Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

HERE IT IS! (Thanks Garett.)

It is Super Bowl Weekend. Who'da thunk that that who 'dat team the Saints would have ever made it this far? Here are some thoughts on football from several years back. Please remember the context of several years back in which they were written.

The best defense is a good offense.

From a football perspective, it is a hard truth to swallow. We have heard for years that the best offense is a good defense. One team must stop the other from scoring. This is the key to victory--we hear it over and over again. "Defenses win championships," it is often said.

Hence we have Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" (redolent of Cold War rhetoric) and the Dallas Cowboy's "Doomsday Defense" (an ambiguous name which proves that offense is somewhat important, but which is nonetheless defensive to the bitter end--and which is also a throwback term to the Cold War). Recently the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl on the basis of their defense, or so said the commentators.

I think "the best offense is a good defense" adage is simply a remnant of the Cold War--what with all its first strike and second strike strategic mentality. After all, this was the age that gave us MAD--mutually assured destruction. We must survive at all costs in a cave with scientists and big titty hot chicks, as Dr. Strangelove had it. No wonder football has such good looking cheerleaders!

To be sure, the best defense is the best offense makes a kind of sense, in that he who can survive will survive. It becomes survival at all costs, but I wonder if that is not a pyhrric victory. A football game requires victory for the team that has the most points at the end, and that is hardly pyhrric. In other words, one team wins the Super Bowl or the NCAA championship, and the other team loses. The team that was able to put up the most points wins. That team probably had the best offense.

Everyone remembers Vince Young. Who were the defensive stars on USC or UT? I'm sure they were there, but I can't remember their names. However, Matt Leinert (quarterback for USC and Heisman Trophy winner) lost the game.

I have seen football games won by defense. The sad story that is the Houston Texans actually has had several shining moments. One of those was a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers from about two years (I almost said two tears) ago. They won the game because they were able to run two (!) interceptions back for touchdowns. In this case the offense did nothing and the defense did everything.

However, I would argue that, in this case, the defense became the offense. Offense scores points, defense prevents points from being scored. This game was an anomaly. At best, it is not wise to rely on your defense to be offense, i.e., to rely on it to win games. Better to have a good running and passing game.

It is a wonder that people still think the best offense is a good defense. I know that it is more nuanced than this, given the necessity of good field position and all that that entails. Nonetheless, the typical adage is asinine.

Football fans don't see it that way, but these are people who think (if one is to believe the commentators hired to give expert opinion) that a good analysis of a typical game is one where it is said that the reason a particular team won was because they were able to get the most points on the board. That is the very definition of victory in football. It's tautological. It's like saying the reason the equation equalled four was because there was a an antecedent two plus two.

I don't know why football fans (and commentators) try to translate real life into a game that is intransigently zero sum. It doesn't work. No doubt, in real life there is something to be said for mere survival, but in a football game victory is everything. People who spout off the usual nonsense about a good defense are trying to make football into life. They are able to do this because there is "always" next season. Moreoever, on "any given" Saturday or Sunday any team can win. But more often than not, the team that wins is the one with the best offense.

Now in real life, I think that the survivors who have mastered their defense may ultimately win out in the end. Hegel and Marx call it the victory of the slaves. The slaves have perseverance, and besides they are the ones who have made themselves through making the world as we know it. The masters just sat on their fat asses drinking mint juleps. This may all be true.

It's one reason why "democracy" is the only legitimate form of government in the world these days.

Nietszche claims that the victory of the slaves is the victory of the "last man." He's the man who only needs and desires to be entertained during Super Bowl Weekend. Is this what millennia of history have wrought? Once the world that we have built is free for the building, once the world that we live in is a world where defense is the same as offense, there need not be any more victory. At that time, we can then sit around and bitch about whether a running game or a passing game is more important. Just as long as no one scores a touchdown. But in the meantime...

what happened to the big titty hot chicks?

I think these cold warrior sons of bitches who sit around and talk about defense and such things, are no better than your run of the mill Marxists. Good Americans and Good Communists both want a world without risk. As a consequence, we get a Terrell Owens instead of a Lynn Swan, a Jerry Rice, or even a Michael Irvin. We get a Tom Brady instead of a Joe Montana or a Brett Favre. In this light, Terrell Owens is a "voluptary without heart," and Tom Brady is a "specialist without spirit." Last men all.

This is probably old age and bad taste speaking, but I had to say it. If you're still reading at this point, bravo!

All of this is a way of saying why I was against the Iraq war from the beginning. We think we can win with defense. We may have called the initial bombing campaign "Shock and Awe," but look where it has left us, viz. looking for exit strategies. We're playing defense in a game that we think is zero sum, but that our opponents think is one of survival. All the big titty bitches must be in Iraq.

I suppose in the real world defense can be a pretty good offense--but not in football.

Meanwhile the commentators speak of defense to a country that thinks the best offense is a good defense. It's time to pull out, but we've already blown our load on the belly of the middle east.

There will be an evil spawn from this fuck up.

Luckily, there is "next" Sunday!

Okay, so much of this is crudely overstated, and recent events could prove (and probably have proved) it wrong. Nonetheless, regarding football it is still correct.

Geaux Saints! Especially Drew Brees and everyone else on their offense. (Yet, one must admit that Peyton Manning is one of the best OFFENSIVE players ever to play. It will be a tough match. Let's hope for a close, high scoring, offensive game.)

Nick Lowe spoke of the best defense as a good offense when he sang "Cruel to be Kind."

Update: Here's an interesting acoustic version of the same song with Nick Lowe and Daryl Hall (alas, no Oates).

Update II: Frank Caliendo not doing what you'd think, but he says "Careful defendant, flattery will get you everywhere."