NFL Sees Record Passing, Scoring
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
And I'm Michele Norris. If weeks two through 17 of the NFL season are anything like week one - whew, watch out. So far, there have been record amounts of passing and scoring. And for more, we toss it to our regular commentator, sports writer, Stefan Fatsis. Hello, Stefan.
STEFAN FATSIS: Hey, Michele.
NORRIS: NFL trading was shortened over the summer because of the labor dispute. We all remember that. The labor dispute between the owners and the players, but the league's quarterbacks seem none the worse for it. What is going on?
FATSIS: And a couple of weeks ago, I had mentioned that the rookie quarterbacks might have a tough time. Well, number one draft pick Cam Newton of Carolina threw for 422 yards, the most ever for a debut. And, oh, by the way, eight kickoffs or punts were returned for touchdowns. That was a record. So it was a fun weekend of football.
NORRIS: So maybe they should pinch the training season going forward.
FATSIS: We'll see as the season goes on whether this trend continues.
NORRIS: So, that does help explain some of this. Stefan, one more record was tied in pro football in your favorite part of the game, kicking. Can you tell us what happened there?
FATSIS: Yes. Sebastian Janikowski of the Oakland Raiders kicked a 63 yard field goal and that tied Tom Dempsey, who did it in 1970 and Jason Elam, who did it in 1998. And I wrote about the kick for the online magazine, Slate, this week. I actually - you know, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I spent several hours actually breaking down the video. Well, maybe not hours. Breaking down the video of all...
NORRIS: You know it was hours. Go ahead, admit it.
FATSIS: ...three of the...
NORRIS: It was hours.
FATSIS: It wouldn't surprise me, though, if this guy breaks the record very soon or somebody does because five of the nine 60-plus yard field goals in NFL history have occurred in the last five years. Teams are recognizing the kickers have the strength to kick these long balls. If the situation is right, coaches are willing to take the chance now.
NORRIS: Finally, Stefan, you mentioned the labor fight between players and owners. One aspect of the agreement was in the news - new drug testing. What's happening there?
FATSIS: Well, the two sides had agreed on adding a blood test for human growth hormone, but the players' union had to agree to the testing method and now it's balking at the test that's been widely used in the Olympics and other sports for the last several years. Now, the union's chief, Demora Smith, last week said that he was concerned about the safety and the reliability of the test, partly because the size and weight of NFL players, he said, differs widely from those of athletes in other sports. And he's asked for more information about the science behind this test.
FATSIS: don't expect HGH testing in the NFL this year.
NORRIS: Thanks, Stefan. Hope the watching is as good this weekend.
FATSIS: Thanks, Michele.
NORRIS: That's Stefan Fatsis. He's the author of "A Few Seconds of Panic: A Sportswriter Plays in the NFL." He joins us most Fridays to talk about sports and the business of sports.
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