With a dismal record of 5 wins and 10 losses, the Arizona
Cardinals haven’t been in the playoff picture for quite some time.For the Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry
Fitzgerald, though, the early start to the off-season means that he can devote
even more time and energy to his personal charity, the First Down Fund.
A perennial all-star receiver, Larry Fitzgerald is known for his reliable hands and has already
made his mark on the football field.So
far over his nine-year career, he has been selected to six Pro Bowls, has set
several NFL and Cardinals records and is a Super Bowl Champion. He's also got a great on-screen presence; check out this ESPN SportsCenter commercial, one of my favorites:
Less known, though, are his achievements off
the field in bettering local communities.Through his First Down Fund, Larry has supported many causes both at
home and abroad.
Earlier this year, Fitzgerald traveled to Ethiopia with another
organization, Oxfam America, to visit a farm training center and an irrigation
project, where he worked on the construction site for retaining walls that will
capture rainwater and prevent erosion.He has also made several trips to Asia and Africa with Starkey Hearing Foundation to fit children with hearing aids.
Here in America, the First Down Fund supports a wide variety
of causes aimed at fighting cancer, building strong families and promoting good
health.Fitzgerald, whose mother, Carol,
died in 2003 while being treated for breast cancer, was a spokesman for the
American Cancer Society’s “Crucial Catch” campaign during October, which was National
Breast Cancer Awareness Month.The Fund
also made significant donations, based on the number of his touchdowns and
receptions during October, to several breast cancer organizations.
To promote the cause of building stronger families, the
First Down Fund was a sponsor of “Tying the Knot,” an event in his home state of Minnesota that combined song, storytelling and dance to celebrate fatherhood.Larry is also a long-standing supporter of
Big Brothers Big Sisters, several Boys and Girls Clubs and Plano Child Development Center, which is devoted to providing vision care to Chicago-area
children (Fitzgerald had to deal with vision problems as a child).
This season and last, the Fund made a $1,000 donation each
week to a fan-nominated charity.Funds
this year have gone to: TyREDD, which raises awareness about the dangers of
driving while tired; the Arthritis Foundation; the Weekend Backpack Program of
FeedMore in Richmond, Virginia, which provides kids who depend on public school lunch programs with
meals to get them through the weekend; and a Tucson, Arizona elementary school,
which is getting $1,000 for their playground and another $1,000 for school
supplies. Recipients from last year included the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation,
Parenting with a Purpose and the Special Olympics of both Minnesota and
Last year during the holidays, Naptime Huddle launched its “Gridiron Giving” series, which profiled
several charities that reflect the personal missions of NFL players to serve
their communities or causes that they are passionate about.This year we continue the series with
an organization supported by numerous athletes who play a variety of sports.But it happens to be the favorite charity of
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The mission of Midwest Athletes Against Childhood
Cancer, Inc.—or “MACC Fund”—is to provide funding for research
to cure childhood cancer and related blood disorders.The funds it raises are
given to a variety of research institutions, primarily the Medical College
of Wisconsin, which researches childhood cancer through various facilities,
including the MACC Fund Research Center.Since its founding in 1976, the MACC Fund has contributed $42 million to
childhood cancer research.
The MACC Fund was founded by former Milwaukee Bucks star
Jon McGlockin (left), who played in the NBA for eleven years.The roster of the Honorary Athletic Board
boasts many current and former star athletes and sports figure, including Olympic
speed skater Bonnie Blair, baseball fixture Bob “Mr. Baseball” Uecker and former
University of Wisconsin football coach (and current Athletic Director) Barry
Alvarez.However, the organization’s most
fervent, and visible, celebrity supporter is Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers’ popularity, especially in Wisconsin, makes him an invaluable
asset for the MACC fund, not only in fundraising but in raising awareness of
the plight of childhood cancer, which is the leading disease-related cause of
childhood death after the newborn period.Rodgers devotes a great deal of time to the MACC Fund, making himself
the focus of numerous fundraising events for the organization throughout the
year, like An Evening with Aaron Rodgers and Pack Lunch with Aaron Rodgers.
Despite the rigors of quarterbacking the Packers, including
making a push to the playoffs, fall has been a busy season for Aaron Rodgers
and the MACC Fund:
·Currently, the charity is in the midst of the
Aaron Rodgers 12 Days of Christmas program.From December 1st through the 12th, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is
running a full-page ad featuring the story of a child battling cancer or a
blood disorder.Kohl’s department stores
in Milwaukee are also involved in the effort, donating 5% of net sales of all
toy purchases from December 1-12 to the MACC Fund.
·Last month, the quarterback made personal visits
to three children living with cancer.Videos of their memorable experiences are online at http://itsaaron.com, a site
established by a local law firm to raise awareness for the MACC Fund.
·December 12, 2012 has even been declared Aaron
Rodger’s Day by the Wisconsin legislature, the result of one fan’s drive to
establish the “holiday” to both honor Rodgers and bring awareness and
contributions to the cause that is so near to his heart (click here to visit the Facebook page
of the Aaron Rodger’s Day movement and here
for its fundraising page).
The organization’s largest event is its annual Trek 100: A
Ride For Hope, which is a bicycle race that offers riders loops of various
distances (from 19 to 100 miles) through rural Southern Wisconsin, with
post-ride festivities that include music and food.This year’s event was projected to bring in
more than $800,000.Some schools have
supported MACC by conducting “Buzz Cuts for Cancer” events:students and teachers volunteer to have their
heads shaved in return for pledges; they also sell T-shirts for the event.Over seven years, two school that have hosted
the event have raised a total of over $90,000!
I think it’s fitting to start this year’s Gridiron Giving
series with this charity because, as we tend to focus at this time of year on
the material gifts we buy and receive, most of us take for granted the most
precious gift of all:the gift of good
health.So, especially if you are
blessed with healthy children, please take the time this holiday season to
remember the families with loved one who battle every day to beat cancer or another
serious illness. For these families and victims
of disease, every new day is a gift.
To learn more about the MACC Fund, and to find out how you
can make a contribution or volunteer for this worthwhile organization, visit its
website at http://maccfund.org.
If you have leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving, or just love the flavors of fall, then this recipe is for you. I highly recommend making mini muffins with this recipe--they are perfect for toddler hands, and they take out all of the guilt from your mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.
I got this recipe from DisneyFamily.com, which has lots of family-friendly recipes, as well as craft ideas and the like (visit www.family.com).
Ingredients: 1 stick butter, softened 1/2 cup dark brown sugar 1/2 cup granulated sugar 2 large eggs 1/2 cup milk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 1/3 cups mashed baked sweet potato (from 2 medium potatoes or 1.5 large ones)
In a large bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon until creamy. Beat in sugars (I use an electric hand mixer) until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in milk, vanilla and sweet potatoes (it won't be completely smooth and creamy).
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Beat together the wet and dry mixtures until just combined.
Grease your muffin tin and fill the cups half full with batter. If desired, sprinkle tops with the cinnamon sugar.
Bake until inserted toothpick comes out clean: approximately 18 minutes for full-size muffins and 14 minutes for mini muffins.
By now you’re probably aware that we witnessed a supreme
rarity over the weekend:a tie game. This one was between the St. Louis Rams and
the San Francisco 49ers—deadlocked with 24 points each at the end of
regulation, the game proceeded into overtime.Neither team scored again, making this an even more unusual result, as
it was marked by a touchdown negated because of a penalty, a missed 41-yard field
goal attempt, a 53-yard field goal negated by a penalty that resulted in a
missed 58-yard try. So, for both teams, that’s two
scoring plays called back for penalties and two missed field goals each.Not a performance coaches Jeff Fisher (above left) and Jim Harbaugh (above right) want to remember.
Although tie results don’t happen often in the NFL (there
have been just 18 ties since 1974 with only five in the last 23 years), I
thought it would be a good time to review the rules regarding overtime, and
exactly when a game is deemed winner-less.*
The Way It Was
Back in the day (2010), games deadlocked at the end of
regulation went to a SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME period.That meant that the first team to score won.Which team would receive the ball first was determined
by a coin toss, just as it is before the start of the game.Many times you would see that, if the team
with the ball first had a reliable kicker (which is nearly every team), it would
just attempt a field goal as soon as its offense got within a reasonable
distance of the end zone, even before fourth down. These outcomes led to whining about how
unfair it seemed to end games, especially ones so hard-fought, by a field goal—as
if this was somehow a dishonorable or cowardly way to end a game (much like the
way coaches felt about having the quarterback kneel with the ball to run out
the clock and seal the victory).Since
the winner of overtime coin toss would always choose to receive the ball first,
the chief complaint was that the outcomes of these games were largely a matter
of luck.This seemed especially
egregious in playoff games, where the outcomes are that much more significant.
The Way It Is
The whining came to a head in the postseason of the 2009
season when the Minnesota Vikings faced the New Orleans Saints in the NFC
Championship game.The Saints got the
ball first in overtime and kicked a field goal on their opening possession;
they went on to win the Super Bowl.Such was the outcry for justice that in the
spring of 2010, all but four of the NFL owners voted to change the rules for overtime
in playoff games.Ironically, the
Vikings were one of the four teams that voted against the change.
Upon closer examination, it turns out that the whiners had
some basis for complaint.At the time,
the statistics had shown that over the previous 15 years the winner of the coin
toss won in overtime 59.8% of the time; 34.4% of the time on the first
In 2011, the new rules adopted by the owners only applied to
playoff games.This year, they became
applicable to all games.Those rules are
·If the first team with the ball scores a
touchdown, the game is over;
·If the team kicking off at the start of overtime
scores a safety on the receiving team’s possession, the game is over;
·If the first team with the ball scores a field
goal, it then kicks off to the other team, who will try to tie the game with a
field goal or win with a touchdown ;
·If the game is still tied after each team has
possessed the ball, the next team to score, no matter how they score, wins.
The McNabb Affair (Or, "What Am I, a Lawyer?!?")
In the regular season, a game that is still deadlocked after
one overtime period goes into the books as a tie—even if the team that kicked
off to start overtime never possesses the ball (which is highly unlikely).So, you only have that one extra period to
win the game. Since the tie game is so
rare, this rule isn’t widely known, even among players.Or, at least it wasn’t before 2008, the last
time there was a tie.That game was
between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cincinnati Bengals.After the game, 10-year veteran QB Donovan
McNabb admitted his ignorance of the possibility that a game could end in a tie.He got a lot of flak for his mistake, with
some wondering if his on-field strategy in the waning moments of overtime was
impacted by it.Overall, this was not a
good day for McNabb, as he fumbled once and threw three interceptions in the
Not helping himself, he stated after the game “I guess we’re
aware of [the rule] now…I hate to see what would happen in the Super Bowl and
in the playoffs.”Of course, in the
playoffs and the Super Bowl, the battles are fought until a winner is
determined—if the game is still deadlocked at the end of the first overtime
period, we move to a second overtime period.
But Wait… There’s More!
So, here is a summary of the rest of the overtime rules, as
found in Article 16 of the NFL Rule Book:
·For both regular season and postseason games:
oThere are no coaches’ challenges, and all
reviews are initiated by the replay official.
oThere is a three minute break between the end of
regulation and overtime, and the overtime period(s) each last 15 minutes, just
like any regular quarter.
·For regular season games:
oEach team is allotted two timeouts in overtime.
oThe overtime period is treated like the fourth
quarter (e.g., there is a two-minute warning).
oA tied score at the end of the single overtime
period results in a tie game.
·For postseason games:
oA new overtime period will commence if the score
is still tied at the end of the preceding period.
oThere will be a two-minute intermission between
each additional overtime period.
oThe second and fourth overtime periods are timed
as if they were the second and fourth quarters in a game (e.g., with a
oEach team gets three timeouts for every two
There’s a lot to remember, but at least now you
won’t “McNabb” it when asked about overtime in the NFL!
*For loyal Naptime
Huddle readers, this all may seem familiar.Last December I wrote about how
overtime works, and since those rules changed in the last offseason, I
also published a post this past September covering
those changes.Now you have all
of that information combined in one post!
horrific knee injury suffered by South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore when he was
tackled in the Gamecocks’ game against the Tennessee Volunteers over the
trapped indoors by Hurricane Sandy
In honor of these three things (the third just making me
morose and antsy), I decided to present some of the most gruesome injuries to
ever be suffered in professional football.So, a word of warning:VIEWER
DISCRETION ADVISED.IF YOU HAVE A WEAK
CONSTITUTION AND DON’T RESPOND WELL TO SEEING BODY PARTS BENT IN UNNATURAL
WAYS, DO NOT WATCH THE VIDEOS IN THIS POST!
Also, a personal caveat:I don’t believe that we should glorify violence in football and I don’t
intend to do that here. Please consider
these to be cautionary tales (and inspiration in those cases where the player
bounced back to continue his career). In fact, you’ll notice that several of
the injuries occurred with hits that were not terribly violent--just a stuck foot or poorly angled foot plant.These injuries also serve as a nice contrast
to the staged nature of Halloween, to illustrate examples of true horror.
For those of you still with me, here we go.For each injury, we have a video, the
diagnosis of the injury and the aftermath for the injured player.*
The rest of the injuries in this post occurred in the NFL,
but I first wanted to show you the injury to running back Marcus Lattimore (#21) in
case you missed it:
right femur and patella, all ligaments in knee torn
at this point, but as a junior, he may be able to return to the college game. Marcus was considered a potential draft pick if he chose to leave school after this season, so hopefully he can still pursue the dream of a career in the pros.
TIM KRUMRIE (Bengals
#69, trying to tackle Niners back Roger Craig in Super Bowl XXIII, January 22,
left tibia and fibula
for six more years
(By the way, did you notice that Merlin Olsen was once of the announcers?)
(Raiders #41, tackled in a Monday Night Football game against the Niners on September
THE DIAGNOSIS:Hyperextended left knee, ruptured artery, three torn ligaments, torn
calf and hamstring and nerve damage.
injury; McCallum started a computer graphics business in 1996.
I feel horrible for San Francisco’s Ken Norton Jr., who was
trapped under McCallum for over a minute.
(Eagles #47, tackled in game against Green Bay on September 12, 2010)
injury; Weaver reportedly attended the league’s NFL Broadcast Bootcamp this
(Bears #11, tackled in game against Seattle on December 18, 2011)
THE DIAGNOSIS:Injured vertebrae (no paralysis)
yet to return from the injury and is currently on the Bears’ “physically unable
to perform” list.
(Vikings #56, suffered attempting to make a tackle against Arizona on December
THE AFTERMATH:Returned for the 2010 season, even making the Pro Bowl; currently a free
JOE THEISMANN (Redskins,
#7, tackled in a game against the New York Giants on November 18, 1985)
THE DIAGNOSIS:Fractured right tibia and fibula
Certainly the most famous injury in this post, this was also a career-ending one. Theismann would go on to become an NFL broadcaster and opened
a restaurant bearing his name in Alexandria, Virginia.Lawrence Taylor has said that he has never
seen the video of his tackle of Theismann, and doesn’t intend to.
*There, of course,
have been many other horrific injuries to NFL players over the years, but I
couldn’t find videos, at least useful ones, for some.These honorable mentions include: Musa Smith of the Baltimore Ravens, who was
injured in a game against the Cowboys; Chris Kuper of the Broncos, injured in a
game against the Chiefs; Jets Leon Washington, injured playing against the
Raiders; and Redskins kicker Bryan Barker, who was injured playing a
Thanksgiving Day game against the Cowboys (I actually remember seeing this one.
He took a knee to the face and his nose resembled a pig’s nose because it was jammed
If you watched the New Orleans-Tampa Bay game last weekend,
you saw a wild finish.On their last
drive of the game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were down by a touchdown and out of
time outs.Starting from their own nineteen-yard
line, they managed to work their way down to the New Orleans nine-yard line in
the last two minutes of the game.
game came down to the final play:quarterback Josh Freeman tossed a pass to receiver Mike Williams in the
back corner of the end zone.Touchdown,
right?Nope.To understand why this score was negated, you
have to look at the NFL’s rules regarding receivers who make a catch after
going out of bounds, which are explained below.
This disappointing (and rare) finish inspired me to review the NFL rules that relate to action taking
place at the boundaries of the field—i.e., the sidelines and the end line.*
"OUT OF BOUNDS"
First, though, let’s start with Rule 3, Section 21, which defines
what it means to be “out of bounds.”Under that rule, a player is “out of bounds” when he touches a boundary
line (i.e., a sideline or the end
line), or when he touches anything on or outside a boundary line that
isn’t another player, an official, or a pylon.In other words, if a player is standing on
the sideline, or brushes against, say, his coach or the down marker, he is out
Rule 3 also explains how the ball is considered “out of bounds.”Of course, the ball is out of bounds if the runner (i.e., the player
with the ball) is out of bounds; the ball is also out of bounds if it (and not the player) touches a boundary line or anything other than a player or an official on or outside that line.
ball is loose (i.e., not in the possession of any one player), it is out of
bounds when it touches a boundary line or anything on or outside a boundary
GOVERNING CATCHES AND FUMBLES
Illegal First Touching
So, what about the touchdown at the end of the Saints-Bucs
game that didn’t count?
In that situation we look to Rule 8, Section 1, Article 6(d).This provision declares that a player is ineligible to catch a pass if he “has
been out of bounds prior to or during the pass, even if he has re-established
himself inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than
his hands” (emphasis mine).Naturally,
the pass would be incomplete if the receiver caught it out of bounds.This rule goes further than that, though, by not
allowing a receiver to catch a ball once he’s been out, even if he comes back
into the field of play.Moreover, Rule
8, Section 1, Article 8 provides that it is a foul if a forward pass is first
touched by a receiver who has gone out of bounds and has re-established himself
inbounds.The penalty is the loss of
MECHANICS NOTE: An official will typically throw his hat to the ground to signify that a receiver has gone out of bounds and become ineligible to catch the pass.
There is one exception to this rule:if the receiver is forced out of bounds by a
foul committed by a defender (e.g., pass interference or defensive holding), he
is allowed to catch a pass as soon as he “re-establishes himself inbounds with
both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands.”Unfortunately
for Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams, that’s not what happened at the end of Sunday’s
game and he was flagged for illegal touching.**
(Note, though, that the announcer is wrong when he says that
you become eligible once you’ve reestablished your position inbounds.)
We’ve talked before about what a player needs to do to catch a pass under the rules.What we didn’t discuss were the rule
provisions that specifically address catches made at the sidelines.Two provisions apply here.First, Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Items 2 states:
If a player goes to the ground out-of-bounds (with or without
contact by an opponent) in the process of making a catch at the sideline, he
must maintain complete and continuous control of the ball throughout the
process of contacting the ground, or the pass is incomplete.
Really, this is just another way of stating the requirement
for a catch, just making it specifically apply to players going out of bounds
as they catch the pass.More interesting
to me, though, is Item 6:
If a player, who is in possession of the ball, is held up and
carried out of bounds by an opponent before both feet or any part of his body
other than his hands touches the ground inbounds, it is a completed or [if the
player is a defender] intercepted pass.
So, if a player is at the sidelines, leaps up and catches
the ball, it is a complete pass if he is “carried” out of bounds by an opponent
before he can touch the ground in the field of play. It sounds like this would require Cirque du Soleil style acrobatics, but it is possible.
The NFL’s rules also address
the situation when a fumbled ball goes out of bounds.There are two different provisions, depending on whether the ball goes out of bounds
between the goal lines or in the end
zone.The applicable rule is Rule 8,
Section 7, Articles 3, Items 3 and 4.These parts of the rule might seem complicated when you read them, but
they can be summarized fairly easily.
Basically, when a team fumbles
between the goal lines, it can lose yards, but it can’t gain extra yards.Here’s the rule:
·If the fumble
went backwards, the ball is returned to the team that last had it at the
spot where it went out of bounds (so, the team loses yards);
fumble goes forward, the ball is returned to the team that had it at the
spot of the fumble (in other words, you don’t get the extra yards the ball
traveled before it went out);
ball was fumbled in the team’s own end zone and entered the field of play
before going out, the result is a safety if it was that team’s action that
put the ball in its own end zone*** (if not, it’s a touchback for the opposing
Here’s the rule when the
fumble goes out of bounds from the end zone:
fumble starts outside the goal line but enters the opponent’s end zone before
going out of bounds, it is a touchback for the opposing team (e.g., the
offense is on the defense’s two yard line and the running back fumbles as he
approaches the end zone);
fumble is in the team’s own end zone, the rule is the same as the third
bullet point above.
BOUNDARY RULES ON
Illegal First Touching on Kicks
Rules similar to the one applied in the Saints-Bucs game
also exist regarding players who go out of bounds on kicking plays.For free kicks (kicks that don’t begin from a
line of scrimmage, like kickoffs and fair catch kicks) Rule 6 applies. Section 2, Article 4 prohibits a member of the
kicking team from being the first
player to touch or recover the ball if he has gone out of bounds.However, once a player on the receiving team
touches the ball, it’s up for grabs and anyone, even the player who was out,
can recover it.The penalty for the
illegal touching of a free kick is the loss of five yards.
Similarly, Rule 9, Section 2, Article 3 prohibits “illegal first
touching” in scrimmage kicks—i.e., punts and field goal attempts.The penalty is five yards again, but if the
illegal touch occurred within the receiving team’s five-yard line, the
receiving team can elect to take a touchback, thereby getting the ball on its
own 20-yard line.
Aside from the issue of who touches the ball on a kick, the
rules don’t even like it when players go out of bounds in the first place and,
in some instances, if the ball goes out of bounds.Rule 9, Section 1, Article 5 provides that, on
a scrimmage kick, it is illegal for a player on the kicking team to go out of
bounds voluntarily (i.e., without being contacted) before the opposing team
gets possession of the ball.The
penalty?You guessed it:five yards.
Section 3 of Rule 12 lists the many unfair acts that fall
under the “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” category. Included in this list is Article
1(t), when a member of kicking team that has been forced out of bounds or goes
out voluntarily does not attempt to return inbounds “in a reasonable amount of
time.”For this infraction, the kicking
team is hit with a 15 yard penalty.
Finally, Rule 6, Section 2, Article 3 states that it is
illegal for a free kick to go out of bounds untouched.Enforcement
of this penalty is nice and complicated:on a kickoff, the receiving team can elect to take possession either 25
yards from the spot of the kick or where the ball went out of bounds; on a kick
after a safety, the receiving team can take possession either 30 yards from
where the ball was kicked or where the ball went out of bounds.
So now if some crazy play happens like it did last weekend,
you’ll probably be the only one in the room who isn’t confused!You’re welcome.
* The end lines are the lines at the backs of the end zones.
**By the way, the New
Orleans defender who pushed Williams out of bounds was not flagged for the push
because when the quarterback leaves the pocket, the defense can’t be called for
illegal contact. See Rule 8, Section 4.
***Click here for a review of what is required for a safety to occur.