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How To Appreciate Interpretive Strip-Sacking

There is beauty in even the most awful-looking things. Today, we attempt to find some of that beauty.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 12:  Tom Savage #3 of the Houston Texans grimaces on the turf after fumbling the ball during the second half of game against the Los Angeles Rams  at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
“Ah, the ground. The cold, indifferent ground...”
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Tom Savage is the quarterback of the Houston Texans. No amount of crying, begging, pleading, cajoling, or deal-making with Bud Adams is going to change this. Believe me, I’ve tried making a deal with him, but for some reason he refused to heal Deshaun Watson’s ACL in exchange for BFD’s soul. Such an ingrate.

Where does that leave us? Well, friends, that leaves us with a couple of options. Either we: (A) Completely give up on the season, stop watching football, and do something worthwhile with our lives like yard work or playing with our children, or (B) Find something, anything, in the remaining six weeks (maybe more?) of football left for the 2017 Houston Texans.

Frankly, it’s a pain in the butt to try to eat buffalo wings while raking leaves. You’re constantly jabbing yourself in the neck with the handle, and Durga help you if you leaves get stuck to you. It’s much safer to just sit and watch football.

You might think that this is a grim undertaking. You might even say “watching Tom Savage play quarterback will give me spontaneous gangrene and cause me to lose an appendage.” And while learning how to use a prosthetic limb might be more engaging, watching Tom Savage attempt to huck a football does have a certain entertainment value if you know what to look for.

There is a certain artistic merit in how Tom Savage plays quarterback. Not in his completions or the magnificent throws in tight windows we’ve come to expect from better quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson, Matt Schaub, Brian Hoyer, and the homeless person standing on the corner who’s always telling you that there’s a radio in his brain. There’s no merit to that. But if you watch Savage get strip-sacked, hoo boy, you will have yourself a fine old time.

You have to know what to look for in a strip sack. On the surface, a strip sack is just losing the football in one of the most embarrassing plays in sports; below that surface, however, there are far deeper nuances to each subtle move. Much like a hula, each movement is a part of a greater story that we never see because we’re too busy throwing leaf-covered buffalo wings at the television when it happens...not that this has happened, mind you; I’m just guessing.

I would love to expound more on this subject; unfortunately, I am but a simple man with simple leaf-covered tastes and get far too exasperated when seeing our starting quarterback cough up the ball with maddening regularity. That is why I brought a special guest to this post. A guest none of you have ever heard of or will likely ever hear of again.

Juergen Werner von Apfelstrudel is a professional strip sack interpreter and he can give you far more detail about the rich tapestry that Tom Savage has woven for us, lo these many games.

Take it away, Juergen.

(Play This First - Mood Music)

“The quarterback begins his journey far away from his fellow teammates in the pocket. His loneliness is the loneliness of all people, for in the end we are all alone in this brutal, uncaring world. He outstretches his arms toward the void, ready but reluctant to accept the obligations of life that are thrust upon all people everywhere.

He knows he is not special, but he masks his emotions and goes through the motions expected of him by society. The quarterback is overwhelmed by the burden of life, as shown by Yannick Ngakoue of the Jaguars, leaving him spinning in confusion. ‘What do I do?’ thinks the quarterback. ‘How did it go so wrong so fast?’

As he sees the ball move farther away, every bounce a silent mockery of his existence, he can do nothing in his sorrow but offer an unspoken prayer to the universe that he knows will never be answered, for the universe is cold and indifferent to our suffering.

“In this strip sack, you see the quarterback raise his hands meekly, almost unwilling to accept a destiny he did not choose for himself. The ball, which did not choose this destiny for itself either, is forced against its will by an unseen tyrant into the quarterback’s hands.

He steps away from the unnecessary cruelty perpetrated by society. He holds the ball close to his body, as if to let the ball know that everything will end well, though neither of them believe it. As the Jaguars approach the quarterback, his conscious mind seeks a receiver to throw the ball to; his unconscious mind seeks only freedom from this burden forced on him.

Once Ngakoue hits the quarterback’s arm, his unconscious mind takes over and grants the ball the freedom the quarterback desperately longs for himself. The ball gives no nod of appreciation or disapproval to the quarterback as it is taken to the end zone. The ball is incapable of gratitude and would prefer not to bother with such feelings.

The quarterback, finding relief from his deep internal struggle, runs only halfheartedly toward his one-time acquaintance. He runs only to satisfy the pressures of society on him to show his concern for the outside world. They do not care about his struggle. The slowness of his running is a muted cheer for the ball’s freedom. At least one of them shall know how it feels to be truly free.

“The quarterback still yearns for true solitude, away from the teeming humanity that lies in front of him. But no man can truly be alone. Knowing this, the quarterback reaches out once more to show that he is willing to join his fellow man, as long as they’re under his own rigid, unbending terms.

The world has other ideas for him. The outside world, his family, his friends, his colleagues at work, all throw themselves at him in one sweep of beautiful chaos. It is too much for the quarterback, who is too polite to eschew them. His obligations prove exhausting to him and, in his suffering, decides to abandon his duty to them and lie down on the life-giving earth which he longs to be with.

The earth remains cold and unyielding to him. It does not share his desires and leaves him trapped among his fellow man with no means of escape. The world can be tragically cruel like that, especially in the fourth quarter.

“The quarterback here contemplates the tumultuous world in which he lives. As he looks to receive the ball, he wonders at what quirk of indifferent chance led him, the football, the 13 people in the stands, all to this place at this time.

The quarterback stands back in brief meditation on the subject as Aaron Donald of the Rams throws him down to the ground. Does he ever think of the way his violent pastime of throwing people to the ground harkens back to classical Greek tradition? It seems doubtful, as it would only serve as a grim reminder of his own inevitable insignificance.

While the ball bounces away from the quarterback, as if scorned by an unspoken slight, he ponders how his life would have changed had the ball bounced a different direction in his past. Would he be a quarterback? Would he be serving hoagies in Pennsylvania if it had? What kind of hoagies would they be? Would he be happy? This last question is irrelevant. Happiness is always fleeting, much as the ball escaped his grasp and searched for the clutches of Matt Longacre instead.

“In many ways the struggle on the football field is the struggle of life against the inevitability of one’s own destruction. The quarterback learns that the more he struggles to cling to what he values most in the world only makes it that much harder to hold on to.

The quarterback huddles onto the ball as it falls before him, symbolizing the way a mother would protect its eggs against the predators which seek out their essence. He struggles, battlefights, to keep the egg in his protection.

Yet the nature of man and the nature of the world are one and the same: cruel, unrelenting, and tragic. The quarterback learns in this struggle that we are all borne into a world of pain. The only way to escape it is to surrender to it, and to our fate, unconditionally.”

I thank Juergen for his poetic sensibilities in helping us learn more about football and about ourselves. More to the point, I thank Matt Weston for creating these GIFs. Without them, this post doesn’t exist.

In other words, if you hated this post, it’s all Weston’s fault.