This wading bird, normally found in the Summer in Australasia, principally Northern New Zealand, has the longest non-stop migratory flight pattern of any bird on the planet. One individual was tracked by satellite flying 7250 miles non-stop in 10 days from Alaska to New Zealand. This is with no inflight catering, reclining seats, or movies…
1. Oil Refinery Intrigue in the Virgin Islands
One of the world’s largest oil refineries, owned by HOVENSA (a joint venture between Hess Oil and PDVSA) was in the US Virgin Islands. That was, until it closed in 2012, with the loss of a lot of jobs, which are scarce in the Virgin Islands.
Since the closure, the Island’s government and the refinery’s owners were locked in negotiations in an attempt to re-open the refinery, which was converted to an oil storage depot after its closure. The attempts to re-open the refinery were, at various times, vetoed by the island’s government, which finally lost patience and filed a lawsuit. At which point the refinery’s owners filed for bankruptcy. Whether any petroleum refining activities will resume is doubtful. The background is a typical one of an extractive industry evading regulation and failing to invest in its own business.
2. No, the West cannot simply march in and subdue ISIS on the ground
Here, in this article, a military strategist with real-world experience explains the numbers involved in subduing ISIS by purely military means. Of course, none of this will impinge upon the craniums of politicians and armchair warriors everywhere.
3. So the USA is a haven for refugees? Well, not quite…
Sadly, despite the fine sentiments engraved on the Statue of Liberty, It is clear from a reading of US history that the idea that the USA has not been consistently welcoming to refugees. This article shows how Jewish refugees were initially refused in 1938, despite ample evidence of Nazi persecution efforts. There was also the rather shameful internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II.
Some thoughts about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) that was voted down by a clear majority on Tuesday night. My comments are less about the vote itself and more about the bigger picture issues.
1. The ballot for HERO was ordered by the Texas Supreme Court. IMHO, this is a second example in recent months of what I consider to be a dangerous trend – the negation of local decision-making processes by elected representatives or electors by state agents and courts. The current GOP, which dominates Texas politics, is always banging on about devolving powers down to local level, often ranting and complaining about the Federal Government, yet twice in the last year (once for HERO, once for the Denton fracking ban) we have seen state courts step in and completely override decisions taken at a local level. The cynic in me believes that right now, the GOP leadership in Texas is in favour of local democracy and decisions, but only as long as those local districts and cities make decisions that they agree with. Once they refuse to do that, they will invoke higher powers to countermand the decision.
2. The whole premise behind HERO, that the scope of equal protection and rights for people can be determined by a popular vote, is, from my perspective, unconstitutionally nonsensical. The Fourteenth Amendment (containing the Equal Protection Clause) was invoked recently by SCOTUS in its ruling on same-sex marriage, where a majority of the justices held that marriage was a protected right, equally available for all. That ruling applied country-wide (despite what some religious crackpots try to claim) and HERO, being a piece of legislation designed primarily to extend equal protection under various laws to gay and transgender people, falls into the same logical category as same sex marriage. I expect that even if no further changes are made in the laws in the city of Houston, sooner or later, a gay or transgender person or persons will be discriminated against or penalized, and eventually SCOTUS will become involved. I would then expect them to hand down a fairly simple decision along the lines of “you cannot discriminate – fix it”. If you adhere to the conceot of the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as defined in the Declaration of Independence, then putting other people’s rights up for a popular vote is a ludicrous negation of that concept, a narrow-minded penalistic approach rooted in the fallacy that rights are a zero-sum game, that by giving people equal rights it diminishes the rights of others.
3. There may yet be an economic downside to the defeat of HERO. Houston has a lot of conference business, and businesses do not, as a rule, like to host conferences in cities with discriminatory and controversial local legislation. Arizona lost a lot of conference business after the passage of SB1070 (I personally know of 2 IT conferences that left Phoenix shortly after the passage of that bill).
4. The turnout for the election cycle was, by any standards of the health of democracy, appalling. 30% of the electorate voted, so nearly 70% of the electors sat on their posteriors. This speaks to a fundamental malaise in democracy at local level in the USA. Low turnout results in a progressively smaller number of voters being able to determine the result of elections. Elderly and retired electors tend to vote more than younger and working electors, for obvious logistical reasons, so it is likely that
Every election cycle, one or more political candidates will be heard whining and pissing and moaning about “gotcha questions”. We are hearing it right now from several GOP candidates following the most recent debate.
Be careful about taking that whining at anything like face value. If you define a “gotcha” question as a question to which there is no answer that makes the answerer look good, there are very few true “gotcha” questions. (Questions like “when did you stop beating your wife” or “does this dress make me look fat?” while amusing, are not exactly common in the political arena).
Most of the time, when a politician is whining about a “gotcha” question what they really mean is:
Question that if I answer it, either makes me look like an ill-informed doofus, or which makes my political party look like it is dominated by squabbling children.
If a question is genuinely defective, it should be possible for a political candidate to explain to the questioner why the question is defective. Whenever I hear somebody dismissing a question as a “gotcha” question, I know I am hearing somebody who is trying to shut down the conversation instead of providing any useful answer.
1.1 After a long day in the Big City, where he partook of various events known as “meetings”, Graham did pack his worldly goods and set out into the urban wilderness
1.2 And lo, it did come to pass that he arriveth by railed chariot at ye munificent construction of steel, cement and modern construction substances various, known to many as Chicago O’Hare Airport.
1.3 And he gazeth upon the sight with glorious thanks for his fortune, for from this point he planned to sit in the big whooshy winged bird and be transported unto his real home, there to be surrounded by all manner of favored pussycats
1.4 And he proceedeth to the place known as Departures, there to engage in a dialogue with a machine that resembleth a failed design for “Dr Who”, which proceedeth, after a small delay and the asking of several damnfool questions, to create a piece of parchment, upon which were written aviation commandments and authorizations various
1.5 And lo, Graham readeth the parchment and weepeth, for the engravement “TSA Pre” was not to be found
1.6 And he realizeth that he had been consigned to the pantheon of the great unwashed, the lesser masses of travelers
1.7 And so he entereth into the Valley Of The TSA with slight trepidation, for his command parchment sayeth that the Whooshy Winged Thingy awaiteth him in only 24 minutes
1.8 And he was confronted by an abundance of objects known as “queues”, adorned by all manner of tribal members, some focused, some confused, and some suffering from what was known throughout the land as Airport Brain Fade
1.9 Whereupon, after much deliberation and the weighing of matters, he selected the queue on the right, and entereth into the Long Valley Of the TSA, there to be bodily examined for the possible presence of objects of evil
1.10 Amidst much tumult and confusion, he noticeth that within his queue, there was a multitude from the tribe of Doofus, notorious practitioners of Airport Brain Fade
1.11 For the Doofi were milling about in great confusion, unable to determine what to do in the presence of the Lords of TSA
1.12 And Graham soon felt the hand of frustration upon his head, as the Doofi continued to move hither and thither, unable to determine their course of action
1.13 And he beginneth to suffer from that syndrome known to all as “weeping wailing and gnashing of teeth”, for the Doofi continued to clog up his bloody path
1.14 A young member of the tribe was unable to collapse his child chariot and asketh his wife “forsooth, how do I get this damn thing through this eye of a needle?”
1.15 And she respondeth “yeah verily thou art a fool of the highest order. Thou noticeth this lever?” And she presseth the lever and lo, the chariot did collapse.
1.16 And the Doofus did say unto his wife “yeah verily, why did I not know of this all powerful lever”. And his wife respondeth “because thou wilt not study the manual, you blithering waste of our deity’s natural resources”
1.17 And the queue did rejoice and cry out loud in pleasure, for they couldst see the end of their nightmare, and the beginning of the Feast At The Temples of Starbucks, McDonalds and Chilis
1.18 But, as the masses danced, the King of Doofus did take his place at the head of the line, where he showeth the multitudes that no matter how low the bar be set for intellect, there is always room for one of God’s children to lower said bar below the lowest imaginable place on the surface of the Earth
1.19 And while the King of Doofus did cause the object scanner to groan from overload of his worldly goods, and the body scanner to cry out in electronic anguish, the masses did consider how they might apply new forms of torture to his miserable, sorry ass, and thence unto his private parts
1.20 And Graham didst cry out inwardly “Yeah Verily, oh supposed omnipotent bearded white haired man who appeareth in that Gary Larson cartoon, please can thou press thy SMITE key? For I have a deserving subject for its use”
1.21 But his cries were in vain, as the King of Doofus did continue to demonstrate how low the bar could be lowered, lower than the deepest place in the World
1.22 But finally the King of Doofus was permitted to pass out of the Valley, and the Great Adventure of the Valley for Graham did culminate in the ritual known as the removal of the footwear, the presentment of vestments for examination, and the smelling of the body by another reject machine from 1950’s sci-fi
1.23 And the machines sayeth unto the Lords of TSA, “yeah, he shall pass”. And the Lords of TSA did allow Graham to leave the Valley of Torture, Doofi and Strange Machines
1.24 Whereupon he made haste unto the Whooshy Winged Thingy as it awaited for him, while wishing a short, miserable future upon persons numerous, but thanking his DNA for preventing him from saying Bad Things unto said persons and their tribal bretheren
1.25 For his delay in traversing the Valley and conversing with the Lords of TSA had rendered him unable to enjoy a long repast with fine comestibles. Verily he was condemned to only the snacks of the harried masses
1.26 Which he did consume in order to prevent an attack of what the books describe as “growlypuss” while making his way across the heavens on the Whooshy Winged Thingy, listening to his celestial orchestra of many and varied performances of musicians playing pieces known to the less educated masses as “weird shit”
1.27 And lo, he landeth at another edifice of construction materials known to all and sundry as “Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport”, there to be greeted by his favorite pussycat, and be transported to his pussycat haven by wheeled chariot
1.28 And he did complete the creation of artifacts known variously as “minutes”, “issues”, “risks”, “emails” and “expenses”, lest the corporate gods be displeased
1.29 Whereupon he did retire to his haven of peace and sleep, surrounded by pussycats various
1. Dallas Cowboys
They changed quarterbacks, but the quarterback play level was no better overall. Matt Cassel threw 3 interceptions, which cost the Cowboys 13 points. He did show more flexibility in ball distribution, and made several nice throws, but the interceptions were the difference in the score. One might expect that he will improve, but if he does not, benching Brandon Weeden will come to be seen as pointless. The injury to Tony Romo showed that the Cowboys, like many teams who have a franchise quarterback, have no Plan B at that position. (Look around the league and tell me how many teams with a high-dollar franchise quarterback have a durable, reliable #2 who can come off the bench and lead the team. It’s a short list isn’t it?)
The bigger issue is Greg Hardy. His disruptive behavior on the sideline reminds me of Charles Haley when he was playing. Haley turned out to have undiagnosed bipolar syndrome, and I suspect Hardy has the same mental condition. The Cowboys need to get Hardy straightened out fast, before the NFL or the judicial system hijacks him for sanctions once more.
2. New York Giants
They are winning ugly, but finding ways to win. They do not look good on offense or defense, but special teams came up big against the Cowboys.
The 49ers are just not a very good football team right now in any area. They lost a lot of players in the off-season, and it is difficult to not conclude that the reason so many players retired is because they did not want to play for a coaching staff led by Jim Tomsula. Tomsula behaves on the sideline and in press conferences like he is out of his depth. His room for manouver is limited. He has a #1 quarterback who is not the finished article, a #2 quarterback that nobody wants to see on the field of play, and holes on offense and defense. While he can babble on about performances being “unacceptable”, benching players is not an option when you have no adequate replacements.
I fear that the ownership, worn down by the incessant squabbles with Jim Harbaugh, wanted a quiet life with a new head coach, and went for the safe in-house candidate who would do the bidding of the ownership. This is remarkably similar to the mode of operation of Jerry Jones after he fired Jimmy Johnson, when he cycled through a succession of non head coaches (Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey and Dave Campo) before swallowing hard and hiring Bill Parcells.
It no action is taken by ownership soon to upgrade the team or the coaching staff, the 49ers risk falling into the same trap as the Oakland Raiders, who, known for being dysfunctional, could only attract free agents by offering too much money to players mostly on the downside of their careers. As a result, they ended up in cap hell, with an ageing roster, and a mediocre coaching staff, and only now are they breaking out of that zone with Jack Del Rio, who has already shown that he is not afraid to jettison high priced free agents if they are not going to be contributors. Right now, based on current performance, a number of people in San Francisco may soon be pointing out that the 49ers are no longer in San Francisco (translation: Santa Clara, you can have them).
4. Carolina Panthers
Quietly advancing to 6-0, the Panthers are not a glamorous team, but an effective one. They have experience and youth in equal measure, and Cam Newton looks mature and polished, quite different to the reckless ball-heaver of 3 seasons ago.
5. Seattle Seahawks
I am not quite sure what to make of this team. They have all of the talent, but they are misfiring badly on both sides of the ball. In particular, Russell Wilson is being sacked way too often. I worry that if he is knocked out, the Seahawks offense will splutter badly.
6. San Diego
They cannot win a game to save their life. They seem to be unable to play consistently for 60 minutes, and have a habit of going walkabout in the second half.
7. Houston Texans
This roster needs a stick of dynamite. They just lost their best running threat Arian Foster to what looks like a season ending injury, and they have a porous offensive line. Both of their quarterbacks are backups who are inconsistent, and one of them cannot set an alarm clock. They have next to no offensive playmakers..the list goes on.
8. Miami Dolphins
Having dumped Principal Philbin, the Dolphins handed the coaching job to tight ends coach Dan Campbell, and suddenly this is a different team. Either the team had tuned out Joe Philbin, or he was just not an energizing coach, because they hung 41 points on the Hpuston Texans in less than two quarters on Sunday, after looking for weeks like they were lifeless, and incapable of getting out of their own way. If they keep on like this, they may make the playoffs, which will validate the decision to fire Philbin, in an era where mid-season coaching changes seldom work well.
This team still looks to be struggling. They are inconsistent, and weak on both offense and defense. I am wondering if the coaching staff is overmatched.
10. New Orleans
After starting badly, they are picking up momentum. They may not be good enough to make the playoffs, and they have major decisions to make in the next off-season, most notably about Drew Brees who is 36 years of age with an astronomical cap number for 2016. Their roster needs a makeover, and with Brees on the roster at his current cap number that will be impossible.
11. Kansas City
With a dink and dunk offense with no playmakers, and a running game shorn of Jamal Charles, the Chiefs look to be going backwards from 2 seasons ago. They need a roster makeover.
12. Tampa Bay
The shine is off of the Lovie Smith era. The team is inconsistent, and incapable of holding onto leads deep into the second half of games. Jameis Winston is making mistakes as one would expect from a rookie, but he is not getting much support from the offense. If this mediocrity continues, Smith may find himself on the hot seat before the end of the season.
13. Indianapolis Colts
The main question for the last month has been when Chuck Pagano will be fired, especially following the bungled fake punt play in a recent game, which brought down ridicule on the team and the coaches. Now the main question may be when Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson will be fired.
The more practical issue is that Andrew Luck does not look to be 100% when playing, despite there being no injury report entry for him. Yet his passes are floating and lack zip and accuracy. Right now, the Colts might be better served by having Matt Hasselbeck under center.
14. Denver Broncos
A 6-0 team being carried by its defense, with a struggling quarterback (which sounds remarkably similar to the story from 2011, when Tim Tebow was under center). This will be Peyton Manning’s last NFL season. His passes are starting to look more and more like wounded ducks. Enjoy one of the great NFL quarterbacks while you can. Whether the Broncos will make it deep into the post-season may depend on the defense. Maybe they can win like the 2001 Baltimore Ravens, using an adequate offense and a suffocating defense.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Difficult to know what to make of this team. After purging or trading many veterans, swapping quarterbacks and overhauling the schemes, the team is inconsistent, including the quarterback. The strange thing is that there is almost no sign of the offensive innovations that everybody thinks of when the name “Chip Kelly” is mentioned. The Eagles are now playing an offense at a tempo like many other NFL teams, with few wrinkles, next to no gadget plays. It is almost as though Kelly has determined that Boring is Best.
16. New England Patriots
Another 6-0 team despite inconsistency. When your leading rusher in a game is your quarterback, who is not renowned for his mobility, and you are throwing the ball almost every down, but you are still winning, that tells you how good the team preparation and coaching is. Dour and uninformative Bill Belichick may be, but his methods work.
17. St. Louis Rams
They just seem to be inconsistent, like many NFL teams. The big question is when they will move back to California.
18. Cleveland Browns
This team remains in dysfunction, with a #1 quarterback who is streaky, and a #2 quarterback who is still working out how to function as a profesional adult. The roster is full of holes. As a result, the results are not good. Coaching changes may be on the way.
19. Arizona Cardinals
They were cruising a month ago, now they are not looking so good. Teams may have worked out how to cope with their passing attack, and things may be tougher for the rest of the season. The good news is that they are still the leaders in a weak division.
20. Washington Redskins
Although Kirk Cousins still throws too many interceptions, the team just won big after coming back from a deep hole, and those kinds of wins tend to energize a team. They may yet be able to run the table in November and December.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
The best hidden 6-0 team. They may yet be this year’s surprise regular season winner. The challenge is winning in the playoffs. Andy Dalton needs to ask Tony Romo how frustrating that can be.
22. Buffalo Bills
After a bright start, the mayhem of Rex Ryan’s man management is starting to rise up once again. For some reason, Ryan cannot stop talking, and as a result his team is undisciplined and sloppy. The team needs to take a good look at itself and sharpen up quickly on both sides of the ball, or this will become another lost season.
23. New York Jets
After the start of season brou-ha-ha over Geno Smith and his broken jaw, the Jets have settled down to play solid football, They may yet be in contention in January. I am sure that Ryan Fitzpatrick is glad he is not in Houston right now…
24. Green Bay Packers
Despite injuries, the Packers continue to move along like a well-oiled machine. As long as Aaron Rodgers remains under center, their presence in the post-season is assured.
25. Chicago Bears
Although nobody is prepared to admit it, the Bears are already rebuilding. Their trading of players shows that they are working for the future. The big offseason decision will be on Jay Cutler, who continues to be infuriatingly mistake-prone, suffering from Jake Plummer Hurl-The-Ball Disease at least a couple of times a game.
The FIA and FOM are going to ask engine manufacturers to tender for the supply of a 2.2 liter twin turbo V6 engine from 2017.
Some of the first comments that I saw on discussion forums were that it would be easy for Ilmor (who provide engines for Chevrolet) and Honda to re-badge their Indy V6 turbo engines for use in F1 from 2017.
Nope, this is not going to happen, for commercial and technical reasons.
Leaving aside the question of whether an existing engine supplier in F1 is allowed to bid on the new engine contract (I am unable to determine whether that will be allowed), it is difficult to see why Honda would want to bid on this contract when they have a program under the current regulations. Now…Mugen might bid on it, or Honda could fund another third party to develop a second tier engine (as they did in 1988, when they sponsored John Judd’s V8 F1 engine program in order to help keep F1 grids full).
Ilmor appear to have no such restrictions, although they have been helping Renault this season with ICE design and reliability. Nobody knows how that contract might restrict their own involvement in F1 as a separate entity.
That is just the commercial side. The real issues are in the technical regulations, in several key areas.
1. Size and weight
The Indycar engine formula was designed to minimize costs of development and operations. The engines have a minimum box size (i.e. a minimum overall set of engine dimensions) that is a very large by F1 standards. They also have a minimum weight which is also high by F1 standards. Both of these rules were introduced to the series to prevent suppliers from engaging in “arms race” spending to reduce the size and weight of their engines, as was happening in F1 at the time. A visual image of an Indy V6 shows an engine that is tall and large by modern F1 standards.
2. Rotational speed
Current Indy V6 engines are limited to 12200 rpm. This is an rpm limit substantially below that of the current F1 engine technical regulations and ICE capability. In practice, current F1 engines are rarely exceeding 12000 rpm except in qualifying, due to current fuel flow limits. However, those limits are due to be lifted for 2017 and beyond, which means that ICE rpm will be a lot greater than 12000 in races.
3. Boost levels and power outputs
The boost levels in Indycar, as they have been for a long time, back to the CART era, are modest compared to the historical and current boost levels in F1. The maximum current boost level allowed in Indycar is 1.6 bar (23.2 psi) which is substantially less than boost levels in F1. Indycar engines, because of the lower boost levels, rotational speeds and fuel, do not use intercoolers.
Because of the modest boost levels and rotational speed limits, Current Indy engines generate a maximum of 750 bhp. Current F1 engines are generating 800-850 bhp in races and in excess of 900 bhp in qualifying. The F1 power outputs are expected to rise above 1000bhp when fuel flow limits are increased in 2017.
Indy engines use 85% ethanol, which has a massive latent heat of evaporation, which reduces thermal stress in the top of the engines. F1 uses gasoline, which has less of a cooling effect.
To sum up: the current Indycar regulations have created an engine which, compared to the current hybrid F1 V6 engines, is heavy, large, with lower rotational speeds, boost levels, no intercooling, and no energy recovery systems. Even a basic F1 V6 turbo engine for use from 2017 onwards will need to be capable of much higher rotational speeds and boost levels in order to generate competitive power outputs, while being much more compact and lighter than current Indycar engines. This will require a brand new custom engine design, not an adaptation of current Indycar engine designs.
For the second time in 3 seasons…
The decision by the Philadelphia Eagles to terminate the contract of Tim Tebow did not surprise me. Many NFL teams only carry two quarterbacks, partly because of roster needs elsewhere, and partly because under NFL rules, there are severe restrictions on how a third quarterback can be used in games. Basically a third QB can only be called upon if the #1 and #2 quarterbacks cannot play any more, usually due to injury, and once he enters the game the other two quarterbacks cannot return. This is why many NFL teams activate only two quarterbacks on game day, with another player on the roster designated as the emergency quarterback. Usually that player has played quarterback in the past prior to joining the NFL, and can execute a small number of plays if called upon.
The decision by the Eagles to sign a #3 quarterback (Stephen Morris) who has never seen any in-season game action to replace Tim Tebow is somewhat puzzling, but there may be financial reasons behind it. There are several established quarterbacks looking for work after roster cut-downs but if they are on the opening day rosters, their salaries are guaranteed for the season. The likes of Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, Matt Flynn and Rex Grossman, all of who have been starting QBs in the league, may find a team signs them only after week 1, so that they can always be dropped later if roster needs change. The Eagles may have signed Stephen Morris simply to take a look at him to determine if he has any potential. After week 1, they could drop him and sign one of the established free agent quarterbacks. They could also re-sign Tebow, although given Chip Kelly’s comments that he is not good enough for a #3 role at present, that would be a surprising turnaround.
The only way I could see Tebow being signed back by the Eagles would be If both their #1 and #2 quarterbacks were knocked out due to injury. That is not impossible since Sam Bradford has suffered 2 ACL tears in 2 seasons, and Mark Sanchez suffered a serious shoulder injury while playing for the New York Jets.
Tim Tebow went through waivers without being claimed, so he is now a free agent. At this stage it is unlikely that any team is going to try and sign him for this season – except possibly the Eagles if they lose a quarterback – Tebow should know the system and the playbook by now…
The big question is whether Tim Tebow would consider the CFL as an alternative place to play. Other quarterbacks such as Warren Moon, Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia went to the CFL for periods of time when the NFL ignored them. Many people are arguing that the CFL is a poor fit for Tebow, because of the three-downs rule, which results in the emphasis being on the passing game, and the field is slightly longer and wider than the NFL field. The thinking is that Tebow’s lack of accuracy will be magnified in a passing league.
I am not sure that I agree with the hypothesis. Tebow can throw the ball a reasonable distance. He is not able to fire the ball long distances, but Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia did not have a cannon for an arm either, and they were very successful in the CFL as scrambling quarterbacks who could hurt teams by running as much as passing, which is where Tebow also excels. At the end of the day, arm strength can be a curse as much as a blessing (think: Jeff George).
The bigger question is whether Tim Tebow would want to enter the CFL at the present time. His CFL rights are currently held by the Montreal Alouettes, but that team is in turmoil right now in the middle of a poor season, having fired their head coach and offensive co-ordinator, with the GM (Jim Popp) now coaching the team. The Alouettes are also fresh from the distraction of managing another NFL reject named Michael Sam, who engaged in a “will he won’t he show up” routine before walking away from the team after one mediocre performance.
Realistically, if Tim Tebow wants to play football, he only has the CFL or the AFL as options. Either one of them could give him game play that he desperately needs in order to solidify his new throwing motion. Whether he can be successful enough in either league to make it back into the NFL is another question. However, once upon a time, a little-known quarterback from Northern Iowa, having been undrafted and dispensed with by NFL teams, plied his trade in the AFL and then NFL Europe before returning to the NFL as a backup and beginning one of the great Hero from Zero stories.
Tim Tebow is a victim partly of his own inadequacies, but has also been rendered less useful by the end of the read-option fad in the NFL. When he entered the NFL in 2010, the read-option (following on from the Wildcat formation) was a new idea for the modern NFL, and for a while many teams did not know how to defend it, but they soon learned how to contain read-option quarterbacks, and several other quarterbacks who entered the NFL at the same time who were reckoned to be read-option threats are either out of the NFL (Pat White), trying to change positions (Terrelle Pryor) or hanging on by a thread (Robert Griffin III). There is no sign of any significant read-option play-calling in normal game situations in the NFL at present, although there may be one or two gadget plays called in critical game situations.
A bigger question is whether the difference between college football and the NFL is becoming too great for many college quarterbacks to thrive in the NFL. I have not performed any analysis, but it seems that an increasing number of quarterbacks from top-flight college programs are, in some cases, not even being considered by NFL teams. Usually, they are hybrid quarterbacks who also run with the ball. They do not match the prototypical NFL quarterback profile of the tall stand-in-the-pocket general, which is still the preferred operating mode of a league that is, at its heart, very risk-averse. A good example is Blake Sims, who despite appearing in a college title game last season for Alabama, is now bouncing around the CFL, having been briefly considered and rejected by 2 NFL teams as an undrafted free agent, not even playing as a quarterback.
The fact that it has taken NFL teams the best part of 10 years to take Kevin Kelley’s Paluxy Academy possession football approach seriously tells you all you need to know about the innate conservatism of the NFL. There is a reason why many football fans prefer college and high school football, and it has a lot to do with more open and exciting play-calling.
I am left with the uncomfortable feeling that a lot of NFL head coaches and offensive co-ordinators are “system guys”, who try to sign players to fit their system, rather than maximizing a player’s unique skills. But…the fact that the two NFL coaches least likely to pursue a “system” approach, Bill Belichick and Chip Kelly, both spent a fair amount of time evaluating Tim Tebow and decided not to use him in an NFL season, is not exactly flattering to Tebow.
A few quick words about the Deflation saga (No, I refuse to use a word including a suffix word beginning with G. That is so…1970’s).
A judge today vacated the 4 game suspension imposed on Tom Brady and, in the process, excoriated and dismissed most of the NFL’s arguments in its pleadings.
Some quick points:
1. Roger Goodell is not going to be fired…yet. He works for the NFL’s owners, and he will leave only when they decide they want somebody else to be the Commissioner. However, it is clear that some owners are apprehensive and concerned about the clearly negative PR impact of the saga.
2. Despite his occasional attempts to portray himself as neutral in matters of discipline and punishment, Goodell is not neutral. See (1) above
3. If Tom Brady’s suspension has been vacated, then the future draft picks removed from the New England Patriots ought to be restored also. It seems fundamentally unfair that the team’s quarterback’s punishment has been vacated, but the team’s punishment has not been vacated.
4. Despite the NFL’s insistence that they will appeal, they have not asked for a stay. I suspect that this is partly because they know they are unlikely to get one (if you have just been told that your arguments are mostly steaming brown fertilizer, the reaction to an application for a stay is likely to be either laughter or a GTFOOMC), but also partly because they realize that, with the season about to begin, the focus needs to be on playing games, not arguing about player discipline. NBC, Fox, ESPN et al are paying for the product on the pitch, not the behind-scenes wrangling. I expect the NFL are appealing because they can, not because they feel they have any chance of success
5. The NFL has now been slapped around the head over three recent disciplinary matters; Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, and now the deflation saga. (We must also not forget the earlier decision by Paul Tagliabue to vacate a number of punishments for the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.)
6. The domino effect of this result will be felt from this point forward, with players who have been disciplined by the NFL very likely to threaten or actually take the NFL to court to get suspensions and fines overturned. The credibility of the entire NFL disciplinary process is somewhere between zero and diddly squat at present.
There are some bigger underlying dynamics that have only occasionally been discussed in the media:
1. The NFL has a labor agreement, but it does not have labor peace. The owners bailed early on the last CBA, which was negotiated by Paul Tagliabue and the late Gene Upshaw, because they decided that it was too favorable to the players. They then hoarded cash and hard-line owners made it clear that they would support a lock-out if they did not get what they wanted from a new CBA. The new CBA is more favorable to the owners, and the NFL players know that and resent it. One way in which it is more favorable is the provision for the Commissioner to dispense discipline as he sees fit. This is an easy target for the players to fire at, partly because of the recent extent to which Goodell has used his disciplinary powers to sanction players for perceived bad behavior under the current CBA, but also because the players can fight individual instances of player discipline whenever they occur. They have no recourse over the rest of the CBA, which has no opt-out clauses on either side, and runs until the end of the 2020 season.
2. By all accounts, Goodell’s actions on discipline have been consistently supported by a group of hard-line owners who believe that the NFL should be able to impose pretty much any sort of discipline it sees fit. Those owners (who are, for the most part, elderly rich guys used to getting their way in life) are the ones leading the get-tough approach. Now that the NFL has been slapped around the head in court, it will be interesting to see if the hard-line faction loses influence, or whether they dig in. Ultimately, Roger Goodell will do what the majority of owners want him to do. If he fails to do their bidding, he will be replaced, although there is no obvious successor waiting, unlike when Paul Tagliabue was Commissioner, when Goodell was the heir-apparent for several years, and his accession to Commissioner after Tagliabue’s retirement was one of the most obvious worst-kept secrets in sports.
The net result is exemplified by De Maurice Smith’s quote from Profootball Talk:
“Asked about the players’ trust in the league and Goodell, Smith answered, “It’s gone.””