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RUSH: Clearwater, Florida, and Matt, nice to have you, sir.

CALLER: Dittos Rush from a fellow Floridian.

RUSH: Thank you.

CALLER: Yes, Rush, I just wanted to get your take on this week’s Sports Illustrated edition with Donovan McNabb on the front and this bold headline that they printed over the top of Donovan.

RUSH: The headline says, “What a Rush?”

CALLER: “What a Rush,” yeah, “What a Rush.”

RUSH: Yeah. You know, when I saw that, I thought this is potentially unfortunate, because of the SI jinx. I’m hoping the Eagles win this weekend. I’m hoping the Eagles go all the way to the Super Bowl, obviously, and this SI jinx is a real thing. The number of teams, people, players that have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated in the middle of a streak, Kansas City Chiefs were on the cover of Sports Illustrated when they were like 8-0 or 9-0 or 10-0, something like that, and they were going into play the lowly Cincinnati Bengals, and they lost! And that started the downhill spiral for the Chiefs, and they were one-and-out in the playoffs. There would have been a better time for this cover, and that’s after the Super Bowl. But I just hope the SI jinx does not hold in this case.

CALLER: Well, I’m rooting for Carolina.

RUSH: Well, I’m sure a lot of people probably are rooting for Carolina. A lot of people are rooting for the Eagles here, it’s their third time, not made it the last two. You know, the interesting thing about this game is that John Fox, the head coach of the Carolina Panthers was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants before moving to Carolina, and the New York Giants, when Fox was a defensive coordinator, provided real problems for Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. I think his record against Fox is 2-3. Of course they did beat Carolina this year, so you can do with statistics what you want. But the SI jinx, I mean you talk to any sports aficionado and they’ll tell you it’s a real deal and I’m just hoping the jinx does not work this weekend.
Andrea in Ocala, Florida, you’re next, nice to have you with us on Open Line Friday.

CALLER: Oh, it’s so nice to talk to you, Rush, how you doing today?

RUSH: Fine, thank you.

CALLER: Great. I had a football question that I had asked everybody. What is the difference between spiking the ball and intentionally downing the ball?

RUSH: That is an excellent question.

CALLER: It is not an intentional grounding because the quarterback is throwing the ball where no eligible receiver can receive it.

RUSH: No, you’re exactly right. Here’s the origin of the rule: the reason for the rule is to, in essence, provide teams with a time-out or two who may not have one or who are down to just a precious few. The quarterback simply takes the ball, takes the snap, backpedals and fires it down on the ground and it’s an incomplete pass and they allow this to happen because if it’s done without any attempt to gain yardage, if it’s done without any attempt to deceive, if it’s done without any attempt to actually run a play. They’ll go ahead and call it an incomplete pass.

CALLER: Oh, okay.

RUSH: And they did it, they had to do it because it makes for more exciting games. This is a game that’s governed by the clock, it’s governed by time, and it was just assumed to lead to more exciting finishes if the clock didn’t stall some team’s drive. This is all done to please the fans, to increase the fan base, keep people watching the game, and it’s worked in that sense. But I have to tell you something, Andrea, you know, this is a question that you’re not supposed to ask.

CALLER: I know!

RUSH: You’re just supposed to accept this and not even understand it, just accept it as part of football that girls just aren’t supposed to know.

CALLER: I’ve heard that.

RUSH: Yeah. But that’s the best I can do is to tell you that since there’s no attempt to run a play, no attempt to deceive. But however, there was a time, Dan Marino ran one of the greatest fakes of this play, probably the only one that’s ever worked against the hapless New York Jets at Giants Stadium. Because when this play happens you’ll see the quarterback hurrying his offense to the line of scrimmage to get in formation, and he’ll be motioning like he’s going to throw the ball on the ground, just get this line up, just so I can do that. So he took the snap with everybody on defense thinking he was going to throw the ball down and stop the clock, he backed up and he threw a pass in the corner of the end zone that an uncovered receiver caught because the Jets were caught off guard. So you can fake the play and run a play and there’s nothing you can do about it. You have to actually throw the ball, get rid of it, taking a couple seconds or more, just one step of taking the snap and they’ll in essence call it an incomplete pass, but if he backs up and tries to find a receiver, can’t find one and dumps it, it’s intentional grounding. And you’re not supposed to ask what the difference is.

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