Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens posts a throw from the film portfolio of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to illustrate the unwieldy application of technical rules in football evaluation.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
— Pablo Picasso
“Any fool can make a rule And any fool will mind it.”
— Henry David Thoreau
“Git r done…”
— Larry the Cable Guy
When you’re watching the game on television and the former professional quarterback explains a technical facet of throwing the football, remember he’s often framing a simplistic explanation about quarterback mechanics. There isn’t enough time for a graduate-level conversation between plays.
Topics are framed in black and white terms. Even when they’re delivered with some nuance, the play-by-play commentator will often attempt to simplify or distill the explanation.
The same is true when teaching a subject on a beginner and intermediate level. There are so many details involved with familiarizing a student with a basic process of a new endeavor, whether it’s throwing a ball, shooting a free throw, swinging a bat, producing a sound on a wind instrument, holding a bow, or writing sentences.
As the student advances, he outgrows the basic rules. If he becomes a top professional, it’s likely that he knows far more about the physical rules of his craft than any co-worker and when to break them. Regardless of the field, revolutionary advancements occur when someone who has mastered their profession has figured out how to subvert the rules to create something of value.
When this happens, especially in a performance medium, there will be critics who cling so hard to the rules of the time that they’re quick to judge harshly and history isn’t kind to them. Russell Wilson has mastered the craft of throwing the football — and in situations that few can attempt, much less replicate like he can.
Sometimes, Wilson’s throws go against the basic rules of mechanically-sound quarterbacking.
Of course, even the most astute analysts and critics have moments where they fail to recognize the difference between a hack and an artist — especially one who subverts the standards of his field to create a new standard.