Friday, November 11, 2011

Runners - Part 3 - Grounded

The running backs get the glory.  Their names are called by the public address announcer.  Their romps down the field win the approval of the crowd.  They get the cheers.  They gain yards, score points. 

Under NFL rules this runner can get up and run
some more, provided it wasn't a player from the
other team who caused her to hit the ground.
We can't tell here whether the runner was knocked
down or fell on her own.
Looks like the best job in football.  But there's a down side. 

In two prior posts I've shown the glory of running free, then the annoyance of getting caught (it is hard to run with someone hanging onto your leg).  Today let's talk about the real down side of being a running back.  Going down.  Most runs end with the going down. That's the downside of running.

If you've been wishing to be a runner, remember the caution - be careful of what you wish for. 

Searching my Outlaw photos for examples of runners being tackled, I was amazed at just how much punishment the runners take.  These ladies who carry the ball are not only fast and elusive, they are tough.  They take some serious abuse.

In college ball, a runner is down when any part of his body (other than foot or hand) touches the ground.  Even if it is just the result of a trip or loss of balance.  The Outlaws play by NFL (National Football League) rules.  In the NFL a runner is ruled "down" when any part of his/her body touches the ground (other than hand or foot) AND that grounding is caused by an opposing player.  Or, if the runner just loses balance on her own, she touched by a defender while down. 

Note: A runner is permitted to touch a hand to the ground for balance, without being considered down.  

In the photo above it isn't clear whether the runner was knocked down by an opponent or somehow fell on her own.  In most of the photos below, there is no question the runner is down by contact with an opposing player. 

Often too much contact. 

Clearly this runner is "down by contact".

Again plenty of contact.  Where's the football?  If you've ever
landed on a football, you know that's unpleasant.  Running has downsides.

Most of the time the "contact" is the cause of going down.  We did another
segment in this  blog about tackling.  Tackling is heavy on contact
 but sometimes light on style.  But either way the runner is down.

The down side of being a runner - landing hard.

Ouch.  A small runner is brought down by a large tackler.  Having a 300 pound tackler coming
down on top of you must  be unpleasant?

On the ground, contact established.  Play is over.  Hopefully
the official blows the whistle before those other three
defenders pile on. 

The view from the ground.  Socks.  

Every time I look at this photo I wonder if the tackler at the right
is trying to steal the runner's helmet. 

A case of too much contact.  Have to hang onto that football.  NFL rules state that if the runner has
possession when she first hits the ground, she can't lose possession to a fumble.  The ground
cannot cause a fumble.


What is worse than having a 300 pound tackler landing on you?  Having four 300 pound tacklers
landing on you.  Small runner.   I count four heavyweights helping to assure the she doesn't
get up.   Nice socks.

 I wanted to include a photo where Outlaws are making the tackle.  The goal of this blog
is to celebrate the Austin Outlaws.  Somehow showing Outlaws being tackled seems to fail in that
goal - except to give you enormous respect for just how tough our runners are. 
Showing the Outlaws making the tackle seems better, like the good guys are winning. 
And it still makes the point - there is a downside to being a running back.

There's a funny rule in the NFL.  Or more accurately a funny result of a rule I've already discussed.  A runner isn't "down" until some part of her body touches the ground - other than hand or foot.   Pretty simple concept. 

But the situation gets funny when a runner lands totally on top of another player.  For all intents and purposes she appears to be down but no part of her body has touched the ground.  So she isn't "down" in the strict sense of the word as defined in the rules.  Sometimes you'll see an NFL game where the runner looks down but pops back up and continues the romp toward the end zone.  So it is important for tacklers to make certain the runner actually touches the ground.
Count on me to look for a funny photo to include in any posting.  The ground is hard.  If you can find a softer
landing by all means do so.  This runner has certainly found a soft place to land.
According to NFL rules, this runner isn't down yet.  No part of her body
has touched the ground.
Tackling isn't always elegant.  Sometimes, as in the photo above, tackling is more like wrestling where the tackler grasps the runner and goes to the ground dragging the runner with her.  In those cases it is important for the tackler to make certain the runner actually does hit the ground. 

How can she be certain? 

The whistle. 

A rule of thumb in football is to keep playing until you hear the whistle.  If the official doesn't blow the whistle, the runner can keep running (or bounce up and run again).  

Running is the glamour job in football but it definitely has it's downside. 

Coming soon:  I have deliberately not included photos of Shadana Hurd in this series about running.  She deserves a posting dedicated to her alone.  And I'll do a Shadana profile soon.  But before Shadana I'm working on a segment involving a couple very unlikely runners. 

Note: a couple references to socks in this posting refer back to an earlier funny posting titled "Socks."

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