As you may have heard, Roger Goodell is considering expanding the playoff field from 12 to 14 or 16, an announcement that has been met with widespread criticism. Like most decisions in pro sports, this will come down to the money and if it is profitable enough many expect this change to go through in the next few seasons. But before the owners officially vote on it, we’d like to put the potential change on trial in our prestigious court of football law. Ben Van Iten will be handling the prosecution, while Nate Raby will be taking care of the defense. Continue reading
Category Archives: The Trial of…
The good news for the Patriots is they are in first place in the AFC East. The bad news, however, is much like the rest of the conference their record is hovering right around .500 and from week to week no one has any idea what to expect from them. Today they stand trial in our prestigious fictional court room, facing several counts of “being an average team”. The entitled fan base has been rioting outside the court house for days, screaming profanities in cliché accents in anticipation of this high profile trial. Ben Van Iten will head up the prosecution, while Nate Raby will be handling the defense.
Below you will find a transcription of the lawyer’s closing arguments.
Recently Morris Claiborne, All-American corner and projected top five draft pick, made news by bombing (he scored 4 out of 50) the infamous Wonderlic Test. Attendees of the NFL combine are administered this test to gauge their mental aptitude in certain areas. Critics have come out against the test, and more specifically releasing the results to the public. Well today the Wonderlic is put on trial in the Footbawl Blog’s highly influential “court” of “law”. The ruling handed down today by the jury threatens to shake the very foundation of the NFL combine, or at least make some dude mad in the comments section. Probably that second option.
Nate Raby will be prosecuting the case, and Ben Van Iten will be handling the defense. The honorable judge Creepy Mannequin will be presiding over the case.
Nate: I’m looking for work, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Shockingly, being a football lawyer in an imaginary courtroom doesn’t pay well. So I’m applying to a bunch of jobs, trying to find something in an office or maybe computer repair. If I get interviewed for the job, and they give me a test much like the Wonderlic, I’m going to be very confused as to what it has to do with the job I’m applying for.
Of course, I’ll get a 50 out of 50 because I’m a fucking genius, but that’s not the issue here.
Ben: *cough* Bullshit.
Nate: The issue here is that the questions on the Wonderlic have no bearing into the job I’m applying to. Most jobs, too. It’s a basic intelligence test, and it measures aptitude on a general level. Think of those two words.
It doesn’t deal with the specific demands of certain jobs. It doesn’t adequately measure how I would respond to fixing computers, and it doesn’t adequately measure how a running back is going to see holes. And it CERTAINLY doesn’t measure a cornerback’s reaction time and athleticism.
A low score on the Wonderlic just means he didn’t understand the questions that have nothing to do with football. And he doesn’t have to. All my client, Morris Claiborne, has to do is make sure the opposing player doesn’t get the ball. Does he need to know what time the two trains from New York to Boston meet in order to do that? No. He doesn’t.
Another point my opponent may make is that a low score shows that his decision making may be suspect, and that could lead to bad decisions off of the field. But if you look at two of the biggest off the field issues in the past decade, you’ll see that their scores weren’t as low as Claiborne’s. Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress scored a 20 and 15 respectively, which is below average, but still close to the rest of the pack for football players.
Nate whispers to the jury.
I don’t know if you know this, but football players aren’t the brightest.
And that’s the point! Who cares how well they score on an IQ test? No matter what they score, people are individuals, and they make mistakes or do well regardless of general intelligence. Don’t you think Sean Payton is a smart guy? Borderline genius, even? Well, he made several mistakes, and now he’s missing the year for it. Wonder what he got on the Wonderlic.
At the end of the day, I want my players to play football well. And when I looked at the scouting combine footage of Claiborne, I – and most scouts – were floored. He’s projected to go Top 5 based on his football talent. That’s what really matters here. Because if you’re a team drafting a top prospect, you want them to help you win. And wins are earned on the field, not in a cramped classroom with a number one pencil. The prosecution rests.
The defense attorney rises from his table and walks over to the jury. Under his suit jacket there is a t-shirt with the word “Dummies” and a line drawn through it.
Ben: First of all your honor, I think we can all agree that Nate’s closing statement should be stricken from the record. If you agree with me just keep making that weird face.
Nate: *mumbles something about google image search*
Ben: Excellent. Now as I like to typically do at this point, I’m going to drop an analogy on the court that just might blow everyone’s goddamn mind. Let’s say a kid was given an SAT test, and he did poorly. And then let’s say that in response to this, one of the prospective schools he was interested in not only didn’t allow him to attend class there…THEY CUT HIS FUCKING HEAD OFF!
The jury foreman looks stoic in the face of such profanity. The jury foreman is a scarecrow.
Would you say the test was to blame? Or would you say…man, those people at Ball State, they really need to tone it down a notch. You’d probably say the latter. The point I’m trying to make here is that we are putting the Wonderlic test on trial here today, not people’s interpretation of it.
There is nothing wrong with the test itself, it simply asks questions. How people digest the results is their own issue. Get mad at people for assuming that Claiborne is a drooling moron because he did horribly on the test, not the people who thought up the questions. If you had two players that are evenly matched, let’s say their stats and physical build were very similar, what’s wrong with at least considering something like this for a tiebreaker? Or maybe you don’t. Maybe the scores don’t mean a damn thing. Then you know what the solution is? As an NFL team, you don’t pay any attention to the results. But let’s not make the test itself the boogey man because there are idiots that over value the results.
There are still some personnel people in the league that believe in the Wonderlic, and it is their right to use any tool that is at their disposal. Why wouldn’t you want as much information possible to make a decision of this magnitude? In many instances these players are being given the opportunity to become the face of a professional sports franchise. Former Cowboys and Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson said that 90% of his draft misses were because he took a chance on marginal intelligence, and he supports the test. I believe he knows more about football than anyone in this room today.
Ben begins to walk back to his desk, giving one final look back at the “jury”.
We should work on understanding the Wonderlic, instead of writing it off simply because it’s the trendy thing to do. The defense rests!
The jury may now deliberate in the comments section!
On Saturday night the Detroit Lions will travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints in the kind of game that should come with a warning label: “if you are a former defensive coordinator over the age of 70, keep your heart attack medicine nearby”. There will be gobs and gobs of points in the Superdome. But the first part of the wildcard double header is a game that people are…well, a bit less excited about nationally. The Texans host the Bengals in a battle of rookie quarterbacks, ball control offenses, and stout defenses. This game has been charged with three counts of being super boring even before it starts. Ben Van Iten is the prosecuting attorney, while Nathan Raby is handling the defense. You can find a transcript of their closing statements below.
Ben emerges from behind his table and approaches the jury. Underneath his suit jacket is a Carl Pickens jersey.
Ben: Hey everyone, I appreciate you all taking time away from your friends, family, and hobbies to serve on this jury…hobbies such as watching 4 yard Cedric Benson runs on Youtube. I know those can really get a person worked up. Now let’s get right down to it here. This game is probably not going to be very fun to watch. Now, granted, I’m going to watch it…because it’s an NFL playoff game and WHAT ELSE AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE!??
In a perfect world, this could have been an interesting game. If Matt Schaub had not gone down with an injury, this Texans offense would be a lot better. But instead we are left with T.J. Yates who is averaging something like 160 passing yards per game, and possibly Jake Delhomme. Yes, Jake Delhomme for Christ sake. While we’re at it, why don’t we just dig up Jeff Blake and Carl Pickens on the other side and let’s just AIR THIS SUMBITCH OUT! BOMBS FOR DAYS!
Ben takes a deep breath.
Sorry, just getting a little worked up. My original title for the website was closetblakefan.com – but Nate vetoed that.
Andy Dalton has had a good year and he might end up being a great pro. But 3300 yards just isn’t what it used to be. The Bengals have a young exciting receiving core, but unless their wide receivers are doing upside crazy flips every play, I don’t care. This offense has only scored over thirty points one time the entire season! Now this is not to say that the only thing I am entertained by is offense. I can enjoy a good defensive battle, when the defenses are shutting down dynamic offenses. If T.J. Yates is held to 130 yards passing and the Texans score 13 points, it’s not going to feel like the Bengals defense did anything remarkable. My reaction is going to be, “well yeah, that’s what he does”.
It’s possible they will play in another close game like they did a few weeks ago, and even if it comes down to an amazing play in the last few seconds, what will actually be won? The chance to go to Baltimore or New England and lose by 20 points. Neither of these teams is the 2010 Packers, in case you were wondering. It’s like getting an awesome promotion at work when you have a tiny bomb inside of you that is going to explode sometime in the next 6 months and kill you but you don’t know when. Yes, it’s exactly like that! Try to come up with a better analogy, Raby. The prosecution rests!
Ben high fives the stenographer.
Nate: I could touch on a lot of different angles to look for in this game. The rookie vs. rookie dynamic. The feel-good story of a little redhead kid who got laughed at when he said he wanted to be a quarterback. The undeniable “Twilight Zone” feel of the fact that not only are Marvin Lewis and Gary Kubiak in the PLAYOFFS, they’re FACING EACH OTHER. Seriously, that kind of shit makes you look at the stars and wonder if we’re alone in this big scary universe.
But instead, my argument is based on something Ben said flippantly in the beginning of his argument.
The jury looks confused; Ben says everything flippantly.
It’s an NFL Playoff game on a Saturday afternoon. What the hell else are you going to do? Not only is it an NFL playoff game, it’s the beginning of the end of football. We only have 11 games left, guys, and this is the first one. There will be a poignant moment sometime during the first quarter when you realize, “Hey. In a couple of weeks this is all going to be over.” And you’re going to feel like jumping off of your roof. Hopefully you don’t, but if some of you in the jury do, I’m sure nobody will blame you.
Nate pats a hefty juror on the shoulder. The juror begins to weep.
There, there. I’m sad about football ending too. But rather than cry about it, let’s enjoy it while we still have it. And yes, maybe the Bengals and Texans aren’t the prettiest girls invited to the party. But when the night is getting long and the prospects are getting short, they start to look pretty enough to take home, have your way with, and kick out at 3 o’clock in the morning while making sure they forget their purse so you can make an extra 30 bucks. There’s your better analogy, Ben.
At the end of the day, it’s NFL Playoff football. And you’re going to enjoy it, because you know that you don’t have much of it left before it’s time to pretend like you really enjoy watching regular season hockey and basketball. You’re going to see at least one nice pass from Andy Dalton to AJ Green, in what will probably be the last big pass between them as rookies. You’re going to see some pretty good defense making rookie quarterbacks look less like Cam Newton and more like Jimmy Clausen. But, most importantly, you’re going to see some goddamned football. And honestly, isn’t that enough? Defense rests.
The jurors may now cast their vote in the comments section.
For as much as the talking heads try to simplify the decisions of a head coach, the job is never easy. There are an unfathomable amount of decisions that have to be made each game; so many that finding something to scrutinize is always easy. Just the same, there has been a lot of second guessing the last few days about Jason Garrett’s time management skills at the end of Dallas’ loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He has been charged with costing his team the game by our fictional court system, thus causing a plethora of fictional reporters to gather outside the fictional courthouse.
Ben Van Iten will be handling the prosecution, while Nate Raby heads up the defense.
After reviewing his notes one last time, Ben stands up from his chair and makes his standard methodical walk over to the jury. He pauses in front of them and puts a finger to his chin, as if in deep thought.
Ben: I believe it was Confucius who once said, “4th quarter clock management is pretty key, man”.
Nate rolls his eyes.
Ben: I can be a reasonable person. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t have any problem with the timeout he took. If that assistant coach had told him of a potential problem with the game winning kick and he allowed the ball to be snapped anyway? And the kicker missed it? The Dallas media would be calling for his head as we speak. I get that.
But that’s not where my issue lies.
With close to 30 seconds left in the game, and two timeouts, Jason Garrett decided that settling for a 49 yard field goal by a rookie kicker was in the team’s best interest. Here’s an analogy; let’s say you are dropping your child off at school. You are going to drive them up close to the door, yeah? You aren’t going to leave them four blocks away just because you have faith that they can make it on their own. What if they wander into traffic or are introduced to drugs along the way? What a relevant analogy!
One confused juror shakes their head slightly.
Anyway, we all know Bailey has the leg to make that kick, but in his rookie season…why make things harder on him than they need to be? Now look, I understand that Romo has made a lot of timely mistakes the last few seasons, but this team is going to have to live or die with him eventually. Might as well start with the baby step of, I don’t know…HAVING HIM THROW A FIVE YARD PASS AGAINST SOFT COVERAGE FOR CHRIST SAKE.
Ben takes a deep breath.
You can also run the ball with DeMarco Murray, cause he’s awesome. None of these things guarantee that Dallas wins the game, but they would sure help increase the odds and as a coach that is all you can do. The prosecution rests, and will immediately shower for defending Romo in even a half assed fashion. Ugh.
Nate waits for Ben to pass him, then hands him a loofa he has procured from his sports coat.
Nate: That stink never goes away, in case you’re wondering.
You know what? I love that analogy. Let’s keep going with it!
You’re right, Ben. You can’t just drop them off four blocks away. But let’s face it, sometimes even dropping them off at the door isn’t enough. What if a kid brought drugs to school? What if someone shoves the kid’s head in a toilet? My God, Ben, what if the cafeteria menu has no pizza?
The jurors gasp.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do as a parent. You could do everything wrong, drop them off four blocks from school, and they could get there fine and have an uneventful day at school. Or you could do everything right, and something bad still happens. Parenting is imprecise, and as you’re quick to admit, so is coaching.
At some point you have to place blame on the kids if they do drugs, and at some point you have to place blame on the players if they lose the game. The crime that my client is charged with is costing his team the game. And maybe he didn’t put his team in the best position to win, but he still had them in position. And at some point, the blame has to shift from him to the players playing the game.
I’m not just talking about Bailey, although we’ll start there. Dan Bailey is the luckiest kicker in the world right now. Because of Garrett’s actions, no one is talking about the issue that people usually talk about in situations like this. How could he miss that kick? Yes, it was 49 yards. But he proved completely capable of making longer kicks before – his long is 51. He had made a 50 yarder in that game already. He proved completely capable of making the kick right before the time out. But he missed the one that counted. And is that Jason Garrett’s fault? No, it isn’t. Do you know why, jurors?
Because icing the kicker is a stupid thing that never ever works.
How many times have you seen icing the kicker actually work? It’s very rare. More often than not, the kicker will miss the first field goal before the time out, and make it after. The idea of icing the kicker is a lot stronger than the actual action itself. So instead of jumping on Garrett for making that timeout, we should be engaging in the usually common practice of jumping down Dan Bailey’s throat.
And even if we don’t do that, let’s just be real. This shouldn’t fall on Garrett because the team was playing the Cardinals. The Cardinals! I guarantee you that the coach’s gameplan was exactly the same as it was when facing other teams, teams they beat in close games. So if you’re playing a shit team, and you usually beat shit teams close, there must have been something individually wrong with the game. In this case, it was Dan Bailey. And Tony Romo not realizing HE WAS PLAYING THE FUCKING CARDINALS. So sure, maybe Jason Garrett doesn’t deserve a parade for the way he coached this game. But it’s not like he’s the only person to blame, and he certainly wasn’t the only person to cost the Cowboys this game.
The jury may now deliberate in the comments section.