What’s that saying about life imitating art? John Grisham is the author of numerous best selling court room dramas and legal thrillers. Tim Tebow is, or at least was an NFL quarterback best known for his inability to throw a football. He posted some historically bad statistics while incredibly, often unbelievably guiding the Denver Broncos into the playoffs in 2011. Knowing exactly what sort of diamond in the ruff type player they had on their hands, the Broncos unceremoniously traded him to the Jets. He spent a season there mostly not playing, then went to the Patriots where he didn’t play at all. Tebow’s currently out of work while he awaits his next big chance. His inspirational, even miraculous all be it short-lived success in Denver was best illustrated in one of the funniest Saturday Night Live skits you’re ever going to see. I apologize for the poor quality of the video. That was the only one I could find that hadn’t been shut down by the YouTube police.
So what, you may be wondering, do John Grisham and Tim Tebow have in common? More than you probably think. Grisham’s bibliography isn’t limited to high suspense, high stakes thrillers. He’s written short stories, a few children’s books, and some non-fiction. And several years ago, he wrote what’s proved to be an incredibly prophetic Tim Tebow autobiography. I say prophetic because, at the time of the book’s release, Tebow was still in his junior year at Florida University. The book is called Playing for Pizza, and it’s about a washed up quarterback who can no longer cut it in the NFL. Sound familiar? With no other options, this quarterback agrees to play for the Parma Panthers of the illustrious IFAF Italian Federation for American Football. We all assumed Playing for Pizza was a work of fiction, but the IFAF is undeniably real. It consists of eight teams. They play their games in the types of stadiums best suited for minor league baseball, and most of the players earn minor league baseball type salaries. The NFL is trying desperately to globalize its brand. The IFAF evidently hopes to follow suit. What they clearly need is a polarizing figure to really get people talking. I know that kind of thing can work because I wrote about it in A Shot at Redemption, available soon on Amazon. I’m sure you’ve already guessed where the rest of this is going. The soon to be world famous Milano Seamen of the IFAF have offered Tim Tebow a four month contract reportedly worth $200 thousand. I really, really hope he accepts. Playing for Pizza was far from Grisham’s best work but I’d love to read a sequel
Sunday was a truly historic day in the NFL. Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos kicked an NFL record 64 yard field goal, and there were a record SIX lead changes in the 4th quarter of the game between the Vikings and Ravens. On average, a point was scored every three and a half seconds of the final two minutes and five seconds of that game. If there’s ever been a wilder finish, I’d like to see it. NFL officials may have made their way into the record books as well. I’ve said very little about the state of officiating throughout the entire 2013 season. On Sunday, however, no fewer than three games were decided on bad or at least highly questionable calls. The Ravens scored their first touchdown on a turnover that wasn’t. The Bengals were inexplicably given a touchdown they didn’t earn. The Patriots, no strangers to help from the officials, were the beneficiaries of one of the worst pass interference calls since the replacement officials and the infamous “Fail Mary” play in Week 3 of 2012. Some officials will be reprimanded. They might even be “downgraded.” And, a few teams will probably receive letters of apology. Unfortunately, without any real accountability, nothing is likely to change. Hall of Fame receiver and NFL analyst Cris Carter, who I have tremendous respect for, suggests that officials might do a better job if they were full time and received more training and higher pay. I’m sorry but I disagree. When the fans, the coaches, the players, the television announcers, and the officiating expert the announcers consult can all see what the correct call should be, there’s no reason in the world an official on the field should blow a call as straight forward as whether or not a player was down before the ball came out. NFL officials have an incredibly difficult job. The rule book is complex, forever changing, and there’s far too much room for interpretation. That said, it’s inexcusable to botch even the most basic stuff on such an alarmingly regular basis. They could turn the officiating over to Twitter and let NFL fans vote on calls and I sincerely believe we’d be better off. The accountability would be about the same so what’s the difference?