Ratto: Stealing from the cheapest part of the NHL

Ray Ratto
February 24, 2020 - 11:28 am

Photo credit John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports


By now, you've all heard, seen and read the story of David Ayres, the 42-year-old Zamboni driver, kidney transplant recipient and emergency goalie at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto who became a hero in two countries by being handed an emergency.

This is an idea the NFL should adopt, given that the Competition Committee is meeting to ruin football a bit more this week.

Here are the details. Ayres, who is a goalie for hire to help the Toronto Maple Leafs in practice, was attending the Leafs' game against the Carolina Hurricanes, and when the Canes got both their goalies, Petr Mrazek and James Reimer, hurt during the game, Ayres was called on to play in the Carolina goal. This is covered under NHL rules; every team has to supply an emergency goalie for every game for either team to use, a weird notion in any time in history and particularly screwy now.

Anyway, Ayres took the ice against the team he practices against and won the game, becoming a hero and legend and celebrity on all the morning news and sports shows. Plus he got $500 as part of the emergency goalie provisions. A great moment by any definition.

Which brings us to the NFL, and the idea of having an emergency quarterback at every game for just such an occasion. The NFL, easily the most tight-assed organization in North America and utterly resistant to quirks like this, ought to adopt this very plan. What could be less NFL than to grab someone out of the press box (not a reporter, though; God forbid that), put him in pads and say, "Go out there and make history. Or try to avoid getting your knee shredded. The choice is yours."

Now before you get your delicates in a knot, we know this would never happen for any number of stupid reasons starting with the NFL's offensive self-importance. This robot world of technological brutishness would collapse in a heap if confronted by something as weirdly whimsical as the David Ayres story, which is why it really ought to be made possible.

Who wouldn't want their $1000 parlay hinge on a 46-year-old stockbroker and weekend warrior? What team wouldn't chunk in its playoff hopes on a 34-year-old pipefitter whose last game was in high school? Who wouldn't watch this? How is this not the best thing ever?

Because it's the NFL, of course, but there's no shame in dreaming. In the meantime, we are all David Ayres today — except that we're not really that good. Oh well. Time to drink.

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