23 January 2017
Off the Gridirony, Part I: Down Syndrome
With the Super Bowl once again upon us, it seems important that (now more than ever) we settle this nagging question of the downs, which being the more and which the less critical of the downs, in terms of winning the football contest and capturing the big prize. We asked former Miami Gold Star Tiara Queens Linebacker Johnny "Big Uncle" Brownstone to explain it slowly and clearly once and for all so that even the most boneheaded among you can get it through your thick skulls, and he was like, You know what? I tell ya.
First down is the key down… Everything happens on first down and that makes first down the most important down, first down sets it all up for the downs that follow, first down sets the table and that’s why coaches call it the table-setting down and suchlike, first down is where you line up your ducks against their ducks and establish the ground game, or threaten the deep middle (of the pond), maybe set a few decoys out there, because if you can get a nice chunk on first down that sets you up nicely for second down.
Second down is where the rubber meets the road, not literally and not figuratively either but second down is the middle child, it exists in the shadow of first down which, though second has no control over it, has already laid down the broad parameters within which second down must exist and attempt to strike out on its own, make its own name, knowing that third down is coming and bound to soak up all of mom and dad’s attention and leave it the overlooked middle child of downs, as downs go second down is an absolutely critical down and it’s a down good teams make something on, good teams make something on second down that’s either gonna give em another first down or they’re gonna try and leave themselves with a nice short makeable third down.
Because third down is where reputations are made, third down is where the cream separates itself from the chaff and that’s why third down is absolutely the most important down, the down to end all downs, third down is where the Tchaikovskys of the world compose their best music, third down is when Julia Child finally got her own cooking show, heck even Hitler (who was evil) recognized the importance of third down although fortunately for freedom and human decency he was unable to convert the critical third downs that would have kept his team on the march and refused to listen to his generals even when they pleaded with him that everything is riding on third down because if you can’t get a first down on third down you’re stuck facing the grim reaper, the fortified bunker of downs, the end of the line: fourth down.
Fourth down is the down on which dreams die. It is absolutely the ultimate down, the sine qua down (res ipsa loquitur), fourth down is where you show your mettle, where you comb the burrs out of your thick winter coat and buckle up your chinstrap and buckle down your shinchaps and literally put the pedal to your mettle, the strive to your drive, where the guts and bolts of your desire to win rise like the cream to the surface of the kettle, like the wheat rises to the challenge of creating separation from the chaff. If there were a fifth down that would probably be the down of all downs, the be-all and end-all down-wise speaking, but nope. There’s only four and then one way or another it’s back to first down, which to be honest is not very important because you still have two or even three more chances after that and even if you have to punt it’s not that big a deal and besides football is stupid, the end.