Today the federal minimum is just $5.15 an hour. Some states have higher minimums -- that's what the votes were about -- but others do not, and in all states local actual wages tend to shadow the federal minimum, rising when the federal number rises. It is shocking, and an indictment of Washington, that today's federal minimum wage is barely worth half the minimum of the 1960s. Expressed in today's dollars, the minimum wage would need to be $10.20 an hour to have the same value as the federal minimum of 1968. Through the 1960s, full-time work at the federal minimum wage kept a family of three above the poverty trend; today a family of three headed by a full-time minimum wage worker is 24 percent below the poverty line. Yes, teenagers from affluent families working summer jobs don't need $10 an hour -- a teen-wage exception to the minimum seems fine. But our social contract should ensure that any adult who works full time receives basic financial security, and a $10-an-hour federal minimum wage would achieve that end. A $10 federal minimum wage would increase the cost of pizza delivery. It would also increase social justice: and all Americans ought to vote for that.
San Diego-Cincinnati Analysis: Trailing 28-7 at intermission, here are the results of San Diego possessions in the second half: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, punt, touchdown, victory formation. What was striking about the Bolts' comeback is that it was not triggered by turnovers, as comebacks usually are: Cincinnati coughed up the ball only once in the second half. What was striking as well is that the Bengals never let up: when Cincinnati scored to take a 38-28 lead at the end of the third quarter, I thought the Chargers' comeback might expire. Next, what was striking is that even after collapsing from a 28-7 advantage to a 49-41 deficit, Cincinnati did not fold, reaching first down at the San Diego 15 before four consecutive incompletions ended the game. And of course it was striking that a Marvin Lewis-coached club could not hold a 21-point lead at home.
But here's what was really great about the San Diego comeback -- the Chargers did it with a balanced attack, not by going pass-wacky. In the first half, San Diego coaches called 16 passes and 10 rushes; in the second half, 23 passes and 14 rushes. TMQ preaches: Unless it's late, when you're behind do not start throwing on every down, because this hands the game to the defense. Call from the regular playbook, mix the pass and run, get a touchdown and then see what the world looks like. Fourteen times during an historic 42-point second half, San Diego coaches simply handed the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson -- and it worked because Cincinnati was in a soft nickel or dime look for the entire second half. Running backs love to rush against a soft nickel. There was exciting play after exciting play in this contest: Tomlinson running for 14 yards on a key third-and-2; Philip Rivers twice at the goal line faking to star tight end Antonio Gates then throwing touchdown passes to his backup Brandon Manumaleuna; a 74-yard touchdown pass to Chad Johnson; three single-play touchdown drives. But what meant most in the end is that San Diego didn't panic, rather it kept mixing plays. And now you know what I am going to say about TMQ's Law of the Obvious: Sometimes all a team needs to do is run up the middle for no gain, and things will be fine. From the point it was the home team leading 28-7 in the third quarter, to the Bengals' final possession when they were forced to throw on every down, Cincinnati coaches called 12 passes and 11 runs. Five of the passes fell incomplete, stopping the clock. When you're playing with a big second-half lead, don't call more passes than runs.
Terminology note: Last week TMQ said the short-yardage action on which the quarterback fakes up the middle then backhand-flips to the tailback sprinting outside was dubbed Flip 90 by its designer, Mike Martz. Scouts Inc.'s K.C. Joyner points out that in Martz's system, "90" meant outside left; many teams use odd numbers for offensive left gaps, even numbers for right gaps. On his key third-and-2 run, Tomlinson took this odd-looking action to the right against a seven-man Cincinnati blitz. Hence, he ran Flip 80.
NFL Prejudiced Against Space Aliens: So "human beings" are allowed in the NFL, but not Klingons? Obviously pro football is prejudiced against Klingons, Vorlons, Cylons and Taelons! And why do the names of sci-fi aliens always end in "-on?" The Vorlons were one of the sinister aliens of the old show "Babylon 5." Sci-fi fans continue to lament that its planned follow-on series folded after a few episodes. What I liked about the "Babylon 5" follow-on series was that the key spaceship was modeled on the Starduster, starship in the old "Space Angel" cartoon series of the early 1960s. If you go here and click on "Space Angel," you can see a grainy image of the glamorous Starduster, plus series heroes Scott McCloud, Taurus and Crystal Mace. Airing from 1962 to 1964, "Space Angel" plowed the ground that "Star Trek" would walk beginning in 1966, especially boundless optimism that a handful of wisecracking people aboard a snazzy starship would be able to accomplish more good than harm in the cosmos. For many Boomers, "Space Angel," not "Star Trek," was their first exposure to the notion of gallivanting around the galaxy -- and "Star Trek" bore more debt to "Space Angel" than its creators liked to admit. There have been so many fads involving back-in-the-day shows from the morning age of television. Why hasn't there been a "Space Angel" nostalgia fad?
For This Reason Alone, Kwan Will Be the First American Diplomat in a Generation Who Is Popular in France: Skater Michelle Kwan has been named a "public diplomatic envoy" -- good-will ambassador -- by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Surely this makes Kwan the first American diplomat ever to have done swimsuit modeling!
Adventures in Officiating: Facing second-and-goal on the Pittsburgh 4, the Saints appeared to execute a bouncing direct-snap to tailback Deuce McAllister, who ran for the touchdown. Announcers debated whether it was a trick play or a botched snap. It was the latter, and the official Game Book lists the play as a fumble by center Jeff Faine. Overlooked -- there should have been a penalty! Direct-snapping to a running back is legal only if the quarterback never places his hands under center; once someone places his hands under center, only that person can receive the snap. Drew Brees was under center when this happened. Rule 7-3-4 states, "Any extension of hands by a player under center as if to receive the snap is a false start unless, while under center, he receives the snap."
Best Blocks: As Willie Parker sprinted 72 yards, Pittsburgh's Marvel Smith, Alan Faneca, Dan Kreider and Cedrick Wilson got perfect blocks. The play was a simple off-tackle -- but because it was second-and-18, New Orleans was in a nickel with only six men inside the "box," where they were overwhelmed by seven blockers. Faneca initially double-teamed a Saints' defensive lineman, then sprinted upfield to paste someone else too, executing the "secondary block" that so many pro linemen can't be bothered with. Parker ended the possession with a 3-yard touchdown run that put the Steelers ahead for good. On that snap, New Orleans lined up with all three linebackers inside the offensive tackles, and Pittsburgh simply sent Parker outside. It appeared the Hypocycloids' game plan was keyed on Ben Roethlisberger checking whether the Saints' linebackers lined up -- and this worked to the tune of 217 yards rushing for the victors.
We're All Professionals Here: Trailing undefeated Indianapolis 17-16 with 7:38 remaining, Buffalo had second-and-3 on the Colts' 15 and a great chance for the colossal upset. The Bills went loss of yardage, loss of yardage, missed field goal, and TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook. Note: In the past two weeks, J.P. Losman has completed 17 passes and been sacked nine times.
Religious Leaders Also Endorse Tap Beer Over Bottled Beer: The United Church of Canada, the country's largest Protestant denomination, has asked members to stop buying bottled water, saying that because "water is a sacred gift that connects all life," therefore "the privatization of water must be avoided." It isn't clear why water privately held in small bottles is offensive whereas water privately held in, say, the baptismal pools of United Church of Canada sanctuaries is fine. Bottled water has no known health benefits versus tap water in the United States, where municipal water purity standards are high. Sometimes bottled water is a convenience, other times simply a status marker; churches are supposed to oppose the use, for status, of money that might go to the poor, so at least in that sense of United Church of Canada campaign can be defended theologically. If the members of the United Church of Canada saved whatever they would spend on bottled water and donated that sum to the impoverished of the developing world, that would be admirable. If the same people refuse to buy bottled water, then spend the savings on faux-granite countertops for their kitchens, this accomplishes nothing. Especially considering that Canada is the Saudi Arabia of water -- no nation has a greater surplus of freshwater resources, compared to population needs. The rivers of Quebec roar with so much pristine freshwater from the Laurentide ice sheet, which has been melting for 18,000 years and still is far from thawed, that Canadians have more water than they or their descendants will ever need.
The situation is very different in the developing world. The United Nations Development Programme just published its latest Human Development Report, one of the world's most important annual documents. (Tomorrow your columnist is moderator for the Washington unveiling of the report -- note the announcement is the first United Nations press release ever to mention ESPN.com.) This year's report focuses on safe water in the developing world. Roughly 1.1 billion people lack clean drinking water. The waterborne illnesses they suffer as a result not only cause human misery -- each year in the developing world there are more deaths from diarrhea diseases than from cancer in the United States and nations of the European Union combined -- but also hold back developing nations, as the sick can't look after themselves. Some 2.6 billion worldwide lack proper sanitary conditions for wastewater treatment.
In the Middle East and in much of China, where aquifers are being depleted at an alarming rate to support rice cultivation, freshwater scarcity is the core problem. But the new Human Development Report argues that poverty, government corruption and lack of infrastructure, not water availability, are the biggest malefactors overall. The situation is especially painful in the poor parts of many developing world cities, where there is no reliable municipal water service, and the poor spend as much as a third of their meager incomes to buy safe water. Even an American or Canadian who's chugging all the Dasani he or she can hold spends far less than 1 percent of his or her income on safe water.
As the United States looks outward to the world for good deeds our nation can do, helping impoverished nations improve their drinking water supplies and water sanitation stands near the top of the list. The United Nations report estimates $10 billion in capital investment could provide 500 million poor people with safe drinking water. That's roughly one month of United States military expenditures in Iraq. Suppose we accelerated our inevitable withdrawal from Iraq by a single month -- and remember, withdrawal always has been inevitable. Suppose the $10 billion in savings was invested in developing-world water purity. Such United States action literally could be a lifesaver for millions and improve America's image in the world, rather than diminish it.
At Happy Hour in Hell's Sports Bar, the Margaritas Are Boiling, Not Frozen: Hell's sports bar has 28 wide-screen plasma TVs, and on Sunday all were showing Houston 13, Jacksonville 10. For the highlight program, all 28 screens in Hell's Sports Bar showed nothing but, over and over, highly paid first-round draft choice Matt Jones of Jax letting two perfectly thrown passes bounce off his hands for interceptions.
Hoist on His Own Petard: Since Gillette Field opened, there have been rumors Bill Belichick deliberately keeps the playing surface in bad condition so his players but not visitors will know where the sweet spots are. The new stadium itself is gleaming and magnificently well thought-out, yet the playing surface is dumpy. Coincidence? Belichick's grounds keeping plot came back to haunt him as Eric "I Was a Teenaged Coach" Mangini brought the Jets to visit during a rainstorm. Twice with Jersey/B leading 10-6, Tom Brady auto-sacked himself when he slipped in mud; overall, New England players seemed to fall more often than Jets.
I don't know about you, but at this point I am sick of all the Belichick-Parcells-Mangini-Curtis Martin byplay between the Patriots and the Jets. They compete with each other. Why do they constantly have to be angry at each other? Perplexing Belichick moment: Leading 17-14 with 1:15 remaining, the Jets faced fourth-and-10 on the New England 40 and deliberately let the clock run out. Belichick declined the penalty, which would have marched Jersey/B backward five yards; Troy Brown ended up fair-catching on the New England 11, effectively ending the game. Most punters would rather kick from the 45 than the 40 in perfect conditions, but given the driving rain and 1:15 remaining, New England needed to push the Jets back. I couldn't help wondering if Belichick declined the penalty solely because he knew Mangini did it deliberately, the master wanting to frustrate his former student.
Norwegians Complained About Their Government Complaining About the Complaining: The new Human Development Report ranks Norway as the world's best place to live and Niger as the world's worst; the United States ranked eighth. The report praised Norway for modernism, personal and sexual freedom, affluence, little crime, a clean environment and generous benefits funded by the country's oil wealth. It was Norway's sixth consecutive first-place finish in the report, and the news prompted Norwegian government minister Erik Solheim to protest a "culture of whining" in which Norwegians spend too much time complaining. But Erik, that's a complaint too! Finishing fourth on the United Nations ranking of best places to live was Ireland, and talk about a comeback story. Just a generation ago, the young left Ireland and you couldn't give away an Irish country house. Now Ireland's economy, culture and real-estate market are running at Gold Rush levels.
Single Worst Play of the Season So Far: Tennessee leading 26-20, Baltimore had second-and-6 on the Flaming Thumbtacks' 11 late in the fourth quarter. Very highly paid cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones lined up across from Derrick Mason, the Ravens' best receiver. Jones was in man coverage. Mason ran a down-and-in. Jones simply stood there watching him, making no attempt to interfere, as Mason caught the winning touchdown. Check the replay: Jones jogs a few steps, then just comes to a halt and watches. This is the Single Worst Play of the Season So Far.
Best Crowd Reaction: When the Eagles launched a mincing fraidy-cat punt on fourth-and-3 from the Washington 40 -- never punt in the Maroon Zone! -- the Lincoln Field crowd booed lustily.
Pelosi Also Promised to "Avoid Clichés Like the Plague": The night she learned she would become Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi promised to "take this country in a new direction." If the United States had a "new direction," wouldn't California face Europe and the Carolinas face Asia? Politicians often pledge to "turn the country around," which sounds like an exceptionally bad idea, or to "get this country moving," which would only cause earthquakes.
Madam Speaker note: Pelosi announced she would back Rep. John Murtha for House Majority Leader because, by declaring opposition to the Iraq War, Murtha "spoke truth to power." Murtha is not a penniless wandering sage, he is himself among the most powerful people in the United States! Back when Republicans were impeaching Bill Clinton, Rep. Henry Hyde declared what they were doing was "speaking truth to power." Hyde, at the time chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was himself among the most powerful people in the United States. The phrase "speaking truth to power" is apt when a disenfranchised person follows his or her conscience at some personal risk. When rich people living in sinecure and privilege, such as members of the House of Representatives, pat themselves on the back for supposedly "speaking truth to power" -- especially when all they've done is criticize the opposition party! -- it is more proof of how spoiled and out-of-touch Washington lawmakers are.
Samkon Gado Play of the Week: Leading 13-10 on the road at Jacksonville, Houston faced fourth-and-1 on its 41 with 1:40 remaining, Jax out of timeouts. Rather than punt, the Texans ran Gado up the middle, first down, and the rest was kneeling. Jacksonville has a longstanding habit of honking important games at home, including a 2004 late-December home loss to Houston that knocked the Jags out of the playoffs. As this column has noted, the Jags do an awful lot of talking; it's time they did some playing.
Tasty, Nutritious Dishes Designed to Be Left Under a Park Bench at 2 a.m.: The death last week of former East German spymaster Markus Wolf brings the news that in retirement Wolf was the author of a cookbook, a recipe collection called "The Secrets of Russian Cooking." Hmmm. And if you take the third letter of each ingredient, multiply by the number of pages in the book, divide by the number of words in the recipe ...
The Raiders Had Randy Moss, Jerry Porter and Doug Gabriel -- and There's a Reason the One New England Traded for Was the One You'd Never Heard Of: A couple weeks ago, TMQ noted that New England Patriots' receivers helmets are stamped INSERT HEAD, BECOME STAR. Reche Caldwell, Doug Gabriel -- nobody else in the league even wanted them, at New England this season both are playing swell. The flip side of this issue is that when receivers remove the Flying Elvii helmet, they turn back into pumpkins. In the winter of 2005, David Patten, who played like a star in New England, signed a big-money, free-agent contract with Washington; in the season and a half since, Patten has 23 receptions and no touchdowns, and often does not get into games even when healthy. This winter David Givens, who played like a star in New England, signed a big-money contract with Tennessee; he missed a month with injuries, and otherwise has eight receptions and no touchdowns. Let's see, coming to New England makes a mediocre receiver look good, leaving New England makes a good receiver look mediocre. What do these propositions have in common? A part-time male model named Tom Brady.
Sweet 'N' Sour Play: Every few years Tuesday Morning Quarterback is stunned that some NFL team -- despite dozens of coaching-staff and scouting-department people who do nothing but football all year long and are collectively paid millions of dollars -- seems unaware that a missed field goal can be returned. Usually field goal attempts go out of the end zone, so this doesn't come up much. But on the long try, the defense should have a return man ready, and the kicking team should be prepared to play defense. Chicago leading 24-20 early in the fourth quarter, Jersey/A lined up to attempt a 52-yard field goal. The weak-legged Jay Feely (6-of-16 lifetime from beyond the 50) was the kicker. The Bears put speed merchant Devin Hester in the end zone. Feely's kick clanged short. Hester fielded it and cleverly began to stroll slowly, as if about the hand the ball to an official; then took off for a 108-yard touchdown that broke open the game. Not only were the Bears ready for a short kick, they had a return called -- it was "return right," with coordinated blocking. That was sweet. The Giants seemed not to know the field goal try could be run back, even though Chicago did exactly the same thing in the same situation for a 108-yard touchdown return last season. That was seriously sour. Note: Last year the Bears had six touchdown returns, and this year already have three. There's nothing more demoralizing than to work, work, work for every yard of field position, then suddenly see some skinny gentleman racing up the sideline in the other direction.
I'm Still Waiting for Quiznos to Call About "Tuesday Morning Quarterback Sponsored by Quiznos:" Newspaper circulation continues to decline, though as Michael Knisley has noted, when the Web is taken into account, more people are now reading newspapers than ever before. Keeping newspapers in business requires advertising, so what should newspapers hope for? Bad news for corporations! Often when there are business scandals, corporations go on a spending spree for ads. This week most major newspapers have full-page advertisements purchased by the manufacturer of Tylenol, alerting consumers that its brand of acetaminophen is not involved in the recent recall. Remember last winter, when the oil companies were being hammered by complaints about high prices and profits? According to the ad-monitoring service TNS Media Intelligence, in January and February 2006, oil companies spent $53 million on image advertising, double their amount from the same months in 2005. (Hey Exxon Mobil, if you sponsor TMQ, I promise to stop mentioning global warming.) My favorite recent example involved electricity rates soaring in Maryland because of deregulation. Consumers have been complaining, then recently Pepco, the state's big utility, bought full-page newspaper ads asserting it was doing everything possible to hold down prices. The cost of the ads was billed to ratepayers.
Preposterous Punts Watch No. 1: The Arizona (Caution: May Contain Football-Like Substance) Cardinals reached fourth-and-2 on the Dallas 49 and punted. Just to prove it was no fluke, later Arizona reached fourth-and-2 on the Dallas 47 and punted. Not only is it crazy to punt on fourth-and-short in opposition territory -- you're 1-7, what have you got to lose? And now you are 1-8. Note: I don't wish to alarm anyone, but Tony Romo has the NFL's second-best passer rating, trailing only Peyton Manning.
Preposterous Punt Watch No. 2: Pittsburgh leading 31-24 with 11:00 remaining, the United States Saints faced fourth-and-6 on the Steelers' 39; when the punt boomed, TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook. (Two downs later, Willie Parker ran 76 yards and the game was, in fact, over.) Not only was this yet another example of punting in opposition territory when trailing late. On the previous down, New Orleans faced third-and-6. Given the scoreboard, clock and field position, Saints' coaches should have assumed a two-down situation -- calling a run on the assumption the team would go on fourth. Instead, New Orleans threw for the first and, failing, punted. If you know you're going on fourth, your third-down call should be calculated to ensure you get at least some of the required yardage.
And Rumor Says Larry Brown Is Complaining That $43 Million for Two Years Isn't Enough: The bottom line on Larry Brown is that between his contract buyout to leave the Detroit Pistons and his contract settlement to leave the New York Knicks, he received a staggering $43 million for two years of coaching. And bear in mind -- it was two years of doing a terrible job. At Detroit, Brown walked out on a playoff team, and before walking out was undercutting the team's championship chances by discussing his desire to leave. The next season at New York he won only 23 games, while frequently denouncing in public the Knicks' players and management.
So it seems Larry Brown is evidence of two TMQ laws. First, my Iron Law of Modern Cultural Economics: This holds that the worse something is, the more money it makes. This law does not apply to the markets for industrial and consumer products. There, competitive forces function as econ textbooks say they should: High-quality products win, poor-quality products are rejected, and the market relentlessly pressures for the best price. In culture, textbook economics break down. Books, movies, music, celebrity-hood -- the worse something is, the more money it makes, while high-quality products fare poorly or fail outright. Also Brown proves TMQ's law of job-hopping coaches: When you hire someone who's only in it for himself, you get someone who's only in it for himself.
Huh? What? Trailing Cleveland 14-3, Atlanta attempt an onside kick -- with eight seconds left in the first half. What was that supposed to accomplish? Weirdly, the Browns then lined up to attempt a Hail Mary from the Falcons' 49, and fumbled; Atlanta recovered and lateraled twice, reaching the Cleveland 17 as time expired.
Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! No. 1: Philadelphia lead 3-0 and had first down on its 16. The Redskins big-blitzed. Donte Stallworth ran an out-and-up; highly paid corner Shawn Springs simply watched him go by, covering no one; highly paid safety Sean Taylor was way out of position if the coverage was two-deep; as Stallworth completed his 84-yard touchdown, the sole Redskin bothering to chase him was linebacker Lemar Marshall. This is the first time I've ever seen a Gregg Williams defense play without pride. And yes, the Philadelphia blitz worked against Washington -- twice in the first half, Eagles' blitzers came across untouched by anyone, though the Nanticokes have one of the league's highest-paid offensive lines. At this point the Washington season is lost, so it's good that Mark Brunell will sit while we find out what Jason Campbell can do. The aging Brunell seems to be regressing toward inexperience, lately tossing up crazy heave-hoes under pressure. Early at Philadelphia he was about to be hit and heave-hoed for intentional grounding -- just take the sack! In the second half, about to be hit, Brunell heave-hoed directly to Sheldon Brown, who ran it back for the touchdown, icing the game. Letting Campbell play makes the remainder of the Redskins' season interesting.
Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! No. 2: Jersey/A had the Ming Ding Xiong ("Bears whose outcomes are decided by fate" in Chinese) on the ropes, leading 13-3 with 42 seconds remaining in the first half, Chicago on the Giants' 29. How about a big blitz? Easy touchdown pass to Mark Bradley, who had five receptions coming into the game.
Immutable Law Observed: TMQ's immutable law holds, Kick Early Go For It Late. Trailing Oakland 13-7, Denver faced fourth-and-goal on the Raiders' 1 with 11:10 remaining. If it had been the first half, a kick would have been called for. But it was late, and Broncos' coaches wisely went for it -- play-fake touchdown to blocking back Kyle Johnson in the flat. (Calling a play to Johnson, who had three receptions entering the game, is an example of the tactic of, on a pressure down, deliberately throwing it to a guy you never throw to.) Denver note: Just as the Broncos seem to be able to make anyone into a good running back, they seem to be able to make anyone into a good tackle. With undrafted free agent tackle Matt Lepsis out injured, undrafted free agent Erik Pears is playing left tackle for Denver, and playing quite well. This guy is so obscure he's not even listed in the NFL Players Association player database.
Obscure College Score of the Week: Indiana of Pennsylvania 21, California of Pennsylvania 17 in the Tuesday Morning Quarterback Obscure College Game of the Year. Anthony Cellitti caught a 28-yard touchdown pass with 50 seconds remaining as the nameless Indiana of Pennsylvania team defeated the Vulcans of California of Pennsylvania at Hepner-Bailey Field in California, Pennsylvania. Located in Indiana, Pa., Indiana of Pennsylvania University has a formal school policy on civility. What it doesn't have is a sports nickname. As noted by IUP alum Brandon Minich, the school once was the Indiana Indians; then adopted a vague ursine-like logo. This season, IUP is playing nameless while the student body debates a new nickname.
Obscure College Score of the Week No. 2: Malone 20, Walsh 10. Located in Canton, Ohio, Malone University boasts of being "among the top colleges and universities in the Midwest" in the latest U.S. News rankings. Malone was 55th of the 70 Midwestern college and universities the magazine ranked. So Malone was "among" the top colleges in the Midwest, but only in the sense that my books are "among" bestsellers at the bookstore. The U.S. News ranking is hardly omniscient; there's no shame in not being at the top. But why must colleges that aren't at the top strain to give the impression they are?
Reader Animadversion: Got a complaint or a deeply held grievance? Write me at TMQ_ESPN@yahoo.com. Include your real name and the name of your hometown, and I may quote you by name unless you instruct me otherwise. Note: giving your hometown improves your odds of being quoted.
Reader Challenge: In the latest round of contract negotiations, the four established broadcasting organizations that carry NFL games -- CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC -- agreed to sell some advertising time to NFL Network. Newspapers, magazines and television stations generally are free to accept or reject advertising; the First Amendment forbids censorship by government, but says nothing about what private businesses decide to do with their ad space. As part of the build up to Thanksgiving night, during Sunday's CBS and Fox games, NFL Network ads urged viewers to call their cable carriers and demand the new channel on basic cable. There's some consolation in the awareness that even the mighty NFL needs to rally popular support for its positions. But such ads effectively recommend you watch a network different from the one you're watching -- after all, in order to tune in NFL Network you must first tune out the Columbia Broadcasting System. Challenge to readers: In coming weeks, count instances of television networks airing ads for competitors, and report them using the link at Reader Animadversion. And I mean ads for true competitors, not common-owner channels such as CNN and TBS.
Let Them Jump Up and Down!!!!!: Please, National Football League, reasonable people are begging you, do away with the really stupid new celebration rule! On Sunday night, the Giants were called for celebration because a bunch of guys ran into the end zone and jumped up and down after a touchdown. (The new rule says only the scoring player can celebrate.) Puh-leez! The purpose of professional sports is entertainment, and celebrations are entertaining. Or at least do no harm. Sunday night, Giants coach Tim Coughlin repeatedly screamed and cursed at officials while waving his arms like he was possessed. That's the sort of thing that really should draw a flag -- the NBA crackdown on screaming at officials is a great idea. Yet by the rulebook, Coughlin's shows of disrespect were perfectly fine, while a couple guys slapping hands is treated like a violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. This weekend, my son's sixth-grade county flag football team got called for celebration because 11-year-old boys jumped up and down after a score. Puh-leez, offload these silly rules!
Next Week: Michelle Kwan wears her bikini at a diplomatic conference, and peace is instantly achieved in the Middle East.
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.