General Sports

How the NFL dropped the ball.

In the NFL, there is a serious disease affecting every player and every team.  The symptoms of the disease become apparent at the worst possible times, when the game is on the line.  It affects everybody, even the game’s best.  The most terrifying thing is that no cure exists now or in the future.  This disease affects a person’s ability to catch a ball also known as, “the drop.”        Midway through the season and you are playing one of your closest rivals.  Up by seven with 4:14 remaining in the third quarter and you have a first down at your own 26-yard line.  On a critical drive you choose the best play for your best player, your receiver deep down the middle.  The snap is perfect, the line creates a perfect pocket for the quarterback, your receiver gets open behind the defense, and the quarterback launches a perfect pass.  Everyone holds their breath as the receiver reaches up, cradling the ball into his hands and pulling it close to his body.  Everyone in the building and watching on TV knows this is a touchdown.  Then the crowd sighs in unison as the ball falls harmlessly to the ground with a thud.  There will be no touchdown and in the end no win either as this drop gave a huge contribution to the loss.  This is the art of the dropped pass and the NFL is the canvas; an artist named T. O painted the picture you have just seen.
    There is nothing more pervasive and ugly in the NFL than dropped passes.  I believe that no controversy overshadows this problem; it dirties the very game itself.  Not one team seems to be immune to this and every game seems to change based around a dropped pass of some sort.  Key first downs are unconverted, interceptions are caused, and the confidence of many quarterbacks is shaken.  You could look back at every single game and see that if a few drops become catches instead the outcome would change.  As a fan of the Seahawks I have intimate knowledge of the devastation a dropped pass can incur.  It affects every team at one time or another and generally at the worst possible time.
    Not only do drop passes affect entire teams teams, every single player, no matter how talented, dropped passes.  Terrell Owens is a great receiver but as you’ve seen earlier is not immune to this disease.  Long ago are the days of Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin, Steve Largent and Art Monk where 10 catch games were the norm; these receivers never dropped passes like we see today.  What is to blame for this problem, you ask?  Something I consider to be the biggest change in sports today; SportsCenter.  Every single person wants to make a SportsCenter highlight and unfortunately the fundamentals have fallen by the wayside.  Making a catch to convert a first down does not get airtime; instead a one-handed catch as you tiptoe down the sideline gets everyone’s attention.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the great catches too but I hate to see the NFL suffer as a result.  It seems as though all the little things are overlooked, but those teams that do those little things always seem to win.
    I would love to say that this is just a trend that will only last a little while, but the reality is that drops are just as prevalent in college football.  As those players come into the NFL I fear that the highlight will get more and more important as simply catching the ball becomes less interesting.  Players today get their yardage on half as many catches as those in the recent past meaning that the big play is what players and teams are counting on.  So, I am sad to say that I will have to continue yelling at the TV, begging that player who just dropped an important pass to, “Catch the ball, you freaking moron.”  If you hear me, please don’t call the cops, I am just losing my mind.

4 replies on “How the NFL dropped the ball.”

drops I think the main reason for drops occuring is just that when teams scout receivers they want to draft they go for the most athletic, fastest, biggest players, rather than focusing on how good they’re hands are. And they are considered ‘the best’ because they make the highlight reel the most. To tell you the truth, I’d rather have a Marvin Harrison on my team than a T.O. anyday…ANYDAY. Sportscenter is partly to blame I guess, but mostly it’s the teams sucking at scouting.

JDWC I completely agree with the fact that the NFL goes for unproven “potential” ridden players. Players who are bigger, taller, supposedly faster, and usually are from bigger schools or face tougher competition are drafted higher.

Good examples are great college receivers like Mike Haas (who tore up the Pac-10 for three years while constantly facing double teams, and also won the award for best receiver in college football0 or John Standeford, the 6’5 gem of a flanker with decent but not great speed, who re-wrote Purdue’s receiving record books.

Those guys were severely overlooked (Haas was drafted by the Saints in 2006 in the 6th round and cut in pre-season. Standeford was never drafted.) and other receivers like Mike Williams and Charles Rogers get drafted in the top 2 or top 10. The saddest part is tat Drew Bledsoe has a solid chance at beating Williams in a race, while Adam Archuleta has a good shot at catching more passes than Rogers per year.

The NFL, as well as the NBA is, always has been, and always wil be potential and the ongoing search to find the best available players.

It is sickening.

Uxley 11 Hi man,

Don’t worry about Uxley voting against your article. The guy’s a prick. It was great what you said.

HOWEVER, I wouldn’t blame everything on Sportscenter. Everyone misses a chance. Look at soccer. A lot of the time it’s simple, human mistakes. These guys aren’t freakin’ Superman.

T O  I like your article and agree there are dropped balls because of receivers trying to catch the highlights rather than the ball, but T O goes beyond that.  T O pulled a Deion Sanders move of playing softly.  The dropped ball you described was more in him letting go to protect himself than it was in trying to make the playoffs and then the fake injury was the classic move for an ego driven failure.

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