Fourth and Long

Published 12:20 pm Friday, March 23, 2012

It seems weird to be writing about football in the midst of March Madness, but with all that has happened this week I simply can’t not write about it.

The “where will Peyton Manning wind up” game has finally reached its conclusion with John Elway and the Denver Broncos being the apparent winner.

The Broncos seemed from the beginning to be the most likely landing spot for Manning if for no reason other than it may one of the only teams in the NFL that will allow him the same kind of freedom to run the offense from the line of scrimmage that he was afforded in Indianapolis.

Manning is most effective when he is given 3 or 4 play options and is allowed to choose one at the line of scrimmage based on personnel mismatches, defensive alignment, down and distance.

He is, in my opinion, the hardest working quarterback and possibly the smartest offensive mind in the NFL. That includes coaches as well and I just couldn’t see Manning wanting to go anywhere that he would be fed the next play in the huddle by an offensive coordinator not nearly as qualified as he is.

The addition of Manning in Denver appears to have ended the Tim Tebow experience in Mile High Stadium and as I write this it seems that the New Jersey Jets (ok, officially they are the New York Jets but they practice and play in Jersey) are the most likely landing spot for the much heralded quarterback.

Tebow was a media circus in Denver and I cannot imagine the amount of media attention he will receive from the New York press. I am also curious to see how Mark Sanchez responds to the Jets bringing in such a high profile quarterback, regardless of his unique playing style.

What I am looking forward to more than anything however is how the seemingly humble and devout Christian quarterback will mesh with the loud, brash and less than devout Christian coach of the Jets, Rex Ryan. If ever there was a season for the HBO hit show Hard Knocks to feature the Jets it will be this one.

The other big news around the NFL this week was the punishment handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to the New Orleans Saints. While the penalties are numerous, the most impactful one will most likely be the one year suspension of head coach Sean Payton.

Some may call it harsh, but given the details that have come out over the last few weeks, particularly that the Saints were deceitful and dishonest with the league,  I think the decision was not only the right one but was quite smart on the commissioner’s part.

Goodell is anything but popular amongst the players because of his seeming to be judge and jury in regards to player punishments for on and off the field actions. This harsh and swift punishment of the New Orleans Saints coach and organization sends a clear message to the players and their union that nobody is above Goodell’s law.

It may also save the NFL millions or billions of dollars in future lawsuits by former players. I would not be surprised if a few came forward claiming that the NFL was negligent in regards to ensuring the safety of league players.

It may seem ridiculous that professional football players would blame someone else for injuries while playing such a violent sport but that won’t stop anyone from trying. Seems ridiculous to sue a restaurant for serving you hot coffee before spilling it on yourself but again that hasn’t stopped people from trying and winning.


David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publishing. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at