Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Aug 2005

TMQ: Gibbs Having Regrets?

Our friend Gregg Easterbrook is back for another season of Tuesday Morning Quarterback. He addresses the way life has changed for old-school coaches, who no doubt must miss the days when few dared question their authority. When Joe Gibbs has to deal with players like Sean Taylor, does it make him regret ever coming back?

Elsewhere we get cheesecake photos of Karen Benge and Jessica Simpson, a look at the Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP jinx, and the series finale of the weekly Star Trek complaint. It's good to have you back, Gregg.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 09 Aug 2005

59 comments, Last at 13 Aug 2005, 1:25am by Kami


by B (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 4:01pm

Doh! Link broken.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 4:06pm

Wasn't one of Gibb's first acts as a coach the first time around traveling to Riggin's home and convince him to please, please, please unretire? I guess the good ole days ain't always good.

by fyo (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 4:15pm

Click me for a working link.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 4:21pm

Linking a bunch of TNR articles within the column that require not only registration, but subscription, is unhappy.


by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 5:51pm

re #2: yes, I remember hearing that too. I guess we have to go back a little further to get to the good ol' days.
I do remember a story about Lombardi trading one of his players because the player had the nerve to hire an agent to negotiate his contract instead of dealing with Lombardi face-to-face! So, times have changed a bit since the '60s at least.

by Adam (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 7:46pm

The real question is this: will this be the year that Easterbrook adds any new mantras to his tired (if largely accurate) analysis?

We get it, Gregg: don't blitz on third down. Don't be a wuss and punt.

What else?

by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 8:33pm

Yeah, I agree with #6. I loved TMQ. I used to look forward to his article all week. But by last season, I sure wound up skipping a big chunk of the column every week.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 9:16pm

I like TMQ. He sometimes leaves alot of words between the entertaining bits, but it's usually worth wading through. I do have a few bones with this one. In the "We the Euros" item TMQ (a political liberal) makes a very strong case for economic conservatism, using some of the very same arguments I have yelled at my sister. As for lightsabers defending blasters, the Jedi would only need to be faster than the person shooting the blaster, not the blaster itself. And I could be wrong (not a physicist), but relativity is not a perfect theory of everything. Light travels at lightspeed and has a mass, but it is not infinite mass.

by carl (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 10:02pm

Easterbrook is right about the speed of light thing. An object with mass moving below the speed of light cannot be accelerated past it with a finite amount of added energy. But the point the earlier commentator made is correct: the reason that they can deflect the bolts is they use Jedi powers to tell where it's going to come from.

Man I'm a nerd.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 10:41pm

See I know Einstein says that, but then why isn't the earth lanched across the cosmos every time a photon bumps it? Or even a near light speed electron? It is my understanding that relativity kinda breaks down around the edges (the big bang, black holes) is this an example of that?

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 10:59pm

See I know Einstein says that, but then why isn’t the earth lanched across the cosmos every time a photon bumps it?
Because those particles have infinitesimal mass, and light speed, while vast, is not infinite. mv approaches zero when m is effectively zero.

Earth has too much mass to be detectably moved by the force generated by solar or cosmic radiation.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 11:56pm

Two things. One, I don't find it behind the realm of Jedi physics to be able to block even light speed shots. As Qui-Gon put it in Episode 1 - He sees things before they happen, that's why he seems to have amazing reflexes. It's a Jedi trait. Force-users all to some degree can see the future, and while the further ahead they look, the more clouded and in motion it is, something as immediate as where a blaster shot is going to be should be fairly easy to see. (Which kinda ticks me off that more Jedi didn't put up a better fight against Order 66 - didn't any of them except Yoda and Ki Adi Mundi sense that they were about to be attacked?)

Second, I don't think the shots are necessarily lightspeed. They are not light energy, but a particle beam of highly energized gas (see link). As such, they aren't lightspeed, although they could be mighty fast. Yes, I am a total nerd, why do you ask?

by Sharon (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 12:17am

Yeah, that bothered me too that the Jedi went down so easily. Maybe the clones' intentions were harder to read than normal people's. I would apologize for being a nerd, but I don't care.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 12:58am

Since everybody already covered the Star Wars stuff, I'll take on the Dukes of Hazzard critique. His thesis is that they're making the stunts in movies so extreme and unnatural that it takes away from the enjoyment of it. (I think that's largely bull hockey, the #1 problem is lousy scripts, put that's not my point.) So he picks on Dukes of Hazzard because there's no way cars could survive the jumps that they're constantly making. Which I'm sure is true, and I'm sure was nearly as true for all the jumps they made IN THE SEVEN YEAR RUN OF THE TV SHOW. Or more precisely, the three or four jumps whose footage got used over and over again. Defensible thesis, stupid example.

by apocalipstick (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 1:47am

Re: #8
Easterbrook is anything but a political liberal. Just because he's smart and writes funny stuff doesn't make him a lefty. If TMQ seems less side-splitting or insightful than previously, that's probably because we've grown accustomed to a high standard. What was once arresting is now commonplace.

by ABW (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 1:53am

I think the unbelievable physics part is weak. You can have as much unbelievable physics as you want, you just have to make it internally consistent with the rest of the world you're creating(unless, say, you're doing a comedy and the unbelievability of it is part of the humor...say, in the Dukes of Hazzard). So if you have a world where you can travel faster than light speed, fine, you just have to make everything else in the show/book/movie consistent with light speed travel - see ST:TNG for a good example of doing this pretty well. If you have a world where people can have superhuman reflexes and use energy weapons and mind tricks, that's fine, but you have to have a believable, internally consistent background. The original Star Wars did this well(by the semi-copout of saying all the Jedi were dead except for a couple) and the new Star Wars did it terribly - there's all these super powerful Jedi with crazy mind tricks, and NOT ONE OF THEM figures out that the biggest, baddest, evilest Jedi of them all works right down the hall. As Yoda would say, break me a freaking give.

Also, on a related note, as far as I know no one has ever managed to do time travel in an internally consistent manner(TMQ has pointed this out on a number of occasions in regards to Star Trek).

I would say something football related, but there's honestly not that much to work with in this edition of TMQ.

by Ivarsson, Sweden (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 4:59am

RE: I would say something football related, but there’s honestly not that much to work with in this edition of TMQ.

You could argue there's not that much football-related (what's there is mostly soap opera-related, it seems) for TMQ to work with right now.

by Ivarsson, Sweden (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 6:00am

Found a fun, old SI cover from 1998. Says "Boom or Bust? - Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf"

Boy, were they right...

(Yeah, totally irrelevant to the TMQ column, except the obvious "all predictions wrong or your money back"-reference)

by Ray (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 9:55am

As said in #12, who says that blaster shots travel at the speed of light? It's a blaster, not a laser. They might not even be as fast as some bullets. No physics conundrum there outside of the existence of the weapons in question.

What sort of annoyed me about this TMQ (and by the way I do enjoy them in general, but since we're all nitpicking here...) was when he complained about how the jedi kids were killed in the movie. How is that like a middle finger to all parents going to see the movie? So Lucas wanted to show that Anikan had turned into a really bad guy that was capable of doing terrible things. Easterbrook felt personally affronted by that?

Anyway, I'm looking forward to next week when the column will be about football again.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 10:12am

In EP IV, Darth Vader had a whole planet destroyed, wouldn't that be worse than killing a bunch of kids?

by El Angelo (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 10:39am

re 8 and 15: Easterbrook, much like his brother, is anything but a liberal. They're both extremely intelligent and fair-minded, but I would not classify them as leftists, by any stretch of the imagination.

Also, my guess is that his analysis of promising someone a raise verbally is a contract is incorrect; I'd have to check the Statute of Frauds in the UCC or in the state in question, but my guess is that it would have to be in writing to be anything remotely near binding.

by noahpoah (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 11:12am

Here's a second to ABW's comment about the jumps in Dukes of Hazzard - surely it's supposed to be funny, not realistic. Props to Gregg for referring to plural 'Generals Lee,' though. Nice touch. Makes me think of the 'News in Brief' from The Onion in which William Safire was overheard ordering 'two Whoppers junior.'

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 11:16am

I guess the retort on the evil-dude-non-detection front would be that Palpatine was so powerful as to be able to actively mask the disturbance in the force caused by his presence - like a Force Cloaking Device.

On the moral repugnance front, the element I actually found most disturbing was the implied endorsement on Lucas' part of carbon-fascism, as Obi Wan and (still-a-good-guy) Anakin massacred scores of fleeing droid crewmen who posed no threat to them whatsoever as the critically damaged ship hurtled towards oblivion. And if we're supposed to think that clones would not disturb the force, that may be even worse - or at least more idiotic.

by noahpoah (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 11:41am

Re: #16 "Also, on a related note, as far as I know no one has ever managed to do time travel in an internally consistent manner(TMQ has pointed this out on a number of occasions in regards to Star Trek)."

Check out Primer. Fantastic movie.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 12:28pm

My Star Wars question is rather simple: How do you select one among a group of clones to be the leader of the clones?

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 12:36pm

In the Star Wars universe, not all the clones are created equal. Some clones are given characteristics and training better suited for leadership, these clones would be the officers in the clone army, although the Generals and Admirals are all non-clones.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 12:47pm

Unfortunately, the Empire didn't expend much resources on either marksmanship training or on cloning the 'depth perception' gene.

Is it me, or was this column rather light on actual football? I mean, unusually so - even by TMQ standards.

And on that note, 12 Monkeys is the only SF movie I've seen that was able to handle the time travel paradox.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 12:52pm

TMQ's pre-season columns are berefit of football information because he feels that pre-season football games are a poor substitute for real NFL action. With the clones it's important to remember that the storm troopers in ep 4-6 arn't clones at all, but conscripts recruited from the empire's planets. Remember in the begining of episode 4, look wants to join the imperial academy and become a pilot.

by Harry (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 1:01pm

If Easterbrook wants to do SF, he has to move on. Star Wars and Star Trek are old and dated. It's time for him to jump on the Battlestar Galactica and Serenity bandwagons.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 1:05pm

I had a problem with his gripe about Anakin's slaughter of the younglings. He had to do that in order to become the evil entity that was Vader. Vader isn't a good person, and when Benedict XVI (tell me dude does not look like Palpatine!) told him to kill all the Jedi, he did so. What's he supposed to do, wait until they're of age?

by Ray (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 1:52pm

RE #27 "And on that note, 12 Monkeys is the only SF movie I’ve seen that was able to handle the time travel paradox."

SPOILER ALERT (don't read this if you've never seen 12 Monkeys)

Actually, while they did it better than most movies, 12 Monkeys screwed it up too. The problem is that they had the 'present' timeline (with Willis in our time) and the 'future' timeline (where Willis was sent back from) progressing in lock step. When Willis would discover something in the 'present', the 'future' would act on it as if they couldn't change where Willis was in the 'present'.

Case in point: At the end, Willis' friend from the 'future' comes back and gives him the gun to kill the guy who's trying to spread the virus. He gives him the gun right when the guy's trying to get on a plane to spread the virus. What follows is the inevitability of running around in an airport with a gun. If they knew at some point in the 'future' who was responsible (as they must have in order to have sent the gun back), then why didn't they send the guy with the gun back even earlier when there was more time to take action? They have time travel, they could have sent him back at any time to take out the bad guy. But they send him back to a point when performing the task would have been all but impossible.

Anyway, that's what I remember thinking when I saw the movie. Admittedly it's been a while, so I might have missed something. ;^)

by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 1:53pm

I may be wrong, but I think people are ready for some football...

by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 1:56pm

The funniest moment in any of the SW movies is from the first one (Ep. 4), where Kenobi and Luke have come across the massacred Jawas and the giant truck/village. Luke (I think) suggests that Sandmen must have done it, while Kenobi examines the destruction, and contradicts him. "Only Imperial Stormtroopers are this accurate." Fantastic stuff, as for the next six movies Imperial Stormtroopers are less accurate than the past 20 Lions QB's combined (or less accurate than any Telecom's fiscal statements from 1998 through 2002). Good times, indeed.

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 2:02pm

His thesis is that they’re making the stunts in movies so extreme and unnatural that it takes away from the enjoyment of it. (I think that’s largely bull hockey, the #1 problem is lousy scripts, put that’s not my point.)

Well, I'd rather watch a movie with a good script and no special effects (I just saw "Must Love Dogs" and enjoyed it) than one with a mediocre script and awesome effects (Still haven't seen the latest Star Wars).

by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 2:10pm

Ha! I never noticed that HLF...you're right, that is pretty funny. :) I think what I love about the newest ones is how all the aliens speak English. What happened to subtitles? :p

by Scott Boras (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 2:12pm

"Renegotiate" is not in my vocabulary. I advise players to consider all the variables, such as injury vs. improvement, before they sign a contract.

I have had players call me about bad contracts they had signed and I always advise that the sanctity of the contract is important for the survival of any system based on performance. To change it when there is improvement is a double-edged sword that will inevitably lead to degrading the contract when the player malperforms.
Unless there is a provision allowing for changes based on performance, anyone who advocates change puts all his clients in jeopardy. It becomes subjective, degrading contracts just as often as improving them, and anarchy results.

Terrell Owens argues that the owners have the ability to void his contract at any time. While this seems unjust, this is in the NFL CBA. This is a huge issue that should be raised at the next collective bargaining session, but not in the context of an individual player. Owens knew this provision existed when he signed his contract.

by MDS (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 2:20pm

When it comes to time travel in the movies, I've always been partial to the way Doc explains what happened when Biff got Gray's Sports Almanac in Back to the Future 2.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 2:45pm

While not SF, Rowling approaches time travel fairly well in Harry Potter.

by SLB (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 2:50pm

RE: Post 21

The Statute of Frauds as contained in the UCC does not apply to service contracts, but instead applies only to the sale of goods. Football players do not satisfy the definition of "goods" as stated in the UCC (although there may be very slight variations among the various states.") TMQ is completely right regarding the binding nature of oral contracts. Unless the contract is so vague to be considered illusory, it is binding.

TMQ Forever!

by zach (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 2:56pm

re #36:

it doesn't seem unjust to me. my boss can fire me any time he wants, too.

by Scott Boras (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 3:04pm

By the way, #36 comes from a Baseball Prosectus chat.

by Liam (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 3:20pm

Re #27 & #31

I reckon 12 monkeys did a good job of the time travel paradox.

The plan isn't to kill the guy with the virus, but get a pure form of the virus before it mutated so they can find a cure in "the future", since killing the guy would be a paradox.

(You could argue that Bruce Willis didn't get the gun to stop the man with the virus, but rather to make sure that Bruce Willis dies there and then.)

They get the whole thing to work by having the main character be in a confused state for a large part of the film (similar to fight club, where inconsistancies can be put down to the main character being a bit mental).

by JasonK (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 3:21pm

re #21:

I'm guessing that Easterbrook is often called a liberal because he works at Brookings and writes for the New Republic, which are both (somewhat unfairly) considered to be liberal institutions.

As for the verbal promise issue, what he said was accurate as to the common law, but it is almost always contracted around. Among the small print at the bottom of nearly every contract is an "integration clause" that states that this agreement is the whole agreement between the parties and any modification must be in writing. A later verbal promise could technically be considered a totally separate contract, but I'm guessing that the CBA also has a written-contract requirement.

by Countertorque (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 3:24pm

RE: #31

It was clear in that movie that they were unable to control the time travel very well. They could not always send people to the exact moment, or even the exact decade, that they wanted.

by apocalipstick (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 3:51pm

Re #40

But you're also free to try and get more money out of your boss any time you want. If the team has the right to terminate the player at any time, then the player has the right to get any and all moneys he can before such time.

by Randy Winter (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 3:58pm

'liberal' = 6 a : of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism b capitalized : of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; especially : of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives

One definition of 'liberal' - closer to libertarian than to lefty.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 4:53pm

If players are unsatisfied with the lack of guaranteed money in their contract, then they are free to hold out for larger signing bonuses prior to signing the contract. Having said that, I have no problem with a player under contract holding out, as long as the team retains the right to recoup bonus money already paid. In such circumstances, teams are much less willing to re-negotiate relatively young contracts, and more willing to re-do older contracts, since the players' leverage changes over the term of a contract.

The biggest problem in NFL contracts today is the inordinate amount of money paid to first round draft choices who have yet to prove their ability. If I were an owner, I'd be willing to increase the percentage of revenues devoted to salaries in return for not having a system where somebody who hasn't completed an NFL pass gets 24 million guaranteed dollars. This would further increase the trend toward parity as well, which has benefited the NFL mightily. Upper first round guaranteed money has become so large that signing such players puts teams with bad records in inordinately risky situations

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 5:24pm

One reason The New Republic is considered to be a liberal institution is that it IS a liberal institution, just as the National Review is a conservative institution. Neither one makes any secret of their biases, since their missions are to present opinions from liberal/conservative viewpoints. (I remember hearing that they're the left/right mags of the same company, but couldn't find anything about it, other than their frequent collaborations at opinionduel.com, so I could be wrong as usual) So GE having a high editorial position for them makes me think it's likely that he at least leans liberal, even though on some matters he definitely sounds conservative.

by Mike (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 6:14pm

I take full credit for suggesting that TMQ conduct some in depth'research' tp determine the statistics for how many models in the SI Swimsuit issue were actually 'wearing'swimsuits...the numbers are staggering.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 6:49pm

Regarding the CBA, I'm pretty sure that it specifically lists verbal-only contracts as illegal, since these are clearly intended to get around the salary cap. I think the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA have been sanctioned for this in the past, and I imagine the NFL CBA language is similar.

Thus, this would override such general guidelines as common law and UCC. (At least in my non-legal view of the universe.)

by apocalipstick (not verified) :: Wed, 08/10/2005 - 11:42pm

The biggest problem in NFL contracts today is the inordinate amount of money paid to first round draft choices who have yet to prove their ability.

Now that is an excellent point. "Pay for potential/draft order" does a lot to wreak havoc w/ the salary cap.

by Nuk (not verified) :: Thu, 08/11/2005 - 12:47am

#11: Light has zero mass, not a very small mass. Momentum = mv does not apply to light. The momentum of a photon is Planck's constant divided by the wavelength of the light. So, while the momentum of massive objects increases rapidly as their velocities approach light speed, the momentum of light itself just depends on its wavelength (color) and intensity, and is very small.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/11/2005 - 1:04am

Re: #24. I saw Primer, and damnify know what happened in the last 1/3 of that movie. I also wasn't interested enough to watch it again to try and figure it out. Interesting movie, and great job on a tiny budget, but not a coherent explanation of time travel.

by Makula (not verified) :: Thu, 08/11/2005 - 8:07am

#23 I guess the retort on the evil-dude-non-detection front would be that Palpatine was so powerful as to be able to actively mask the disturbance in the force caused by his presence - like a Force Cloaking Device.

When I first read this I thought, "Well if the emporer is so freaking powerful, then why didn't he just kill all of the jedi." Then I realized...he did.

by Xao (not verified) :: Thu, 08/11/2005 - 1:25pm

You've gotta love a site with insightful football commentary, Star Wars apologetics, and Firefly references. It's the embodiment of a diabolical Venn digram designed to absorb any free time...

by HLF (not verified) :: Thu, 08/11/2005 - 2:11pm

Don't forget the physics lessons...

by Opiwan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/11/2005 - 5:30pm

On a completely unrelated note, anyone notice earlier this year that TMQ's Official Brother was one of the names mentioned as a possible replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the Supreme Court? I think my jaw dropped at about the speed of light (or at least a blaster bolt) when I saw it...

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Thu, 08/11/2005 - 6:20pm

"damnify know"

That's an eggcorn I've never seen before.

by Kami (not verified) :: Sat, 08/13/2005 - 1:25am

"In the final installment, Lucas ... gratuitously [depicted] children being slaughtered."

What movie was he watching? I can read the Enquirer if I want that kind of scandalous editorialism.
By this same standard, his beloved swimsuit pinups might as well be called gratuitously hardcore porn because of the inherent suggestion.

I really want to still like TMQ, but he makes it so hard for me anymore.