Monday, November 25, 2013

Stuff We Should Bring Back: The Statue of Liberty Play

Remember the Statue of Liberty play in football? Oh, we see variations of it sometimes, but the offenses are always trying to be genuinely deceptive about it, running some other kind of simultaneous trickeration to distract everyone from the beauty of the play. Far too often, some generic end around or misdirection is run when a good Statue of Liberty could otherwise be executed.

Here is what I consider the true Statue of Liberty play, the one that we ran playing neighborhood football (and there is no truer form of the sport than neighborhood tackle football, preferably with a Nerf ball): The quarterback drops back to throw--OR DOES HE? In fact, he (or she, though my neighborhood didn't have a lot of Helen Hunt types) backpedals a few steps then suddenly freezes with his arm cocked back as if to throw. Only he does NOT throw. He stands there like a moron so that a running back/wide receiver (there's really no difference in neighborhood football) can dart behind him, snatch the ball out of his hand, and run to daylight!

Any misdirection element of this play is negated by 1) the ridiculous amount of time it takes to pull it off, 2) the goofy stance of the quarterback trying to look normal if the timing isn't perfect (and it never is in neighborhood football), and perhaps most significantly, 3) the inability of the players on the offensive team to resist shouting, "STATUE OF LIBERTY!" as soon as the play happens. The "trick" part of the trick play isn't the critical element. It's the coolness of it. You don't even run the play because it might work; you run it because it's fun. So declaring what you were doing was part of the deal. What's the point in doing such a silly-looking maneuver if everyone isn't aware of it?

Shouldn't the big, fancy pro teams of the NFL, in particular, run more plays just because they're fun? Yes. Yes, they should. There are a lot of players who would get a big thrill out of taking that ball and yelling, "STATUE OF LIBERTY!" as they race to get past the line of scrimmage and maybe bust the edge. Of course, there are a lot of quarterbacks who would hate getting creamed as a direct result of this call, but, well, that's fun, too, isn't it?

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