The Couch Slouch

Upon even further review, NFL replay isn't solving anything

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In an adult lifetime of myriad miscalculation, I have been absolutely right about only three things – the delight of Popeyes chicken, the danger of the Internet and the disaster of replay as an officiating tool.

This must be at least the seventh time I have written about replay after pledging to never write about replay again.

Since the first version of replay was used by the NFL in 1986, I have argued that this is a long road to ruin. For those of you just joining us in America, let's review the basics again:

Replay shatters the flow of the game.

Replay reduces the spontaneous joy of the game.

Replay changes how we watch the game.

All of this in the name of the mantra of replay ruffians: We've got to get it right.

Actually, we don't have to get it right – a missed call here and there has yet to tumble any republic – and, actually, despite all the time they take, they sometimes still don't get it right.

For a moment, let's give the yahoos the benefit of the doubt and assume that, with replay, they now get it right all of the time.

So what?

Are we better off?

If replay were used during, say, a honeymoon, I guess that might ensure that eventually you would get it right, but it really takes all the romance out of it, no?

In certain areas of life, getting it is right is simply not that critical.

Yes, with education, health care and climate change, you want to get it right.

But pass interference?

A nation turns its lonely eyes to the side judge?

During the Chiefs-Raiders game on CBS Sept. 15, Jim Nantz and Tony Romo were talking about how the standard for the challenge to overturn a call or a non-call on pass interference is "egregious," not just that it is "clear and obvious." Huh? It either is or isn't – why is it a matter of degree? Isn't the replay done to take out the subjective element and this just adds a subjective element to it?

Heck, my Twitter account filed a workers comp suit against me for the overload caused by all the pass-interference contretemps in last Thursday night's Eagles-Packers game.

Pass interference is this season's holy grail of replay; it was inevitable. Slowly but surely, we will reach the point in which every play of every game is reviewed.

For replay as an officiating tool, my friends, is a slippery slope, which causes "slippery slope syndrome" – from the Latin slopus slipperitis syndromus – first identified by Eratosthenes on a Carnivalus Cruise to Crete in 223 B.C.

Are some of you still baffled by the perils of a slippery slope?

Basically, it is a slope that is slippery. Why is this important? Because when you are on a slope, it is hard to get solid footing because you are on a slope. And if it's real slippery, boy oh boy, every time you try to get traction, you slip a little and then you slip a little more and, sooner or later, in your attempt to climb the slope or even just maintain your position on the slope, you discover you've slipped to the bottom of the slope.

And do you know what is at the bottom of the slope?

A lot of people who have made their bed and now everybody – players, coaches, fans, on-field officials, replay officials, NFL officiating center honchos in New York, yammering talking heads on TV and radio – has to lie in it. That is one crowded bed; it's no wonder somebody falls off of it from time to time.

Anyway, I have been told repeatedly that once we began this replay routine, we could never return to the old ways. Uh, guess what? You can put the genie back in the bottle, and if you bought the bottle at Costco, they will even refund your money, no questions asked.

Incidentally, did you see what happened to the Saints last season against the Rams in the NFC championship game? That had to be pass interference – how come that wasn't a big deal?

Ask the slouch

Q. WAR (Wins Above Replacement) seems to be the rage with MLB stat freaks. If WAR could be calculated for sportswriters, any idea what yours might be? (Joel Miller; Pittsburgh)

A. In sportswriting, we have EAR (Expenses Above Replacement); as someone who only consumes yogurt and Yuengling on business trips, I believe my numbers would be the envy of the industry.

Q. If I take your advice and stop actually bowling to watch bowling, can I get paid for it like Eli Manning is getting paid to watch football? (Tom Logan; Sterling, Va.)

A. Uh, I didn't tell anybody to stop bowling so they could watch bowling. YOU CAN DO BOTH. Geez. You bowl during business hours and you watch DVR'd bowling after business hours. How hard is that?

Q. Maryland football this season has won, 79-0, and lost, 59-0. Does a Maryland education prepare its student-athletes for such emotional swings? (Lisa Epstein; Lansing, Mich.)

A. A Maryland education generally prepares its student-athletes for the night shift at Jiffy Lube.

Q. Is it true that the NFL is suing SeaWorld for exclusive use of the term "Dolphin Tank"? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!


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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and blogger. Check out her new blog, HTown Run Tourist. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @HTownRunTourist. Facebook @jovanabernathy. Join her facebook group: H-Town Run Tourist

Six years ago, I got this great idea to become a tourist of Houston on foot. I had no idea what I was doing or where it was going. All I knew was to put on my running shoes, walk out the door, and just go. Go learn, go talk, go ask without judgements. What I found is that Houston was full of diversity. We all knew that. However, let yourself be immersed in it. Look and listen to the sounds of different languages being spoken around you. Smell the scents of the different cuisines. You would think you were in a foreign country. This made me more curious.

As I explored the emotion of curiosity, it led me to change my behavior. Where I might have rushed to this place and to the next, I took it slower. Where, usually, I would have just assumed that I already knew, I found myself asking more questions. When I asked more questions, I had to acknowledge that I did not already know, so I practiced listening. As I listened more, I felt compelled to show more appreciation to the person who interrupted their busy day to educate me. This made me feel grateful.

I took that gratitude and wanted to share with others. It blew my mind when people would say that they hated Houston. It was boring. The people are mean and it was ugly. And even more shocking was Houston is not walkable. Instead of getting offended, I decided to do my part in brightening up the day of the Houstonians who were stuck in a rut. Who saw and did the same things day after day. I didn't judge because I knew they could get out of that rut by simply deciding that today they do something different. I braced myself for rejection, but put myself out there to share the wonderful things that I had learned about Houston. Given the chance, the vast majority, was ready to learn a different way. This made me proud.

It is true that 2020 has been full of disasters. These are opportunities if we choose to see them that way. If anything that COVID-19 taught me the answer was not MORE, but it is LESS. We have the tendency to take on too much, we had the unique opportunity to take on less. Thus, instead of going to exhaustion, we had the opportunity to rest.

Then, the tragedy of the death of Houston's own George Floyd happened. It could not have happened at a worse time. My heart goes out to his family. Some might use it as an opportunity to work out their own frustrations by causing more problems with violence and looting. My hope is that whatever happens will be an expression of appropriate sadness, but with Houston's best attributes; curiosity, gratitude, and pride. Instead of LESS it is time for MORE. MORE curiosity. To see if Houston's law enforcement cares about the well-being of Houston's black community and make changes in protocols. MORE gratitude. For the opportunity to express the frustration in a peaceful way. MORE pride. To not destroy this city and give it over to violence possibly doing more damage to the economics of business owners. We can see this as the opportunity to take time to heal.

Houston has changed. As I restart my exploration, I'm not looking for LESS. I'm looking for MORE this time. I'm looking with MORE curiosity. Because I know that we have even MORE to show each other. I'm looking with MORE gratitude because we have endured so much already and there are better times ahead. And, I'm looking with MORE pride because just as we did it before, we still have it in us to do it again. I have one request: if you see me in the streets, promise me that you will say hello.

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