By Gregg Easterbrook
Special to Page 2

What color was Jax wearing on "Monday Night Football?" It may have looked black, but as noted by several readers including Doreen Kenworth of Harrisburg, Pa. the color was Brunswick Green. The old Pennsylvania Railroad painted locomotives a color that sure looked black, but the company insisted on calling it Brunswick Green. Marklin still makes authentic toy Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives in Brunswick Green, and they sure look black.

Martin Möller of Bonn, Germany writes of the EA Sports cover curse plaguing Shaun Alexander: "EA produces a series of Futbol (the sport you call soccer) video games. There is a manager version and a player version. The coach on the cover of the manager version is Thomas Doll of HSV Hamburg. In the previous year HSV played its best season in a decade. In the 12 games of this season since the video game was released, HSV had only one win. That's what I call a curse." Here is the link to EA Germany.

Thomas Doll
FotoSports/WireImage.com
Yes, Mr. Doll doesn't look like a happy man.

TMQ mused on how a crew of 14 could handle a container ship as large as the 191,000-ton Emma Maersk. Mike McBride of København, Denmark writes, "I work in København, which is Copenhagen in Danish, for Maerskline, the top container shipping company in the world. We are already building seven sister vessels for the Emma Maersk -- the next, the Estelle Maersk, is now leaving Denmark to join Emma on the high seas. Anyway you wondered if the day would come when Emma might crash into the Golden Gate Bridge. This particular nightmare scenario is unlikely, since the Emma is dedicated to the Asia-Europe trade. She is so big, she can't call at most ports in the United States, or fit through the Panama Canal. Today, at least. The world is preparing for mega-ships: American ports are beginning to dredge their channels, and Panama has begun their canal expansion program to accommodate outsized vessels." Doug Marshak of Duluth, Minn.adds, "At least in the United States, most ports employ ship pilots who are brought aboard freighters once they approach ports to guide the vessels through the dredged channels. The entire Great Lakes must be navigated by a Great Lakes pilot -- foreign ship captains are not allowed to drive their ships upon entering the Great Lakes. So while the crew may be a bunch of undertrained exhausted low-bidder non-unionized workers, once they hit American waters the guy (or, increasingly, the woman) driving the ship is a specialist on local waters and subject to good-old OSHA regulations on consecutive hours worked without rest. Furthermore, a vessel as huge as the Emma Maersk would run aground if it left its dredged shipping lane, running aground long before it could smash into most structures. I suppose it is possible that a runaway container ship could take out the Golden Gate Bridge, but with the pilot system in place and vessels confined to dredged lanes the public can't see, at least in the United States the risk of such an accident is low."

Jaimie Muehlhausen of Vista, Calif. asks an excellent question: Since even the victors agree that officials blew their calls at the end of the Oklahoma-Oregon game, why isn't this game treated as a victory for Oklahoma in BCS calculations?

Golden Gate bridge
AP Photo/Eric Risberg
Don't worry, the Golden Gate is not in danger.

Apparently I should not have turned off Denver-San Diego after the Bolts' win became obvious. First, TMQ had noted the sort of play on which Denver skirts the anti-chop-block rule and hides the intent-to-injure tactics of its offensive line. Sarath Krishnaswamy of Dunstable, Mass. was among many readers to point out, "I was surprised you did not mention the hit Denver center Tom Nalen put on Igor Olshansky of San Diego, for which the latter retaliated with fists, drawing an ejection. Nalen dove low and hit Olshansky's knees when Denver was spiking the ball. That is -- on a play Nalen knew was meaningless and where the defense posed no threat, he deliberately went after an opposing player with intent to cause injury. And yet, for this Olshansky is ejected while Nalen skates." Now I've seen the tape, and the reason only Olshansky was flagged is the classic second-swing problem -- the official doesn't notice the first swing, he notices the second. Of course Olshansky was wrong to take a swing, and deserves the $10,000 fine the league meted out. But Nalen's move was an obvious attempt to injure. Why even bother when the game is almost over? The Broncos play the Chargers again in December. Nalen was fined $25,000, but should have been suspended. Right now Denver team officials are complaining that the larger fine against Nalen was unfair. Mike Shanahan: Your offensive line plays dirty, and you're complaining about being caught?!

Arthur Bergmann of Newport Beach, Calif. adds that leading 28-27 with second-and-goal at the Denver 1 at the two-minute warning, Marty Schottenheimer had Philip Rivers kneel on the ball! Denver was out of timeouts, and the Bolts wanted to run as much clock as possible before scoring. LaDainian Tomlinson went over for the icing touchdown at 1:17, and the PAT kick made it 35-27. The Broncos were still alive to tie and force overtime, but because of the kneel-down, ran out of time, reaching only the San Diego 32 as the clock expired.

TMQ complained that it's tired of the "hut hut hut hut" attempt to draw the defense offside on fourth-and-1, plus it never works anyway. Amish Patel of Dallas suggested, "A team should try the fourth-down hut-hut draw-them-off nonsense on fourth down and short -- then, after several listless huts, suddenly snap the ball as the defense starts to relax." Or quick-snap while the defense is waiting for "hut hut hut hut" to commence, which is what New England did, successfully, against the Packers on fourth-and-1 on Sunday.

Lots of errors this week, all my fault. I called Eros a goddess. Helen Wasiakowski of Sweet Valley, Pa. was among many to correct that: "Eros was a god, usually associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love. He's better known as Cupid through Roman mythology. And on an Eros-related note, thanks for yesterday's beefcake pictures!" I called cephalexins a "class" of antibiotics. Sachin Kapur, an M.D. in Chicago writes, "Cephalexin is actually the generic name for the antibiotic Keflex, not the name of the class. That class of medications, which would also include Cefcatacol, is called the cephalosporins. Other drugs in this class include Ceclor and Rocephin. Great column, and Go Bears!"

Caitlin Peale of Portland, Maine was among the surprisingly large number of readers who knew the details of haka dancing in New Zealand rugby: "You mention the All Blacks, New Zealand's national rugby union team, but the accompanying photo pictures the Kiwis, New Zealand's national rugby league team. Rugby union and rugby league are different codes of rugby with different rules that split from one another in England, Australia, and New Zealand around the turn of the 20th century. Yesterday you linked to a Kiwis' haka. Here is a picture of the All Blacks performing a haka."

Kevin Lehde of N.C., a high school football official, suggests the reason the Giants seemed shocked when Devin Hester of the Bears ran a missed field goal back for a touchdown against them is that they thought they were playing a high school game! Under high school rules, any kick into the end zone is a touchback; you can never run the ball out. Lehde notes, "The fact that kicks can be run out of the end zone in the pros and college often translates into undeserved booing of officials in high school. The bedlam starts when a kick is touched, then rolls into the end zone, and a touchback is called. Fans want the ball to be live if it's been touched, but in high school, it's not. Example from an October game in which I was the back judge. A punt is going to be fielded at the 35-yard line, but the return man muffs it and the ball is loose. The coverage men try to recover, but end up kicking the ball backwards, toward the goal line. A melee ensues, during which the ball inches closer and closer, and finally bounces into the air and breaks the plane of the goal line. I immediately blow my whistle and signal touchback, while the kicking team falls on the ball in the end zone and the fans start screaming because they think it's a touchdown. The kicking team's coach was completely befuddled by the explanation: A kick remains a kick until it is possessed, not touched. Since the ball was batted around for 30 seconds without ever coming into possession, it was still a kick that crossed the goal line, and therefore a touchback."

Obscure College Score of the Week mentioned Capital University. Marcia McGinley of Clearwater, Fla. read the TMQ link to its FAQs page, and found that for dorm rooms, irons were both prohibited and recommended. "The youth of America, or at least of Columbus, Ohio, is wrinkled," she supposes. I complained that the Washington CBS affiliate, WUSA, stayed with the meaningless end of the Bengals-Saints game rather than switch to the red-hot Pittsburgh-Cleveland conclusion. Erik Mooney of Jersey City, N.J. wrote, "The problem is that the NFL does not allow local affiliates to switch away from regionally aired games until a team leads by at least 18 points." OK, that's the rule. But why is it the rule? Recently TMQ noted that some buildings now have Web sites. As Steven Austin points out, so do some mountains. These mountains even have a help desk -- click on "live help." And here's a traffic intersection with its own Web site.

Jack Del Rio
Fernando Medina/WireImage.com
Jack Del Rio is dressed for success.

Readers including Jolene Jasper of Bozeman, Mont. asked how my off-price ultra-generic prediction, Home Team Wins, is faring. Not too well -- it's 88-72, which trails everyone but Chris Mortensen on the ESPN prediction board. Three points: First, hey NFL page editors, how come the TMQ off-price ultra-generic prediction isn't on this page? Afraid I'll show you up? Second, Mort, just switch to predicting Home Team Wins, you don't need exclusive insider information and you don't even need to know who's playing. Third, note the computer formula, Accuscore, is doing better than all the experts. As I understand Accuscore, it simply endlessly predicts that the team with the best statistics will win.

Finally, coaches in suits went 2-for-2 this week, moving a reader to observe:

San Fran and Jax wear
suits. Much nicer than Pats' sweats.
Sharp-dress man? Success.

-- Tammy Kelly, Independence, Mo.

In addition to writing Tuesday Morning Quarterback, Gregg Easterbrook is the author of "The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse" and other books. He is also a contributing editor for The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly and The Washington Monthly, and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. Sound off to Page 2 here.




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TUESDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK