As Sam Sees It

Football season is here again, competing with baseball for our attention in September and October. My attention is still mostly on the baseball pennant races, but the changes in the Arizona Cardinals’ coaching and personnel and the great start by the Arizona State Sun Devils have made me turn an eye to the grid iron scene. The Winslow High School Bulldogs having a legitimate state championship contender draws its share of interest when one contemplates the football picture.

No one that I know has any real say about football rules at any level. That is too bad, because there are several changes that cry out for change. Sooner or later, those who do have the power to alter the rules must see the need.

First and foremost, football games last too long on too many occasions. The culprit is the rule that stops the clock after every incomplete pass. Many, if not most teams, pass more than they did in the past. It is not unusual to see college games start at 7 p.m. and end well after 10 p.m. It might be worth the extra time in a competitive game. It is not in a one-sided contest. That one is easy to fix. Just start the clock when the ball is marked ready for play. It makes sense to revert to the old rule for the last two minutes of a half and preserve the much revered and exciting “two minute drill.”

The next change need is just at the college level. The move to emphasize the “taunting” rule has resulted in ridiculous penalties in at least two University of Arizona games. One benefited the ‘Cats, the other hurt them. Granted, something should be done to quell the “trash talk,” but penalizing a player for looking at the crowd or giving an incomplete signal is over-officiating with a vengeance.

Finally, the professional game needs to adopt the college and high school rule regarding pass interference. The only reason this is true is that the pro game is often decided on very questionable interference calls. The officials this season are calling “illegal contact” after five yards and offensive players have long enjoyed immunity from interference calls against them. This change would take some of the sting out of the questionable calls we see against defensive back in virtually every NFL game.

Owner Bill Bidwill and the Arizona Cardinals have long been whipping boys of the Phoenix area media. Despite their 0-3 start, the Cardinals are playing better this year and are trying to build a winner. Bidwill has made mistakes in the past. Who hasn’t? He has also been blamed for mistakes he didn’t make and forced into others by his listening to his critics. For me, his worst mistake was firing Joe Bugel and hiring Buddy Ryan. Arizona would have been a playoff team several times had that not happened and my guess is Bidwill knows it now.

The Cardinals are accused of dismantling potentially winning teams. The same people who criticize them for that give the Arizona Diamondbacks a pass for dismantling a proven winning team. This writer is, unapologetically a fan of the Diamondbacks, but not so much as to accept uncritically the trade of Curt Schilling and the failure to resign Miguel Batista that decimated the pitching staff for this season. The Erubriel Durazo for Elmer Dessens deal also sticks in my craw. 

Those are legitimate criticisms. There aren’t many worse deals in the Cardinals’ rap sheet.

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