I haven’t written about dumb professional football coaches and players for awhile, not because of a shortage of stupidity, but because there is so much of it. As a 49er fan since 1954, I’ve seen a lot of the good, and more and more lately, the bad. The 49er owners and coaches were miserable in the 1970’s, then for the most part were great under Eddie DeBartolo and Bill Walsh. What was Eddie’s claim to smarts? He hired Bill Walsh, then let him run the team. And what about Bill Walsh? The only really dumb thing he did was retire too soon.
But then Eddie used unbelievably poor judgment and had to step down as owner, and the bad decisions rained down. A good coach like Steve Mariucci was fired, and Jeff Garcia, who was a worthy successor to Montana and Young, was let go along with the receiver he made great, Terrell Owens. Now the Niners have dumped Jim Harbaugh, continuing their tradition of abhorrent front office management.
Harbaugh, of course, did his share of stupid things. In the Super Bowl against the Ravens, with one of the league’s best running backs, Frank Gore, and its best running quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers threw the same incomplete pass three times from the Raven’s six yard line. Faced with similar circumstance in the NFC title game against the Seahawks the following year, Kaepernick threw the same pass, this time for an interception.
Which brings me to tonight’s Super Bowl, or as it should forever be known, the Stupid Bowl. With the ball on the Patriot’s one yard line, and with the NFL’s best short-yardage running back, Marshawn Lynch, and second-best running quarterback, Russell Wilson, the Seahawk brain trust had Wilson throw an interception.
The incredible irony of this is that if the situation was reversed, Tom Brady would have scored on a quarterback sneak.
The Patriots did dumb things too. Russell Wilson looked like a deer in the headlights frequently when he dropped back to pass, but I don’t think the Patriot defensive players ever saw a bull fight or Judo. Like a bull charging the matador’s cape, a Patriot defender would rush at high speed directly at Wilson, who easily sidestepped and then became very dangerous as a passer or a runner.
However, giving credit where credit is due, both offenses did a good job of clock management, unlike most of the 49er games this year. When the 49ers were not earning delay-of-game penalties, or wasting time outs avoiding having them called, they were running out of bounds when they should have stayed in and kept the clock running, or vice versa.
And for the league as a whole, there are all the stupid taunting and excessive celebration penalties that give away or take away first downs, or screw up field position. If I were a coach, I would give offenders “time outs” and fine them for wasting teammates’ efforts and hurting the team by undisciplined and selfish actions.
But after today I’m left asking: “What are they paying these guys for?”