by John Walters
Revealing that your pregnant before more than 100 million people at once, well… Rihanna gave them something to talk about. We were fascinated, if not necessarily entertained, by all of it. The levitation opening was cool but, Rihanna being one of the world’s highest grossing artists and sex symbols, we assumed the bulbous red parachute onesie was just the outermost layer of what would eventually be a highly revealing costume.
It turns out, we are told, that the dancers were meat to represent sperm, which could only mean that Rihanna’s costume was a stand-in for—the Super Bowl, Fun For The Whole Family!
And this got us to thinking…Rihanna was showing, and while pregnancy is far from our area of expertise, she must be at least five or six months along. No? And the NFL revealed that she’d be the halftime performer late in September. She was already pregnant then and she knew it. Did the NFL know it?
So imagine you’re Roger Goodell and Co. Are you saying, Who cares if she’s pregnant? She’s Rihanna. Or are you quietly hoping that she opts to cancel (“Anyone have Lizzo’s cell number?”). Because you know what you cannot do, not in 2022 or ’23, is “fire” Rihanna due to her pregnancy. Even if that was in the contract. Because imagine the uproar that would cause: firing a woman of color because she’s pregnant.
Never mind that 1) Rihanna was not being paid a penny for the performance and 2) she’s already one of the wealthiest females in the world.
K.C.’s Secret Weapon? Pre-Snap About Face
If you were paying attention, both of the Chiefs’ fourth-quarter touchdowns, from deep in the red zone, came on passes near the pylon where the receiver was WIIIIIIDE OPEN. How did that happen?
It happened because of a wrinkle that exploited defenders in man coverage taking for granted something that has been occurring the same way for decades. What is that? A wide out who goes in motion toward the line of scrimmage pre-snap will continue in that same direction (Newton’s—Cam Newton’s— 2nd Law of Thermodynamics). Except that on both of those plays the player in motion reversed direction as soon as the ball was snapped.
As the Eagle were in man coverage, as that receiver heads toward midfield, or away from the sideline, the responsibility for coverage usually switches from a corner to the linebacker. Then the ball is snapped and he’s already headed back toward the sideline he had come from. In the confusion, the defenders lose him. And he’s wide open for a TD.
While this play may predate my personal memory, I first saw this ploy attempted—and with similar success—in the BYU-Notre Dame game in Las Vegas last October. The Cougars deployed it in the first quarter and scored an easy six. I recalled thinking that 1) I’ve never seen anyone try that and 2) that was a weird time to pull out that trick; I’d have saved it for a last-minute situation or a must-have two-point conversion.
Anyway, it worked. Two weeks later Notre Dame copied it—Tommy Rees was taking notes—in a game at home. I believe it was on a fourth down play in the first quarter. The Irish were successful, but it did not go for a TD. If some team used this play before BYU did, I’m not aware of it. But it is genius. Because it’s curious wrinkle of a part of the game most of us had just come to take for granted.
Why does all of this matter on a larger scale? Because everyone losing their minds on the holding call that sealed K.C.’s victory is failing to notice that the Chiefs tried the same ploy yet again. If you click the “Watch on YouTube” above, you’ll see that JuJu Smith-Schuster is in motion, yet again, toward the interior of the field. While his about-face is not as abrupt—SS continues toward midfield after the snap for two steps—he does once again, as with the previous two TDs, do a 180 and head toward the sideline.
This time the Philly defender, James Bradberry, becomes aware of it just in time to make a desperation move and grab SS’s jersey with his right hand. The original Fox replay showed the play further along, and from the wrong angle. Greg Olsen focused on Bradberry’s left hand, not his right. It was left to Kevin Burkhardt to point out that they needed to review the play from a few seconds earlier.
Tough call. Correct call. An anticlimactic finish to an otherwise exciting game. But it was the right call and the “let ’em play” crowd needs to return to their sandboxes.
- What is the capital of Paraguay?
- Name three Alfred Hitchcock films in which at least a couple of scenes are staged on a train.
- Who was the first Super Bowl starting quarterback to not eventually land in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
- What company had the largest market capitalization (market cap) in 2022?
- The world’s tallest building is found in what country?
1. I can’t name a single city in Paraguay. I assume they have a Springfield.
2. Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest, and I can’t come up with a 3rd so I’ll guess Dial M for Murder.
3. Daryle Lamonica
1) South Bend
2) Your Place or Mine; You’ve Got Mail; and Sleepless in Seattle
3) Tom Brady
4) The Athletic
Technically, Rihanna was paid. Union scale. $500 approx.
Didn’t know the other 3 though I probably would have guessed Apple.
So far we’ve stumped the band… Props to Micah for just tossing spaghetti at the fridge door…
2. The Lady Vanishes
Strangers On A Train
North By Northwest
3. Daryle Lamonica
5. United Arab Emirates