“Taking A Knee”

Interesting phenomonon, this knee taking thing.

You only find it in football and I do believe it’s a legit “play” at every level of the sport.  Definitely, in college and in the pros.  But why??? 

ARGUMENT:   If I”m shelling out $80 a ticket to watch a pro game in a stadium that forces me to drink a $12 cup o’dome foam at a seat so high up, I’m swatting at descending aircraft, then dammit, I want to see football played in its entirety–until 0:00 appears on the damn scoreboard game clock.

This particular subject came up during a regular nightly conversation between an old friend and me.  Ordinarily, athletics would be considered a far too mundane topic.  As a rule, we delve into far more complicated matters, such as why Mercury the element  balls up when it’s not traversing up and down in a small glass tube and indicating fever if one end is placed in the mouth of the infirmed.  We debate the purpose of earwax and could it, would it burn if a wick was placed in the middle of enough of it?   We discuss the merits of  indeterminacy in Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and of course, the Big Bang Theory, which to us means wild, drunken monkey sex.    But last night, in the midst of all this rampant intelligentsia, he posed the question:  why do QB’s do take a knee when there’s still plenty of time for more football to be played?  

My friend contends the knee thing should be outlawed and removed from the rule books.  He says it hardly seems fair to fans either in the stands or watching on TV, who want to witness four full quarters of football played.

Well, let’s examine this, shall we??  

This “taking a knee” is also called the quarterback kneel, the genuflect offense, Catholic coaching, and the victory formation, which is the stance that the offensive line and QB will assume just before said QB places patella to turf.   

And that looks like this   →→→→→

It has a definitive purpose. The quarterback kneel keeps some teams that are “score whores” from ruining the spread and Uncle Joe’s chances at making any money that week.  It also reduces the risk of unnecessary injury.

The quarterback kneel can be used to show mercy or beg for it, which was the case during the 2009 matchup between New England and The Tennessee Titans.  That was when quarterback and former Longhorn deity, Vince Young took a knee in order to finally end the excrutiating pain stemming from a horrible, dreadful shellacking.  The Pats won that game,  59 to zip.

But that’s the exception.   The knee is primarily used to run the clock down, either at the end of the first half or the game itself, in order to preserve a lead or secure a win.  It generally results in a loss of a yard and uses up a down while minimizing the risk of a fumble, which would give the other team a chance to score.

An this was the exact situation that played out during a game that football mavens call,  “The Miracle at The Meadowlands”.  What happened during this game, perfectly exemplies why taking a knee to preserve a win, is thee best thing to do. 

DATELINE:    November 10, 1978,  Giants Stadium.    It’s a contest between the New York Giants and the Philadelpha Eagles.   The Giants had the ball at their own 29-yard line, leading 17-12, with a mere 31 seconds still on the clock.  The Eagles had no timeouts left, and everyone assumed the game was over as quarterback, Joe Pisarcik kneeled on second down. However, the Giants offensive coordinator, Bob Gibson called for the next play which would be a handoff to fullback, Larry Csonka,  but it was bobbled–severely–and fumbled and that’s where Eagles cornerback,  Herman Edwards…..

Well, you really should see this for yourself:

And see?  There’s a price to pay for not taking a knee.  I mean, let’s face it, because of what happened, Joe Pisarcik is hardly a household name, right?  But do you want to hear an interesting irony?  The year after that debacle at the Meadowlands,  Pisarcok was released by the Giants and then signed with the grateful Eagles in 1980 where he played until retiring after the end of the ’84 season.  He’s still in the  New Jersey area and one would think that’s he’s probably a plumber or a dock worker.  


He’s doing well as a broker for ICAP Securities and I’ll bet has never, ever dropped anything else…except for some baby batter.  He has five children: Kristin, Lindsey, Jake, Joseph and Katie.

So there you have it, Sweetheart.  Taking a knee will always be allowed in football because of the positives it offers: it eats up time, prevents injuries, offers dignity and of course, preserves a win, which sadly, is something the Dallas Cowboys aren’t seeing very much of this season.   That’s too bad, too.   I was for the longest time, a fervent supporter of the Pokes.   But that changed in college.  I started hanging around a lot Houston kids who turned me on to the Oilers and then moving to Houston in 1990 only further cemented my fandom.  When owner, Butt Adams moved the team to Tennessee in 1996 and the Texans were created in their place, my allegiance remained in tact for the hometown team–by any other name, I was a Houston fan.    My friend though, remains a staunch Cowboy zealot and if that isn’t bad enough, this man also rides me regularly about my devotion to the Texas Longhorns and often talks about how overrated they are each season. 

Oh, that’s OK.   I let him talk.  

While I’m seeing his lips move and hear the venomous, anti-UT sentiments spew forth from them in the form of a trombone wah-wahing like Charlie Brown’s teacher, I’m actually thinking about the Cowboys’ sad, sad season and how this year, they differ so much from oh….let’s say….Rice Krispies.

How’s that, you ask???

At least, Rice Krispies belong in a bowl.



  1. You may be onto something here Laurie. I mean, maybe we should eliminate the clock altogether in football. After all, football is a metaphor and proxy for war in our modern day society. Who ever heard of winners taking a knee? We should play until the time that the losers all surrender, and then taken as captive slaves to run humiliating tasks for the winners. Or maybe play until the time the sideline generals negotiate a truce, of course all subject to the approval of the home crowd. Hey! I wonder if maybe the crowd can usher in a representative or two, elected by the fans to broker strategy for the game alongside the sideline generals, maybe even lead them, based on the votes of the fans. Somewhere in there lies some food for thought – not sure for if for football or for war however. Sorry, got carried away with a thought and for some reason had to run it through to it’s illogical end.

    Oh… As a long suffering Giants fan back in the day, who was in his last year of college in the Northeast, probably fully inebriated at the time at a local campus watering hole, I’d like to thank you for jogging my memory of that play. Yes ma’am, I’ll continue to search for just the right words and get back to you on this…

  2. Ms. Kendrick,

    You are truly, one of the best writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I come to your blog to laugh, but invariably, I also walk away knowing I’ve learned something.

    Your sense of humor and style are sublime. It’s not just what you write, it’s the smooth, stylized way you do it. Ive been reading you for a while now and you’ve never failed me. More often than not, I’m blown away by the construction of your pieces. No one does it better.

    I’m a fool for brilliant women, so I think I love you Will you marry me? I just don’t know how to explain any of this to my wife!!

    Thanks for complicating my life and more importantly, thanks for entertaining it daily.


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