A GRIP ON SPORTS
There was a big hit for the Seahawks on Sunday. It was delivered by Golden Tate on a Top Pot maple bar two hours after Seattle's 27-7 dismantling of the Dallas Cowboys. What, that's not the one everyone was talking about yesterday? Sorry. Read on.
• No, the hit everyone was talking about was Tate's peel-back block on Cowboy linebacker Sean Lee in the second half. The hit (shown at right), which probably should have earned Tate a flag under NFL rules (according to the rules guru Mike Pereira on Twitter, an offensive player cannot hit an unsuspecting defense player anywhere if he leads with his helmet), brought the house down (and must have felt to Lee he had been hit by a house. It also kick-started a discussion in our home about the trend toward safety in the rules at all levels of football. The only really qualified to speak about it is our youngest, who still has neck problems after playing high school football. An illegal hit while he was snapping on an extra point caused momentary paralysis, a trip to the hospital and still lingering pain to this day. As you might expect, he's all for trying to clean up the game. But even he admits there is a fine line rulemakers walk between keeping the essence (and attraction) of football – a physical game played by huge, athletic, fast men – from melting away. What is funny about Tate's hit, as I understand it, would have been within the rules for sure if he had nailed Lee with his shoulder pad instead of his helmet. I'm not sure that would have been any less devastating to Lee's body, but the NFL powers-that-be must. And, by legislating limits on hits, the rulemakers throughout football have put more pressure on referees to get it right. And often they don't. Take two hits by Washington State's Deone Bucannon in back-to-back weeks. The first was a blatant head blow that deserved the penalty it received along with a suspension. The second, at UNLV, wasn't nearly as bad. It may not even have been illegal and it was obvious Bucannon was trying to avoid making the contact. Yet it also received the same on-field penalty. When referees have to make decisions about whether a hit occurred on the head or on the shoulder pad or on the torso (not to mention interpreting whether the head or neck was targeted in the first place), they are going to be wrong at times. And those times are always going to upset the fan base of one team or the other. It's a conundrum alright, and one that has to be worked out. If football becomes too violent, too deadly, too unsafe, it won't survive as the nation's top sport. Heck, horse racing and boxing used to mesmerize the country and they have withered to almost irrelevance. Who is to say it couldn't happen to football?
• Washington State: Another late night looms on the horizon as ESPN has picked the Oregon game from CenturyLink and it will start at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29. Christian Caple has the details in this blog post. The game will be on ESPN or ESPN2. ... Christian was at practice last night and had the news Jeff Tuel was taking snaps with the first-team offense. He also noted Ricky Galvin wasn't at practice, though there was no official explanation. Might explain a couple of tweets last night about Galvin, one from Damante Horton about keeping the receiver in your prayers and one from Galvin thanking Tracy Clark for checking on him. ... Christian also has his morning links. ... Bud Withers examines the effect Stanford's win over USC has on the conference's national reputation.
• Idaho: The 0-3 Wyoming Cowboys are next up for Idaho, but down the road the schedule gets a little tougher, and tougher than it might have seemed before the season began. San Jose State is having an exceptional start to its year and Utah State came within a missed field goal of upsetting Wisconsin on the road.
• Seahawks: That was fun. Smash-mouth football played within the rules always is. Though smash-mouth football overseen by replacement referees who seem a bit discombobulated at all times isn't as much fun. That blip aside, the Hawks' 27-7 beatdown of the Cowboys was a joy to behold. John Blanchette was there and filed this column for the S-R. ... Of course there is more, and more columns, with all the Puget Sound intelligentsia there, including Steve Kelley, Jerry Brewer, Art Thiel, Dave Boling and John McGrath all sharing their opinions on the victory. ... There is some reporting as well, with game stories from the Times and News Tribune along with a look at the running game, Russell Wilson's performance, statistics and a couple of Dallas-based stories from Texas.
• Mariners: Turned on the M's game yesterday and they weren't playing yet thanks to the rain. By the time I thought about them again, they had already lost 2-1 to Matt Harrison and the Rangers.
• Mondays are always light days around the webverse, except for the NFL of course. We'll have more tomorrow, we promise. Until then ...