More to football than just athletic ability.

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More to football than just athletic ability.

by: Bryant Grosso

Since I can remember, I have always wanted to be a professional football player and I always wanted to play for the Miami Dolphins.  I often dreamed about what it would be like to hear "With the ____ pick of the ____ round, Miami Dolphins select BRYANT GROSSO, LB, Miami".  But soon after reaching high school, I realized that it was a pipe dream, I wasn't going to make the NFL.  I mean, I was going to struggle to see time in high school.  What I lacked was obvious; athletic ability.  I couldn't run a 40 yard dash under 5 seconds, I'd probably struggle to run it under 20 seconds.  I couldn't bench press 225 lbs 25+ times and my vertical leap wasn't 36 inches.  But there is something I do have, I understand the game and know how it needs to be played CORRECTLY and there seems to be a lack of that in the NFL these days. 

On December 16th of last season, in a game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys -- Brian Westbrook decided to listen to fellow teammate Jon Runyan and down the ball at the 1 instead of scoring the touchdown.  Why did Runyan suggest Westbrook down the ball instead of scoring? Because he wanted to win.  Philadelphia already winning 10-6 had a better chance of winning that game by kneeling the ball down and running out the clock than they did had they scored and had to kick off.  Dallas may have had a huge return for a score and maybe even recovered the onside kick to win, stranger things have happened.  Yes, this was an incredibly un-selfish play - a play which showed that both Runyan and Westbrook had the team's goals ahead of their own and this is especially true in Brian Westbrook's case.  But this is by far one of the few instances where this happens. 

Let me take you back to the Dolphins vs. Chargers game that took place on October 5th of this season.  Miami is winning 17-10 and attempting to run out the clock to secure their second win of the season.  Considering that Miami only won 1 game all of last season, this win was huge.  2 times in the 4th quarter the ball found itself into the hands of Ted Ginn Jr.  The only hope San Diego had was getting the ball back and scoring.  But both times Ted Ginn avoided contact by stepping out of bounds.  It's almost like he was oblivious to what was needed of him.  No one wanted him to take a huge hit, but stepping out of bounds? stopping the clock? Thankfully for the Dolphins sake, they managed to win the game.  It was even reported in the Miami Herald a couple of days later that his parents were hardest on him for his bone-head antics towards the end of the game.

There was the even more publicized scenario seen throughout the country when Indianapolis scored 21 points late in the 4th quarter to steal a game from the Texans.  How did this happen? The only way the Colts were to even have a chance to come back is if the Texans made dumb plays.  And they did.  Sage Rosenfels trying to get a 1st down, inexplicably turns into John Elway and tries to jump above defenders to get the first down which surely would have iced the game.  Instead, he was plowed into - fumbled the ball and within minutes the world caved in on him.  He fumbled one more time and threw a pick that sealed the game for the Colts.

And that brings me to this past weekend's game between the Dolphins and those same Texans.  Miami is losing by 2 points with under 2 minutes to go.  It is 3rd down and 3 and Miami has the ball on the Texan 6 yard line.  Houston has 2 time outs.  Miami snaps the ball, it goes to Ronnie Brown who makes an amazing play to avoid a defender -- he breaks outside and scores with 1:45 left in the game.  As soon as he broke free, I thought to myself "Get the first down and get down".  Miami could have downed the ball twice, made the Texans use their timeouts and on 3rd down tried to score the touchdown.  If you didn't get in on third down, the clock runs and Miami still has the chip shot field goal to win the game.  It didn't happen.  Houston marched down the field and scored the winning TD with 3 seconds left on the clock.

This is something that happens much too often.  You will see mental blunders all game long and we almost don't even pay that much attention to them anymore.  But we should.  Now witheveryone being a blogger, multiple all day sports networks, sports-talk radio and fantasy football; these athletes care more for their own accolades than the team goal.  There are no assurances that Dan Carpenter makes the chip shot field goal but you'd have to think it's an almost certainty.  Miami dropped to 2-3 and of those 3 losses, Miami lost a 6 point game to the Jets at home (Pennington threw an interception with less than a minute left, in the end zone) and The Phins dropped this game which they should have won.  Of course, there's always the "should have, could have" argument but who knows if Miami's loss against the Texans can have deeper ramifications than just a loss -- What if it costs the Dolphins a playoff spot?  

But don't worry, Ronnie Brown got HIS touchdown... 

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