I have a low tolerance for play-calling debate. You already knew that. You see, I have this old-school mentality that there are only two things you can do with the ball, run with it or pass it, so I don't understand what the big deal is about which you choose to do because it's a 50-50 proposition either way.
Maybe I've just become calloused by life and from having seen too many football games. Either way, just make the darn play work, right?
Well, I've got a soft spot in my heart for play-calling this week. No, it's not because I think the Jaguars were too conservative in their game against the Jets. It's because I read the story of the dying boy's request to Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis and I realized how much play-calling means to fans who can't put the pads on and how it's their link to the game and the team they love.
Last week, Weis visited a 10-year-old Indiana boy dying of a brain tumor. The boy's first name was Montana and I'm sure you can figure what that's all about. Joe Montana, by the way, was Weis' roommate at Notre Dame.
The boy's dying request of Weis was that the coach use a certain play on Notre Dame's first play of the game at Washington last Saturday. The play was a pass to the right. Weis said he'd use it.
When it came time for the Irish to snap the ball for the first time in the game, they were at their one-yard line. A run up the middle would've been the conservative call, right? Weis, however, was not going to violate his promise to the boy, even though Montana had died the day before.
Well, the Irish quarterback completed a 13-yard pass to his tight end, just as the boy had requested. After the game, a 36-17 Notre Dame win, Weis called Montana's mother and told her he would deliver a game ball signed by the team.
Weis, of course, has a 10-year-old daughter who suffers from a rare form of autism. A heavyset man who almost died of complications from gastric bypass surgery a few years ago, Weis is quickly becoming one of those larger-than-life Notre Dame figures that have given the golden dome its glitter; from Rockne to Gipp to Leahy to Parseghian to Montana to Montana's namesake. It almost makes you believe "Touchdown Jesus" really is raising his arms for a Notre Dame score.
What a great story. Even the heart of a hardened curmudgeon such as myself can't help but be softened by such a story. Perhaps I have been too harsh on the play-calling people.