NFL

We are witnessing a major escalation of right-to-life opinion-mongering--and backlash against it--in the sporting world, thanks to an ad starring football idol Tim Tebow for James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. It will air during the Super Bowl. According to an AP sports article: The former Florida quarterback and his mother will appear in a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl next month.

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Actually, the crowd was a bit larger because the overflow was in a room across the street from the Northeastern University gymnasium. Two of my friends, foreigners who can't vote, said that right next to them was an anti-abortion hysteric--"Abortion! Abortion! Innocent Blood!"--noticed by the cops and taken out by them only after a noisy hassle. In fact, there were three of these hysterics. All this comes from a story, "Pulling out all the stops," in this morning's Boston Globe. I have no idea who will win tomorrow's contest.

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Everybody's making football analogies these days. Ezra Klein argues that political reporters should follow the example of football, and have political specialists and policy specialists, rather than try to make their reporters do both: Sadly, the political media isn't as well organized as your average football team. There are two big things that go on in this town: Politics and policy. It would make a lot of sense to have people who focus mainly on one or the other, and news outlets do.

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Mike and the Mad Dog

Steven Fatsis: Can Mike Shanahan save the Redskins?

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(Note: if you're not either a football fan or a legal aficionado, you probably want to skip over this post.) Ashby Jones from the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog flags an interesting discussion in the legal blogosphere from last week: why are instant replays in the NFL and college football subjected to a heightened standard of review?  As football fans know, a call on the field is supposed to be overturned after instant replay only if there is "conclusive" or "indisputable" video evidence that the call was wrong.  If the video leaves room for debate, the call on the field stands. Law professor

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The coaching rein of Charlie Weis, with its endless gifts to satirists and Notre Dame-haters, has sadly come to its inevitable conclusion as he was relieved of his coaching duties yesterday. Weis began his career riding an epic wave of hype, exceeding even that of his predecessor, Tyrone Willingham. When I wrote an article for Slate two years ago puncturing that hype, I was somewhat out on a counterintuitive limb. Today, almost nobody defends Weis, and most recognize that his early success was a mirage. But not everybody!

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Scripture Picture

The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (W.W. Norton, 224 pp., $24.95)  A certain amount of sensationalistic misinformation was circulated in the press last spring, here and in England, when word got out that R. Crumb had done an illustrated version of Genesis. Crumb was the leading innovative figure of the underground comics movement of the late 1960s and has enjoyed a devoted following ever since. His graphic work, always memorable, is often physically aggressive, raunchy, and sexually explicit.

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Matt Yglesias is right that it would be absurd for the District of Columbia to build a new a stadium for the Redskins on the site where their old stadium, RFK, now sits. Since pro football stadiums go unused for most of the year, owing to the NFL's 16-game schedule, they don't help their surrounding neighborhoods in the same way baseball and basketball/hockey stadiums do. Better to do something else with the RFK site; Yglesias's sensible alternative plan for the site unexpectedly even includes a park! That said, I do think something was lost when the Redskins abandoned D.C.

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In the middle of a really interesting article that's mostly about education, Malcom Gladwell offers this aside: N.F.L. teams don’t run the spread. They can’t. The defenders in the pros are so much faster than their college counterparts that they would shoot through those big gaps in the offensive line and flatten the quarterback. Some version of this explanation has actually been floating around for as long as I've been a football fan.Anything that happens in the college game but not the pro game is because the NFL is too fast.

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As a native of the city that boasts Southern California's only NFL franchise, I'm a bit puzzled by Kevin Drum's antipathy towards the league: [L]ike any sensible resident of the Los Angeles area in the post-Rams era, I hate the NFL with a burning passion. Local LA politics might not give us much to be proud of, but it does give us at least one reason to hold our heads high: our steadfast refusal to give an inch to the smarmy blackmailers of the NFL who, to a man, are convinced that every city in the country should shower them with riches for the privilege of hosting one of their teams.

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