Friday, October 06, 2006

In Praise of the Stiff Arm

You know what move I never understood? The stiff arm.

I always wondered why the defender just didn't grab the arm that was being thrown in his face and swing the ball carrier to the ground. I mean, the point is to get as far away from the defenders as possible, right? So why give the guy trying to tackle you something else to grab onto? It just never seemed like the most well-thought out thing in the world. To me, at least.

I think I failed to take a few things into consideration: First, its pretty damn difficult to tackle someone just by the arm. Dudes in the NFL are kinda strong. And it’s not like the arm is just flailing there, like a towel or Troy Polamalu's hair. It’s stiff, remember? Players using the stiff arm positively crush it against thier would-be tackler's facemask. The where-the-hell-did-that-come-from? jolt alone is worth another five yards. Throw in the fact that no one in the NFL can tackle anyways (Seriously. They can't. Everyone either goes for the big hit and misses entirely or just grabs someone and tries to fall over with them. Wrap up!) and its a pretty effective weapon.

I don't know if I wasn't really paying attention before or no one really used it that much or what, but I thought it was about the second dumbest thing to do in football, right behind throwing a fade from the two-yard line. (That play never, ever, ever works, unless you throw it to Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress, Larry Fitzgerald, Chris Chambers...and that's pretty much it. Maybe a few other guys or if you are playing the Giants. Why just throw it up? If your running game can't get it in from the 2 with 4 chances, you're gonna lose anyways, so I guess it really doesn't matter.)

So, Stiff Arm, I'd just like to say welcome back, or welcome to prominence, or just wutup with a man hug, because after week four, its pretty clear you're gonna be around for a while. I can think of three from the last couple of weeks alone that were just absolutely devastating.

Here's the three I could think of, in order of embarrassment for the defender.

That Colts defender wasn't going to stop that TD anyways, but he still got planted. He just got put flat on his back. If Cotchery (out of no where fantasy star, by the way) stiff arms him at the 10, I think he still gets in the end zone. Cotchery didn't even really have to do it. It was kind of a "I'm going to score and watch this!" thing. Ouch.

Getting up after getting stiff armed...there can't be that many more embarrassing things in football, can there? Maybe Plaxico spiking the ball for the Steelers his rookie season when no one touched him. But not much else. I do not envy No. 41 in the film room Tuesday afternoon. You know it's coming, you know everyone is waiting for it, and you just have to sit there in silence waiting for it, while everyone pretends not to laugh. Hurts Sunday, hurts Tuesday.

Still, I don't feel as bad for him as I do for...

...Michael Adams. This hurts on a few levels. First of all, he got stiff armed by Brian Westbrook, who isn't exactly known for his bruising running style. Second, Westbrook didn't even knock him down. He just kept him at arm's length, like Adams was just annoying him or something. He toyed with him.

If you’re Adam, why not dive at his legs or something? He didn't even have to tackle him! Westbrook was tiptoeing the sideline - just give him a little shove and it's all over. That was just a pathetic effort. I think I'm more stunned at Adam's sorry attempt than I am impressed with Westbrook's stiff arm. No wonder the Niners gave up 41 points to Damon Huard.

On a personal note: its not like the Niners really had a chance of winning, but whenever someone on your team gets humiliated like that, it still stings. Throw in the fact that my fantasy opponent had Westbrook that week, and I had McNabb, and I ended up losing a nailbiter...that's a dagger. You know if Adams grows a pair and at least pushes him out of bounds that McNabb is gonna find the endzone. At the very least, Westbrook probably doesn't score. That play sucked on so many levels. Let's just move on.

Fast forward to 5:40. Its worth it. Trust me.

This...this is just absurd. Maroney absolutely annihilates that guy for the Bengals. (I think Chris Henry found himself a drinking buddy for that night.) Not that I've seen that many, but this is the most devestating stiff arm I've ever witnessed (if you've got better ones - or just other ones - I'd love to see them.) He went down like Maroney ducked his shoulder, Earl Campbell style, and run his ass over.

Maroney stiff armed his so hard, the guy does a complete flip. How do explain that one on the sidelines? What's Marvin Lewis even going to say to him? He just has to walk to the sideline, unbuckle his chin strap in disgust and stand there with his hands on his hips in disbelief, like it was some fluke and he can't begin to comprehend how it happened in the first place.

But he's really thinking to himself, "If Maroney becomes a star (which he will), people are going to be watching that highlight 20 years from now, like that time Barry Sanders turned that poor sap from the Patriots around three times. I am really, really screwed for a really, really long time."

That cornerback for the Packers got cut for getting torched; explain to me why this guy shouldn't be cut for getting truck-sticked like he was on a video game? And if you get cut from the Packers' secondary, that's pretty much it, right? I mean, maybe the Patriots will call for some spot duty in late-December when Troy Brown gets fed up, but the career is pretty much in the tank when the Packers tell you that you can't cover someone.

I'm just geeked for the stiff arm moving up the charts on the Random Sports Moments That No One is Expecting But Are Exciting as Hell List. Its right up there with a an outfielder robbing a home run or an alley-oop from half court. As far as I'm concerned, the more stiff arms, the better.

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