The history of the world is littered with paper-thin excuses for failures and intentional mishaps. The NFL is no different.
Players have pleaded ignorance of the rules to escape poor performances. These types of excuses, while lame, are essentially benign.
The concerning part is when these "explanations" affect entire decades, or worse, the personal health of the employees.
Whatever the basis for the offered reason, most of these excuses are completely ridiculous.
The New England Patriots were launched to greatness on the back of a genuinely lousy excuse for a NFL rule.
The Patriots took on the Oakland Raiders in a divisional playoff game that would begin Tom Brady's ascent to Boston demigod.
With the Pats trailing by three and under two minutes remaining, Brady dropped back, pump-faked and then patted the ball while going through his progression. Directly after the hand pat, Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson hit Brady and stripped him of the ball.
The play was called a fumble on the field, and the Raiders rejoiced.
However, the play occurred with under two minutes remaining in the game, and it was sent for review. It was ruled a forward pass due to the tuck rule, meaning the quarterback was bringing the ball in after a pump fake.
How that play was overturned when Brady had time to pat the ball after pulling it back in will befuddle and frustrate Raiders nation for the better part of the 21st century.
The Detroit Lions fans would rather forget that the time period between 2000 and 2010 ever occurred. A lobotomy for the entire region seemed to be a medical requirement until the NFL playoffs became a reality this year.
There are too many examples that illustrate the ineptitude of this organization during Matt Millen's reign. However, the most telling is that the current roster does not include a single player drafted by Millen from 2002 to 2006.
It's difficult to evaluate talent and draft consistently, but to not find one decent player in five drafts when repeatedly drafting in the top 10 is mind-blowing.
Unfortunately, there's more.
Marty Mornhinweg was one of the head coaches selected by Millen. Mornhinweg had such an advanced mind that when he won an overtime coin toss, he elected to take the wind, and the Lions promptly lost the game.
But wait, there's more.
During the 2008 season, Detroit failed to win a single game. Not one.
The rotten cherry on this putrid sundae? Then-quarterback Dan Orlovsky ran out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a safety that provided the winning margin for the Minnesota Vikings.
The Eagles were much the same team they had been throughout the decade. They couldn't be counted on despite having the legitimate potential to win a title.
The Bengals were also much the same team that they consistently were throughout the decade—lousy.
Thus, the Eagles were expected to cruise in this game, but McNabb ensured that this wouldn't happen with an incredibly poor performance. Instead of just manning up and taking the blame, he chose to say that he didn't even know it was possible for a tie to occur.
Wrong move, and one incredibly lame excuse.
McNabb, rightfully so, was torched over the next couple weeks for not knowing the rules of the game he was paid to play. Yet that didn't wash away a performance that included three interceptions and a fumble.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell claims that he is extremely concerned about player safety.
The evidence is that he is the main force behind the recent league policies that have levied large fines and suspensions against players who commit a various array of violent behavior.
However, Goodell is also an advocate of an 18-game season.
Simple logic seems to show that the more games played, the higher the risk of injury. There hasn't been a definitive study, though, so that is only an amateur opinion.
The brain trauma that is causing former players to act erratically and develop serious issues later in life is not a passing concern. The real effect of the vicious collisions is staring the world in the face with unfortunate acts like that of former Bears safety Dave Duerson.
Still, Goodell wants to push through a proposal that would add two games to an already grueling season.
While all the world is filled with hypocrites, none proffer a lamer excuse.
NFL fans contain a fervent and unrelenting passion for the game, their teams and their stars. Their love often goes unrequited, but the average fan is more than willing to persevere through the difficult times with the team he or she follows.
There is a nasty underbelly to this fanhood, though. In increasing numbers, fans are getting uppity about the new rules aimed at player safety.
Fans are allowed to get upset with phantom calls like the one Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers received during their playoff game with the New York Giants (supposedly a hit to head).
However, that isn't the issue here.
America lives in a society where peanuts are not allowed on a plane if one person is allergic. Meanwhile, these players are literally killing themselves on the field every Sunday, yet we cry because football is no longer the same sport it once was.
If the fans truly love these teams and players as they contend they do, they need to embrace these rules as a way of enriching and elongating the lives of the people they respect.
Instead, we lament the death of violence.
The Pittsburgh Steelers won four Super Bowls from 1974 to 1979 and are aptly described as a dynasty. The "Steel Curtain" was one of the most fear-inspiring and dominant defenses to ever play the game.
In addition, the 1970s Steelers were one of the most steroid-enhanced teams to ever take the field.
The team was known for its nasty streak. They knocked opponents out, and they enjoyed doing it.
Yet not much is made of the steroid scandal that should be a constant asterisk to those championships.
Fans will point out that the substances they abused during this era were not yet banned by the NFL. However, that same logic doesn't stop people from looking at Mark McGwire with disdain.
At least Terry Bradshaw admitted that they used steroids, albeit 30 years later.
Jerry Jones figured that since Jason Garrett spent so much time on the sidelines as a backup to Troy Aikman, he must have soaked up large amounts of coaching wisdom.
Jones was wrong.
The Dallas Cowboys have only spent one full season under the guidance of Garrett, but that may be enough.
Tony Romo takes the brunt of the blame for the Cowboys blowing large second-half leads. Yet the play-calling shouldn't put a quarterback known for choking in a position to determine the outcome.
Additionally, there is the icing-his-own-kicker fiasco.
The Cowboys were lined up to take the game-winning field goal against the Arizona Cardinals when Garrett called timeout. The players weren't aware of it yet, so they snapped the ball, and the kick was made.
When the team went to repeat the kick, the icing effort had its undesired effect. Dan Bailey wasn't able to convert a second time.
Lastly, the man lacks the gumption to admit failure, learn from it and move on with a rededicated focus.
For example, Garrett didn't classify this season as a failure for not making the playoffs with a stud pass-rusher and a quarterback in his prime. Instead, he declared it a "rebuilding" year.
Peyton Hillis "played" the 2011 NFL season for the Cleveland Browns, who presumably have a stellar medical staff like most teams do.
Yet Hillis sat out a game against the Miami Dolphins due to strep throat. There was controversy that he didn't play as some sort of negotiating tactic, but that isn't the main concern here.
History is filled with players making heroic efforts while injured and/or sick: Michael Jordan's "flu game," Willis Reed hobbling back onto the court and Byron Leftwich finishing a game on a broken leg all immediately spring to mind.
Hillis is considered a throwback, tough-guy running back. However, he couldn't be bothered to play with strep throat.
Granted, the Browns were horrible this season. Just don't use such a weak excuse for not playing.
The Atlanta Falcons apparently believed they were only one player away from winning a Super Bowl, despite being shellacked by the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs last year.
Thus, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff put together a trade in the 2011 draft to grab wide receiver Julio Jones by giving up two first-round picks, two fourth-round picks and a second-rounder. That is insane.
If the Indianapolis Colts decided to trade away the right to draft Andrew Luck, they probably would not receive such an embarrassment of riches.
It was apparent that the Falcons needed more help than just a standout complementary receiver to Roddy White. For instance, they could have used a pass-rusher or a safety who can excel in coverage.
None of that stopped Dimitroff.
What's even worse is that he initially tried to move up for A.J. Green, so Jones wasn't some lone stud that the Falcons couldn't live without.
Regardless of how great Jones becomes, this trade is indefensible.
Athletes from every sport have made incredible suggestions as to why they failed a drug test.
None compare to Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing.
Steroids allegations have been following him throughout his career, so one would think that he would be careful.
However, Cushing failed a drug test when he tested positive for a fertility drug. The drug is commonly used by athletes to get their body to regularly produce testosterone after a steroid cycle.
Instead of admitting his mistake, Cushing blamed it on "overtrained athlete" syndrome, stating that he was "pretty sure" and "pretty positive" that it was the cause.
He would have been better off saying it was a league-wide conspiracy.
If you're going to lie about something, at least appear concrete in your lame conviction.