Monday, October 20, 2014


Today all are marveling at the genius of Jeff Fisher, the coach of  the St. Louis Rams.  Yesterday on fourth down from his own 15 yard line, with only two minutes left to go in the game, Fisher called a fake punt.

The Rams were up by two points at the time. Fisher figured that to punt the ball to the skilled, smart, and crafty Russell Wilson of the Seahawks would have amounted to a guaranteed three points for Seattle.  Those three points would have resulted in victory for the Seahawks and a loss for the Rams.

So Fisher took a gamble and faked the punt, threw a pass, and earned a first down.  The play sealed the upset for the Rams. And today, Fisher is being regaled as a hero.

And he should be; it was a gutsy call. But what makes him a genius is that it was a successful play. Had the punter  botched the pass or the receiver dropped the ball, you can be assured that Fisher would be skewered by those loaded with retrospective wisdom.

Several years ago, this precise series of events took place.  The New England Patriots were playing the Indianapolis Colts.  There was a fourth down deep in New England territory.  Bill Belichick figured that by punting the ball to the Colts he would be all but guaranteeing a defeat, with the skilled, crafty, and smart Peyton Manning at the helm for the Colts.

So, he went for it.  Not a fake, he just went for it on fourth down.   Officially, Kevin Faulk who received a pass did not make the yard to gain for a first down.  Indianapolis got the ball deep in New England territory and ultimately came out of the game with a victory.

Was Belichick regaled as a genius for a gutsy move? No he was reviled as an arrogant fool.

The difference between deferential treatment as a wizard and excoriating criticism for a fool is the result of a play.


  1. Hi Zeke This column made me think of the immaculate deflection by Richard Sherman, who as a good cornerback rarely gets thrown at or is in the press. If Kaepernick's pass is an inch or two higher Crabtree is the hero and Sherman the goat. Countless examples in sports and life. This would make a pretty good subject for your next book. Take care. Gene

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. It is about time I started writing again.