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The Two Minute Warning

Updated on April 18, 2012

Webster's dictionary defines "warning" as a notice or bulletin that alerts the public to an imminent hazard. In football this bulletin occurs when there are two minutes remaining in the half or the game. The imminent hazard is the end of the half or the game. This event dates from the days in the NFL when the official game time was kept by a member of the officiating crew. In this case its purpose of ensuring both teams knew how much time remained in the game was clear. Nowadays, however, let's be frank about the purpose of the two minute warning. It is an extra timeout for the team that is trailing on the scoreboard with two minutes to go.

Basketball has its own ways of assisting the team that is behind. See my article "The dumbest rule in pro basketball". If football really wants to increase suspense they could implement a similarly stupid "advance the ball" rule. After each touchdown scored by the team ahead in the last two minutes the team behind could advance the ball to that team's 25 yard line leaving a short field to travel. Yeah i know there's no end to the absurdity. And speaking of basketball, what if that sport incorporated a two minute warning. I imagine your first reaction would be something like "Why in the hell are they stopping play. There are already too many timeouts, especially in the last two minutes". These are my same sentiments everytime i see a two minute warning in football.

Baseball has its own version of the two minute warning called the seventh inning stretch. I honestly think football would be better served with a "stretch" that occurs on the first timeout in the last two minutes. Imagine the "two minute stretch" at the next 49ers/Raiders game. Rather than your neighbor in the seats firing a bullet past your ear in an attempt to mame someone, everyone could reach out and hug their neighbor while John Madden sings "Take me out to the ballgame" on the PA system. Of course the line in the song "For it's one, two, three strikes your out" would have to be replaced in the event 49er/Raider fans misinterpret the lyric. Maybe we could go with something like "For there's one, two, three, no wait a minute, two minutes left in the old ballgame". They could complement the "stretch" with a "friendly reminder" that all firearms must be put away in the final two minutes.

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