Football has little room for budding Van Goghs

Peerless Price told me that if it were up to him, he would have played pro basketball because it was – and still is – his favorite sport. I think that's pretty interesting.

Whereas football offense is nearly always scripted with receivers running specific pass patterns and quarterbacks taking three- to five-step drops or rolling out a specific way, basketball offense is free flowing. Certainly, there are called plays in basketball, but the player has much more of a chance to use his creativity. He can freelance more: Maybe he approaches the hoop with a defender in front of him, forcing him to use his athleticism to adjust his shot while in the air; maybe he throws a no-look pass instead. I think that's the kind of split-second, unscripted excitement that appeals to an athlete with the skills and talents such as Price.

But football doesn't often bring those opportunities. It heavily relies on people being prepared for everything. Coaches can't even figure out two-point conversions without referring to a card they carry with them for specific situations. What happened to thinking on their feet?

Drew Bledsoe, being a crafty veteran, did bring some ad-libbed moments to the Buffalo offense last year. That touchdown pass to Eric Moulds to send the opener against the Jets into overtime was based on something Moulds and Bledsoe had seen in the Jets' coverage. And Price's game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Vikes was based on the receiver's observation that the corner kept biting on his out-pattern. So he told Bledsoe, they faked the out, then Price went in, Bledsoe threw, Price caught and he scored.

Still, moments like those are rarities, because in football, scripts are good. Coaches don't even have press conferences unless they've been properly briefed by the public relations staff. If coaches are asked a question they don't have a pre-programmed answer to, they're starting to plead the fifth.

Yes, football is about scripts, plans, preparations, systems and routines. Sometimes those can be transformed into beautiful things, such as the ball fakes and timing of the Jets offense under Chad Pennington toward the end of the season. The timing of his fakes with players in motion – and often after the ball had been dispersed – was exquisite and fun to watch. It was mastery.

But often the scripts, plans, preparations, systems and routines can lead to square-peg-in-the-round-hole syndrome. For instance, Buffalo's defense the last two seasons was not even close to being the kind of defense that could run the 46-hybrid.

Football is rigidity. Football is about rules and discipline. Successful teams are often referred to as machines. Offenses and defenses have their systems. All of this promotes inflexibility.

It's no wonder then that Terrell Owens took a Sharpie out and signed a football after scoring a touchdown. It's no wonder that Price prefers basketball. These men are starving artists in a socialist environment. They need to express themselves.

Hopefully, they won't cut one of their ears off like Vincent Van Gogh.

That would be terrible.

Buffalo Football Report Top Stories