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Posted: Friday August 29, 2008 12:28PM; Updated: Friday August 29, 2008 1:44PM
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NFL MAILBAG

You can't spell hapless without PSL and more pithy answers for readers

Story Highlights
  • Fantasy football? Fat chance Dr. Z gets behind it
  • Rookie quarterbacks need a good offensive line to succeed
  • Was the league more enjoyable to watch in decades past?
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Dr. Z in his weekend attire? Nah, just one of the thousands of Jets fans who may  have to buy a PSL in the near future.
Dr. Z in his weekend attire? Nah, just one of the thousands of Jets fans who may have to buy a PSL in the near future.
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
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Achtung Loyalists! Your faithful narrator is being ripped by Sean of Rochester for being a copout and so wimpy that he's chicken to take a shot at the Personal Seat License scam. Coward, that's what he says I am, and what's worse, a coward with a weight problem.

OK, Sean, and since I'm in the midst of the blind trembles of rage, I'll provide your last name so people will know how to reach you. It's Sean Burke, who "can't believe this is happening and you're not talking about it."

I'm not asking you to lay out the full two bucks or whatever Sports Illustrated costs, but drop into the dentist's office and grab an Aug. 18 copy off the table and have yourself a free read. (Editor's Note: Or you can just click here). Although I'm not into quoting my own stuff, or poetry readings or street singing, this is an extreme case, so here's what I've said about the PSLs:

"The cynical among us see an underlying reason why the Jets created this monumental hoo-ha (the signing of Favre). Personal seat licenses. Fans buy season tickets, then suddenly have to shell out four or five figures for the right to continue buying them. The license fees cover the cost of all those extra luxury boxes and other amenities that will grace the Giants-Jets stadium. Fans of both franchises have been screaming about this heist. The Jets, trying to put a pleasant face on the issue, even sent out questionnaires to gauge fans' sentiments about the licenses, like polling death row prisoners on their preferred method of execution. Brett Favre is a near-hysterical distraction."

Steve of Erie, Pa., asks this evil question: "Dr. Z, do coaches ever secretly wish for an injury to get them out of making a difficult personnel decision?" Ooh, that's a nasty one. I can't say that I've seen exactly that, but let's give it a real reach and play the devil's advocate, and I do mean this is devilish. I'm not accusing anybody of anything, I'm just reaching for a what-if. What if Brett Favre had been given grudging permission to practice with the Packers. The first day of drills he pulls a muscle. He's out. A quick decision is made to put him on injured reserve. He says, "Wait a minute, I'm not hurt that bad." Management says, "Well, you see..." OK, forget it. I've gotten carried away and obviously taken this thing too far. In answer to your question, ownership might have ordered an overpriced, unpopular superstar onto the coaching staff, and if he came up with a teeny weeny injury, well, no tears would have been shed. When I first started covering the sport, if a really tough personnel decision loomed, the club might stash some guy on injured reserve for a year.

• Two out of three now, for getting your poor narrator all riled up. The latest molester is called Volodya and he's from San Antonio, a conflict in terms if ever I heard one. I won't go through all the drivel he lays on me, word for word, but the essence is that he bids me to ditch my usual modus operandi and get on board the Fantasy Football Express. Not then, not now, not ever will I be a chronicler of this parlor game for the feeble minded. Next will come beanbag, then Lotto, then Name That Tune, all with a decided football motif, all designed to get the sub-90 IQ's all stirred up.

Chuck of Athens, Ga., suggests sacrificing a victory by running a 60-minute punishment drill, an all-out maniac blitz, on the enemy's star QB, designed to put him out not for a play, not for a game, but, ssssh, for the season. Then they won't have to face him anymore. I once read a story called Rackety Rax by Joel Sayre, about how the mob gets itself a football team, and each game's action was something like what you described. Better yet, find out where he lives, and send over a couple of fellas with the heavy shoes. Then you won't have to sacrifice a game.

Jacob from Baltymore wants to know which is better -- give the rookie QB a trial by fire, from which he'll emerge a better and tougher man, or break him in slowly, so he won't lose his marbles before he figures out what the game is all about. No sure way, Jake. If you're going to put the young guy under the gun, make sure there's a line in front of him. The Texans ruined young David Carr by failing in that regard. It also helps if you have a really serious mentor to teach the youngster what the game is all about. Bill Walsh and Joe Montana, Weeb Ewbank and John Unitas and then Joe Namath, Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre, Sid Gillman and John Hadl. There are ways to give extra protection, by scheme, to a rookie QB -- max protection, good variety of hot reads, etc. Giving him a good system in which to learn is critical.

Damien of NYC can't understand how all the holding is allowed. Here's the way this thing has progressed. First they tilted the field by making sure the superior linemen played on defense. When they got out of control, the Competition Committee, co-chaired by a PR man, Tex Schramm, tried to even things by passing rules restrictive to the defense -- and allowing more holding on offense. Every year this was subject to more adjustment until what you've ended up with is a game in which the O-linemen can practice legalized muggings but at least the passers have time to get plenty of points on the board.

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