Seattle Seahawks fans don’t need an astrophysicist to tell them that quarterback Russell Wilson is capable of otherworldly heroics on the football field. But coach Pete Carroll did reach out to one this week for help in explaining a play in Sunday night’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
During a fourth-quarter scramble, Wilson avoided getting creamed by defenders when he pitched the ball to running back Mike Davis, trailing to Wilson’s right. Because the play happened beyond the line of scrimmage, rules dictate that that pitch must travel backwards. When the ball left Wilson’s hand it appeared to be going backwards, but the momentum of the runners also made it look like Davis caught it ahead of where it was pitched.
Television replays, and the NBC “Sunday Night Football” commentators, called the play into question, but Philadelphia failed to challenge and the Seahawks drive stayed alive on the way to a 24-10 victory.
During his press conference on Monday, Carroll told reporters that he was waiting for a call from Neil deGrasse Tyson, the renowned astrophysicist, for his insight into the lateral.
“It looked like guys running really fast, and he pitched the ball backwards, just like he’s supposed to, and the speed of the ball that was traveling with the ball with the ball carrier at the time was passed along to the football, so it all just happened, everything moved,” Carroll said, according to Seahawks.com. “I just want to see what Dr. Neil has to say about that, try to help you guys out.”
Well, “Dr. Neil” got the message, and weighed in on Tuesday with a response on Twitter — complete with video — calling Wilson’s pitch to Davis “a legit ‘Galilean Transformation.'”
FYI: The lateral that @DangeRussWilson threw to @MikeDavisRB in Sunday’s @Seahawks @Eagles game was a legit “Galilean Transformation”. In their reference frame, the ball went backwards. It’s not their fault they ran forward faster than the ball. pic.twitter.com/DHUKNtlcyj
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) December 5, 2017
And Google turned up an Encyclopedia Britannica definition that said the term is for a “set of equations in classical physics that relate the space and time coordinates of two systems moving at a constant velocity relative to each other. Adequate to describe phenomena at speeds much smaller than the speed of light, Galilean transformations formally express the ideas that space and time are absolute; that length, time, and mass are independent of the relative motion of the observer; and that the speed of light depends upon the relative motion of the observer.”
If we’ve learned anything in 2017, it’s that science and facts barely matter anymore when it comes to winning arguments, especially on the internet, and especially among a group of subjects saying their team is better than that other team.
But Tyson does have an interest in football, and the Seahawks, that goes beyond trolling momentarily depressed Eagles fans on Twitter.
Seahawks.com reported that he visited Carroll and the team last year at their practice facility in Renton, Wash., while in Seattle for a lecture. Tyson said during his visit that he likes football because “There’s no greater expression of the laws of physics than what goes on on the football field. Spin stabilized projectiles, momentum transfer, acceleration, deceleration, it’s all there. Classical physics laid bare in America’s favorite sport.”
On Monday, Carroll called Tyson the “national resident guru” on stuff like what Wilson and Davis pulled off.
“He really likes football, so I felt like that’s enough of an open ticket to go ahead and give him a call on something like this,” Carroll said.