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Snap Decisions

Well, we certainly got a lot of entertainment out of Week 14 from the NFL. Our Dolphins managed to get routed at San Francisco. A very painful debacle for the slide-sensitive fan. These are old, deep wounds that they keep reopening each December. Some Dol-fans were somewhat philosophical about the loss. Others spoke of getting their hearts ripped out yet again. My big letdown was way back in Week 10 when this team laid down for their eighth straight beating by the Jets. That abject failure stripped away most of the luster from the 2001 Dolphin season - though I will feel a good deal of additional disappointment if they don't show up against New England this Saturday. Failing at Foxboro, I would simply wish the Dolphins to blow their remaining two games and make every effort to miss the playoffs entirely. Perhaps then they would pick in the late teens come April and find some genuine talent to replace Gardener or address other critical needs. God forbid they should use a first-round pick to bolster that ragged, patchwork offensive line.

Elsewhere in the NFL, there was a lot of excitement and intrigue: The beer-bottle riot in Cleveland; Martin Grammatica's little brother spraining his knee whilst displaying his family's genetic pre-disposition for gloating over field goals; The Saints booting a top pick for stealing from team mates; And the Buccaneers getting frozen out once again. You could probably write a book on any one of those events.

However, my favorite NFL story is one that has been developing for several weeks - ever since an early whistle deprived Indianapolis of a badly needed score against the Saints. Now we hear that the NFL is likely to pursue off-season rule changes to prevent "fake spike" plays - a change coming years too late for the poor, old New York Jets.

The only explanation offered thus far seems to be that the NFL doesn't want their officials being embarrassed for whistling a play dead when it should have been allowed to continue. Jeepers. I don't know about you, but I really enjoy the all-too-rare trick plays. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that the NFL already takes itself WAY too seriously. Imagine if an NFL coach ever dared send in a midget player as a Sunday stunt. He'd be lead away in irons and thrown in prison by midday on Monday. Given the evolved complexity of the NFL rules, the need for instant decisions from an official who must quickly decide on possession, knee and foot positions, intent and momentum, it seems a relatively minor detail to ask them to hold their blow for an expected spike to actually hit the turf. What is so incredibly difficult about that?!

If the NFL wants to tweak their guidelines, let them toughen-up the excessive celebration rules. A lot of fans come down on the NFL for the league's icy reactions to end zone celebrations and I don't generally favor anal rule changes, but I am so incredibly sick of the kiss-fingers-heart-point-at-sky Sammy Sosa routine now aped by every football player in the world, that I'd actually be all in favor a rule that fined them for plagiarism or maybe trademark infringement for mimicking this ripped-off and disingenuous display of feigned humility. At least the end zone dances were entertaining and showed some creativity. Unique sports displays like the "Lambeau Leap' should be protected from the uninspired copycats of the world.