RUSH: “Established in 1810, the Lawrenceville School in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, has the longest-running, active, full-contact, intramural football league in the nation. However, school officials have … decided to switch the game from full contact to flag football.” Now, Lawrenceville is an elite place. Once, way back a long time ago, I made a donation to Lawrenceville not knowing what it was. I musta heard from 20 super elite people, “Hey, man, it’s really great that you gave some money to Lawrenceville.”
I didn’t know what it was. I forget why I did it. It was a good cause, don’t misunderstand. But, anyway, it’s a long-standing prep, boarding school-type place, I think. I’m not even sure about that. But it has a storied past and it is an elitist place, and it’s had the longest running-tackle football program in high school. They’ve just changed it to flag football. “Director of Athletics Michael Goldenberg said Thursday that he and Headmaster Liz Duffy decided to switch the game from full contact to flag football.
“Duffy cited concerns for safety as the main reason for the change. She told The Lawrence,” I guess it’s the publication of the school, “‘What we do worry about is that boys in the house will feel pressured to play House Football, and frankly I don’t worry about that as much if it’s flag football because there’s not the same level of danger.’ There has been a huge backlash among current students and alumni at the alma mater of White House spokesman Jay Carney.”
I knew it was an elitist place. Jay Carney went to this place.
“A Facebook group entitled ‘Bring Back House Football’ was immediately created and many expressed their displeasure with the change.” So the headmaster is Liz Duffy, and she decided that it’s too dangerous. Did you watch any football over the weekend? Record numbers of people did. The afternoon game yesterday, the Giants and Broncos, I think was (if I read right) a 15-year ratings record. It was the highest audience for a late game on a Sunday. Not a night game, a late game on a Sunday.
It was the highest audience in 15 years.
I predicted this before the season started because there’s nothing else to do. The rest of TV right now is a dearth. You got some Sunday shows, but mostly reruns and mostly reality junk. The new season hasn’t started. There’s nothing to do. You stay at home or go to a bar and watch the game. Nobody’s got a whole lot of money. So football’s gonna do well. But did you watch? I watched a little bit of the Redskins and the… Oh, sorry. I watched a little bit of the Washington at Packers game.
Just trying to be politically correct, here.
The Redskins had a guy that put the helmet on two guys, a bunch of concussions. But every time, the announcers went into a long discussion of the new rules and wondering whether or not there would be fines and wondering how much, “Because these hits, these helmet hits and these concussions, oh, this is horrible!” I’m telling you, this is the subtle way it’s gonna change.
Every hit in football, you’re gonna have the announcers wondering.
“Is the league gonna fine that hit? Is that guy gonna get punished? Is he gonna get fined next week, maybe suspended for a week?” Every hit. So now some of these guys are going low. In the Jets-Patriots game on Thursday night, Nick Mangold (number 74, the center) went low on a late hit near the sideline. He went for a guy’s knees, Aqib Talib, who had intercepted a Geno Smith pass. It was like the 25th interception of the night, and the Jets are frustrated, and so the guy went low. He went at the guy’s knees.
That caused a melee on both teams. Two Jets were thrown out, and they said, “Well, you can’t go high anymore because that’s concussionville. So you go low.” But I’m telling you. You watch these games, and the announcers, every hit is examined. “Is the commissioner going to fine that hit? Is there gonna be a suspension? Why didn’t the refs call that? That looked like a big helmet hit to me! That looked like a violation to me, Phil. What do you think?”
“I don’t know, Jim. It’s a very close call.”
That’s what the game’s slowly but surely becoming, is an analysis of every hit, particularly the hard hits. There were a bunch of hard hits in the game last night, the Fort’iners in the Seahawks. It wasn’t close, but there were a bunch of hard hits, and every time there were hard hits, oh, Cris Collinsworth would go into action and start talking about possible rules violations and wondering if there would be any sort of a fine associated with that.
The consciousness raising on all this is slowly but surely starting to cause this, because everybody’s aware of it. I mean, you can’t blame the announcers. It’s what everybody has been made aware of now, even hits that are not questionable where flags are being thrown, good solid hits that are totally legal. “You know, he hit him too hard. It was unnecessary. They didn’t have to hit him that hard.” You hear the announcers talking that way. “He coulda backed off a little. There was no reason to unload like that. They were nowhere near the play. The play was over! There was no need to hit.”
It’s a slow creep, slow creep. But at Lawrenceville, there ain’t no creep about it.
It’s flag football, baby, all the way.