Why prehistoric linebackers couldn't run.

The stadium scene.
March 1 2002 11:29 AM

Scientists Say Prehistoric Football Players Were "Too Puny To Run"

Illustration by Robert Neubecker

SHARPTON CITY, D.C., Feb. 28, 3002—Researchers studying the treasure trove of early 21st-century football player fossils recently found beneath swampland in New Jersey have concluded that the players could not, as popular lore has long held, run rapidly and collide with one another. "These primitive men had so little muscle tissue, it's a wonder they could move at all," anthropologist Jane Hutchinson of the University of California at Proxima Centuri told a news conference. "Some of these 40-yard dash times you hear mentioned in sports mythology, it's completely impossible."

Hutchinson unveiled diagrams—see illustration of Linebacker bellicosis—demonstrating that the legs of football athletes were far too short to have supported any speed greater than a few centigorns per dremple. "These primitive body types must have been confined to plodding movements," said Hutchinson. "Our calculations show that no human being standing less than 8 feet tall would have sufficient leg length to run rapidly." Additionally, estimates suggest that football players of the period before genetic engineering were so weak, they could only leg-press around 500 pounds. This would seem to rule out any aggressive or predatory sports behavior on their parts.

Advertisement

Hutchinson, who herself is 9 foot 2 and can leg-press 3,000 pounds, looked smashing at the press conference in the latest transparent illuminated gown. She is a distant descendant of Professor John Hutchinson of Stanford, who in 2002 proved that the Tyrannosaurus Rex could not have run fast. Her study, published today in the technical journal Nature,relies on analysis of bone fragments unearthed in the remains of an ancient training room found underneath the old Meadowlands sports complex, which was torn down centuries ago when swamp moss and common lichen became protected organisms under the Endangered Species Act.

The new study sheds no light on the continuing controversy regarding whether football players of the early 21st century were warm-blooded or cold-blooded or whether they cared for their young. Nor were researchers able to determine anything from the fossil discoveries about long-rumored post-game orgies between players and cheerleaders. This, Hutchinson pointed out, was during the period when mating rituals between individuals of the opposite gender were still legal. "So it might have happened, but thinking about non-same-sex mating just grossed me out so much that I had to stop the study on that point," Hutchinson said.

After announcing her findings, Hutchinson took time out to visit the imposing Sharpton Memorial that sits on the city's fabled Mall and dwarfs the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. (Formerly known as Washington, D.C., the capital changed its name in 2136 to expunge any reference to the disgraced Europeanist George Washington, whiling honoring former President Al Sharpton.) She also met with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who, owing to longevity drugs, has begun to celebrate his second millennium on the bench, amid calls by critics to review the Constitution's creation of lifetime judgeships.

Researchers also said they are continuing to analyze the Meadowlands dig area hoping to understand the Tuesday Morning Quarterback  fad that swept the United States beginning in the fall of 2002. "It was an amazing sociological phenomenon, an entire cult based on a football columnist who could predict the exact final scores of NFL games and who, according to legend, wrote his column surrounded by naked mega-babes," Hutchinson said. "But they were of the opposite sex. How could he stand it?"

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

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 12:43 PM Watch Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey Do a Second City Sketch in 1997
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.