In a recent post, I earned the ire of many poorly informed denialist football fans when I noted an obvious fact: The strategy used by the New Orleans Saints to win the playoff game with the much more deserving Minnesota Vikings, which involved trying as hard as possible to knock the Quarterback out of the game, was unethical, unusual, and intentional. Despite the protestations of commenters on this blog post, numerous sports experts have joined me in this assertion.

For example, Joe Theisman: “Ive been out of the game some 25 years. So, if you take approximately 40 years of professional football, I have never seen one man take the beating that Brett Favre took yesterday.” (source)

Since that game the Saints have been overtly describing their strategy for the SuperBowl: Hurt the Quarterback and knock him out of the game. They make no apologies for this strategy, even to the extent that one of the Saints defensive backs has openly declared that he does not care if his actions earn him a fine.

See for yourself:


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Comments

  1. #1 BAllanJ
    February 4, 2010

    It should earn him a charge of aggravated assault

  2. #2 Phil
    February 4, 2010

    Don’t you people remember the 85 Bears? They had the same strategy and everyone loved them.

  3. #3 NewEnglandBob
    February 4, 2010

    “It should earn him a charge of aggravated assault”

    AND a premeditated mayhem charge.

  4. #4 shawna
    February 4, 2010

    Football players tackle other football players. footage at 11.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/don_banks/02/01/injuries/index.html

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    February 4, 2010

    Ah, another denialist, I see…

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    February 4, 2010

    The phenomenon now has it’s own name:

    there’s game-changing, and then there’s what is now known in football lexicon as the Colt McCoy doomsday scenario — the possibility of an almost unthinkable, catastrophic injury unfolding just minutes into a championship game, casting a pall over everything and altering the game’s entire outcome.

  7. #7 D. C. Sessions
    February 4, 2010

    Greg, it’s a blood sport. People pay to see it, and the players accept that they’re going to end up crippled in the long run in return for egoboo, drugs, sex, and cash.

    If you don’t want injuries on the field, watch soccer. Or badminton. Football is about 300-pound steroid mutants slamming into each other as hard as possible with the audience hoping to see blood (on the other team, anyway.)

    Anyone else remember the brothers Hildebrandt poster Home Game?

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    February 4, 2010

    DC, that is not the point. Perhaps you should read the OP (see link).

  9. #9 Garth
    February 4, 2010

    while i agree it’s unethical to purposefully try to apply an illegal hit to injure a quarterback, teams train to hit as hard as they can within the rules. colt mccoy wasn’t the first player to get hurt and, as a result, have his whole team lose their chance to win. There’s been countless examples of this, in all major sports. Is it good? No. But having a player get hurt within the rules is just the nature of the game, whoever it is. It can happen on a play where they don’t get touched at all.

    having players cause injury with an illegal hit or move on purpose is scumbaggery at the highest level however

  10. #10 mk
    February 4, 2010

    From Gregg Williams:

    “A lot of times guys are going to try to go down and not take a shot,” he said at yesterday’s Super Bowl media day. “We want to beat them to the ground. We say they’re not down until they bounce twice.

    “I learned that from Buddy Ryan,” Williams said. “He used to talk about burping them. When you burp a guy, you hit him in the ground and felt the air go out of him. All those are signature tackles and they’re all tackles where the opponent felt them. We count them. We had a lot last week.”

  11. #11 mk
    February 4, 2010

    From Brett Favre’s brother, Scott:

    “He was beat up physically and mentally. He was emotionally drained. Physically, he hurt both wrists, both ankles, one leg, head bruised. He was beat all to hell. That’s part of it.”

  12. #12 mk
    February 4, 2010

    I’d like to note that neither Theismann nor Scott Favre suggested anything illegal or nefarious with Brett’s beating.

    Do they really think it is simply part of the game, that even though this was a lot… well, these things happen? Or do they think the Saints went over the line, but for some reason are reticent to say just that?

  13. #13 D. C. Sessions
    February 4, 2010

    Do they really think it is simply part of the game, that even though this was a lot… well, these things happen? Or do they think the Saints went over the line, but for some reason are reticent to say just that?

    Instead of a “line” think of a “window” — as in “Overton.”

    “Acceptable” evolves over time. Believe it or not, basketball was once a non-contact sport.

  14. #14 darryl
    February 4, 2010

    I’ve been aware that football was about deliberately hurting your opponent since junior high.

  15. #16 Comrade PhysioProf
    February 4, 2010

    Dude, football is totally a microcosm of blogging! AMIRITE?

  16. #17 Jim Thomerson
    February 4, 2010

    Isn’t the offensive line supposed to oppose such strategy?

  17. #18 daedalus2u
    February 4, 2010

    The officials can eject a player from the game. They should if there is an egregious personal foul.

    If it is an illegal hit, then the player can also be charged with battery.

    There is no limit to the amount that a player can be fined. If they are unable to pay the fine, that simply means they never play football again.

    Fine the team and the coach too, and the behavior would stop.

    Jiggle the rules for entry into the hall of fame to require a player to be “in good standing”, i.e. not have unresolved diciplinary actions against him and until he pays the fine he can’t be in the hall of fame. If the fine is $500 billion, unless there is a period of hyperinflation, it ain’t going to happen.

    The way to attack this might be through OSHA. If the NFL does not provide a safe working environment for their employees, then OSHA can shut them down until they do. The recent stuff on concussions might be pretty good evidence for OSHA to look at.

    There is a case in Massachusetts where a high school football player deliberately hit another player in the head with his helmet after the player was on the ground and after ripping his helmet off.

    http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/21477783/detail.html

    He is being charged criminally.

    If someone did something like this in the Superbowl, he would be ejected and charged criminally and serve time in jail.

  18. #19 José
    February 4, 2010

    The strategy used by the New Orleans Saints to win the playoff game with the much more deserving Minnesota Vikings, which involved trying as hard as possible to knock the Quarterback out of the game, was unethical, unusual, and intentional. Despite the protestations of commenters on this blog post, numerous sports experts have joined me in this assertion.

    No they haven’t. The sentence before your Theisman quote-

    I thought that was an unbelievable football – and they lived up by believe to the expectations of a shootout early and then it settled into a tremendous defensive battle.

    There’s no indication he believes the Saints were doing anything unethical or unusual. No hint of disapproval. We’ve already demonstrated that going after the quarterback is nothing new. If you followed sport, you’d already know that. You made a dumb post, and now you’re quote mining to try and save face. You’re the only one in denial.

  19. #20 KHorn
    February 4, 2010

    Shouldn’t this fall under the Red Queen Hypothesis? As defensive lines get more aggressive with the quarterback, offensive lines will need to get better and QBs will have to make plays faster. Evolution of the game.

  20. #21 José
    February 4, 2010

    And your damning video of the unapologetic Saints is nothing more than pregame trash talk. They’re trying to look tough and intimidate the other team. It’s nothing new. Before the very first Superbowl, in fact, Chiefs defensive back Fred Williamson threatened to take out Green Bay receivers with blows to the head. So it goes back at least that far.

  21. #22 Greg Laden
    February 4, 2010

    Jose, you are such a saints fanboy it is making me want to take a shower or roll in the mud or something.

  22. #23 Laen
    February 5, 2010

    Just wondering, but after the Superbowl you’ll stop with this ridiculous football poe right?

  23. #24 Mark
    February 5, 2010

    This is such a non-story, it’s always been happening. One of Al Davis’s mottoes from the 70s is “the quarterback must go down and go down hard”. The 70s Raiders were notorious for their late hits and cheap shots, especially on the quarterback, and were labelled the “criminal element” in football by Chuck Noll.

    Plenty of teams have employed the same tactics since, with the 85 Bears and 2000 Ravens springing immediately to mind.

  24. #25 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    Mark, if this has always been happening, then … when was it happening? Which games? Which QB’s?

    Data?

  25. #26 Mark
    February 5, 2010

    Sorry for the double post, but check out this video, especially from 3:50 onwards, for blatant examples of intentionally trying to hurt players. There’s plenty of other examples, it’s nothing new.

  26. #27 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    Mark, that video is about something other than what this post is about.

  27. #28 Mark
    February 5, 2010

    Stats from the 70s are notoriously bad. The NFL only started recording sacks in 1982, so we can’t even use that. Old film and players memories are often all we have from previous eras, so it’s mostly anecdote not data.

    Another anecdotal example is this video about Tatum and Atkinson. About 1:55 in Villapiano starts talking about how they kept score on the hits: “one point for a limp off, semi-concussiony… but a knockout was Tatum’s specialty.”

    I’m trying to dig up some stats about quarterbacks being knocked out of games, but am not having much luck. If anyone has some data on that a link would be useful.

  28. #29 Mark
    February 5, 2010

    Mark, that video is about something other than what this post is about.

    I thought this post was about deliberately trying to hurt other players, especially the quarterback, and trying to knock them out of the game. I was just illustrating that that has gone on many times in the past and is nothing new. Admittedly my examples are not specifically targeted at the quarterback, but the techniques used were certainly used for that purposes.

    If the post is about something else, I’ve clearly misunderstood.

  29. #30 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    Mark, right, the OP (and the OOP) was about specifically taking out the QB by going for the sack but continuing on even after he gets rid of the ball. SO I think we are on the same page.

    The key assertions here are: 1) what happened during the Saints/Vikes playoff game was unprecidented. I’ve asked for exmples of pro NFL games where there were zero sacks and 19 knockdowns, with many being with multiple players doing the knockdown, and although lots of people would apparently like to disprove my hypothesis, none have done so. Frankly, a few examples would not disprove it … there have been thousands of games. But it is starting to look like of those thousands of games, what happened in this game was utterly unique. Theisman said as much in the interview, which was the point of the link to the interview.

    2) This is a strategy that the Saints used to win that game … to focus specifically on knocking out the QB. The Saints have stated this overtly, as it turns out. It is really kind of hard to deny that this is a strategy when they say it is a strategy. It would be interesting to see the interview transcripts of all of the other games this season to see how many times the players and coaches explicitly say they are going to try to injure the QB. I don’t recall any.

    Favre was too tough. Manning may be tough too, but probably not as tough. Threfore…

    These assertions/hypotheses suggest a prediction: Manning will be out of the game by half time, or alternatively we’ll be seeing an effective and specially-mounted defense.

  30. #31 James
    February 5, 2010

    There’s a big difference between a hard hit that happens to injure a player, and an illegal hard hit that is intended to injure a player.

    The first is part of the game. It’s a shame, and I feel bad for the player, but that’s football.

    The second is assault. After declaring the intention to hurt a player; if you then hurt them, it’s premeditated and should result in an immediate ejection and a big fine.

    Gregg Williams has stated that he’s willing to trade a penalty in order to hurt the QB. That’s cheating. The very first late hit should result in two ejections. The player who delivered the hit, and the coach who ordered it.

  31. #32 Omar
    February 5, 2010

    And all the Saints fans.

  32. #33 José
    February 5, 2010

    Jose, you are such a saints fanboy it is making me want to take a shower or roll in the mud or something.

    Nope. Once again, I’m a Giants fan who watched the game and saw nothing new or dirty. On the other hand, you’re just a clueless Vikings fan who’s taking a loss hard and coping by telling himself the other team only won because they’re dirty cheaters. Nothing more.

  33. #34 Omar
    February 5, 2010

    José, I am a Saints fan and I saw both playoff games. I am glad the Saints won (of course) and I think they won because of a bad decision or two on one side and a good decision or two on the other, when both teams were exceptional. But the honorable blog author is correct. If you did not see what was so unique an event perhaps you were watching a different game. Please check your TV schedule.

    No one else agrees with you, José.

  34. #35 Jason
    February 5, 2010

    I had absolutely no rooting interest in who won the vikings saints game. I say again, if you hit the qb too long after he releases it is a late hit and it gets a flag. Otherwise he is fair game. Favre had guts to hold on to the ball until the last second in the face of a tough Saints pass rush and he paid the price. As Theisman poionts out, he took a beating. But I don’t even understand what this new straegy is supposed to be… if you can get to the qb within a reasonable period of him releasing the ball, you hit him. Did the Saints have extraordinary success against the Vikings? Yes. This means the O-Line couldn’t block the pass rush or Favre held out too long… because it is the job of the defense to get to the qb.

  35. #36 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    I will retract my hypothesis if Manning is not injured on Sunday.

    Although I reserve the right to make that retraction qualified depending on what happens.

  36. #37 Bill James
    February 5, 2010

    “Saints Unapologetic about Unusual Hurt the QB Strategy”

    Of course the Saints are unapologetic. They never had a “Hurt the Quarterback” strategy to begin with, leaving nothing for them to apologize for.

    As far as Greg’s headline quote: “I don’t care about no fines, I’m gonna hit him”, for one is inaccurate and secondly is not framed contextually.

    In light of statements such as these, now spanning three blog posts and counting, we are left to consider if perhaps Greg may have entered the running for this years “tin foil hat” award.

  37. #38 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    They never had a “Hurt the Quarterback” strategy to begin with, leaving nothing for them to apologize for.

    You are contradicting what they have already said. The paraphrase from the video is correct, and there is nothing wrong with the framing.

    Greg may have entered the running for this years “tin foil hat” award.

    So, you have shifted from disagreeing with an idea to a personal insult.

    Your racist sexist remarks in other contexts cause me to question your motives. Your global warming denialist comments cause me to question your intelligence. Your personal attacks cause me to question your wisdom. And you said something bad about Bret Favre.

    YOU ARE ON NOTICE!!!

  38. #39 Doug
    February 5, 2010

    If I were the saints, I would ix-nay on the alk-tay and just get ready to play the game. Both teams have a quarterback, and both teams have a defense, and it’s been my experience that what goes around, comes around, in football and in life. Peyton Manning is quite a bit larger and tougher than Drew Brees, guess which one would remain standing longer in a cheap shot war? In fact, if I were Brees, I would be telling my teammates to STFU, or else be looking for a much sturdier knee brace.

  39. #40 MarkusR
    February 5, 2010

    As a Colts fan, if the Saints players are intending on hurting Manning by any means necessary, then I say Manning needs to use his left hand to poke them in the throat every time they tackle him after he has already tossed away the ball.

    Or, bring in Freeney just to tear off Brees’ head. He only needs one play.

  40. #41 Abstruse
    February 5, 2010

    Before the 2002 NFC championship game some prof from Harvard wrote that it would be unethical to not target Donnovan Mcnabb’s broken ankle in an attempt to re-injure him.

    I’d love to link to this, but it was an aside mentioned in some article from 2002 so….. sorry.

  41. #42 amphiox
    February 5, 2010

    I will retract my hypothesis if Manning is not injured on Sunday.

    I think that is too stringent a criteria. If the Colts O-line devises as strategy that successfully protects Manning despite whatever the Saints D tries to do (or Manning figures out a way to escape the rush himself), and Manning is not injured because of that, it does not invalidate your hypothesis.

  42. #43 Matt Springer
    February 5, 2010

    I know there’s lots of meta-humor here, but I’m having a hard time deciding how many levels deep it is. So I’ll just play it straight:

    The point is not to hurt the QB, it’s to hurry him. If you’re playing a dominant and legendary passer, you want him to think “I must throw NOW or I’ll get nailed”. If you don’t, you’ll lose.

    Nothing in the video suggests anything outside the standard rules and practice of the NFL. The whole “fines” bit has a specific context – there’s been a few high-profile fines this year due to some changes in rule enforcement and there’s been some talk that this has made defenses gun-shy. Here, it clearly hasn’t.

    Finally, full disclosure: I’m a New Orleans raised Saints fan.

  43. #44 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    Matt, you are a cad and a Saint’s fan.

  44. #45 amphiox
    February 5, 2010

    what goes around, comes around, in football and in life

    Ah, well here we are getting into Cold-War style deterrence-by-retaliation madness. Certainly pretty much all contact sports to some extent police themselves in this manner, and this throwback to primal pre-civilization vendetta justice is probably a large part of the appeal.

    But, in the context of a Super Bowl, we’re going to get first strike risk-assessment calculations into the picture. If retaliation is deferred to next season, will that be deterrent enough? Even if we posit the likelihood of retaliation in the same game, if the Saints strike first and injure Manning early (one need not even knock him out of the game – an injury that decreases his effectiveness is enough), would the Colts be able to retaliate on the next offensive series? What if there was a lag of a few series, a quarter, a half? That alone could be sufficient to effect the outcome of the game. And if the injury play was a blatant foul, you can certainly expect the referees to crack down immediately to prevent the game from getting out of hand, and that scenario would favor the first-strike team, by making retaliation more difficult.

  45. #46 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    All excellent questions. It is going to be very interesting to see how the officials act. I wonder if warnings have already been given.

  46. #47 J.R. Callahan
    February 5, 2010

    It is football. You try to hit people as hard as you can to mentally and physically wear on them. It’s like boxing or UFC. You want to take the other guy out. These guys don’t need to talk about it in the press the way they have been though. Just let the actions speak for themselves.

  47. #48 Doug
    February 5, 2010

    Good points, Amphiox, but this assumes that referees can actually control the play. They really can’t — all they can really do is punish after the fact. If my star QB goes down by cheap shot, I’m taking out their guy, period. I might lose a player by disqualification, but that’s an acceptable loss. This is what third string linemen are for.

    Stuff like this is one of the reasons I like hockey. In hockey, if Agitator A touches Star Skater B, Tough Guy C from star player B’s team knows that it’s his job to restore order by pummeling A. The referees of the game watch the A\C imbroglio, signaling the linesmen to intervene when it is apparent that one of the other of the combatants is out of action or if both are too tired to continue and are dancing rather than fighting. A and C head to the box, and the game resumes with air cleared. If for some reason tensions remain, this process repeats itself. If A refuses to fight, turtles, or doesn’t seem to learn, the next step is usually an open-ice hit or boarding incident on A, usually leading to a repeat of the whole cycle described above, only this time Tough Guy D from A’s team gets involved. I’m not really convinced that this whole cycle really results in a more disciplined game, but godz is it fun to watch! And I’m not even Canadian.

  48. #49 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    That orangutan in The Planet of the Apes was right.

    (Which, by the way, would make a great title for a blog)

  49. #50 rob
    February 5, 2010

    fooooootbaaaaaalllll. brraaaaiiinnns.

  50. #51 José
    February 5, 2010

    But the honorable blog author is correct. If you did not see what was so unique an event perhaps you were watching a different game.

    Omar, tell me what exactly were the Saints doing that was new or different that led to Favre being hit? Nothing. Do you think hitting the quarterback as hard as you can is a new strategy? Of course it’s not. Pre-game trash talk threatening to injure other players is certainly nothing new. So how exactly is the honorable blog author correct?

    Favre was beat up pretty badly, but if you think that’s the worst beating a quarterback has taken, you’re as clueless a casual fan as Greg. Quarterbacks have been brought out on stretchers many times (including Joe Theisman). People used to intentionally go for the head in attempts to knock guys out. Now that’s not even legal.

    No one else agrees with you, José.

    This is a joke, right?

  51. #52 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    Joe Theisman: “I’ve never seen anythink like this before”

    Some guy named Jose: “Nothing unusual happened. Go Giants.”

    Somebody go find Joe Theisman and tell him to stop contradicting Jose.

    Time will tell. Watch the Super Bowl on Sunday.

  52. #53 Bill James
    February 5, 2010

    They never had a “Hurt the Quarterback” strategy to begin with, leaving nothing for them to apologize for.

    The Saints strategy was pressure the quarterback which is what they did. There is a world of difference between bringing physical pressure as an amalgam of hurries, hits and sacks, versus intentional maiming. You have been asserting the latter in accusation of gross misconduct by the New Orleans Saints and peripherally by the league. In my estimation your charges are baseless. When Joe Theismann attests that he has never seen a quarterback take more punishment in the course of a game, he is not insinuating the Saints applied that level of punishment by cheating or playing dirty. You are. Professional football insiders are not saying that nor are knowledgeable Viking fans now that the disappointment of losing has subsided.

    You are contradicting what they have already said. The paraphrase from the video is correct, and there is nothing wrong with the framing.

    Given that no Saints player, coach or team official has said the intention was to maim the opposing quarterback, there is no contradiction. Your failing to understand the difference between that as contrasted between the intents and purpose of pressure is neither mine nor most others.

    Passable as a paraphrase but not as a quote. The whole sentence was, “I don’t care about no fines, if the Quarterback is in the pocket I’m gonna hit him.” Again, the player did not say he intended anything outside the rules or anything specifically related to inflicting felonious injury upon an opposing player. You are. Suggestively by inference having noted the player being dismissive of fines perhaps, but therein the problem with the framing. We don’t know what the question he answered was. The video doesn’t include that, with context lost on the editing floor. The response was not framed contextually. True. For all we know it was in response to FedEx Tuesday.

    Post game film review by the league found one play involving a quarterback hit that wasn’t flagged when it could have been. One. A notably low number in any game. For this you posit the Saints playing dirty?

    Ok. A short story. Doesn’t involve football.

    My daughter, daddy’s little pumpkin from the age of six or seven would put on the gloves while dad sat on a stool having done same and I’d let her wail. As she got bigger, stronger, faster it became more of a challenge to stay seated on the stool but nevertheless I’d tease and chide and offer words of encouragement that she was doing well for a “foxy boxer” which would piss her right off. One day she caught me laughing a bit to hard, laid back her ears with a primal growl and dislocated my jaw. She was and is right proud of that as am I. Baby Cakes can bake the biscuits. Cute too.

    Years later she’s working the cosmetics counter at an upscale boutique and working out at a sans juice bar gym for fighters. Home to one champion and several contending kick boxers, she was the only girl and as such sparred with the guys. Within the flecks of bloodied walls and bad smells they didn’t cut her much slack nor did she ask for any. They grew together as family and touches of makeup here and there covered up the bruises. They too were right proud she could give as well as receive.

    One night the guys called her at work and told her to come to the show straight after. Hair done up, nice dress, heels, when she came through the door the crowd thought she was the ring girl. So did her opponent who snickered and sneered. The guys failed to mention they had set a up a fight, her first which must have been in the planning for they brought everything she might need. Smiles all around, her fighting style wasn’t much. Essentially tactics were comprised of pushing opponents into a corner and trading blows until they dropped. At five foot four and a buck twenty, she had hands of stone and little regard for pain.

    Novice fighters can wear shin guards which she eschews. It’s not simply a psychological edge, she likes the sensation of bone on bone. She once told me that laying on a good rib shot where all the air comes out and the sound they make is the best feeling in the world. Her opponent that night was a martial arts instructor with significant ring experience but only her third kick boxing. Pumpkin won a unanimous three round decision and a nick name. From then on she was known as “The Hammer.”

    Six months later and twice that many fights across five states came the rematch and a point where Pumpkin was really playing up the whole ring girl motif. Heels, hose. short skirts and cleavage. Hair nicely done, the finest perfumes and cosmetics, the whole nine yards and something far beyond that first incident now found more akin to Rebbecca of Sunny Brook Farm. Murmurs in the crowd, “she’s a fighter?” Nobody’s leaving this one early. Slowly the word gets out, “they call that one The Hammer!” Then the chants. Hammer, Hammer… It’s gonna be Hammer Time Baby! Most had never seen this show but such seldom matters. It’s the thought that counts.

    Back in the dressing room the pre-fight Doc comes around. Checks pulse then gets out his stethoscope with a look of concern. She has an abnormally low heart rate all things considered, we’ve been though this before. Doc is far more used to seeing heart rates and blood pressures ready to bust. I put my hand on his shoulder, “don’t worry Doc, she be there at the bell.” It’s a judgment call but he lets it pass with no less than furrowed brow. “Maybe ten seconds before the bell”, I think to myself. Most fighters get nervous, some wretch into sinks, toilets and urinals as fight time approaches. I myself was never so cool. As the trainer comes over to tape she’s in front of the mirror touching up her eyelashes. Somehow they look longer now, darker, more pronounced. A last minute swipe of the lipstick, she looks over at a glaring martial artist bent on revenge, puckers, smacks her lips and smiles. Game on.

    She dropped the bitch a minute twelve in the second round. Lights out. It was her third time down. Twice before she beat the count but not this time. The Doc rushed in as did the trainer and her manager. Eventually they got her up, through the ring ropes, down to the floor and back to the dressing room where she again collapsed. Ultimately rushed to the hospital, she stayed three days under observation in the ICU for brain swelling.

    Now while we would have preferred such didn’t happen, we didn’t feel bad about it. There was no guilt or blame anymore than intention to inflict serious bodily harm even in the course of pre-fight smack, the actual provisioning of a physical beat down or any post-fight commentary in advance of future contests, for such is the nature of dangerous competitive sport that is also violent and brutal. A sport of sports decidedly not for milquetoast sensibilities granted, but moreover as a fledgling sports blogger in the realm of American football who speaks in a voice of authority there is an expectation that the commentator grasp the fundamental nature of it conceptually which by my own observation is a matter of credibility I find far from assured.

    That said, the woman fully recovered, retired from the ring, has combined her martial arts training with interpretive dance and supplements her income as a jazzercise instructor at some health club with a juice bar. We think that’s nice and am happy it all worked out for the best.

  53. #54 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    Bill. That was a little long.

    What is the meaning of a “remember me” hit?

  54. #55 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    Bill, do you know what the fines are for? When you say this:

    The whole sentence was, “I don’t care about no fines, if the Quarterback is in the pocket I’m gonna hit him.” Again, the player did not say he intended anything outside the rules

    you confuse me. In this statement, the big scary guy is saying “I’m gonna hit him” even though there may be “a fine.” This parses to “I’m gonna hit him even if it is against the rules to do it”

    The fact that you got this wrong tells me that the rest of everything you say in this comment, or for that matter, ever, anywhere, for your entire life, is also wrong.

  55. #56 José
    February 5, 2010

    Joe Theisman: “I’ve never seen anythink like this before”
    Some guy named Jose: “Nothing unusual happened. Go Giants.”
    Somebody go find Joe Theisman and tell him to stop contradicting Jose.

    OK. I’ll type slowly for you. The Saints did nothing dirty or unusual.

    You wrote “The strategy used by the New Orleans Saints to win the playoff game with the much more deserving Minnesota Vikings, which involved trying as hard as possible to knock the Quarterback out of the game, was unethical, unusual, and intentional. Despite the protestations of commenters on this blog post, numerous sports experts have joined me in this assertion.

    This is a flat out lie. Numerous sports experts have NOT stated the Saints strategy was unethical and unusual. Everyone agrees it was intentional, but that’s normal. A few have stated that it’s the worst beating they’ve seen a quarterback take. So what. It was a big game with a high profile quarterback that was fresh on their minds.

  56. #57 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    Jose, my man, you can get fined trying to hurt the quarterback on purpose by hitting him again and again after he no longer has the ball. As stated above. So, “Everyone agrees it was intentional, but that’s normal.” is kinda strange.

    I’m glad you’ve finally acknowledged that it was the worst beating a quarterback has ever taken. That is the starting point for my commentary. So now that you are in the stadium with the rest of us, please re-read the rest of the posts I wrote with that in mind and we can move forward.

    I really do feel like a creationist who has discovered endosymbiosis or something.

  57. #58 amphiox
    February 5, 2010

    Physically pounding an opponent in a contact sport to interrupt his rhythm, throw him off his game, confuse him, or otherwise reduce his effectiveness is fine. Developing a strategy around getting through to an opponent to administer such a pounding is also fine.

    But to deliberately try and injure an opponent? This is the crux of the discussion and this is something else entirely.

    And to deliberately break a rule in order to specifically injure an opponent? That is something even else entirely.

    And to deliberately adopt a team-wide strategy aimed specifically at injuring an opponent? That is yet another level of something else entirely.

    Any player in any sport who does this is sh*t and should be banned from playing for life.

    Any team that adopts such a strategy is sh*t and should be banned from playing, permanently.

    Any rule that allows such a thing to happen legally is sh*t and should be immediately changed.

    Any league that allows such things to happen is sh*t and should be dissolved.

    Any sport that accepts such activity as “part of the game” is sh*t and should be made illegal.

  58. #59 José
    February 5, 2010

    Jose, my man, you can get fined trying to hurt the quarterback on purpose by hitting him again and again after he no longer has the ball.

    If the player is in the act of tackling the quarterback as the quarterback is releasing the ball, it’s not illegal. That’s what the Saints did.

    I’m glad you’ve finally acknowledged that it was the worst beating a quarterback has ever taken.

    I’ve always acknowledged he took a beating, but it’s not the worst I’ve ever seen. He was conscious for one thing. Even if it was the worst beating, this does not mean it was the result of the Saints doing something new or underhanded.

    I really do feel like a creationist who has discovered endosymbiosis or something.

    I’m sure there are creationists who feel like they’ve discovered endosymbiosis too. They haven’t.

  59. #60 José
    February 5, 2010

    But to deliberately try and injure an opponent? This is the crux of the discussion and this is something else entirely.

    But it’s nothing new. I’m not defending the practice, but it’s not new.

    And to deliberately break a rule in order to specifically injure an opponent? That is something even else entirely.

    The Saints didn’t do that against the Vikings. What’s was said on media day leading up to the Superbowl is trash talk. They’re trying to intimidate the Colts. There’s nothing new there either. I doubt we’ll see such behavior in the actual game. You might see a couple of 15 yard penalties, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary.

  60. #61 Greg Laden
    February 5, 2010

    Jose, if you get a chance, you should watch that Vikings/Saints game.

    We’ll see if something similar happens on Sunday.

  61. #62 José
    February 5, 2010

    Jose, if you get a chance, you should watch that Vikings/Saints game.

    Keep pretending I didn’t watch. There were three fines. No suspensions. Nothing out of the ordinary. If you get a chance, you should watch a lot more football.

  62. #63 amphiox
    February 6, 2010

    Jose,

    I’m not saying it’s something necessarily new, but it is wrong. Even if it is traditional and accepted, it is an evil and despicable tradition, no different in kind (though of course in degree!) than female genital mutilation.

    I’m not familiar enough about the fine details of football strategy and tactics to know if the Saints deliberately set out to injure Favre (as in knocking him out of the game of ending his career, since regular bruises and even broken ribs seem to be usual practice and football), or if they just tried to pressure him in the usual fashion and got lucky or found some specific weakness in the Viking’s O-line they were able to exploit. But, if they did set out with the strategy of injuring an opponent to the point of knocking him out of the game, deliberately and specifically, then that strategy is evil and those who would pursue such a strategy are scum who should not be rewarded for it.

    It should be pointed out that despite all the hits, Favre was not knocked out of the game. Presumably no matter how tough you are, if a gang of opponents individually weighing up to twice as much as you were deliberately intent on injuring you at close quarters, their chances of success should be pretty high.

    The Saints’ player quoted here is saying flat out that he would be willing to take a penalty to hit the opposing quarterback – he is saying explicitly that he intends to break the rules of the sport, and that he doesn’t care. Probably this is the same kind testosterone-fueled bravado that always precedes these contests and he isn’t actually serious. But, if he is serious and actually carries out this course of action, then he is scum and should not be allowed to continue playing football, ever.

  63. #64 mk
    February 6, 2010

    The situation as I see it now is that there has been soooo much talk about it that no matter what happens it can only be seen in light of all this talk.

    In other words, if the Saints are out played and are unable to lay a hand on Manning it doesn’t mean they didn’t have a nefarious plan to hit and hurt him. They just couldn’t pull it off.

    If, however, it’s just all smack-talk–just trying to psyche out the Colts, no real intent–but he is sacked on the very first play with a “legal” (by NFL rules) tackle and is unable to play the rest of the game almost everyone will think it was intentional and that Gregg Williams and the player who sacks him should be fined… or worse.

    For this reason, Williams and his players should shut up. They won’t of course and that’s fine, too. But you know… reaping and sowing, reaping and sowing.

  64. #65 Greg Laden
    February 6, 2010

    I didn’t realize there were fines. SOunds like that supports my case, depending on what the fines were for.

  65. #66 José
    February 6, 2010

    One fine was for tackling Favre on this play.

    As of this season, a player can no longer tackle quarterbacks by the legs. This was also the one and only hit on Favre the NFL determined should have been a penalty. You can still tackle any other player by the legs. It’s also a rule Favre spoke out against.

    I don’t know what the other fines were for. Considering the number of plays in the game, it shows that the vast majority were fine. For some perspective, here’s a dirtier play from this season that Favre was fined for. Eugene Wilson was injured on the play.
    http://larrybrownsports.com/football/video-brett-favres-dirty-chop-block-eugene-wilson/9097

  66. #67 Greg Laden
    February 6, 2010

    It is obviously a conspiracy, and a weak one, against Favre. At least four or five of those 19 knockdowns involved this kid of shenanigans in the playoff games, but we head nothing about that. Favre stumbles into a defensive guy in some game and he gets all blamed for “ruining the guy’s career” WTF?

    Seriously, man, “Brown Bag It” is THE ultimate anti-Favre web site. They probably made the commentary we are hearing up. I saw every game this year and did not see that play or hear that commentary. It was probably the local commenters for the other teamm.

    The fact that the Vikings are on Sunday football and not Monday Night football makes it more likely that this is totally fake like the moon landing.

  67. #68 Paul
    February 7, 2010

    Here comes the ban hammer, but oh well. Greg, on the topic of football, you’re an idiot. That’s all there is to it. You obviously are nothing more than a Vikings homer taking a loss very badly. Quote mine all you want, make up silliness, it’s all good; your sycophant legion will agree with you no matter what facts are put before them to the contrary.
    All hail Greg Laden, the messiah of football come to enlighten us all about the game by way of Viking fanboy bullshit.

    If anybody is in denial, it’s you. Grow up.

    BTW, just for fun, check the rivals.com message boards. It’s mostly populated by uneducated rednecks…funny thing is they say the same kind of crap you are spouting here. “They cheated to win, they had to! My team’s great!” or “My team only lost because they had a bad day!”

    Want to talk about denialism? Go to your nearest mirror.

  68. #69 José
    February 7, 2010

    It is obviously a conspiracy, and a weak one, against Favre. At least four or five of those 19 knockdowns involved this kid of shenanigans in the playoff games, but we head nothing about that.

    The NFL goes out of it’s way to protect high profile quarterbacks like Favre. As for the rest of the hits on Favre, I disagree. I still don’t know where you got the number 19 from.

    Seriously, man, “Brown Bag It” is THE ultimate anti-Favre web site. They probably made the commentary we are hearing up.

    That’s Mike Tirico and former quarterback Ron Jaworski talking. They both love Favre. It was a preseason Monday Night Football game. I don’t know anything about that site, but you can find the same exact clip elsewhere. It’s not doctored. The Vikings did play 2 other games on Monday night during the regular season.

  69. #70 José
    February 7, 2010

    Amphiox: The actions most likely to injure a quarterback are also the actions most likely to get a player a sack, so intent is a moot point, at least on legal plays. Late hits and blows to the head are a different matter.

    In Superbowl I, the player (Fred Williamson) that threatened to knock out Packer players, planned to so with karate chops from behind to the heads and necks of the opposing receivers. At the time this was legal, but totally unnecessary. That’s crossing the line, in my opinion.

    Presumably no matter how tough you are, if a gang of opponents individually weighing up to twice as much as you were deliberately intent on injuring you at close quarters, their chances of success should be pretty high.

    Well, guys like Brett Favre and Peyton Manning have played nearly 500 games combined without missing starts. They’ve been hit thousands of times without serious injury, and for most of that time quarterback protection rules weren’t as strict as today. So it’s not as easy as you’d think.

    The Saints’ player quoted here is saying flat out that he would be willing to take a penalty to hit the opposing quarterback – he is saying explicitly that he intends to break the rules of the sport, and that he doesn’t care.

    A 15 yard penalty with an automatic first down is a huge deterrent to breaking the rules (the fines are meaningless). I can’t think of a time when an illegal hit actually benefited the offending team. Doing this intentionally is likely to make your own coaches and teammates want to kill you. These reasons, up against the low likelihood you’ll actually knock someone out of the game, are why it’s most likely trash talk.

  70. I hate to say this because I’m a huge fan of the NFL, but the NFL has gone too far with protecting a QB. It’s gotten so bad that you nearly can’t hit them at all. Last time I checked the NFL plays an extremely rough sport where many fans like seeing legal bone crushing tackles/sacks. Besides the point is to stop the player with the ball. I say let them play!
    Philadelphia Wedding photographer

  71. #72 Paul
    February 7, 2010

    On a more civil note; I understand that you’re upset about your team with a geriatric (in football years) quarterback and I understand why.
    The fact still stands that the game was nothing unusual. Favre was hit so many times because he waited too long to throw away the ball when he was pressured. That’s it. He was overcompensating for a lack of o-line and also a lack of coaching of the offense. I don;t understand why you’re being so bull-headed.

    Oh, and before the “he’s a Saints fan” bullshit starts up, I rarely watch pro football, I find it boring compared to the more pure version of football played in high school and, especially, college.
    Besides, What would it matter if somebody were a Saints fan? Sounds a lot like godbot drivel. “I’m right because I follow the one true ______!”
    I hate to say it, not that it matters, but I’ve lost a hell of a lot of respect for you over these couple of threads. I know, I rarely comment, but that’s because I feel that on some subjects I should just listen and then research. Not this one though.

  72. #73 Paul
    February 7, 2010

    By the way, though it may not be a ringing endorsement due to my recent loss of civility, Jose is right. He has been throughout both threads.

  73. #74 Greg Laden
    February 7, 2010

    Paul, your lack of respect is exceeded only by your lack of a sense of humor.

    And Favre is not old. He’s still got a few more years in him. You’ll see!

  74. #75 amphiox
    February 7, 2010

    The actions most likely to injure a quarterback are also the actions most likely to get a player a sack, so intent is a moot point, at least on legal plays. Late hits and blows to the head are a different matter.

    Then everything swings on how likely is “most” likely. If the likelihood of injury on a legal play is low enough, then that is reasonable. If it is sufficiently high, then the whole game of football is a barbaric bloodsport that has no place in civilized modern society and should be outlawed. Or the rules regarding what is a legal play should be completely revamped.

    Well, guys like Brett Favre and Peyton Manning have played nearly 500 games combined without missing starts. They’ve been hit thousands of times without serious injury, and for most of that time quarterback protection rules weren’t as strict as today. So it’s not as easy as you’d think.

    I proposed this argument as support for your position, Jose, in that I am saying that the fact that Favre and Manning and other QBs have NOT been injured more frequently as evidence that opposing defences have NOT been deliberately trying to injure them, or at least not employing tactics with a very high rate of success, because given a certain degree of athleticism and moderate knowledge of human anatomy, such tactics definitely would exist (most of them I am sure are already against the rules, with heavy sanctions, and the existence and effectiveness of these rules are what determines whether or not football is a legitimate sport or a barbarism that should be outlawed, as I described above)

    A 15 yard penalty with an automatic first down is a huge deterrent to breaking the rules (the fines are meaningless).

    It would be only if you were caught, and only if the likelihood of injuring your opponent was low enough that you would be expected to be penalized many times in a game before succeeding in your nefarious injury goal. If you could devise a strategy that would knock out a player like Manning on a single play, in exchange for a single 15 yard penalty and and a single first down? I don’t see that as a deterrent at all. I am sure there are already many rules designed to prevent such a situation from ever happening, but if such a situation were to become possible, the rules would have to change.

    It also does not preclude the possibility of a player or team trying to devise a strategy to deliberately injure a key opposing player while NOT getting caught, or injuring an opponent while staying just within the letter of the rules. If such a strategy were to be employed and proven to be successful, then again, the rules would have to change, and if the sport refused to change the rules, or tried to brush it off as “business as usual”, then the sport descends again into barbarism and should not be allowed in a civilized society.

    These reasons, up against the low likelihood you’ll actually knock someone out of the game, are why it’s most likely trash talk.

    Did you read the rest of my post? Because I agreed with you on this point.

  75. #76 José
    February 7, 2010

    Did you read the rest of my post? Because I agreed with you on this point.

    Yes, and you finished with a “but”. I gave reasons that the “but” scenario was unlikely, so I feel my response was appropriate.

  76. #77 Greg Laden
    February 7, 2010

    OK. There are people who claim that nothing unusual happened (that 19 knockdowns and no sacks and hardly any penalties is run of the mill.) I think by now we have put that aside. It is highly unusual, virtually unprecedented.

    Then we can see that there are different explanations that have been suggested. My explanation is that the saints came up with a strategy to maximize hurt on the QB while not having too many penalties, to literally get that player out of the game.

    Some have said that this is a perfectly normal strategy, and it may well be, but the fact that most quarterbacks go entire seasons without getting carried off the field suggests that it isn’t Also, the fact that there are rules against it indicates that such a strategy should not be normal.

    A third (overlapping) possibility is that all the oxygen molecules did move to the corner of the room (see my comment 43 on the previous post) … everybody was doing what they normally do, but this one time, due to random chance, this admittedly unusual sequence of events has occured.

    Throughout this process, I have been dogmatically pushing one view …. that it was a strategy and that we will see evidence of it in the upcoming game. It may not seem like this to everyone, especially those who have stormed off in a snit, but I’m quite willing to be proven wrong. Well, maybe not wrong, but at least, ambiguous. If the Saints do what I’ve suggested they’ll do and it happens … if what happened in the playoff game happens in this game … then I was right. There is no other interpretation. The O2 molecules could not have moved to one corder of the room twice in a row. If this is a normal run of the mill superbowl game then I could have been right, but there is the distinct possibility that the playoff game was a fluke. Somewhere in between these possibilities is that the Saints do have this strategy, that they try it, and either the Colts counter it effectively or the officials don’t allow it. Either of those outcomes should be visible, I would think.

    I’ve got the crackers, the cheese, the chips, and the dip. I was going to have some people over but I’ve got a very nast cold so I’m quarantined. But I’ll be watching the game. You’ll be watching the game. We will see.

    I’ll just add this: The fact that New Orleans was hit with a bad hurricane causing a disaster that the Bush government was unable to manage is no more an excuse for rooting for the saints than terrorists blowing up the WTC towers was a reason to root for the Yankees. I find it sickening that the Saints fans are exploiting this, and even more sickening that they have to … that the good people of New Orleans have to get their team into the Super Bowl to get the attention that they should have been getting all along.

  77. #78 dd
    February 7, 2010

    Ive been rooting for the saints all season, I care so much about new Orleans, I feel that they weren’t treated right after Katrina, watched and rooted for every saints game… saints fan all the way… until they decided they had to hurt Bret Favre to win the game. hope with all my heart that the Colts walk away with the trophy, and I am no longer a saints fan. No teams should play “hurt em ‘n’ win.”

  78. #79 Paul D
    February 7, 2010

    Knowing that Greg was never any kind of sports fan in his former life (pre-Minnesota) this is all quite interesting.

    If Greg is correct, the Saints will win only if Manning is knocked out early-ish in the game. That is what I expect.

  79. #80 José
    February 7, 2010

    There are people who claim that nothing unusual happened (that 19 knockdowns and no sacks and hardly any penalties is run of the mill.) I think by now we have put that aside. It is highly unusual, virtually unprecedented.

    I found a source that lists the number of hits on Favre as 11, which sounds more like I remember. It’s also the same number of hits they had on Kurt Warner the previous week.
    http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/tag/_/name/quarterback-hits
    The record for sacks in a single game is 12, which has been done 5 times. It’s not listed, but it’s a pretty good guess that those quarterbacks were knocked additional times. So 11 knockdowns is indeed nothing unprecedented.

  80. #81 Greg Laden
    February 7, 2010

    There were 19. I saw the game, counted them. Sorry.

    It has been pointed out that there are differences of opinion on what counts as what, that is probably the difference.

    It was 19. Unprecedented.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m watching the game. Actualy watching the game is a good idea if you want to know what happens.

  81. #82 Greg Laden
    February 7, 2010

    Oh, and Jose, that link is to an article that suports what I’ve been saying. Saints DO batter quarterbacks.

  82. #83 José
    February 7, 2010

    There were 19. I saw the game, counted them. Sorry.

    Ah… I see the problem. You were counting the replays too. Those don’t count.

    Oh, and Jose, that link is to an article that suports what I’ve been saying. Saints DO batter quarterbacks.

    It shows is that it’s not unprecedented . And everybody batters quarterbacks when they get the chance. The Vikings battered quarterbacks more than any other team this season. You probably didn’t notice because you were too busy cheering.

    Right now I’m pretending to watch The Who, and I’m getting set to pretend to watch the second half of the football game.

  83. #84 Greg Laden
    February 7, 2010

    Well, it looks like the Saints have not done what I expected them to do during this game. Or, the Colts stopped them.

  84. #85 amphiox
    February 7, 2010

    Yes, and you finished with a “but”. I gave reasons that the “but” scenario was unlikely, so I feel my response was appropriate.

    Ah, but if you look more closely, I finished with a “but, if”. The “if” acknowledges the unlikelihood of the scenario, but I still thought it was worth discussion, particularly on a non-serious thread like this one.

    And of course your response was appropriate. How could it not be? In my book, very few responses, short of foaming-at-the-mouth-expletive-laden-word-salad-lunacy, are inappropriate.

  85. #86 Greg Laden
    February 7, 2010

    Manning looks a lot like Favre for some reason all of the sudden..

  86. #87 amphiox
    February 7, 2010

    Well, it looks like the Saints have not done what I expected them to do during this game. Or, the Colts stopped them.

    In retrospect, the hypothesis probably had little chance of confirmation either way. Too many confounding factors and alternative plausibilities.

    Which reminds of the oft-cited hierarchy for hypothetical explanations of anomalies:

    1. Chance – it was a statistical aberration, no explanation needed (but there’s no fun in discussion these kinds of explanations, so we choose to ignore it)

    2. Natural law – it was an unusual combination of perfectly normal circumstances.

    3. Incompetence – ie the Viking’s O-line messed up.

    4. Malignity – ie the Saints did something nefarious.

    And also recalls the statement that one should never suspect malignance when simple incompetence will suffice.

    (Though it looks like at the moment the Saints are going to pull it off)

  87. #88 Greg Laden
    February 7, 2010

    I think the saints were planning that one interception for weeks.

    Well, good for them, they won fair and square.

  88. #89 Paul
    February 7, 2010

    So Dr. Laden, how does that crow taste? In case you missed it, you were entirely wrong as many have been telling you.
    Oh, I almost forgot to answer your little jab. My response: Your ignorance is only exceeded by your arrogance. I hope you learn how to accept being wrong.

    Oh hell, I’m just fucking with you. I hope to see Favre in the Superbowl next year, unlikely though it may be. Cheers Dr. Laden!

  89. #90 Greg Laden
    February 7, 2010

    Yes, I was totally wrong. I just hope the Vikings don’t have to meet the Saints in the playoffs again next year!

  90. #91 Tom
    September 7, 2010

    A desperate team, who obviously got out played in every aspect of the game had to resort to deliberately trying to hurt and take Favre out to win one for the fans. That is not only pathetic but shows “zero” class as an organization. But in today’s culture in America, whatever it takes to win, you do it, no matter how “classless” it may be!