Pro-style QBs come back in focus

Imagine the Final Exam in Leisure Studies: Reader Brad Prescott of San Francisco notes this Ohio State announcement about Buckeye athletes with good grades: "There are athletes taking challenging majors, such as biology, economics and electrical engineering. But 21 of the 74 athletes lauded are in some form of sports, exercise or recreation majors, including 'exercise science' and ' sport industry,' a college department that lacks a grammatically correct name. In my view, such majors should not even be offered at a four-year institution. People aspiring to work in sports should major in law, medicine or statistics; subjects like exercise and 'leisure studies' should be minors, at best. The athletic factory schools know it's easier to keep players eligible if they are pushed away from challenging majors [and] toward course loads that free up more time for practice."

Of Mice and Men: Leading Carolina 16-13, Miami faced fourth-and-2 at midfield with four minutes remaining, opponent down to its last timeout. By that point, the foundering Dolphins were on their seventh consecutive game without an offensive fourth-quarter touchdown. They needed to gain just two yards at home to be in a position to reset their season -- and instead punted. Bringing the ball back the other way, Carolina faced fourth-and-10 with three minutes left, and went for it. The Panthers' 2013 rebound tracks to Ron Rivera's decision to start playing to win rather than playing not to lose.

In the cold at New England, with five minutes showing in the fifth quarter, Denver faced fourth-and-8 on the Flying Elvii 37. Backup head coach Jack Del Rio sent in the punt unit, which first took a deliberate delay-of-game penalty, then boomed into the wind a punt that netted a mere 17 yards of field position: from the 37, the original line of scrimmage, to the 20. It took New England exactly one down to reach the point where the ball would have been, had Denver gone for it and failed. After the preposterous punt, the Broncos never snapped again, capping a nationally televised humiliation in which they could not hold a 24-0 lead.

Sure, fourth-and-8 is a difficult down. But punting from the opposition 37, in a game decided by the next score? Carolina won because the Panthers dared on fourth-and-10; Denver lost because the Broncos folded on fourth-and-8. Jack of the River shifted blame from himself to his players, which may be what mattered to him -- compare to the San Jose State item.

Two Cheers for Obamacare: Obamacare is off to a shaky start. Once teething problems are resolved, awareness of the benefits will begin to kick in. Already the Obamacare legislation has eliminated the "pre-existing condition" clauses that punished many Americans for being sick. Already the legislation has extended coverage to children up to age 26 whose parents have health insurance. Soon millions of poor and working-class people will find their bare-bones policies replaced by better coverage, or that their health insurance costs drop as subsidies kick in. Maybe there could have been a better path to health care reform than Obamacare -- that's a separate question. But once the situation settles down, large numbers of Americans are likely to be pleased with the new system. When Medicare began, the initial period was shaky, then large numbers of Americans were happy.

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