Northwestern football union labor stuff: Engineering makes you a better football player

Patrick Ward using his knowledge of angles to chase down a Mississippi State player, while an ingrateful Kain Colter sits helpless on his knees because of his selfishness/inferior engineering background - USA TODAY Sports

We reached the peak of Northwestern football Tuesday, when Patrick Ward said his engineering classes made him a better blocker.

I'm sorry for mainly focusing on the big picture of the CAPA-Northwestern labor dispute, rather than the nitty-gritty details and legal issues going into some of the proceedings. However, I'd like to take a moment to discuss what I believe to be the single greatest moment in Northwestern football history, and preserve it, so we can all remember it forever and ever.

Tuesday, Northwestern's lawyers called three former Northwestern football players to the stand, in hopes of refuting some of the claims Kain Colter made about how playing football for NU was like a job.

Former offensive lineman Doug Bartels and former long snapper John Henry Pace brought up points about how their experience when they were walk-ons was similar to after they gained scholarships, driving a stake in the CAPA's argument that scholarship players are different from walk-ons, with a scholarship serving as payment that denotes employment. Pace offered that he was able to leave practice early to go to classes, which was true of specialists.

But most importantly, all three were called because they were spectacular students, who dealt with football and also excelled in the classroom. Bartels is in med school. Pace is an engineer for Ford. Patrick Ward, who briefly played with the Dolphins after college, graduated with a 3.94 GPA in Mechanical Engineering.

Another point was that football is a supplement to school: Northwestern lawyers tried to get Colter to admit his on-field experience helped him gain leadership skills that he touted in internship applications, and that Northwestern's football network allowed him access to certain job opportunities, like an internship at Goldman Sachs.

That led to Ward saying what I believe to say this, what I believe to be the most Northwestern football statement of all time:

THAT'S PATRICK WARD

AN ENGINEERING STUDENT WITH A 3.94 GPA

SAYING THAT HIS DAMN ENGINEERING CLASSES HELPED HIM LEARN HOW TO BLOCK PEOPLE AND TAKE PROPER ANGLES

ON A FOOTBALL FIELD

PLAY THE COMMERCIAL

NERRRRRRRRRRRRDS

Alright, let me profess something: I have never been a college football player, and I sure as hell have never taken mechanical engineering classes. But I'm gonna go out on a limb and say HOLY CRAP THAT'S NOT A THING. THAT'S NOT A THING. Y'ALL AIN'T CRUNCHING NUMBERS IN YOUR HEAD BEING LIKE "YO, I NEED TO APPLY XXX FORCE TO THIS DUDE'S TORSO AT YYY ANGLE TO KNOCK HIM OFF BALANCE." YOU'RE PROBABLY JUST DOING THE FOOTBALL THINGS YOUR COACHES TOLD YOU. BECAUSE IT'S FOOTBALL.

Nutshot2

"If I accelerate my knee into Patrick Ward's dick at a speed of six m/s, I'll affect the structural stability of his mid-region, causing him to keel over in pain" -- Jonathan Brown, according to Patrick Ward's testimony

IF THIS WAS A THING, DUDES WHO DIDN'T TAKE ENGINEERING CLASSES WOULD BE AT A DISADVANTAGE ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD. WHICH AIN'T TRUE EVEN IN THE SLIGHTEST.

In other news, I can confirm my experience picking story angles did not help my jumper, and my ability to ask incisive questions did not help me win any arguments with IM refs.

Ward may or may not actually believe that his engineering background helped him play football. But it doesn't appear CAPA lawyers questioned him about that line of thought in cross-examination, so that's on the record: being an engineer helps you understand how to block. The Big Ten is screwed, with their linemen blissfully unaware of even the most basic tenets of physics. Hail to the Vectors Valiant, the Northwestern Wildcats.

More importantly, whether or not it's possible to be a good student and a football player could be irrelevant to whether or not football players are employees. I know plenty of people who were employed by somebody during college and were also great students. The question -- so far as I can tell -- is whether Northwestern provides scholarships to football players for the purpose of playing football, and whether Northwestern exercises certain powers over those players because they pay them in the form of scholarships. And if some players' academic careers were thrown off-kilter by Northwestern football obligations, that might be the case.

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