The Breakdown: License plates & football on TV
September 25, 2010
Being bored will make you do strange things – or at least things you’d never do under normal circumstances. Once in high school, a friend and I spent the better part – actually it should be phrased as the “worst part” – of an evening lobbing bean bags at each other from across the room. We had nothing to do, neither of us could drive and we had gotten bored attempting to learn how to juggle. So, we made up a game where we sat on opposite sides of my parents’ living room and threw the balls at each other. You got points for hitting certain body parts, and you weren’t allowed to dodge or block the throws; you had to let the ball hit you.It was a terrible idea and it ended with each of us taking far too many shots to the, um, lower body.Anyway, a more common game founded out of boredom is the license plate game that most people play on road trips. I mean, never in my life would I find scoping out plates for certain states, numbers or letters very appealing. But, when you’re stuck in a car for, say, 13 hours from the Rockies back to the Midwest, it doesn’t sound that bad.Really, it just seems people hate having nothing to do. And that probably goes for a lot of football fans who follow teams that are about as slow to watch as Betty White running the 40.Don’t worry, though, I have your solution, and it comes from watching too many pitiful performances myself.(Note: It also came out of the general disdain I have for how the NFL televises its games. If you don’t know what I mean, you will in a moment.)This game is kind of like the license plate game, but adapted toward your sofa and flat screen. There are certain things in every broadcast that make very little sense, and in this game, we get to point them out.Everything’s broken down into two categories: Things we hear and things we see. You get points depending on how rare these things really are (and how obnoxious they are).
– An analyst (normally a former player) saying the “National Football League” instead of just “NFL.” This often comes up in phrases such as, “In college that may have worked, but in the National Football League, you need to make better plays.” This is a common one, you only get 1 point each time.- An analyst (again normally a former player) describing someone in the game as a “football player.” I think they do this to differentiate the player they’re discussing from the other 21 people on the field that aren’t, you know, football players. It makes sense, so you get 5 points each time.- An announcer or analyst talking about a player’s “intangibles.” This is a good one because it’s so mysterious. These descriptions are reserved for players who somehow succeed, although no one can quite say why. For instance, someone may wonder how Vince Young can have a winning record as a starter when he a) can’t identify a hot route from a hot plate, b) doesn’t understand that passes – no matter how hard they’re thrown – can’t travel through a defender, c) is as accurate as a passer as TMZ is as a news source, and d) acts like a 4-year-old who dropped his ice cream cone any time something goes sour. It’s not the fact the Titans have a great defense or running game. No, it’s Young’s “intangibles.” You get 10 points for these.
– A sideline reporter talking while a play is going on. Sure, it’s infuriating, and, no, we would never rather hear Lisa Salters talk about how the Jets’ Mark Sanchez fixed his socks during the previous timeout than the Jets actually making a play. But, hey, these are worth 5 points, even though they happen far, far too much.- A player celebrating like he just made the winning tackle to clinch the Super Bowl, only it was a shoelace takedown on second-and-eight from the other team’s 32 in the first quarter of Week 3. Any time a player over celebrates, you get a single point. That may not sound like much, but it happens so often, that the points will pile up for you.- A shot of the backup quarterback on the sidelines immediately following a poor play from the starter. Unless you’re watching the Broncos, these don’t happen too often. If you are watching the Broncos, they happen about every three snaps – even when their opponent is on offense. After all, who can resist a nice, clean shot of Mr. Tim Tebow handling that clipboard with so much poise and leadership. Breathtaking. So, you get 10 points in a non-Denver game and -10 during a Broncos game.Considering that there’s the opportunity to watch roughly 12 hours of football between the three Sunday games and the Monday nighter, the first to 300 points wins.And if you’re stuck watching a Lions-Rams game by yourself and can’t play well, at least that’s better than a bean bag to the crotch.
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