TMQ Nation fires back   

Updated: October 24, 2007, 2:14 PM ET

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Jason Taylor wax figure

AP Photo/Tom Hevezi

Tuesday in London, producers shot on-location footage for the upcoming sci-fi epic, "Jason Taylor vs. Mothra."

Andrew Bell of Dalkeith, United Kingdom, writes, "I'm lucky enough to be going to the Giants 'at' Miami game in London this weekend, and have been looking at the disclaimers on the back of the tickets. One says that on game day, I may not 'offer (either free or for sale by any person) any goods, including literature, of any nature without the NFL's prior written consent.' Damn! There goes my Proust concession stand idea! Another disclaimer reads, '[You] understand that participation in the Event involves certain risks, including but not limited to, serious injury and death.' Dear football gods! What the Martz, will the food at the tailgate really be that bad? And don't you just love that 'but not limited to ... death' clause. What possible risk at the game is WORSE than death?"

I have tickets to the London game on my desk too, and likewise have been staring at the disclaimers, which are in astonishingly small type -- I had to find a magnifying glass. One warns, "The Ticket and the copyright of this Ticket shall remain the property of the Management." Fifty-five pounds doesn't even buy the ticket itself -- that is, the piece of paper? Another says, "You shall not bring into the Stadium" items including "explosives." Darn, I was going to bring explosives to the game until I saw that's against regulations! The disclaimers do not say, 'Game play may reflect artifice and cheating, the NFL makes no warrant of honest competition." Look for that disclaimer on 2008 tickets.

Mike Shanahan

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Ultimate Leader on the sideline Sunday night. No hat. He looks cold. Small wonder Denver won.

I supposed in this week's TMQ that Pittsburgh lost at Denver on Sunday night because Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was overdressed, activating the immutable law, Cold Coach = Victory. Miriam Rosenberg-Lee of Pittsburgh writes, "The Michelin Man-esque outfit worn by Mike Shanahan that night was one of the largest jackets I've seen, and I'm from Canada, and does not favorably compare to the fleece and shell combo sported by Tomlin. Also, although I couldn't find photographic evidence, the cheerleaders I saw at the game were wearing bulky jackets. Perhaps it's time to re-evaluate some TMQ truisms." Sean Sutton of Ypsilanti, Mich., notes, "Tom Brady now has more passing touchdowns than seven entire teams combined. Brady has 28, versus the Falcons (5), Rams (5), Saints (5), 49ers (4), Vikings (3), Titans (3) and Bills (1). Last year, only three teams (Eagles, Colts, Bengals) had more touchdown passes in their entire season than Brady has in his first seven games."

This week's TMQ column also contained muted, friendly criticism of Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Among other things, I docked him for running up the score against hapless Miami. Craig Bursch of Duluth, Minn., countered, "Normally, I agree with you on sportsmanship and showing mercy to an overmatched opponent. However, you were off base with your criticism of Bill Belichick. Leading by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter does not guarantee victory. There are numerous examples of comebacks by teams who were woefully behind, only to have the team in the lead let up and allow the comeback to happen. Tennessee did it this very Sunday! Against Miami, the Patriots simply put their foot down and squashed a potential comeback from occurring." I also asserted that Belichick had been unsportsmanlike by ordering his team to try to score from the Dallas 1-yard line with 23 seconds remaining, despite having a 41-27 lead. At the 1:43 mark, I wrote, Dallas was out of timeouts, New England had three downs and should have knelt from that point. Readers including Justine Lazar of Gloucester, Mass., countered that Wade Phillips had called a pointless timeout with 1:54 remaining, which ticked Belichick off, causing him to run up the score in retaliation. The final Dallas timeout was indeed pointless, but my argument stands: Belichick had an opportunity to show sportsmanship on national television, and instead he acted -- well, you pick the word. Here is the fourth quarter play-by-play, judge for yourself.

Matt Ryan

AP Photo/Winslow Townson

At Boston College, they're highly ranked in football and in athletic graduation rates.

I said Nebraska and Notre Dame are struggling because they are high-graduation-rate athletic programs pitted against party schools. Tim Dube of Berkeley, Calif., counters, "Your Nebraska paragraph makes a glaring omission -- Boston College, No. 2 in the current BCS [standings], is perennially in the top 5 of football graduation rates. The current numbers show Boston College football with a 'graduation success rate' of 96 percent. There is no trade-off between students and athletes at some big-time D-I schools. Notre Dame will be back to Top 25 status shortly, and Navy fields competitive teams most years. Both Northwestern and Stanford have been to Rose Bowls in the past 15 years, and both have high graduation rates for football players. Please don't blame Nebraska's on-field performance on the fact that their football players go to class. You can attend class and still win, as Boston College is showing."

Last week I wrote, "Every advance in archeology makes civilization seem older." Many, many readers including Ryan Melyon of Flossmoor, Ill., wrote in to note that just two days after that column appeared, an important new paper in the technical journal Nature reported findings that modern Homo sapiens existed in Africa at least as far back as 164,000 years ago. Previous theory assumed that modern Homo sapiens have existed for 100,000 to 200,000 years, but the oldest direct evidence stretched only about 70,000 years back. Researchers from a consortium of colleges found evidence that 164,000 years ago on the South African coast -- then a cold place, owing to the Pleistocene Ice Age -- Homo sapiens were fishing, using stone tools and adorning their bodies with pigment. Given shorter life spans in prehistory, that's about 8,000 generations in the past. Eight thousand generations ago, people were fashioning tools to live, and seeking painted symbols to grant their lives meaning.

TMQ has noted before that defenses run by the tastefully named Gregg Williams perform better when Williams resists the urge to call lots of blitzes. Now, as pointed out by Ben Domenech of Leesburg, Va.,, Washington Times sportswriter Ryan O'Halloran has the chapter and verse. In his first season as the Redskins' defensive coordinator in 2004, O'Halloran notes, Williams called blitzes on 51 percent of the opposition's snaps. This season, Washington blitzed just once in a two-week span of games against Detroit and Green Bay, while often Williams has called three-man rushes, with a defensive lineman dropping into the slant zones to confuse the opposing quarterback. This year, as the Redskins have rarely blitzed, the team's sack total is up while its points-allowed number is down.

Devin Hester

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

TMQ compromise proposed: Start all Chicago games Bears 7, Opponent 0, then don't let Devin Hester play.

I proposed that NFL teams should routinely punt out of bounds, not just against Devin Hester but against any returner -- trading a slightly lower net of field position for never allowing a touchdown return. Marissa Stupca of Philadelphia countered, "Punting out of bounds certainly appears to have its advantages as it removes the possibility for a touchdown return by the receiving team. Following Week 7 of the NFL season, there were seven TD returns, an average of one per week. Simply kicking the ball out of bounds would eliminate these seven touchdowns. However, by doing so, the kicking team also eliminates any possibility for the other side of the coin -- the seemingly inevitable muff or fumbled return. As of Week 7, there were 23 muffs or fumbles on returns, an average of three per week. The punting team recovered the ball on 10 of those occurrences, thus making recoveries 1.5 times more likely than touchdown returns. Only once did the recovery not lead to a score (the Falcons threw an interception deep in the opposing team's territory) and resulting drives tallied a total of 43 points with an average starting field position of the 34-yard line. Even the venerable Devin Hester has fumbled the ball twice this season on returns, though the Bears recovered on both instances." Luis Argerich of Buenos Aires, Argentina, adds, "Green Bay never kicked to Devin Hester, Philadelphia never kicked to Hester. Both teams lost. I think that preventing Hester from getting his usual touchdown is not as important as having good field position the rest of the game. If you want to win, kick directly to Hester!"

Bridget Moynahan

Jean Baptiste Lacroix/

Perhaps Tom Brady will get visiting rights and she will get the NFL touchdown passing record.

And we'll close with this reader haiku:

Manning record safe:
Court gives every third score to
Bridget Moynahan.

-- Ike Pigott, Leeds, Ala.

In addition to writing Tuesday Morning Quarterback, Gregg Easterbrook is the author of "The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse" and other books. He is also a contributing editor for The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly and The Washington Monthly.



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