What Does The Battle of Bosworth Field Have To Do With The Super Bowl

Don’t worry.  I’ll get to the Super Bowl in a second.

I have had Richard III on my mind a lot lately.  First, I powered through all 13 episodes of House of Cards on Friday which is based in part on Shakespeare’s Richard III and then there was the news that they found the actual body of Richard III under a parking lot in Leicester, England.  In Shakespeare’s play Richard III is thrown from his horse at the Battle of Bosworth Field making him incapable if leading his troops and ending his bloody 2-year reign as king of England and the last ruler from the House of York.  His loss and death and the course of all changed because of a bad horseshoe nail.  Remember, this is a short rudimentary history of the death of Richard III only to give the reasoning about everything else that is about to follow.  If you want a more complete history of the life and death of Richard III go read a book on English history, Shakespeare, or at the very least Wikipedia.

The horseshoe nail theory is a way of studying history looking for all the small moments that lead to the headline grabbing moment.  Our journalists are the chroniclers of history in real time, but sometimes they grow too infatuated with the grand moment.  They become enamored with the moment when Richard actually dies and not the moment that created the circumstances of his death.  They fail to notice that if his horse does not lose his shoe, he could have saved the battle and his throne.

All morning I have been reading how the final play of the San Francisco 49ers last drive decided the game through a non-call on an “obvious” pass interference/defensive holding call.  I would say that play was the simple culmination of a series of bad plays and bad play calling on the part of the 49ers.  To state that the lack of a call on that play kept San Francisco from winning the game absolves the San Francisco coaching staff of any responsibility of putting them in that situation and is the worst sort of transcriber journalism.

Allowing your team to be down 21-6 at half-time, giving up a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the second half, and not giving your best player the opportunity to make a play on the final drive are all things the 49ers did to themselves before that final offensive play.  Or how about when given the opportunity to have a 35 minute time out before a 3rd and 13 play you come up with something a little better than a rushed check down to a running back for 6 yards and a punt.

Honestly, no one of these plays caused the San Francisco loss.  Also focusing on any of them ignores the fact that the Baltimore Ravens had a lot to do with final outcome of the proceedings.  Plus, the officiating was bad all night.  However, the narrative is being written on the last thing journalists saw and the spoutings of Jim Harbaugh at the press conference which reporters have dutifully transcribed as fact.  He comes in the press conference bitter and angry that his team lost the biggest game of the year and the final image was of a penalty that could have been called.  Of course, that is where he is going to place his anger, not on his players or coaches.

That is why journalists are allowed to ask questions in press conferences.  Why did you not call a different set of plays for Colin Kaepernick during that final sequence?  Why did you not have your punt coverage team prepared for Sam Koch running around to rag time off the clock before a safety?  If he answers your questions, you have story.  If he goes nuts and storms out after dropping a bunch of f-bombs, you have a story.  Simply regurgitating what he said isn’t a story.

I figured some reporters would blame the loss all on that final play, but I didn’t expect it to be Greek chorus lamenting how poor Jim Harbaugh got screwed.  I’ll go back to attacking the NCAA tomorrow and let the journalists rest.


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