Broncos, Seahawks are battle-tested

Sportscasters call pass-wacky spread offenses radical. They were, in the 1940s when they were devised. One of the best books about football tactics is Dutch Meyer's "Spread Formation Football," published 1952. In it the TCU coach details how he learned to "spread the field" and produce high-scoring college games in the late 1940s. His ideas reached the pros, where high-scoring outcomes occurred before many of today's football enthusiasts were born. (ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach expertly summarized the history of high-octane offense in this 2009 story.) The most total points ever in an NFL game, 113, happened in 1966. The third-most, 101, happened in 1963. The most points ever in a first half, 49, happened in 1983. The most points ever in a second half, also 49, happened in 1941.

Today's pass-wacky offenses are fun to watch, and the season may end with a record pace for overall points production. But nothing is new under the sun: Shootouts would seem normal to Dutch Meyer.

StubHub World: Going into the weekend, 50-yard-line seats behind the home bench were being offered at $650 each for the monster New Orleans at Seattle contest. Bleacher seats for the woofer Jaguars A&M at Browns pairing were offered at $8 each -- until an eBay-like competition broke out, and someone began offering seats at $7.98 to undercut the $8 seller.

Best Purist Drive: In the rematch of Stanford versus Harvard quarterbacks, Indianapolis led 15-14 and took possession with eight minutes remaining. The Colts staged an 11-play clock-killer touchdown drive, rushing on nine of 11 snaps to keep the tick-tick-tick in progress.

Book News: The headline from France's parliament at first blush sounds absurd -- what do they mean there is no such thing as race? Actually, this is a hotly debated point in genetics, sociology and other fields, as Steve Olson laid out in The Atlantic Monthly 12 years ago. The more is known about DNA, the more race appears to be a social construct: that black and white people are no more different than blondes and brunettes.

This emerging theory is reflected in a book about to be released, "A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama's America," by Jacqueline Jones, a highly regarded University of Texas historian. Your columnist just finished an advance copy, and was impressed -- the volume may have a lasting impact on American thought.

Jones persuasively argues that the wealthy and powerful of previous centuries were obsessed with holding back the poor. Pretending blacks represent a different "race" than whites created an excuse, she contends, for the well-off to mistreat blacks; and also a lever to prevent poor blacks and poor whites from joining in common cause. Whites "fashioned their own identity by contrasting themselves to blacks," Jones writes, ingraining the concept that skin color is somehow fundamentally different from all the other cosmetic distinctions among persons, then using the biases to prevent blacks from achieving the education and economic power that would disprove racial assumptions.

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