It's a Zone Blitz on a Double Reverse, and They've Got Athleticism!

The stadium scene.
Jan. 23 2001 6:45 PM

It's a Zone Blitz on a Double Reverse, and They've Got Athleticism!

92000_92336_neubecker_qback

Sunday in the Super Bowl, millions of Americans will hear it seemingly millions of times: "He's wide open!" You will hear this whether he's wide open or not, since receivers described by announcers as wide open! are often tackled as they catch the ball. To announcers there seem two possible states for a receiver, covered or wide open! Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms of CBS, who have the call for the Super Bowl, are particularly bad on this verbal tic. During the Dolphins-Raiders playoff game, TMQ counted them shouting "wide open!" seven times in the first quarter alone.

Advertisement

Watch a game in person, and you'll see that receivers are almost never wide open! They're either man-covered with a slight edge on their pursuer or free for an instant in the seam of a zone, with hostile individuals bearing down on them. The wide open receiver occurs occasionally when there's a blown coverage. Announcers endlessly say wide open! both for hyperventilation and because they aren't taking in the full field. Rather, they're concentrating on the little TV-sized tetragon where the ball is—an edited perspective that artificially exaggerates the distance between receiver and defender. NFL passing attacks seek a slight footrace edge (in man coverage) or rapid delivery to anyone who finds a seam (in zone coverage). Even good offenses are lucky if, once a game, a receiver isn't covered at all. But in the announcer's world, every third pass goes to someone wide open!

Other annoying announcer tics:

  • "It's a double reverse!" To TMQ's knowledge no actual double reverse was run in the NFL this season—a play in which there's a handoff in one direction, then a second handoff coming the other way, then a third handoff back to the original direction. NFL defenders are so fast that in the time it takes a double reverse to develop, players from games held the previous week will have closed on the ball carrier. What announcers call a "double reverse" is usually a reverse, and what announcers call a "reverse" is usually an end-around. A reverse requires a RB to take the ball going one way, then hand off to a WR coming back the other way. To eliminate the risk of a fumble when the running back makes a handoff, NFL teams now usually fake up the middle and have the QB perform the handoff to whoever's coming around. True, defensive players yell "REVERSE!" when they see this action, but only because it is cumbersome to yell "END-AROUND!" Announcers should use correct terminology.
  • "He's giving 110 percent." TMQ would like to have the extra 10 percent from all those gentlemen who give more than is physically possible.
  • "He's got athleticism." This phrase appears to mean "he is athletic" or perhaps refers to a disease.
  • "Right now somebody needs to step up and make a play." Somebody always needs to make a play.
  • "This is a bad time for a turnover." Precisely when is a good time?
  • "He's taking it to another level." This appears to mean "he's playing better," if it means anything.
  • "It's a zone blitz!" Terminology for the zone blitz is unsettled, but even so, announcers seriously overuse this phrase. Blitzing used to be premised on the idea that DBs would play tight man coverage to prevent the quick slants that are the standard blitz countermeasure. The drawback was the chance of giving up a long bomb. In a zone-blitz scheme, the DBs play zone, shutting off long passes but conceding the short completion while one unexpected player, usually a DL, drops off into slant coverage to create uncertainty in the quarterback's mind about whether it is safe to unload the ball. True, there's no simple way to say that. But we've reached the point that announcers cry "zone blitz!" anytime they see a LB cross the line. Many plays that announcers call a zone blitz actually have the customary four rushers and thus aren't blitzes at all, but zone-switching in which a LB rushes and a DL takes his coverage assignment, the goal being to create confusion among blockers. In the Giants-Vikings championship game, John Madden yelled "zone blitz!" once when only three rushed.

TMQ further objects to the "he could have _______" construction, as in, "If no one had tackled him, he could have gone all the way!" Many players who "could have gone all the way" have little chance of gaining more than 10 yards if you view the entire field, not the TV-tetragon which makes them appear to be alone. In the Vikings-Saints playoff game, as an interception clanged through the hands of New Orleans DB Alex Molden, announcer Dick Stockton shrieked, "If he'd caught that, he could have gone all the way!" Actually, as Molden made his break on the ball, he was headed out of bounds. He would have been fortunate to keep both feet in.

As you watch this Sunday's Super Bowl, TMQ suggests you keep a running tally of how many players are wide open, show athleticism, take it to another level, and could have done things.

Save the Best for Last: One interior drama of the Super Bowl is that in most cases the winner is the team that plays its best game of the year in the season's final contest. The Rams got their rings last January by the length of a football after playing what was clearly not their best game. But the Broncos had their best game of the year when winning the two previous Super Bowls. Almost every winner in the last decade or so (Dallas, Niners, Packers, Persons) saved its best game for last.

This is one of the factors that make coaching, psyche-up, and game plan far more important for the Super Bowl than for other games. Of the 68 teams that have taken the field in the 34 Super Bowls so far, 18 of them—26 percent—failed to score a touchdown. Though conference champions, they were pounded by someone better psyched and better prepared. The much-commented-upon frequency of Super Bowl blowouts is not, in most cases, caused by lack of talent by the losers but by poor preparation and the exposure of the losers' coaching. Great coaches spend the year building up to the Super Bowl as their team's best game. Average coaches treat the Super Bowl as "just another game," which is a formula for defeat.

And what of the teams that have their best game the week before the numeral event? Think of Atlanta, which two years ago played its best game of the season when it defeated Minnesota on the road in the NFC championship game, then went to the Super Bowl and honked. Think of Buffalo, which a decade ago beat the Raiders 51-3 in the AFC championship game, then went to Super Bowl against the Giants and dropped passes, missed tackles, and hooted the winning field goal. This consideration doesn't seem to bode well for Jersey/A since the Giants clearly played their best game of the year in the NFC title win against the Vikings. Then again, the Ravens clearly played their best game of the year the previous week against the Flaming Thumbtacks. Best-game reasoning therefore suggests that XXXV will go down to the wire.

Their Wrists Stung for Several Seconds: Last week's TMQ discussed how the Ravens got away with late, dirty hits on quarterbacks in two consecutive playoff games, knocking the QBs off the field and greatly enhancing the Ravens' chance of advancing. The NFL has now fined Ray Lewis $7,500 for his late hit on Titan Steve McNair and Tony Siragusa $10,000 for his late hit on Raider Rich Gannon. This must have caused open laughter in the Ravens' locker room. Not only are the sums meaningless compared to the players' pay ($4.7 million for Lewis this season, about $1.5 million for Siragusa), they're meaningless compared to playoff bonuses. Each Baltimore player got an extra $34,500 for winning the Titans game. Each will get an extra $34,500 to $58,000, depending on the Super Bowl outcome, for beating the Raiders. These bonuses are supplied by the league, which will soon be sending large checks to Lewis and Siragusa while expecting small checks in return.

Travel Agent Note of the Week: Everyone is pointing out that the last time Jersey/A appeared in the Super Bowl, in 1991, was also the last time the game was played in Tampa. A more meaningful harmonic: 10 years ago the Giants' flight for Tampa departed Sunday while the Bills did not board their plane till late Monday. History now repeats. The Giants arrived in Tampa on Sunday while the Ravens did not land until Monday afternoon. In 1991, the Giants were better prepared in game plan and execution. Extra time at the scene helped. This year, Jersey/A has the advantage of one additional practice day in Tampa. Will history repeat on the field?

Hall of Fame Politics: Saturday the NFL announces this year's gentlemen to be "enshrined" in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Making Canton is the apex of a football career, and the company there is pretty darned good. But the selection process is infuriatingly political. So let's have a look at Hall of Fame politics.

First, fundamental injustices of the Hall: In it are more quarterbacks and running backs (39) than offensive linemen (24), even though the typical team plays twice as many offensive linemen as running backs and quarterbacks combined. Canton also has just one kicker (Jan Stenerud), no punters (not even Ray Guy), and no special teams players. Kickers, punters, and special teams players determine about a third of what happens in football, but like OLs, they're not glamorous. Last year the Hall's selection committee did not choose a full allotment of players (there's no rule, but up to seven annually is the tradition; in 2000, five were selected), overlooking Ron Yary, one of the best offensive tackles ever. The slots went to Howie Long, Ronnie Lott, and Joe Montana—deserving, but all glamour players—plus Dan Rooney in the management category and LB Dave Wilcox in the old-timer category. Just another of the many years in which the working class of football was overlooked to emphasize the glamorous.

But then why should this be a surprise since it's the media doing the picking? Purists rue the day it was decided to hand Hall of Fame selections to a media panel, a task force composed of one sportswriter from each of the 31 NFL cities plus an extra from New Jersey (two teams) and six at-large writers. Most selectors are from print media—the few broadcast figures are from local affiliates, none of them the network booth types who carry themselves as NFL insiders. Having journalists do the picking does sometimes lead to fun: The Hall committee tabbed Al Davis in the management category partly to tweak the league front office, which intensely despises him. But having the choices made by the media assures that most selections will be glamour players, not worker bees.

As for politics, the longest-running Hall debate concerns Lynn Swann, who's been a finalist a record 14 times. Swann was a gloried player and made two of the sweetest Super Bowl catches ever, but his career total for receptions doesn't even put him in the top 100 all-time. Oft injured, Swann just didn't play enough to have a Hall of Fame career. His repeated presence as a finalist stems from the fact that his Super Bowl catches are on every highlight reel and that Swann is a good-natured person who's made many friends while working for ABC Sports. But his protracted candidacy dilutes support for former teammate John Stallworth, who has a better argument—30th in all-time receiving yards and second all-time in postseason touchdowns.

Canton selection depends heavily on lobbying—someone on the committee has to take up a player's cause and promote him. This who-you-know factor helps explain why the well-connected Howie Long was admitted in his second year of eligibility while these older greats have yet to be finalists: Roger Craig, Joe DeLamielleure, L.C. Greenwood, Joe Jacoby, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mike Kenn, Drew Pearson, Jake Scott, and Ken Stabler.

Then there's the matter of retirement timing. Players become eligible five years after their last game, coaches one year after, and owners and managers at any time. Bill Parcells, who's already "retired" from coaching twice, made a big point of announcing two weeks ago that he was "leaving" football, hoping this would encourage selectors to vote him in immediately—he's a first-time finalist, based on "retiring" last year when he left the Jets' sideline—so that he can later take yet another coaching job and become the first Hall of Fame member ever to be an active coach. Parcells possesses keen self-advancement instincts; he knows if he says anything about coaching again, his Canton eligibility must be tabled.

Jim Kelly took Hall timing into account when he hung it up four years ago, though several teams offered him deals to keep playing. Kelly is a likely but not certain Canton man—high on the all-time passer lists and tied with Terry Bradshaw for the best QB starting record in conference championships, but he lost four straight Super Bowls despite premium teammates, and he played poorly in two. Kelly realized that by retiring when he did, he would have windows—2002 and 2003—when the only pressing QB competition is Phil Simms. After that, John Elway, Dan Marino, and Steve Young enter the Canton pipeline and will monopolize the QB slots. So Kelly clipped a year off his career to improve his Hall odds by becoming eligible before the bigger names. It was a savvy move.

Which brings us to the Buffalo Bills problem. Already the Bills have two of the 15 finalists this year, coach Marv Levy and owner Ralph Wilson Jr. Kelly becomes eligible next year along with Kent Hull, one of the best centers ever. Steve Tasker, who many think will be the first special-teamer in the Hall, comes up the following year. Andre Reed, Bruce Smith, and Thurman Thomas won't be far behind. Also out there are James Lofton, who bounced around but whose career peak was in Buffalo, and Cornelius Bennett, whom some consider Canton-class. Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, and Ralph Wilson are locks, and the rest have strong cases. Conceivably, Canton could end up with as many Bills from an 0-4 Super Bowl team as it has from the 4-0 Steelers club of the 1970s.

Levy is a case in point. He's 10th all-time in coaching wins and universally regarded as someone who truly believed sportsmanship means more than victory. So you'd think Levy would be a shoo-in, to say nothing of the fact that the Hall of Fame isn't exactly sagging under the weight of its Jewish members. Levy's Super Bowl losses alone should be no barrier. Bud Grant, the only other coach to lose four, already has been admitted to the Canton club.

But there's a nagging feeling even among Levy admirers that he didn't just lose those Super Bowls, he blew them. On the point that the farther you go in the playoffs, the more important game plans and coaching psychology become, Levy faltered badly. His game plans were notoriously generic, causing him to be seriously out-game-planned in Super Bowls against the Giants and Chesapeake Watershed Region Indigenous Persons. The week of all four numeral events, Levy held light, no-pads walk-throughs while the opposition was hitting in practice and getting into an ill temper. Purists found Levy's nonchalant approach to Super Bowl preparation inexplicable. And he never imposed Super Bowl week curfews, saying that as adults his players could be trusted to be in bed.

But most NFL players aren't adults. They are prolonged adolescents with trebled testosterone levels and pockets stuffed with too many C-notes. During Super Bowl week, celebrity chasers and groupies flock to the site city and are a huge temptation on the club scene. For its big games, the Bills were plagued by a player element that was out to all hours—LB Darryl Talley got into a bar fight at 3 a.m. a few nights before one Super Bowl—and performed hungover as a result. (Worried about Tampa's notoriously uninhibited strip clubs, which TMQ views as essential to protecting our sacred First Amendment freedoms, Giants coach Jim Fassel welcomed his players to the Super Bowl city by reading them the details of the local lap-dancing ordinance!) Considering how stacked the early-'90s Bills were, the roster at one point boasting a stunning 16 Pro Bowl players, or three-quarters of the starters, a volunteer from the audience should have been able to win at least one Super Bowl coaching that team.

Still, because he's an admirable person, Levy's Canton chance is strong. The Bill thrown overboard may be Andre Reed. Reed has a fabulous story—from a tiny Division III school (Kutztown State), he became the No. 3 receiver all-time despite playing for a bad-weather team with a run-oriented offense. Yet clouds hang over him. Reed threw his helmet in one Super Bowl, costing his team a critical field goal. Reed shoved an official late in a 1999 playoff contest against Miami, costing Buffalo a touchdown in a game lost by seven. On both occasions Reed was the victim of bad calls, but Hall of Fame players do not act like babies after bad calls. Since the Bills advised Reed to retire, he has taken to denouncing them regularly, even to making the petty rant that if admitted to Canton he wants to wear the burgundy of the Persons, for whom he caught 10 passes, rather than the blue of Buffalo, for whom he caught 941. Reed is known to be a Web enthusiast—Andre, if you read this, there is still time to convince the world you are not a jerk. But that chance won't last forever.

Here are TMQ's proposed solutions to the dilemmas of Hall politics:

1) Affirmation action for OLs. Beginning next year, Canton should "enshrine" nothing but offensive linemen until such time as OLs representation is proportional to OL numbers in the lineup.

2) All Buffalo candidacies should be tabled until 2007, the likely year of Bruce Smith's first eligibility, at which point Canton would hold a Bills-only selection. For that year the Hall would accept Buffalo players exclusively, as many as the selectors can stand, and get it over with.

Failed Prediction Watch: There were many preseason predictions about who would meet in the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for the sources, TMQ wrote them down:

  • MSNBC predicted Indianapolis would win the Super Bowl. The Colts were eliminated in the first round.
  • Pro Football Weekly predicted Bucs over Colts. Both clubs will be watching from the comfort of home.
  • Sports Illustrated also said Bucs over Colts. Not-even-close prediction by Paul Zimmerman, member, Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
  • The Washington Post predicted the championship games would pit the Persons against Tampa and Indianapolis against Tennessee. None made the championship round. Not-even-close prediction by Michael Wilbon, member, Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
  • Seeking to improve its odds, CBS Sportsline offered four dueling Super Bowl predictions: Rams over Colts, Raiders over Rams, Persons over Broncos, Colts over Bucs. None of the six teams in the CBS multiple prophecy made the Super Bowl.
  • Seeking to improve its odds, the New York Times also offered four dueling Super Bowl predictions: Bucs over Colts, Colts over Bucs, Ravens over Bucs, Thumbtacks over Persons. Of the six clubs in the Times' multiple prophecy, one did actually make the game.
  • As part of its meta-forecast (see TMQ's earlier item), ESPN ran no fewer that 15 dueling Super Bowl predictions. They were: Colts over Rams (ESPN plurality, predicted four times), Tennessee over Persons (predicted three times), Tennessee over Bucs (predicted twice), Rams over Colts, Bucs over Jax, Tennessee over Rams, Colts over Persons, Bucs over Colts, Persons over Ravens. ESPN finished 1-for-30, taking 30 chances at predicting clubs in the Super Bowl and getting just one correct, the lone pick of Baltimore.
  • Tuesday Morning Quarterback Failed Prediction of the Year: The Sporting News picked the Detroit Lions to win the Super Bowl. Detroit did not make the playoffs.

Waived Super Bowl Starters: A few weeks ago, this column offered its All-Waivers All-Pros. As the Giants and Ravens prepare to meet in the Super Bowl, both led by QBs who were ridden out of town on a rail by their previous teams, let's note the Waived Super Bowl Starters:

Baltimore: Sam Adams, Trent Dilfer, Sam Gash, Qadry Ismail, Kyle Richardson, Shannon Sharpe, Tony Siragusa, Matt Stover, Harry Swayne, and Rod Woodson. Jersey/A: Michael Barrow, Lomas Brown, Kerry Collins, Brad Daluiso, Glenn Parker, Christian Peter, and Dave Thomas. Seventeen of the Super Bowl starters (first teams plus kickers) have been dropped by somebody who considered them no good or washed up.

Victory Speech of the Week: On his final day in office, President Clinton acknowledged that he "knowingly gave evasive and misleading answers" but for goodness sake did not lie! It is reassuring to know that the independent counsel office spent five years and $55 million in taxpayer money to obtain from Clinton two sheets of paper covered with weasel wording. At least the weasels are happy, and they're an important constituency!

Running Items Department

Obscure College Nicknames: TMQ promised an item on obscure team nicknames. Here are the best:

  • The Blue Hose of Presbyterian College. Refers not to melancholy courtesans, but leggings.
  • The Blue Hens of Delaware University. How do you cheer up a blue hen? Readers are invited to make suggestions.
  • The Banana Slugs of the University of California-Santa Cruz. Yes it's real. See the proof here. Fans chant, "Go, Slugs!"
  • The Anteaters of the University of California-Irvine. No word on pregame meals.
  • The Gorillas of Pittsburg (Kan.) State, "Home of the Nation's Only Gorillas." Check out the Gorilla logo. Pitt State men's teams became Gorillas in 1925. The women's squads voted in 1989 to adopt the name as well, abandoning their former appellation, Gussies. Missing their chance to become the Hussies!
  • The Fighting Artichokes of Scottsdale Community College. Man, you don't want to get into a beef with a Fighting Artichoke.
  • The Ichabods of Washburn University. See "Ichabods Fall to Gorillas," on a press release on the recent Pitt State-Washburn game.
  • The Geoducks ("gooey-ducks") of Evergreen State. Geoducks, actually clams, are obscure and repulsive to boot. The school, in pastoral Olympia, Wash., is the epicenter of Ultimate Frisbee competition. Sadly, Ultimate Frisbee is not yet an NCAA sport. Buy an Evergreen Geoduck Frisbee here.

All colleges are missing their chance to adopt TMQ's preferred nickname set: The men's teams would be the Tarzans, and the women's teams would be the Janes. You know who the mascot would be, and the science department could conduct genetic engineering experiments on him. I think a lot of student athletes would feel pretty good about taking the field with a 40-foot-high, glowing chimpanzee rooting them on.

Then there is the question of whether any college actually has the delicious nickname Fighting Quakers. Several schools, including Earlham, Guilford, and the University of Pennsylvania, have teams commonly known as the Fighting Quakers, but sadly, Quakers is the official name in each case. (Check out Guilford's menacing who-you-lookin'-at Quaker logo.) So far as TMQ could determine, Eastern High School of East Lansing, Mich., is the only place of learning whose athletes are formally named the Fighting Quakers, according to the school sports history. Finally, what does Friends University of Wichita call its teams? Sadly they are the Falcons, not the Fighting Friends.

New York Times Final-Score Score: The Paper of Record, 0-258 in its quixotic attempt to predict an exact final score, awaits Super Bowl XXXV and its last chance at redemption. Times persons might find solace in the ongoing multitude of bad predictions, including the fact that CBS Sportsline, using something called the Harmon Index—which boasts, "Jim Harmon and his staff are the only forecasters who predict exact scores and chart every college and pro team"—forecast Minnesota and Oakland to win the championship games, the reverse of what actually happened. Jim Harmon and his staff do nothing all day long but predict football scores? Is this a great country or what! More Times comfort may reside in the fact that of the seven "football experts" who have been predicting the playoffs for the Sporting News, none is above .500 going into Super Bowl weekend.

Several readers, only some with e-mail addresses ending "nytimes.com," have written in to suppose that since a few Times guesses have been close—the Multicolored Lady prophesied Steelers 23, Raiders 20 and the actual was Steelers 21, Raiders 20—TMQ is not granting enough credit. Since the numbers being predicted fall into a small band, close guesses should happen. Let's consider the probability of forecasting an exact final NFL score.

Suppose I gave you a week's card with team names covered and asked you to fill in score predictions, not even knowing the teams' identities. You would not forecast finals of 55-49 or 4-0. You would pick in the plausible range. You would predict no scores higher than 39 since finals this high are rare even when strong teams play weak ones: Only about 3 percent of NFL outcomes exceed 39 points. You would not predict the impossible final score of 1—although TMQ believes the Canadian singleton rule should be adopted in the NFL. And you would not predict final scores that are possible but rare, these being 2, 4, 5, 8, 11, 15, and 18. Only 3 percent of final scores are these "outliers."

This leaves 31 numbers in the selection band. So your odds of guessing a final score working entirely at random, not even knowing who the teams are, come to roughly 1-in-31 (plausible numbers on the left side of the score) times 1-in-31 (plausible numbers on the right side), or 1-in-961. Factor back the off chance that the final will be one of the rare numbers, and the result is rough odds of somewhat more than 1-in-1,000 of randomly predicting an exact final score. Impossible, then? Hardly. A fundamental of statistics is that the unlikely happens all the time. Things far more improbable than 1-in-1,000 occur daily. Otherwise no one would ever win a lottery, nor would George W. Bush ever utter a grammatically correct sentence.

Now put back into the calculation the fact that sportswriters aren't picking at random; they have access to incredible insider information such as Jason Sehorn's brand of ankle wrap and the percentage of fair-caught punts on grass versus turf. According to a proprietary algorithm developed by TMQ, the incredible insider information possessed by sportswriters should double their likelihood of predicting an exact final score.

Thus if pure random guesswork lends 1-in-1,000 odds, the professional sportswriter has a 1-in-500 chance to predict correctly. Given that there are 259 NFL games per season, these probabilities suggest that the New York Times should call an exact final score once every two years. Good luck next season, 43rd Street.

Addendum: Reader Dennis Doughty looked at NFL results for the 2000 regular season and found 71 percent of games had unique final scores. "The most popular scores," Doughty reports, "were Home Team 27, Visiting Team 24 and Home Team 16, Visiting Team 13, both of which happened a whopping four times." So Times, next season endlessly predict finals of 27-24 and 16-13. Your odds should improve. And in Friday's edition with your last shot at predicting a score this year, TMQ suggests that, given a matchup of two defensive teams, the Times should forecast a Super Bowl final of XVI to XIII.

TMQ Trivia Challenge: In recognition of the looming XFL, last week's Challenge was:

The last attempt to establish a competitor to the NFL was the USFL, which folded its tent and stole off into the desert in 1986. To agents this league was known as the Useful because it triggered salary bidding wars. Despite the long-ago demise of the Useful, three former USFL players performed in the NFL this season. Name these gentlemen.

Many guesses included Warren Moon, whose salad days were in the CFL, not the USFL. Answer: Doug Flutie (then of the geographically accurately named New Jersey Generals, now Buffalo Bills), Sean Landeta (then Philadelphia Stars, now Philadelphia Eagles), and Reggie White (then Memphis Showboats, now Carolina Panthers). This challenge goes to Daryle LaMonica of North Massapequa, N.Y., who notes that he is "not related to the famous Daryle LaMonica, unless you are a super model or want to buy an autograph."

And now the final TMQ Trivia Challenge—totally, utterly impossible to solve using search engines:

To answer an earlier Trivia Challenge, you had to know that Charles Haley possesses the most Super Bowl rings (five), Cornelius Bennett the most appearances without a ring (five), and Mike Lodish the most total Super Bowl appearances (six).

Then there are those unhappy fellows who tape up for the Super Bowl but spend the entire game on the sidelines. Several share the dubious distinction of dressing for three Super Bowls but not participating in a single play. Name any one of these gentlemen.

Submit your answers via "The Fray," titling them Super Bowl Trivia Answer. And be sure to include your e-mail address in the event the Senate Judiciary Committee wishes to question you about the circumstances of your victory.

TMQ Season Finale! Next week's column will appear on Monday, the day after the Super Bowl. Read it to find out:

  • Will the Giants go pass-wacky?
  • Will the Ravens get away with murder?
  • Will Kurt Warner's homeworld invade Earth?
  • Will Jennifer take it off, take it all off?
  • Who will commit the Single Worst Play of Super Bowl XXXV?

Don't miss Monday's incredible season finale of Tuesday Morning Quarterback!

Gregg Easterbrook is a fellow at the Brookings Institution. His most recent book is The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

Move Aside, Oxford Comma, the New Battle Is Over Single or Double Quotes

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Ben Bradlee’s Fascinating Relationship With JFK

Culturebox

The Simpsons World App Is Finally Here

I feel like a kid in some kind of store.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 11:06 AM The Right to Run If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
Outward
Oct. 22 2014 10:37 AM Judge Upholds Puerto Rico’s Gay Marriage Ban in a Comically Inane Opinion
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 10:00 AM On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Sexually Harassed.
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 22 2014 11:04 AM Do All U.S. Presidents Look the Same? What About Japan’s Prime Ministers?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 22 2014 10:29 AM Apple TV Could Still Work Here’s how Apple can fix its living-room product.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 22 2014 11:23 AM “I’m Not a Scientist” Is a Dangerous Cop-Out Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.