A big reason why I like football is because of the inherent gameplay flexibility it offers. The rules are the rules, but within them you can cook up any number of different formations, limited only by their effectiveness at actually moving the ball. It’s actually pretty unique among sports.

I only wish I had a better understanding of gridiron mechanics, so I could fully appreciate the innovation behind the A-11 offense, a hybrid of the spread option, West Coast offense and the run-and-shoot in which all eleven players are (technically) eligible receivers. Because, even though it’s strictly high-school level for now, it’s likely to spread up the football ecosystem soon enough.

Apparently, it’s already crept into college games. Will it eventually make an appearance on Sundays, during National Football League games? It’ll be jarring to see two QBs line up on the field.

Actually, for all the talk about how much the A-11 will transform the game, I have a feeling defenses will come around to countering it. In particular, the NFL has proven to be killing field for gimmicky systems that otherwise thrive on the college/high school level. Prime example is the run-and-shoot, which enjoyed a heyday in the ’80s and ’90s but eventually was neutralized by superior defensive speed in the pros; it effectively became the “chuck-and-duck”.

In any case, news of the A-11 should gladden David Letterman. He has a running joke about introducing a new rule into football where you can put two quarterbacks on the field at the same time — although the rest of that joke is that they also get two balls as well. I’m thinking there’s not much chance of seeing that innovation in the game anytime soon.


YThey owns nothing, periodNapster, that original bad-boy of the music file-sharing realm, finds that it’s tough sledding trying to reposition itself as a legitimate online music store.

And it all has to do with its turn-of-the-century reputation preceding it.

That anecdote is very telling, because it indicates that, even some six years after Napster was relaunched, it still hasn’t shaken off it’s original claim to fame.

For most folks, the word “Napster” is still a keyword for “free downloads”, and the public seems to be stubbornly holding onto that mindshare — even though it’s effectively ancient history in Internet terms (a whole new crop of kids have come of age since Napster’s birth). It’s puzzling; I thought at one point that Napster could successfully transition its brand to a pay-for model; but for whatever reason, it hasn’t worked.

Sailors blames a lack of effective marketing for the persistent mindshare. Certainly, aggressive and persuasive campaigns could get the message out, and I certainly haven’t seen much of that coming out of Napster. But frankly, when you’re talking about youtube, if you’re not iTunes, it’s a tough road.