Monday, September 13, 2010

Lions Fans: Definitive Post on "ProcessGate"

The gist of this fine discussion, from the Det Lions Blog Pride of Detroit is that the rule is ambiguous and there are two portions or "items" that conflict with one another. I don't think I agree. The rule as written would render a judgment of touchdown if it had been interpreted correctly. It looks to me like there was a crappy interpretation of the rule, which boggles the mind, because the powers that be spent so much time reviewing the play. A fairly straightforward reading of the text that Pride of Detroit gives would rule touchdown:

Here's the text of the rule along with some of POD's commentary.

Article 3. Completed or Intercepted Pass. A player who makes a catch may advance the ball. A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player, who is inbounds:

(a) secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and
(b) touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands.
. . .

If the player loses the ball while simultaneously touching both feet or any part of his body other than his hands to the ground, or if there is any doubt that the acts were simultaneous, it is not a catch.

Based on that part of the rule, Johnson made a catch. The caveat is the "Item 1" portion of the rule, which deals with going to the ground.

Item 1: Player Going to the Ground. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

This specific item is the main problem with the rule, because there is nothing specific about how long a player must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground. It simply states that he must maintain control after touching the ground, which is where the idea of this being a process comes from. The problem is there is nothing about how long of a process this is, which leaves the rule open to complete interpretation. While some, including the officials, may see the play and think it was incomplete, others, like myself, believe it was a catch.

And here's the conflicting "Item"

Item 3: End Zone Catches. If a player catches the ball while in the end zone, both feet must be completely on the ground before losing possession, or the pass is incomplete.

So, reading literally, Johnson satisfied 3 a and b. The POD post suggests that Item 1 implies he did not make full contact with the ground before he placed the ball down. However, that reading seems to assume that we cannot count his two feet and butt making contact as "touching the ground". Why the hell not? With that natural reading there is no conflict between parts of the rule. So, it looks like a bad interpretation of the rule, not a bum rule is to blame for this fiasco. Indeed, Item 3 reinforces this reading.

A new way forward, or back to the future?

A group, calling itself the "THE AFGHANISTAN STUDY GROUP" has released a report entitled A New Way Forward: Rethinking U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan (PDF HERE) HTML HERE

Now, I'm certainly less expert than a good number of folks on the signatory list, or those that have commented upon the report, but apparently the reviews from those more in the know than I have been less than positive. Two examples.

Joshua Foust (via WOI)

Max Boot

The First review is an exercise in devastation, and probably does all the work that really needs to be done. It scores a 10 in the Fisking category, and cannot be improved upon. Having read the summary I can only add or rather repeat some points that have already been raised.

The report advocates a realpolitik approach to Afghanistan which would involve a substantial withdrawal, and total reliance on special operations and drone strikes in dealing with AQ in Afghanistan. It also seems to argue either that the Taliban will not retake Afghanistan upon our exit, or that it isn't really much to worry about if they do, because they may be a New and Improved Taliban Lite.

The New Way also repeats argumentation we heard concerning Iraq a few years ago; vis, that Afghanistan is in the throws of a major civil war, between multiple ethnic and religious groups, country and city, and that we are beyond naive in trying to nation build in the area, that we are going to be mired in the dreaded quagmire if we try to settle things..even a Vietnam reference..You know the drill.

The report claims that our interests would be better served if we abandoned our attempt to create a democratic central government for the country, instead "lightening our footprint" and exerting essentially diplomatic pressure as the primary thrust of effort toward assuring that whatever government does develop is not a humanitarian and civil rights disaster. They advocate a year long withdrawal, and leaving enough forces (however much that may be) to train up the Afghans and prevent an upsurge in barbarism. One wonders how a smaller force than we presently have could accomplish all that. Can we really afford to lessen the force if we really want to assure these things? Be that as it may, the argument claims that these steps would go far toward improving our image in the region. How would that be?

Absent assent to the report's assurances that the threat of the Taliban is overblown, and that present conditions in the country would not allow for their return to power, one has very good reason to believe that we would, if we followed this advice, allow a bloodbath, and would justifiably be seen as abandoning our friends in the country. That will do our reputation a world of good. It would almost certainly be just another notch on the "America is basically realist" totem that is erected in that part of the world. Certainly that would be a propaganda coup for our enemies.

In general, I am mystified by the sanguine assurance there seems to be in some circles about the strategic and moral advisability of a return to Realism, a return to our past. It is precisely in that part of the world, that the shortcomings of 20th century realism are most apparent. In the interests of creating buffer against incursions of Communism, or checking other hostile regional powers we 'realistically' propped up and tolerated regimes that were not big on human rights.

Tit for tat, they were/are supposed to help us, at least in limited ways, (when we really apply some back channel pressure, or if we can convince them it's in their interests). At the same time, because they are not democratic states, they can repress, and at the same time feel like they can maintain power by either encouraging or tolerating anti-American sentiment. We, in turn tolerate all of this as the price we have to pay for their cooperation.

Some Results: Saudi Arabia double deals with us and our enemies, releases known terrorists after repatriation from Gitmo, and continues to spread vile anti-Semitic and anti-U.S. propaganda in mosques here in our homeland. The Pakistani government and its ISI is notoriously Janus faced. Pakistan itself is rife with bizarre conspiracy theories, demonizing the U.S. The Yeminis are, well.. unhelpful. We keep pouring money into the coffers of the Palestinian Authority, to no avail..& etc, etc. That's the status quo, partly sustained by a perception that the U.S. is after all Realistic, and doesn't do terribly much to change the regimes with which it has to deal, this to the detriment of the perceivers, the average folks in those areas of the world.

Now, compare that with relations we now have with Iraq, and even the nascent Afghan government. Consider the perceptions of the typical Iraqi. Does he consider us to be a country that doesn't give a flip about the nature of his government, just so long as they play with us when we need them to? No. He's had several years of watching people like Petraeus and Odierno. His picture of Americans is that of a people that are really making efforts to match their actions with their rhetoric.

Well, I believe an extended period of such sustained effort will do more for our reputation than would our precipitous withdrawal.

There is much more that can be said about the report, in terms of its factual inaccuracies as regards the political and military situation in Afghanistan, but you'd be better served looking to experts (like the posts linked above) for that. I'm done with my two cents..

Further proof for "The Curse of Bobby Layne"

Calvin (Megatron) Johnson catches a football, in a death foot down....two feet down...butt down, absolutely no juggling...and that is NOT a touchdown, according to the NFL rules. He didn't have 'possession through the process' of falling? Really? Really?? Let's review the film....Death foot down..the juggling...process complete?

This could only happen to the Lions. Further evidence that the CURSE EXISTS. Only the Lions...