“He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God” - Micah 6:8
Micah the prophet authored - you guessed it - the Book of Micah in the Old Testament. Chapter 6, verse 8 displayed above is probably the most frequently cited among folks today. One chapter prior to that, Micah foretold the birth of the Messiah in a little backwater town named Bethlehem, which translates as “House of Bread”, approximately 700 years before it happened.
Micah Parsons, future NFL linebacker, has not published any divinely inspired texts, as far as we know. But like Micah the Prophet, Micah the Linebacker was blessed with exceedingly rare gifts.
Yes, height, weight, speed, strength, yada, yada. We’re not thinking of those. What we are thinking of is - we’re not sure of the word for it. Some might call it “instincts”. That’s not quite it. Maybe you, our friends, can help us name it after we illustrate it.
Kill The Lights
Here’s the background. It’s September 8th, 2018. Penn State is beating the tar out of Pitt at Heinz Field to the delight of almost everyone in attendance. Micah the Linebacker is 18 years old, playing in his first night game, and first road game, as a collegiate freshman.
Pitt has the ball, 1st and 10, backed up on their own 4-yard line. The Panthers dial up an old isolation play, with their senior fullback leading through a designed hole to tattoo PSU’s weakside backer, whilst their 230-lb tailback follows him to daylight.
In the still frame below, you can see this design develop to perfection. The Pitt tailback has just received the handoff. Penn State’s young DL has been split in the middle. And Pitt’s fullback (circled yellow) is gearing up to blast Micah the Linebacker (also circled yellow) out of the hole.
In still frame two below, Pitt’s play develops. The ISO BOB collision looks certain. Micah the Linebacker, though, appears to ignore the OL blocking in front of him, and also ignores the fullback about to launch into his face, in order to keep his eyes on the ball.
The fullback has begun to change levels. Micah the Linebacker appears to still be ignoring the FB, and instead mirrors the tailback’s footwork. Just as the tailback plants his left foot (thanks to Tariq Castro Fields on the edge) to follow his blocking up the middle, Micah plants his right foot to remain in the hole - apparently still oblivious to the well trained killer 18 inches in front of him.
And then - poof - he’s gone. Micah the Linebacker, seeing the fullback without looking at him, makes himself small, dropping his hips while moving into the line of scrimmage.
A few more frames in advance, and Micah the Linebacker is another half-yard beyond the line of scrimmage, still crouched, and - some-crazy-how - parallel to the fullback who had every intention of murdering him just five 1/1000ths of a second ago.
Zooming in on the whiff, we’ve drawn a yellow arrow to point out the fullback’s left arm and hand, resting gently on Micah the Linebacker’s lower back, indicating to all readers that, even though he really wanted to grasp and hold, he couldn’t.
How do you explain that? We don’t know. It just is.
As promised, here comes the full show.
Hit The Lights
Ignoring the OL keys, “seeing” the fullback who wants to murder you without looking at him, and mirroring the tailback to stay in the hole - okay, if you want to call that “instincts”, that’s fine by us. But what about the part where he shape-shifts into a vanishing black hole that moves diagonally, only to reappear behind the trained killer at the perfect moment, with low hips ready to explode into the 230lb tailback? What do you call that part? Because that part is pretty cool, too. And could we teach it to every 18 year old freshman that matriculates to Happy Valley?
Micah the Linebacker. Wish we had another season in blue and white to enjoy.