Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Sep 2006

Manic Monday: Rough Start for Refs

Hey kids, it's the debut of Doug Farrar's new Monday wrap-up column on FOXSports.com. In the first edition, Doug revisits Thursday night's "Flag-gate" as well as that classic FO favorite, Manning similarity scores. But this time, we're looking at Peyton as well as Eli, and discovering that many of the quarterbacks similar to Eli at age 24 were the same quarterbacks similar to Peyton at age 22. What the two-year difference means for Eli's future potential, that you'll have to decide for yourselves.

By the way, apologies for yet more server problems earlier today. We've finally discovered the problem: you'll notice that the "Most Recently Commented Extra Points" box is now gone. We hope to bring it back when we can make it work faster, but for now, sorting through thousands of old comments on the Extra Points was just killing the server. We should be all set now.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 11 Sep 2006

85 comments, Last at 14 Sep 2006, 12:59pm by Wanker79

Comments

1
by Martin (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 7:05pm

"Why was Parcells penalized when Saban wasn't?"

I don't know the rule, but maybe it's because Saban's flag came after an extra point, therefore it did not slow the game, as it did in the Dallas game.

2
by Patrick Kennedy (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 7:28pm

Saban threw the red flag before the extra point.

3
by ZS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 7:44pm

Which brings up a question of whether there should be better ways to signal challenges. Eventually, a single game will be recorded by no less than 60 individual cameras for perspective on flags.

4
by Marko (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 7:58pm

"Troy Polamalu and Joey Porter are amazing players, and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's 3-4 Chinese fire drills are as artistic in execution as they are unequaled in effectiveness."

What year is this? The term "Chinese fire drill" may not have been considered offensive 30 years ago, but I'm pretty sure it is now.

5
by Jerry (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 8:00pm

The play-by-play of the Cowboys-Jaguars game (linked on my name) shows no timeouts called/assessed, so maybe Parcells wasn't penalized.

And if a coach is going to wait until right before the ball is snapped before throwing his flag, he has to expect that the officials are focusing on the play and work harder to make sure his flag is seen. (Of course, Walt Coleman is on record as saying he waited longer than usual after Miller's "touchdown" to put the ball in play, which puts the onus even more on Saban to make a timely decision and make his intentions clear.)

6
by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 8:19pm

It's amazing but the NFL has made the replay system even worse.

7
by bowman (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 8:54pm

I think the lesson learned by Parcells and Saban is that if you think you may want to challenge a play, you should call a TO. I don't believe the refs should be under the obligation to look for a replay flag.

I think this new note of emphasisIMPROVES replay, by making it riskier to challenge close plays.

8
by jebmak (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 9:34pm

I don't really understand what is meant by the steelers 'definitive victory' over the Dolphins.

9
by Craigo (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 9:45pm

8: Tough defense, especially against the run, strong running between the tackles, and efficient passing. That's a Steelers victory to a T.

10
by Israel (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 9:55pm

especially given the fact that in the previous Steeler drive, Batch fumbled a snap on the Miami 4 Does the earlier fumble make it more likely that Batch would have fumbled after Miller's 84 yard reception? Maybe. Or maybe it would have made it less likely.

Most likely the previous series is irrelevant.

11
by Bjorn (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 10:04pm

The term “Chinese fire drill� may not have been considered offensive 30 years ago, but I’m pretty sure it is now.

Offensive, maybe. But it is rather tame, don't you think?

RE: Getting the Ref's attention.
Isn't it a penalty if you throw the flag too hard? I remember Mike Tice getting called for spiking the flag a few years ago. And I remember another coach (Shanahan?) getting called for throwing the flag really far.

12
by Josh (not verified) :: Mon, 09/11/2006 - 11:10pm

#11: I don't remember either of those, but I can't imagine Cowher not being able to get the ref's attention were the shoe on the other foot.

13
by Doug Farrar :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:01am

#4, I apologize if I offended you. The term was used in this case from a football derivation - I had in mind Hank Stram's running commentary during the Super Bowl IV highlights - "(safety Karl) Kasulke's running around like it's a Chinese Fire Drill out there."

That's all there was to it - I honestly didn't even think of any other connotation, though I probably should have.

14
by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:41am

"Losing those extra three or four yards and making the Steelers punch the ball in would have had the potential to be a difference-maker, especially given the fact that in the previous Steeler drive, Batch fumbled a snap on the Miami 4 and the Dolphins recovered."

So do you have any, like, statistics to back that up? I mean, you do write for FO, right? What is the probability of a series beginning with a first-and-goal from the five or closer resulting in the offense getting no points?

I don't have FO's legendary database of every play, but I can tell you that in the past three seasons, 68 drives began on the opponent's 5-yard line or closer. Aside from three that ended with QB kneels, there were 54 TDs, 9 FGs, and only two drives that resulted in the offense getting 0 points. From that, I'd estimate the probability of the Steelers getting a TD had Saban's challenge been seen at somewhere between 80% and 85%; their probability of kicking a field goal at somewhere between 10% and 15%; and their probability of not scoring at somewhere less than 5%.

I agree that "what America is taking away from the game" is the call not getting challenged - but I think you're overstating the probability that it made a difference. And I think you missed an opportunity to bring an "Outsider" perspective to the story by using the FO stats to talk about how likely the lack of a challenge was to make a difference, rather than succumbing to the gambler's fallacy.

15
by RIch Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:20am

re 4:

TO be fair, I think you are the first case of anyone I've ever seen being offended by the phrase "chinese firedrill."

16
by Bjorn (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:25am

#14

First off, he said it had potential to be a difference maker. Going from 0% to 15% chance of not scoring a touchdown is a big difference.

Secondly, you can only write so much in any given column.

17
by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:30am

The Steelers' radio guys were of the definite opinion that had the Saban flag challenge been proper, the end result would have been the same seven points and maybe two minutes less on the clock, thus making it harder for Miami to retake the lead.

(I realize that the logical extension of that is that the defender should have let Miller score unhindered, a question that passes through my mind - also unhindered - from time to time.)

18
by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:42am

Doug, I'm not personally offended, but I just thought I would point out that many people would be offended by the term. Your explanation about Stram's commentary during Super Bowl IV, which was 36 years ago, proves my point: 30 years ago, people didn't think twice about making such a comment, probably because they didn't realize or think about what the statement implied.

Now, people generally are more cognizant of the potential offensiveness of such statements. Particularly in light of the fact that FO content has much more widespread distribution via Fox, I thought I would provide a friendly reminder that such an offhand statement can prove damaging and embarrassing.

For example, look at the recent controversy regarding Ozzie Guillen's use of homophobic slurs directed at Jay Mariotti, the controversy a few years ago regarding something that Gregg Easterbrook wrote about Jews in Hollywood and violence in movies (which many construed as anti-Semitic), and the mini-controversy involving Tom Jackson just this past Sunday on NFL Countdown (in which Jackson, after listening to some ridiculous comment by Michael Irvin, said the following to Irvin: "Are you retarded?"). Those controversies could have been avoided if the authors of those statements had chosen their words more carefully. (Well, maybe not Easterbrook's, but that's a whole 'nother story.)

19
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:52am

RE Chinese Fire Drills... You know, this last weekend I was doing something with the wife and kids at a state fair, running around all crazy and described it to my 6 and 4 year-olds as "an Asian Fire Drill" which just sounded more insulting and pandering. Luckily, they didn't ask what I meant. I said it that way so that my kids would not use the original phrase in school, but the Asian version actually sounded worse. (On second thought, maybe the whole thing should just fade away, but we'd still need a humorous phrase to describe pandemonium.)

"Kooky Fire Drill" might be better except those defending the rights of the mentally ill would object. Weirdly, in grad school in Seattle in 1997 and 98, we white Americans went out of our ways to accommodate the sensibilities of the significant amount of Asians and Asian-American students by using those very terms. And it was the guys from Korea and Taiwan and Japan who, in international business classes, referred to "the Oriental perspective" and said "Oriental people behave this way." Go figure. They didn't give a rat's rump. But somewhere, somebody will. Hard to avoid offending somebody.

20
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 3:11am

Marko,
Sorry for the double-post, but we must have crossed posts while I was writing: Jackson actually asked Irvin if he was retarded? Holy crap, he was probably just echoing viewer emails form the past five years, (and asking "are you on drugs?" or "what the hell are you smoking?" cut too close to the bone--ESPN wouldn't really want an honest answer to that to be aired), but of course he shouldn't have used those words. I'll assume he was just so flummoxed by whatever Ivin said. Did he apologize immediately after saying it? There goes his shot at public office.

Come on, he really said it? I know I am treading thin ice here, but I now like TJ more than I did a week ago.

21
by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 4:24am

I didn't see the exchange between TJ and Irvin, but I read about it. Apparently, ESPN has released a statement in which TJ says that he "used an offensive term and immediately regretted it" and apologizes to those he offended.

22
by John Morgan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 5:03am

Here's a link to the wiki article on Chinese fire drill. It's clear that the phrase has a racist (to be colloquial) past, but just as clear that Farrar was not referencing that in his usage. I think we must be careful not to censor ourselves into dishonesty. Racism is dangerous for its ideas, the words are essentially interchangeable. Rampant PC policing only takes the color and life out of our language, it doesn’t prevent hate.

23
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 5:48am

I know! An ant fire drill!

Ooops. Now I've gone and offended arthropods. I apologize to all arthropods. Wait, did I just insult NON-six-legged arthropods by lumping them in with six-legged arthropods? What about 6-legged arthropods which are not ants? Man, I've done it again! I've called non-formic 6-legged arthropods things with that "which", not giving them the "who" they might feel they deserve.

I hereby apologize to all six-legged non-formic anthromorphisized arthropod beings for my rude and insensitive commentary. I should be beaten.

Yep, Bobman, it is pretty hard not to offend SOMEONE.

Marko, do you really know anyone who is offended by the term (please excuse the term...) Chinese Fire Drill?

Here is the problem I have with a huge amount of political correctness: the people who complain about it are usually not the ones who are impacted by it. Don't get me wrong, not having to hear the N-word spoken in a dangerously perjorative fashion has made my life a better place, and I am not black (ur, of African decent?). Some of it is good, and important, and highly worthwhile. But there is a big difference between "filthy (insert nasty perjorative description of a chinese person here)" and "chinese", even if you are not talking about a harmless game played by children who take their parent's cars out. I don't even know if a rational person can reasonably make the connection that "chinese fire drill" is particularly perjorative to chinese people. I don't know. Are there any chinese people out there who would care to comment for us, as, to be honest, only you opinion really matters here.

A case-supporting point - I dated a girl of filipino decent when I lived in California. She would EXPLODE if she heard the word "oriental" referring to a person, or an action, or anything - even if it was clearly not used in an insulting or perjorative fashion. Hell, she didn't have to hear the subject or object of the sentence - she would assume it was badly used and attack. She would insist "oriental is a rug" or "oriental is a vase", people are "asian". This is a crock of Najeh in a closet. First, the only people who use the word Oriental to refer to a person in any way in Norcal are, typically, asian. Second, "oriental" is an English word coming from romance roots. Oriental in French means east, geographicallay or perhaps in, to or from the east. This word does not exist in the languages of the people or countries you could possibly be referring to! It is a translation, and thus, it means whatever today's accepted definition means. OK, I'll be honest, I do not seek mindless, winless conflict, so I pretty much don't use "oriental" at all. Don't you think you, me and everyone else should apply a little common sense and focus on the intent, not the word, in the case (at least) of words that have valid, non-insulting uses? I don't know, maybe I'm crazy, but to me, "fu--ing chinese" is worse than "oriental" or even, dare I say it, "chinese fire drill".

-Sean

24
by Crabbie (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 6:54am

How can you put together an all-name team of cuts and not include S Atari Bigby, cut by the Green Bay Packers?

For goodness' sake, the man's parents named him ATARI! He's now on the practice squad, and the possibility of my one day being able to see Atari football is absolutely thrilling to me.

25
by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 7:08am

Doug,

Good effort!. Your "Final Cuts All-Name Team" is going to struggle however. It has no Guards.

26
by James C (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 9:13am

I cannot read a discussion of Fire Drills Chinese or other without pproviding a link to this particular televisual gem from Top Gear (a UK television show).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_JJRUsIlmg

I hope that this works.

27
by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 9:47am

Re 4:

Congratulations. You successfully turned this thread into a PBS roundtable discussion on race relations in America.

While we're on the topic... a college classmate of mine was Jamaican and would get incredibly pissed off when someone referred to her as "African-American," since she was neither African, nor American. Good times...

28
by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:16am

Not too sure how many other Chinese post on this board, but I, for one, find the term rather innocuous, you white devils.

29
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:20am

Sing it with me!

Everyone's a little bit
racist, sometimes.
Doesn't mean we go around committing
hate crimes.
Look around and
you will find,
no one's really
color-blind.
Maybe it's a fact
we all should face.
Everyone makes
judgments...
based on race.

30
by Doug Farrar :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:28am

#25: "Your 'Final Cuts All-Name Team' is going to struggle however. It has no Guards."

That was intentional, as I am building the team in the image of the Week One version of the 2006 Seattle Seahawks.

31
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:29am

ToxikFetus - Has the latest Branch thread turned into a public forum on labor law yet?

It seems sometimes that the least likely thing to be discussed on Football Outsiders is football.

32
by Just Another Falcon Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:38am

"Keystone Kops" should work as a neutral alternative to "chinese fire drill".

33
by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:41am

#30, LOL.

I didn't see the Seahawks, was their O-line really that bad?

34
by DGL (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:49am

#16: I guess I just expect too much from FO writers. I think the article is better if you replace the sentence Doug wrote about Batch fumbling on the previous drive with something like, "Would it have made a difference in the game? Well, 85% of the time a team with first and goal inside the five scores a touchdown anyway - but had the Dolphins been able to hold the Steelers to a tying field goal, perhaps Miami quarterback Daunte Culpepper wouldn't have forced passes into coverage and been intercepted twice, shutting the door on a possible Dolphins comeback."

35
by Eorr (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:50am

I can barely find much wrong with chinese fire drill. As the link explainns it seems to be an artifact of British Imperial arrogance.

However the term Oriental does have rather extreme connotations. Oriental (meaning East in Latin?) referrd to anything other than Europe not african. Oriental more refers as much to Turkey as it does to the rest of Asia. Thus the Orient Express wich traversed the land between Paris and Istanbul. Maybe I took to many classes on Islam but I hear Oriental and I think of the Orientalists which refers to those who studied Islam and is now a term used for those who have a viewpoint badly skewed toward Christian-Europian superiority.

Yet, Asian is generally Japan/Korea/China which are a distinct cultural group in the American Psyche, but could include India and South-East Asian.

In the end people just let it go... words don't offend people offend, the words they use just tell us about their own ignorance.

36
by Craigo (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:53am

32: Of course, both the the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Fraternal Order of Police would object.

37
by wrmjr (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:55am

I've never really understood the logic behind using coaches challenges to review plays during most of the game, but then having officials in the booth make the calls in the final minutes. If the goal is to get the calls correct--and it should be, don't you think--then the booth officials should review all of them. It won't be 100% effective, but I bet we get a higher percentage of correct calls than we do now.

38
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 11:39am

Marko, people like you make me physically ill. Trying to eliminate hateful, racist, remarks is one thing. Rampant political correctness without any regard for how a phase is used, just in case someone out there may have there poor sensitive feelings hurt, is sickening. Do you actually think that there is a single person out there that would use the phase “Chinese fire drill� in a hateful manner? Thirty or forty years ago, maybe. But today?!? You have got to be kidding me.

And just for the record, how exactly could a word be homophobic if it wasn’t directed at a homosexual. And the same thing goes for ‘retard’. If Tom Jackson had laughed at some mentally handicapped kid and called him retarded…that’d be something for people to be upset about. Asking Michael Irvin if he’s retarded isn’t even close to the same thing (well, I guess that’s debatable since Irvin may, in fact, be retarded). Even you separated Easterbrook’s possibly anti-Semitic comments from the others. And why was that? I’ll tell you why, because his comments were actually directed at the group of people who find said comments offensive.

It’s all about context, and people who can’t be bothered to take the half a freaking second it takes to examine whether or not something was said in a hateful manner disgust me.

39
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 11:48am

I kind of agree with the guy who called Irving retarded.

I call my friends retarded. Its common pop culture now.

Words mean what we use them for, nothing more.

40
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 11:50am

Yeah...what Rich said.

41
by DMP (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 12:25pm

big_adventure:
In the same post you both say that a Chinese person's opinion is the only one that matters in the subject of the possibly offensive nature of "Chinese fire drill", and you also say your Philippino ex was being unreasonable for not liking when people described her as "oriental". And yet she is Asian, or "oriental" or however you would have it, therefore by your own argument it is her opinion that matters, thus she can't be unreasonable in that instance because her heritage is what determines if her opinion is reasonable - according to your argument.

Wanker79:
So by your argument, if I'm not black, and you are not black, then is it ok for me to call you a n****? (If you are black, I apologize. I am myself of mutiple race and ethnic mix.)

Marko has a right to his opinion and Doug Farrar has begun to appropriately address his reader's concern. No need for everyone else to pile on. We don't always have the definite answer on everything.

42
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 12:33pm

So by your argument, if I’m not black, and you are not black, then is it ok for me to call you a n****? (If you are black, I apologize. I am myself of mutiple race and ethnic mix.)

The difference is that there is no question that n**** is still a very racially charged word (in most cases). And even so, it would be far less offensive than if it were directed towards the people that the slur was originally intended. I fail to see how calling someone retarded or referring to organized chaos as a chinese fire drill is even remotely similar.

43
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 12:36pm

The Steelers took the lead in the game on a score that shouldn't have been called a score — Miami cornerback Will Allen very obviously tripped Miller up out of bounds at the Miami 4-yard line.

I've seen so many different opinions on this, I wonder if the officials wouldn't have just let the play stand if challenged. I've seen people claim he ran out at the 7 yard line, that he was pushed out at the 4, that he fell down between the 1 and 2, and that the ball should have been spotted inside the 1 because that was where it was when they felt he went out.

If the Ref can't figure out where he went out of bounds either, the call stands.

44
by Tad (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 12:37pm

"The Manning's are ready for the season. Are you?"
— Tagline for the NFLShop,com commercial shown during Manning Bowl I

I will be, just as soon as I figure out what to do with that darned apostrophe.

I will laugh at this, just as soon as I figure out what to do with that darned comma.

45
by bowman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 12:57pm

37.

There is a booth review during the final minutes because the teams may have used their TOs (and/or challenges), and the final minutes are "important". This also lets the comeback team conserve their TOs, which promotes comebacks, which the NFL deams to be important.

It is similar to why they start stopping the clock when players go out of bounds in the last minutes. It exists to provide a catch-up mechanism and to prevent many boring end game scenerios.

46
by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:35pm

Re 38:

Unfortunately, the PC police are going to take any innocuous statement to its extreme, regardless of context.

There was an incident, I believe after this year's Master's Tournament, when Tiger Woods said that he "played like a spaz". Apparently in the U.K., "spaz" is an extremely derrogatory term for someone with Cerebal Palsy. It caused an uproar over yonder but most Americans just thought WTF? Obviously, Tiger Woods meant no harm by this statement, but the media would have you believe that he beats up on crips (PC Alert! PC Alert!).

47
by hrudey (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:50pm

Parcells has no complaint... even if one makes the leap of faith to say he got mildly jobbed when he threw the flag ignored 'round the field, the overturned interception at the end of the game was absolutely absurd. I thought it could be overturned because he touched the sideline before gaining complete control, but the ref is on crack if he thinks there's irrefutable evidence the ball touched the ground. No offense intended to crack, ground, or irrefutable evidence, or any racial group. Except Drew Bledsoe, who does, in fact, suck.

48
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:51pm

#33: James, it's too early to assign blame/credit for the season, but certainly in that game, the Seahawks' OL did nothing to suggest that it will be just fine without Hutchinson.

I am not yet ready to entertain the possibility that the Lions' DL is that good.

As for replay: with apologies to Churchill, the NFL's system is the worst, except for all the others that have been tried (or are being tried now ... cough NCAA cough).

49
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:55pm

Obviously, Tiger Woods meant no harm by this statement, but the media would have you believe that he beats up on crips.

I think you meant 'criples'. If Tiger Woods was walking around beating up LA gang members, he'd earn a whole new level or respect from me.

50
by Countertorque (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:56pm

Well, I'm a white guy married to an immigrant from China. I'm very suprised to see that so few people think that "Chinese Fire Drill" refers to a perceived tendency for the Chinese to comically run around without purpose in stressful situations. I don't think I'm very PC, but I'd never use the phrase in front of my inlaws. I don't think they'd stop speaking to me, but I don't think they'd find it entertaining either.

I think it's OK to refer to someone as a "nice little guatemalan man," because he might be nice, little, and guatemalan. But, I think Chinese Fire Drill casts all Chinese people in a bad light.

51
by DMP (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:01pm

Wanker79:
Apparently all we have to do is to follow your own personal definitions and everything will be fine. Please send out a communique to the world.

(I promise this is my last post on this subject here.)

52
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:08pm

DMP, it's really quite simple. People need to stop being whiny little bitches. Is that really too much to ask? Probably, but I can dream.

53
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:10pm

I agree with wanker. I dont find chinese firedrill offensive, and I dont know anyone who would. All I think about when I hear the term is people getting out of a car and switching seats in traffic. Nothing else, no connotations, nothing.

Its like "polish sausage." The nationality is just part of the name, i dont make any inferences, or feel any are made from it. I dont feel that Polish sausages reflect on polish people in any sort of way.

If you want to be overly sensitive, fine, but dont expect me to bow to your overly PC notions.

54
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:14pm

The comma can be either used to create a break in a sentence where there generally isn't one, or to mark a contrary phrase. It's fine.

This discussion is a bit ridiculous, on both sides. I understand that people do not want to be offended, but it can easily be taken too far. On the other hand, amplifying complaints for the sole purpose of creating straw men to burn out of desire to feed our unfortunate need to put one's own comfort and opinion above everyone else's.

I'm sure Branch's thread has devolved into a discussion of labor law, albeit by people without any understanding of it. I learned my lesson during the TO deal last year. Talking about these sorts of things with people who don't know what they're talking about is impossible, as they always think the law is what they want it to be.

55
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:16pm

Fnor, naw, its still stuck on the "what is branch worth" phase.

56
by Ted Max (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:52pm

This is WAY too far down the thread to get seen, but I've been wondering about why everyone is having kittens about Reggie Bush's performance on Sunday.

I mean, yeah, he's clearly going to be a good player. But on every highlight show and columnist writeup, people are wetting their pants over his 141 all-purpose yards.

Is that even a lot of all-purpose yards? And when did the rules change and that stat become something we care about on a game-by-game basis (as opposed to a Marshall Faulk, full-season stat kind of thing).

It gives me the feeling that they are trying REALLY hard to find something to praise Bush about, even when he didn't exactly put up a huge game for a RB. (61 rushing yards?)

Am I alone in this?

57
by Countertorque (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 2:59pm

RE: 53

The obvious difference is that Polish sausages are a food that originated in Poland, while the Chinese did not invent comically running around without purpose in an emergency.

58
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 3:25pm

Re: 57
while the Chinese did not invent comically running around without purpose in an emergency.

Which make the phrase all that more innocent.

59
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 3:45pm

56. Completely agree.

Add that into the fact that they were playing against basically a Highschool team (and not Briscoe High) and I find it hard to get excited about that.

I'd be willing to bet that Rudi Johnson in week 2 and 12, LT in Week 9, Willie Parker in week 11 and 14, and LJ in week 13 all put up significantly more than 141 Rushing + Recieving yards.

For that matter, Dante Hall probably puts up more than 141 all purpose yards against Cleveland.

60
by Bjorn (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 5:26pm

Hall should. He might get to return 10 kicks thanks to the awful defence.

141 all purpose yards is good for a rookie in his first NFL game.

61
by bowman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 5:27pm

59. Speaking of Briscoe High, am I supposed to be impressed that a team containing Vick, Urlacher, Polamalu, and other NFLers would be trailing a high-school team with time running out?

Watching a gross talent imbalance scrape by doesn't inspire me to buy Nikes shoes. At least Team UnderArmor is playing against people their own size!

62
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 5:42pm

All-purpose yards are a lame stat, to be sure. I don't think anyone should evaluate players based on how many kick/punt return opportunities they are given.

But it's 119 yards from scrimmage. And that's good. Average that for the season and you've got 1900 yards from scrimmage, which is about a typical year for LaDainian Tomlinson.

Now consider that he's a rookie splitting time on arguably the worst team in the league. DVOA projects them for a league-low 3.6 wins. Sure, the Browns are bad, but the Saints are worse. Name me one player from that offensive line that you'd want on your football team.

The last time a New Orleans Saint gained 119 or more yards from scrimmage was October 2nd, 2005 against the hapless Buffalo Bills, thirteen games ago. And this kid did it in a game he didn't even start. Yes, it's something worth talking about.

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by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 7:04pm

Re #37:

If the goal is to get the calls correct–and it should be, don’t you think–then the booth officials should review all of them. It won’t be 100% effective, but I bet we get a higher percentage of correct calls than we do now.

The league originally tried that system from 1986-91, and the owners dumped it. There were problems with the booth communicating with on-field officials, plays that everybody but the replay official thought should be reviewed, and too many cases when there was a delay to figure out where the ball should be spotted when nobody really cared whether it would be 4th and 8 or 4th and 9. By letting coaches decide which plays to challenge, at the risk of a time out, the league insures that replay will only be used in significant situations.

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by Bjorn (not verified) :: Tue, 09/12/2006 - 10:42pm

It also shifts some of the responsibility from the refs to the coaches.

65
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 5:16am

57 - Are you sure about that? People seem to think that "French Fries" have some tie to France (even some French people, though most blame Belgium). English people and Belgian people both claim that particular delicacy as their own. Let't not address what the Senate cafeteria calls them.

Never forget the story of the gooseberry. Do you know what a gooseberry is? It's a Kiwifruit! But that name was invented as a marketing term in the (I think) early 80's by a couple who had a whole poop-load of gooseberries to sell. They liked them, but could not sell them - they tried for weeks. Nobody wanted a relatively difficult-to-eat fruit with a wierd name. So they invented the name Kiwifruit. This was exotic, invoking the idea that these furry little things came from New Zealand (which they most certainly did NOT). Plus, it sounded better. Anyway, they sold the stock immediately and you should have some idea of the rest of the story. Want another example? "Chiliean Sea Bass" is most certainly not the name of that particular, overfished creature. Nope, it is the Patagonian Toothfish, and it is one ugly SOB having nothing to do with a Sea Bass, which refers to a very specific family of aquatic sauce-holders. People tried to sell the easily-caught, mild-tasting Patagonian Toothfish to restaurants and fish stores for YEARS, but they failed. Not only was it ugly as heck, the name isn't particularly clean or evocative. Voilà - marketing to the rescue.

So, after all of that, can you REALLY say that Polish sausage originates from Poland? And even if you can find backup for this, don't you think it is equally likely that the same kinds of sausage were eaten in other places?

32 JAFF - Now you have gone and insulted everyone who can't properly spell "Cops". Just because it is the name of a television show does NOT mean bad spelling is acceptable.

41 DMP - First, I apologize if you didn't understand my point. Broken down, it is that people are generally too sensitive, and that it is usually the wrong people being sensitive. White people in the US are afraid to call, um, people of historical african decent "Black". OK, people are NOT actually black. At my wedding, we had people with different skin colors. Since then, I have been in situations where I had to describe one person to another, often mentioning that they met them at my wedding. How do you describe a dark-skinned, african-decendant French person to an american in a way that is easy to understand and doesn't make you look like an idiot? I mean, if I'm talking to Bill in SF and want to tell a story involving Françis (the person referred to above), far and away the most readily identifiably trait is the color of his skin, and the long-term accepted, even if technically inaccurate, terminology is "black". Yes, I could try by saying "the guy that is 5'8" tall" - but there were a bunch of those. The guy wearing a really nice suit with an immaculately-tied tie - ditto, though, to be honest, NOBODY can tie a tie like Françis. The guy with glasses - ooops, it still doesn't work. I certainly can't say "african" (to say nothing of "african-american"), because even though his family is from Cameroun, he is French-de-chez-French and lives in Miami. This doesn't begin to address the fact that "black" is the absolutely accepted and correct term in France (no, not "noir" - "black" - I live in Paris). So what would the PC police demand that I do in this case? And the problem is that I, raised in the US and sensitive to the over-PC-ification of the world, have trouble calling someone, anyone, one of my best friends who would ABSOLUTELY never be offended by it, "black".

Ah, well. I don't use the term "chinese fire drill" in any event - I was having fun with the post.

Second, DMP, how long have you been posting here (or on the net in general)? Piling on is now the national pastime!

-Sean

66
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 12:00pm

RE: Chinese Firedrill

It's racist used in that connotation. The only ones who can decide it's suddenly not racist would be the victims.

It's not needed, and we should err on the side of non racial terms. There are many words in the english language, and we can choose to avoid the ones that have been used to take dignity away from a people.

It was an honest mistake, but it shouldn't happen again.

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by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 12:04pm

Broken down, it is that people are generally too sensitive, and that it is usually the wrong people being sensitive.

It isn't your decision to determine who is wrong for being sensitive. It's the victims.

If I am sensitive over a word, and you call me that. I can choose to address it. If it is not in my right to ask you to withhold a single word, then I can choose not to speak with you.

However, who are you to tell anyone they are over sensitive?

I'm really sick of people thinking that they can decide anything for anyone. You can disagree as you like, but your opinion does not equal right.

68
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 12:15pm

'k, what in the heck is a Chinese Fire Drill? With reference to kids, cars and so on? "A harmless game played by children who take their parent’s cars out" mostly just makes me think of horrible little scruts from Berinsfield getting drunk, thieving cars and going joyriding, which I presume is not actually what we're talking about here, though I guess it is fairly chaotic.

More seriously, I think there is a real and largely unrecognised characteristic of people which has bearing on discussions such as this, which is the extent to which they are or are not prone to actually imagine the ostensible reference of a word on hearing that word. I think people like me, who tend not to, often fail to understand the emotive reactions our words can have in people more naturally given to this kind of imagification.

69
by noah of the ark (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 12:34pm

Fighting evil in a violent way just reinforces evil.
Do we have to react aggressively to every minute offense, whether related to race or anything else?

70
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 12:41pm

"Broken down, it is that people are generally too sensitive, and that it is usually the wrong people being sensitive.

It isn’t your decision to determine who is wrong for being sensitive. It’s the victims. "

The problem with that Nathan, is people get offended at silly things. Currently, I'm offended that your name is Nathan. I feel wronged. You should stop using it.

Now, your name isnt offensive... should the fact that I'm being completely irrational overwhelm the fact that its not offensive? you would have us believe so. I say "Hell no"

People need to get over themselves. Yes, people get offended at things, and sometimes its warranted, but its all silly.

What makes "african-american" more correct than "black"

Why is saying someone is "white" acceptable, when "black", or "yellow" is not?

White is just as innacurate as the other two. Why? Becuase people are overly senisitive, and LOOKING for something to get offended over.

Nate, just as you said, you can decide, but your oppinion doesnt make you right. I say its not offensive, you say it is. We're both equally right/wrong.

I just feel that if offense is not meant, people shoudnt get offended.

When I tell my friend Joe to get his black ass of my couch, I'm not being offensive. His ass is black. Its a descriptive word.

He doesnt get offended because no ill will was meant.

71
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 1:06pm

Re: 66 & 67
It’s racist used in that connotation. The only ones who can decide it’s suddenly not racist would be the victims.

Victims? Victims?!? You actually believe someone was victimized by a phrase that probably hasn't had a racist connotation during the entire span of my lifetime (I'm 27)? Victims? That's staggering.

If I am sensitive over a word, and you call me that. I can choose to address it.

That is exactly my point. If a word with a racial undertone is venomously directed at the race the slur was intended, I would think that any decent human being would have a problem with that. But referring to chaos as a Chinese Fire Drill is so far from falling into that category it's outright laughable.

BTW, Mr. Shush, a Chinese Fire Drill have for many years referred to the adolescent (sometimes only referring to mental development) practice whereby when a car comes to a halt at a traffic light, everyone gets out, runs around the car and when the light turns green, everyone jumps back in the car musical chairs-style.

72
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:27pm

Rich, But if you said, "Get your couch monkey ass off of my couch" joking with no ill will, he may still get offended.

You may not even know what the phrase means, but heard it once and used it. It can still offend because it was used as a way to demean a people.

it's important in my mind to not use phrases designed to demean a people, because I think demeaning a people is wrong, regardless of the intent of the current use.

You actually believe someone was victimized by a phrase that probably hasn’t had a racist connotation during the entire span of my lifetime (I’m 27)? Victims? That’s staggering.

Has Porch Monkey had a racial connotation in your lifetime?

Is it required to have a racial connotation to be demeaning?

Is Cowboys and Indians racist if there are no more Indians left?

Good questions, you decide. my personal feeling is that when a phrase was created with a racial purpose/during a time of perpetuating a demeaning prejudice, that it should not be used.

If a word with a racial undertone is venomously directed at the race the slur was intended

I don't see why that is required at all.

As long as I'm not venomous it's okay? I think it's more painful when it's not venomous because it's seemed into the vocabulary as a common and accepted stereotype.

And I'm having a discussion trailed off from many. I am not saying that using Chinese Firedrill without thinking about the connotation is in a similar vein to saying something intentionally hurtful.

It is however an important discussion on words, the creation of words throughout our history, and their meanings.

I do question why the people not offended are the ones who seem to get angry the quickest over the issue.

73
by Jeremy (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:38pm

A phrase like "Chinese fire drill" or (to give one from my personal experience) "jewed" is difficult to divorce from the sometimes harmful stereotype on which it is based. If a gentile says to a gentile that he got jewed (or gypped, for that matter), Wanker79 would say that there's no harm, because the slur isn't being directed "venomously" at a Jew. Yet the very existence and persistence of the term in our vernacular does subtly -- and sometimes not so subtly -- reinforce the stereotype.

Now, to be honest, I have no idea what the stereotype associated with "Chinese fire drill" is, but if it's based on something derogatory, then I think it should be avoided.

That's not the same situation as quibbling over the correct term for an ethnic group or skin color or whatever.

74
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:59pm

The stereotype is that the Chinese are chaotic and ineffectual. Using Chinese in front of any action means that it's been done either chaotically or poorly. Usually exteremly poorly.

If you were to say the Safety ran a Chinese Blitz, it could mean that he missed the QB entirely, Tackled his own teammate, etc... etc..

And in my life time, I have heard it used to insult the Chinese on numerous occations, although it was not with Fire Drill. That's a standard that has been used to a point where the meaning is usually left, and you are describing an action. The very nature of the insult is lost on the common tongue, but it's still relevant in my mind.

75
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 4:03pm

75.

Except the chinese in "chinese fire drill" is no longer autonmous. Its part of a thing. Its like Chinese Checkers. We're not saying the checkers are chaotic and innefectual, theyre just Chinese Checkers.

A chinese firedrill is, atlease in the vernacular of my generation, when a bunch of people get out of a car and switch seats. Generally, theyre very organized, because people running about in traffic who dont know where theyre going get killed. Its got nothing to do with race, and AFAIC, the origination of the term doesnt matter. Its lost its racial meaning.

If you've got a problem with the term Chinese fire drill, I think you're taking this article, and life, way too seriously.

76
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 4:04pm

And where does this prevalent "chinese are chaotic and ineffectual" steryotype come from?

Last I've checked, a stereotype has to be atleast widely known to be a stereotype. The only chinese stereotype I know of is that theyre good at math, which certainly isnt insulting.

77
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 4:07pm

The very nature of the insult is lost on the common tongue, but it’s still relevant in my mind.

And that is exactly the attitude I was addressing in my very first comment on this topic (#38). If you acknowledge that the very nature of the phrase has been lost and has since been replaced with a completely non-racist, non-offensive action like kids running around their car at a traffic light, why in the hell would you still find it offensive?!?!!

As long as I’m not venomous it’s okay? I think it’s more painful when it’s not venomous because it’s seemed into the vocabulary as a common and accepted stereotype.

See, that's not even close to what I'm talking about. Your example of porch monkey and Jeremy's example of jewed are most certainly still associated with their origins and a racial slur (and unless you're terribly afraid of offending the gypsy population, I would think that gypped is probably ok to use). I'm talking about words and phrases that no longer carry racial (or otherwise hateful) connotation. When someone refers to a Chinese Fire Drill, the thought of "Oh, those silly Chinamen. They can't do anything right." couldn't be further from entering my mind. That phrase no longer has any relationship to it's original intention.

Same thing goes with the word retarded. The word retarded (unless it’s directed at a mentally handicapped person) no longer has a derogatory connotation towards the mentally handicapped. It's simply another synonym for stupid.

If you're so worried about words that can be used in an offensive manner, why isn't there a huge uproar in the gay community over the use of the word fag in the UK referring to cigarettes? Afterall, it doesn't matter what the word means in the current lexicon, so long as someone somewhere might take offense.

I do question why the people not offended are the ones who seem to get angry the quickest over the issue.

And I'm angry over this issue because I'm sick and tired of people sitting around just waiting for an opportunity to show how understanding they are to other people's sensitivities. Someone telling me that, regardless of the actual meaning or context, I have to watch what I say because I might offend someone. How about instead of demanding that everyone tip-toe through the english language, people use a little common sense.

78
by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 4:32pm

Like the common sense to show decency toward others?

I may not have known the origins of Chinese Fire Drill but I could tell it wouldn't be flattering. Let's put the shoe on the other foot and ask why you insist on using particular words when English is filled with synonyms. We change word meanings all the time and invent or coopt words for all sorts of reasons. Why are these words so important that they be kept in the general lexicon?

I don't think anyone should be censored, I don't think Doug Farrar needs to write out some big apology or anything, but I think it's appropriate that people realize the connotations that some words have and think about what they're telling the world when they use those words. It's fine and dandy that everyone uses whatever words they want, but that means that Nathan and anyone else can call them out on using words and phrases that show a lack of respect.

79
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 4:40pm

No, the common sense I'm talking about is knowing the difference between saying/writing something derogatory and using the phrase Chinese Fire Drill. Unless of course you're afraid that, God forbid, you might offend kids everywhere who find it funny to run around their car at traffic lights. You wouldn't want to hurt their feelings now, would you?

80
by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 6:08pm

Last I’ve checked, a stereotype has to be atleast widely known to be a stereotype.

It all goes down the memory hole...

81
by VinnyMurphSully (not verified) :: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 11:48pm

Hrmmm. Please correct me if I'm wrong but I always thought 'political correctness' by definition obfuscated the true intent or feeling of the speaker.

For example, without political correctness, folks like Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond would go around calling African-Americans f***ing n****** in the public forum and, you know, stuff like that.

And by the term 'folks' above I was being politically correct and not using my preferred term of 'stupid hillbilly crackers'.

82
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 11:42am

Vinny, that's not pollitical correctness, that's anti-racist. Pollitical correctness is all about completely eliminating anything that someone might find offensive.

83
by Ashley Tate (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 12:47pm

#32:
"Keystone Kops" is NOT an acceptable alternative to "chinese fire drill". I'm not from Pennsylvania, but I attended college there and I find that phrase HIGHLY OFFENSIVE! YOU STATIST PIG!

84
by Ashley Tate (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 12:49pm

Oops...Sorry...I guess I should apologize to any porcine readers out there...

85
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 12:59pm

Re: 84

And not you have to apologize to any illiterate porcine out there also, because by limiting your original apology you brought unwanted attention to the troublingly high porcine illiteracy rate.