by Andre Pegeron
A great contradiction of the National Football League has been its ability to blend progress and tradition.1 The leaping, balletic, toe-tapping catches of today hardly resemble the scrum of concussed sons of Civil War veterans that founded the game. Here at We Fix the League, in order to provide the best recommendations possible to the National Football League, we keep our eyes on the future with our feet planted firmly in the past. The present falls somewhere right around our belly buttons.
Our analysis reveals one trend in particular taking the league by storm: jumping. Perhaps chasing the surging popularity of NBA stars like Lebron James (who plays a sport in which jumping is encouraged–demanded, even), ball carriers around the league have taken to hurdling defensive players. Sometimes it’s successful, sometimes TJ Hockenson breaks his collarbone, but it always makes for an exciting play.2
Hurdling isn’t “good technique.” It confuses announcers and infuriates coaches, but the players show no signs of stopping and the fans are clamoring for more. The case of jumping in the NFL can only be described as a “pandemic,” except that word is now reserved for actual pandemics.3
Last season, the jumping craze reached new heights: In a week 10 game against the Tennessee Titans, Patrick Mahomes jumped while passing to a crossing Mecole Hardman,4 who sprinted to the house for a 63 yard touchdown. Despite the fact that the Chiefs lost the game, the internet was less focused on Ryan Tannehill’s leap from mediocrity to decency and more concerned with Mahomes’ leap from the ground to 18 inches above the ground.
Water coolers that Monday were buzzing:
“Did you see Patrick Mahomes’ jump pass?”
“You mean he jumped, and then landed, and then passed the ball?”
“No — a JUMP PASS”
“Oh, so he passed, and then jumped, and then landed?”
“Gary, I’m telling you: He jumped, and then passed, and then landed.”
“But his feet were still on the ground?5 I don’t get it.”
We were all Gary. Disbelief was the norm. Much like Roger Bannister’s sub-4 minute mile, we didn’t know what was possible until it appeared before our eyes. Jumping and passing at the same time? That was for baseball players! Like Tim Tebow, who completed a jump pass to beat the Jamarcus Russell-”led” LSU Tigers in 2006 on his way to winning a national title and the hearts of America. But now we had seen a football quarterback jump and pass at the same time. Pandora’s box6 was open.
Which brings us to present day,7 a potential turning point in the history of the league: the fans demand jumping, the fans crave jumping. To let this trend pass without capitalizing on its momentum would be more wasteful than having Barry Sanders play his whole career for the Detroit Lions. Or Calvin Johnson play his whole career for the Detroit Lions. Or Matthew Stafford play his whole career for the Detroit Lions. Clearly, the league’s future lies in more jumping.
When football gets boring, we adjust the rules to make it more exciting. The forward pass was invented in response to “The Great Stadium Nap of 1906.” The two-point conversion was implemented in 1994, at the height of even number fever. And in 2003, Tim Couch retired from the league. Here at We Fix the League, we hope to push the rulebook to its absolute highest potential.8 For that reason, we are proposing an official fix: trampolines.
Here’s how this would work:
PROPOSAL A: OFF-TACKLE TRAMPOLINES
Our first proposal involves placing the trampolines just behind the line of scrimmage, just outside the pocket. From the quarterback’s perspective, this is a useful placement: just as he starts scrambling out of the pocket, he can hit the pad for an added vertical boost, no longer limited by the strength of his legs.9
However, one man’s treasure is another man’s treasure (treasure is pretty consistently treasure) because these trampolines would have implications for the defense as well. Off-tackle trampolines are ideally placed for a blitzing linebacker or cornerback to get a running start before literally flying in for a sack. With this change, jumping will finally become a valid pass-rush move.
These trampolines could also benefit a running back getting to the edge, but who gives a shit? Running backs don’t matter. Next paragraph.
Detractors will say that we cannot change the field of play, citing a respect for the history of the game. Personally, I prefer the league’s future to its past: when was the last time you watched “Elroy ‘Crazy Legs’ Hirsch – THA BEAST – best 3 yd runs” on YouTube? But regardless of my personal opinion, this contrasting point of view deserves to be considered fairly.
“Sure,” begins the hypothetical purist who often probably forgets to brush his teeth, “adjusting rules and penalties to open up the offense is one thing, and pushing the limits of the human body by building 300-pound hitting machines is another, but altering the field of play is simply a step too far.” And there’s some truth to this: For evidence of the sanctity of the playing field, we can look back to 2004, when the MLB took heat for putting a promotional image of Spider-Man on the bases.10 Altering the playing field may simply be too much for fans to accept.
That’s why we have…
PROPOSAL B: TRAMPOLINES JUST OFF THE SIDELINE
In this proposal, the trampolines will be placed behind the line of scrimmage, just outside the field of play. Although placed on white chalk, the trampolines (and the players who bounce upon them) are still considered in-bounds. This placement allows a quarterback who is being chased to the sideline a last-gasp shot at making a breathtaking play. Imagine if, instead of dumping the ball out of bounds, Russell Wilson hopped on a trampoline and gunned the ball 50 yards downfield from mid-air? This is undeniably sweet.
Granted, the placement of these trampolines neutralizes the defense’s ability to use the trampoline, but as we all know, it’s an offensive league. Defense doesn’t sell tickets — offense does, and offenses that bounce off of trampolines sell even more tickets. It’s basic economics.
But don’t take my word for it: let’s look at the numbers. It depends on the precise placement of the trampolines, but studies show that these trampolines would increase sweet jumps by at least 1%, and would increase jumps off of trampolines by a full 100%.11
Running backs probably wouldn’t use the trampolines off to the side as much. I don’t know, I didn’t give it much thought. Almost forgot to mention it.
Overall, the adoption of trampolines is a necessary step to preserve the excitement of the league. While it may seem unnecessary now, as Vince Lombardi used to say, “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, don’t even bother showing up.” We need to be early (on-time)12 in making this decision for the good of the league. It’s our duty not just to maintain the league’s quality, but to enhance it. In today’s fast-paced world of video games, sugar-laden foods, and internet pornography, humans habituate quickly to the doses of modern vices, searching for more and more intense content to get the same “fix.” And here, we provide a fix of our own: trampolines.
Whether you’re ready to take the radical step of putting trampolines directly on the field of play or you’re more of a traditionalist who backs the conservative measure of putting trampolines on the sidelines, we can all agree that this fix™ is necessary. Without it the NFL risks devolving into the nigh-jumpless (and less popular) sports of hockey and golf. Audiences have spoken: they love seeing people jump and hate seeing people wave around sticks. The players will jump, the ratings will jump, and the fans will jump…to the conclusion that this was the greatest rule change of all time.
- And blend they do! This article is sponsored content for the VitaMix blender. ↩
- Glad to see you back, TJ! ↩
- ”Pandemic” comes from a combination of the Greek words “panda,” the bear most likely to get sick, and “mic,” or the device used to make announcements about sicknesses. ↩
- A 2019 WFTL “All Name Team” Member ↩
- If you still can’t tell the difference, Wikipedia tells us that “Jumping can be distinguished from running, galloping and other gaits where the entire body is temporarily airborne, by the relatively long duration of the aerial phase and high angle of initial launch.” ↩
- Pandora’s box is a mythical Greek music box that, once opened, will not stop playing a playlist of related songs ↩
- Belly Button ↩
- (much like how a certain ACTION pushes a PERSON to higher places–metaphors, anyone?) ↩
- Truly, limited only by his imagination. And I suppose gravity. ↩
- (In an official statement, Commissioner Bud Selig said he “made an oopsie” as fans pelted him with cabbage.) ↩
- Source: The Wall Street Journal ↩
- (late) ↩