The Clock Manager

We pause today from our usual examination of Things That Matter (or at least sometimes seem to) and turn our focus to something that actually really does matter, something that matters profoundly, and to more people than we can probably imagine: football.

Although our feeble, cannabis-influenced brain can’t properly formulate a satisfying answer to the question one asks whenever one sees a football game on television – who are these people, tens of thousands of them, spending big money to sit out in the cold to watch a spectacle that is enjoyed in comfort and as a drastically more comprehensive viewing experience when consumed at home on basic cable? – we can answer a few other questions.

Wait. Is MichaelKonik.com an authority on the subject? Let’s put it this way: if not for football, there wouldn’t be a MichaelKonik.com, where we freely share super interesting essays (to those who are interested!) with anyone possessing an attention span longer than :32 seconds. Football, both the professional version (NFL) and the semi-professional version (NCAA) paid for the MichaelKonik.com home office, the design and development of the handsome Website, and all the other costs associated with screaming into a vacuum. So, yeah, mofo, we know our ‘ball around here.

When sports talk radio shows or Internet gambling sites come calling around this time of year, the pearls of wisdom we usually dispense revolve around the point-spread and which side the sharp guys favor. But this year, because we’re feeling expansive and generous and abnormally hopeful (based mostly on the wormalicious state of the backyard compost pile), we’re going even deeper.

Sure, the analysts on TV have mastered the art of saying nothing in a way that’s strangely satisfying and reassuring to the people who take them seriously. Yes, the vast majority of the folks who wear foam novelty hats and jerseys with someone else’s name and number on them, and who watch SportsCenter and NFL Primetime with a constancy that would intimidate dedicated churchgoers, and who we’ll never meet, these people would like to hear the keys to the game (“The Giants must establish the run!”) and harvest some sort of prediction, which they can either marvel or heckle, depending on the outcome.

But we’re going to go deep, anyway.

Folks, good people, fans who care about the noble sport of football, we need to discuss a dirty little secret, a slightly shameful fact that has heretofore gone unmentioned, possibly out of politeness. Luckily, politeness is not one of the missions here at MK.com. So we’re just going to say it.

The vast majority of NFL coaches, fellows who are paid millions of dollars to manage a billion dollar property (the team), know more than most civilians when it comes to drawing up plays and formations and schemes. But when it comes to clock management, most NFL coaches know less than some pothead sitting on his couch in Hollywood.

Others have established mathematically that most NFL coaches don’t go for it enough on 4th down, and that they generally err on the safe side in their play calling. What hasn’t yet been established with digestible numbers but what we’ve observed with enough frequency to suspect it’s not a fluke, is that NFL coaches don’t properly understand the value of their timeouts. They treat them cavalierly, like the timeouts are disposable beer cans; they should be handled like bottles of fine wine.

Since we’ve been advised that there may be a whole book on this subject waiting to be written (really?), we won’t give away all the secrets just yet. But consider this: In a typical NFL game, the final two minutes of play in each half usually matter to one of the teams, and often both of them. Calculating time versus field position versus game situation is relatively easy – when you don’t have 49 other things going on in your headset and exacerbated levels of adrenaline coursing through your brain. Why teams don’t hire some nerd guy at a relatively modest salary to do nothing but manage the clock in the last two-minutes remains an abiding mystery. These are fellows who don’t need to know the difference between a nickel package and a nickel bag. They just need to understand some basic math and a few underlying concepts, like, say: burning a time out on defense before the Two-Minute Warning on any down except 4th against a team with which you are tied…is a mistake. Also, burning a time out to avoid a delay-of-game penalty when you aren’t in scoring position…is a big mistake. Spiking the ball to stop the clock on any down except 3rd when you’re inside the red zone…is a costly blunder.

Such employees would pay for themselves in one week. They could literally give your team a demonstrably better chance of winning.

Unless the league is willing to waive the mandatory drug test, no one from MichaelKonik.com is available at the moment. But we do sincerely hope that one of our dorky friends will get the gig, which we think should pay about $160,000 a year, plus incentives for the playoffs and such. At $10,000 per regular season game the newly created position of Clock Manager is going to be the “Moneyball” move of the gridiron.

And for the money move of the Super Bowl? We’ve been educating the public for some time now about the inherent value of the underdog in these contests. Obviously, America has begun to listen, because there’s been an avalanche of money on the 3-point underdog New York Giants. When you cash your ticket, feel free to take care of the oracles here at MichaelKonik.com so we can continue our ongoing mission of smartening up every square with a computer. Especially those who like to read.

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