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"You're being facetious," I said, and took another drag on the drink. It seemed to be going down easier.
"Not entirely. Who pushes the idea that more is better? Coaches. Coaches coaching two-platoon. Ask anybody who has done it both ways and they'll tell you—it's easier. You simply hire more assistants, delegate more authority and elevate yourself to chairman of the board. I'd hate to tell you how many times I've been on a practice field and heard a head coach yell down from his tower, 'Who made that tackle? Was that you, Smith?' 'No sir, Coach. I'm Brown.'
"But do coaches say 'Enough'? No. They say, 'Let's specialize some more.' When they finally eliminated all substitution restrictions in 1973, they had to go right back in '74 and write another rule because one coach had a guy who did nothing but run onto the field, give the quarterback the play and run off. The ultimate specialist."
He held up a restraining hand as I started to speak.
"And what has all this supersophistication done for the game? Well, the pros are the supreme specialists. They have two round pegs for every round hole. And they're so damn efficient they can't score any points; they had to rush through some relief rules for their starving pass receivers this year."
I drained my glass. "I suppose that's true," I said, nodding.
"Keep your line in the water, Scribe," said the Coach. "The best is yet to come. Consider this. As football is now played, the actual time the ball is moving and athletes are running into each other is 14 minutes a game. When coaches tell their players to 'go all out,' they don't mean for 60 minutes, they mean a 14-minute game. That's an average of seven minutes for an offensive player, seven for a defensive player, and less when you interject the goal-line teams, the third-down teams, etc.
"Now, here is the irony. Football practice is hard work. Today's players practice eight, nine months a year, including 'off-season' training. You almost never read about three-sport lettermen anymore. They're busy devoting all their time to supersophisticated football, day after day, week after week. And for what? At best, for seven minutes on Saturday afternoon.
"All right. You couple that injustice with the morale problems inherent in unlimited substitution..."
"Uh? Wait a minute," I said. "What morale problems?"