college level. So what? There are more than 350 Division 1 college basketball teams; in any year, maybe 50 players will choose to seek Draft status in the NBA or choose to go to the G-League instead of to college. That is not a tidal shift for college basketball; in fact, it might not even be a ripple.
I am not sure this is a negative for college basketball at all. If all the “basketball prodigies” take their talents directly to the NBA, college basketball might tilt back toward times when college teams had a core roster that played together for multiple seasons and grew together and got better together. The wide-open transfer portal will work in opposition to that potential gain for college teams, but at least the absence of guys on the team who have no intention of ever playing past Year One will change the dynamic a bit.
I really enjoy college basketball; I prefer watching college basketball to NBA basketball even acknowledging the vast difference in talent on display in those two very different presentations. Some folks who are similarly college basketball afficionados think this new rule threatens the sport of college basketball. I disagree. If there is a threat to college basketball in the rules that structure the game, I think the “transfer portal” is a much more serious threat to the game and the integrity of the game than a potential change to the NBA’s age eligibility. With the emergence of NIL payments and the Wild West nature of the transfer portal, please do not try to tell me that player “tampering” does not occur. That is the existential threat to college basketball – not the fact that a few dozen potentially great players might take a different path to professional basketball.
Finally, here is an observation by Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“Iowa State has suspended its men’s hockey club the next academic year after an investigation found the club engaged alcohol abuse and personal humiliation of rookie members.
“In other words, 525,600 minutes for hazing.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………