Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Flu Vaccines
June 16, 2011

University of Florida football  fans everywhere are downcast today at the news that former quarterback Danny Wuerffel has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks part of the nervous system. The 1996 Heisman Trophy winner was one of the all-time great college quarterbacks, leading the Gators to 4 SEC championships in 4 years, and the 1996 national championship. His NFL career was less successful, however--just 10 starts and 2100 passing yards over 6 seasons--and he retired from the game in 2002.

The Rich Are Different: They're Luckier
April 01, 2011

This long attack on the unfairness of progressive taxation from the Hoover Institution by Kip Hagopian usefully embodies a lot of right-wing delusions about income inequality. It argues that a person's income is determined by three things: America’s free enterprise system provides an environment in which the substantial majority of its citizens can realize their fullest earnings potential.

How The NFL Filibustered Overtime Reform
February 10, 2011

In response to my item yesterday about a totally unworkable proposal to reform NFL overtime, which overwhelmingly favors the team that wins the coin toss, reader David Leonhardt sent his 2005 article about a much more feasible (and interesting plan): A bolder, and fairer, idea comes from two fans, Andrew and Chris Quanbeck, engineers who have sent their proposal to N.F.L. teams. William S.

NFL Overtime Reform And Progressive Overreach
February 09, 2011

  Steven Brams and James Jorash propose a new system to eliminate the advantage of receiving the ball first in NFL overtime games: Dispensing with a coin toss, the teams would bid on where the ball is kicked from by the kicking team. In the NFL, it's now the 30-yard line. Under Brams and Jorasch's rule, the kicking team would be the team that bids the lower number, because it is willing to put itself at a disadvantage by kicking from farther back.

Ben Roethlisberger and the Future of Football
February 04, 2011

This past summer, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell found himself facing a situation every authority figure dreads. His reputation hinged on how he handled a greasy-haired young man sitting in front of him, brandishing a smirk. The lug in question was Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, who had been accused of rape for the second time in a year, in this instance by a 20-year-old college student in Georgia. Arming himself for the conversation, Goodell had talked to two dozen other players, including other Steelers.

Tim Tebow’s Only Super Bowl Appearance?
January 19, 2010

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.

"A Capacity Crowd" of 1,500 Turns Out for Obama and Poor Martha Coakley
January 18, 2010

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.

How Politics Is, And Is Not, Like Football
January 12, 2010

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.

Mike and the Mad Dog
January 08, 2010

Steven Fatsis: Can Mike Shanahan save the Redskins?

Football, Instant Replay, and Arbitrariness
December 08, 2009

(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