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The NFL red zone stat is stunningly stupid

The best way to watch football, these days, is to be a Q.

A “Q” is someone who wears a blank, dim-witted expression, opens his mouth wide to form an O, then allows his tongue to droop from his mouth to form a Q.

Try it. There’s nothing to it. And that’s the point.

Late in last Sunday’s game, the Patriots, leading the Jets 22-6, had a first-and-goal. The Pats killed the clock with low-risk handoffs before kicking a field goal to remove all doubt. And that’s what happened, final score, 25-6.

This made indisputable, practical, game-ending sense. Yet it was entered for your future edification as a red zone failure, something the Pats must improve upon. After all, first-and-goal from the 5 and they had to kick a field goal. That’s a colossal failure! Even if it cemented the win.

It doesn’t matter if red zone stats are so misleading and misapplied that they’re worthless. The NFL and its obedient TV, radio, and print and digital media have mindlessly determined that they’re essential, that they enlighten us, help us understand the game.

Years after red zone stats were introduced, we know where the red zone begins — at the 20 and closer — but still don’t know when it begins, as in on what down. It’s another of those mystery stats to which we’re supposed to pledge unconditional allegiance.

The NFL’s red zone stat is incredible misleading.
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In the meantime, countless games are won by red zone “failures.”

But fourth-and-6 from the 19 and first-and-goal from the 2, they’re all the same, and they all tell the same story. And no matter how stunningly stupid, these stats and many others will remain as a valuable guide to better understand football as presented by those who don’t understand football.

So sit back and assume the suggested empty-headed facial position. And that’s your Q tip for the day.

‘Student’-athlete? Maybe, eventually, down the road

The notion that Duke is different from other win-at-any-costs Division I basketball programs is absurd. Duke is another otherwise academically prestigious university that serves as a false front for a basketball team, a form of well-financed racketeering, a charge that D-I schools probably would have trouble successfully defending in a court of law.

Last week, Duke landed one of the top national prospects, 7-foot-1 Dereck Lively, who said this about Jon Scheyer, coach Mike Krzyzewski’s replacement-in-waiting:

“We developed a real good connection. [Their plan is to] help me develop to become an NBA player. To help me master my game on the perimeter and inside-out.”

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski
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Lively also said he hopes to one day return to Duke to earn his degree.

Thus even before he enrolled — even before he arrived — he made it clear that he’ll soon be on his way out.

As Groucho Marx sang, “Hello, I must be going.” And it’s not just John Calipari’s one-and-done Kentucky, not anymore. That’s the plan for many. Student-athletics.


As are many cities and towns throughout the country, the Albany area is experiencing a shortage in high school game officials. The reason? Same as the rest of the country: The rotten, often threatening and vulgar conduct of parents, coaches and kids.

What role does TV play? Well, consider that replays of good football plays are still being sacrificed to the slow-motion replays of players showboating, while MLB commissioner Rob Manred advocates bat-flipping and home plate-posing as the way to kids’ hearts and minds.

The cumulative effect of such messages is enormous. And the systemically diminished presence of sport in our sports has been years in the making. And now here we are.

See that incredible viewing aid? See how it works? Now, stop watching it or you’ll go insane.


Friday from the Ryder Cup, Justin Thomas hit a shot on the par-3 third hole. NBC’s computerized, colorized shot-tracker showed the ball headed left, toward big, big trouble, perhaps even into Lake Michigan. The ball, however, landed in the center of the green.

The same thing occurred when Sergio Garcia hit toward the same green. It was computer-tracking far left, but landed in the center of the green. All day, the ball didn’t land close to where it was shown to be headed.

With all this We versus Them hype, wouldn’t it be worth NBC noting how many European Ryder Cup players have their homes in the United States? How many are married to Americans?

The world’s No. 1, Spain’s Jon Rahm, is married to an American. They live in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Brit Paul Casey also lives in Arizona. Garcia, a Spaniard, has a home in Florida, as does Brit Ian Poulter. Norway’s Viktor Hovland lives in Stillwater, Okla. European vice captain Luke Donald, a former U.S. Tour regular from England, lives in Illinois and Florida. His wife is from Chicago.

CMC last of the ‘dynamic’

The term “dynamic player” has been so overused, its meaning has eroded. But all-purpose Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey restores its meaning. When he left Thursday night’s game against the Texans with a hamstring injury, the game was deflated and remained flat.


As slick and as hip as Weekday Boomer Esiason and Gregg Gianotti portray themselves, they provide on-air promotion and friendship to one of the most notorious scamdicappers, Stu Feiner.


Not that anyone should be surprised, but Friday’s first-matches coverage of the Ryder Cup on NBC’s Golf Channel began with promos encouraging viewers to watch the Ryder Cup. Fine. When is it on?


The White Sox clinched the AL Central on Thursday, in thoroughly modern, Rob Manfred MLB fashion. They beat Cleveland despite 10 strikeouts — in a seven-inning game.


Has anyone grown tired of Kyrie Irving? What about our load management?

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving
NBAE via Getty Images

It’s well worth noting that as Black Lives Matter continues to reveal itself as a con in the hands of highly selective social vandals, fringe lunatics and facts-be-damned activists and arsonists, Roger Goodell’s NFL remains all in.


These are whacky times. The Padres’ Manny Machado, who admitted running to first base “is not my cup of tea,” recently bashed teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. for being selfish, for thinking, “It’s all about you.”


Reader Steven Arendash asks a good question. With the automatic runners on second in extra innings, why don’t managers, with none or one out, walk the batter to set up the double play? Especially when tied in the bottom of an inning.


It takes a village to make an idiot: To hear hundreds of U.S. team Ryder Cup spectators cheer bad shots and missed putts by the European team has been more sickening than surprising. And the pandering silence about it from NBC’s voices has been equally sickening and unsurprising. Our “sports culture” continues to dissolve.


Sunday’s games: Falcons-Giants, Fox, 1 p.m., Kenny Albert, strong nuts and bolts pro, and Jonathan Vilma, speechmaker. Jets-Broncos, CBS, 4:05. Spero Dedes, cliché parrot, and Jay Feely, short-story-long guy.


A grasshopper walks into a bar, orders a drink. Bartender says, “Say, we have a drink named after you.” The grasshopper says, “You have a drink named Larry?”


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