After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?
08 Oct 2008
by Ben Riley and Vince Verhei
We can finally say this without fear of a libel lawsuit: O.J. Simpson is guilty, guilty, guilty -- of multiple counts of kidnapping and armed robbery. Hey, it's a start.
In, er, "honor" of the NFL's most notorious alumnus, we've decided to kick off the inaugural Felony Football League. For this contest, each of us drafted a team of six NFL players most likely to commit crimes in the future:
We then needed to set up a scoring system, and decided on the following:
We flipped a coin (which was later stolen) and Ben won, so he gets the first pick. Ben?
Ben: First pick: Adam "Pacman" Jones, CB, Dallas (Multiple arrestee)
Criminal history: Too long to even begin to recap here. Suffice to say most of The-Man-Jerry-Jones-Will-Only-Call-Adam's arrests involve assault and battery, strippers, and gunfire. Yet, amazingly, he has no felony convictions. Yet.
Reason for pick: It bears repeating: most of Jones's arrests involve physical violence, "making it rain," and various weaponry. Anyone who watched Hard Knocks this summer knows it's only a matter of time before this experiment goes horribly, feloniously bad. Pacman is the pre-2008 LaDainian Tomlinson of Felony Fantasy Football.
Vince: First pick: Terry "Tank" Johnson, DT, Dallas (Multiple arrestee)
Criminal history: A variety of gun law violations, exacerbated by his tendency to violate parole repeatedly.
Reason for pick: Johnson's troubles with guns run from the ticky-tack (carrying a gun in a vehicle is illegal in Illinois, but not in many other states) to the scary (multiple loaded, unlicensed weapons were found in his house in a December, 2006 search). In February of that same year, he was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest -- while on probation. It's that knack for committing one crime while still serving the punishment for the other that makes Johnson such a solid pick.
Ben: Second pick: Travis Henry, RB, U.S. Penitentiary, Florence, Colo. (Out of league)
Criminal history: Recently arrested for threatening to kill two accomplices for failing to repay $40,000 in stolen money, and attempting to purchase 11 pounds (!) of cocaine. Also has approximately 376 pending paternity suits filed against him.
Reason for pick: With charges pending against him that could net him anywhere from 10 years to life, he's a lock to rack up 30 felony points. Plus, now I can name my team "People Can Judge Me All They Want (But Only God Can Judge Me)."
Vince: Second pick: Michael Vick, QB, U.S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas (Major felon)
Criminal history: One of the highest-paid, highest-profile athletes in America, Vick spent his spare time for several years running an underground dogfighting ring. More than a year after this came to light, the mind still reels at the stupidity.
Reason for pick: For most of these picks, we're more or less betting that these guys will commit crimes again. Vick is something of a sure thing, because he is still awaiting trial for something he's done in the past -- remember, he's in federal prison on racketeering charges. The state of Virginia is still waiting to try him for dogfighting charges once his federal sentence expires in 2009. This pick is basically a win-win for me. If Vick is tried and convicted, I get points; if not, I get to look forward to him running wild in whatever the hell that new football league is going to be called.
Ben: Nice Vick pick. Does this mean you are going to name your team "Ron Mexico's Amores Perros?" Never mind, on with the draft:
Third pick: Jerramy Stevens, TE, Tampa Bay (Multiple arrestee)
Criminal history: Stevens was arrested in Arizona in March 2007 for driving with a blood alcohol level of .204, also known as "Extreme DUI", along with accusations of rape, assault with a baseball bat, and permitting vomit to accumulate on his neighbors doors. Speaking of vomitous, he's also the only Seahawks player to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl.
Reason for pick: I used to draft this guy every year in my real fantasy league, waiting for him to break out in Holmgren's West Coast offense. That never really worked out, but in Jon Gruden's "If you can play, you can party" policy, I'm feeling good about the chances for Stevens to finally pay off for me.
Vince: Third pick: Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans (Wild card)
Criminal history: None. Shockey lives a life filled with fire water and fiery women, which some may disapprove of, but is not illegal in this country. Thank God.
Reason for pick: Shockey lives a life filled with fire water and fiery women, and he makes his living in New Orleans, Louisiana, "the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Mississipi." I'm not saying he's going to be found face down in a pile of cocaine or anything, but I can see him stumbling around at 4:30 in the morning wearing far less clothing than the law allows.
Ben: Not bad, not bad, although he probably would be there for you a round later. In the meantime, I take...
Fourth pick: Chris Henry, WR, Cincinnati (Multiple arrestee)
Criminal history: Multiple arrests for assault and various substance-abuse issues. In a related story, did you know that Henry played with Pacman Jones at West Virginia?
Reason for pick: Because how could we do a felony fantasy draft without at least one Bengals player being drafted?
Vince: Bastard! I was taking him next!
Fourth pick: Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals (Multiple arrestee)
Criminal history: Arrested for driving boats and cars while intoxicated -- both this year -- plus resisting arrest. Desperate for running backs, the Bengals picked him up. Meanwhile, Shaun Alexander is still unemployed. This all speaks volumes about all three of these parties.
Reason for pick: Because how could we do a felony fantasy draft without at least two Bengals players being drafted? Besides, Benson has already been busted twice year. Surely he's got another one in him!
Ben: Vince, all I can tell you is, some some some I murder, some some some I let go ... and Shaun Alexander is M.I.A.
Fifth pick: Matt Leinart, Backup QB, Arizona (Wild card)
Criminal history: If getting a USC cheerleader pregnant is crime, lock me up.
Reason for pick: There is a whiff of the Ryan Leaf to Leinart, an immature (though talented) quarterback who seems more interested in beer-bong based underage extracurriculars than being, you know, a professional NFL quarterback. If the Cardinals make the playoffs (likely!) and Kurt Warner somehow leads them into the Super Bowl (admittedly not likely, but check out their DVOA thus far), I see drunken tabloid messiness and an arrest south of the border.
Vince: Fifth pick: Alonzo Spellman, defensive lineman, Bears/Cowboys/Lions (Out of league)
Criminal history: You name it -- terroristic threats, unruly behavior on an airplane, and just this year, he's led Oklahoma police on a high-speed chase and pulled a knife on a random driver outside Philadelphia.
Reason for pick: I feel bad about this one, because Spellman is pretty clearly crazy; he also once holed himself up in his publicist's house for eight hours (there's a tough job, by the way, Alonzo Spellman's publicist) and was later found walking around frigid Chicago wearing only a white hospital gown. He has also been clinically diagnosed as bipolar. Still, crazy is as crazy does, and when you're crazy like Alonzo Spellman, you tend to draw police attention.
Ben: Sixth pick: Ray Lewis, LB, Ravens (Major felony)
Criminal history: Murder was the case the gave Ray-Ray.
Reason for pick: The truth is, the case against Lewis for murder was extraordinarily weak, but would you want to cross him? Seriously? Especially after his half-brother got cut from the Cowboys this year? I say no, and I say he's my Major Felon.
Vince: A Snoop Dogg reference. Cunning, Riley.
Sixth pick: Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos (Multiple arrestee)
Criminal history: Compared to his domestic violence charges, his October 2007 DUI seems like child play.
Reason for pick: Did you read that last sentence? Between the alleged woman-beating, the drunk driving, and the fact that he stumbled through a glass table this offseason, Marshall's as good a bet as anyone to wind up on the wrong side of the law.
|Check out the Football Outsiders comics archive and Jason's wacky Gil Thorp blog.|
Although Sage Rosenfels made a strong showing this week, he played pretty well before his fourth-quarter meltdown, so KCW goes instead this week to Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. After Reggie Bush returned a punt for a touchdown at the end of the third quarter, Vikings head coach Brad Childress claims he ordered Kluwe to punt everything out of bounds. Instead, Kluwe booted two additional kicks to The Player Who Mike Tanier And Bill Barnwell Like to Bet On, one of which was returned for (another) touchdown, another which would have if Bush hadn't fallen down. Although the Vikings still eked out a victory (thanks to another KCW runner-up, Saints kicker Martin Gramatica), Kluwe's inability to master the art of the angle almost cost Minnesota the game -- and probably cost Kluwe his job.
QB: You don't need me to tell you that Jon Kitna was the biggest loser among quarterbacks in Week 5; he was just benched for Dan Orlovsky, after all. For clerical purposes, let it be know that Kitna posted a 1 against the Bears.
RB: You'll probably see a lot of Steelers opponents in this space before the year is out. Fred Taylor is the latest, going for 25 yards from scrimmage on 12 touches, scoring a 1.
WR: He was catching passes from the Kitna-Orlovsky Connection, so it's hard to blame Mike Furrey for notching 8 yards, worth a 0.
K: It's not Nick Novak's fault he scored a 0. The Chiefs are so putrid, so lousy, that not only were they shut out, but they never even got close enough to the goal line for Novak to attempt a field goal. Lordy.
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