Sports tend to be seen as about physical excellence, and not incorrectly at that. But very often, they are about decisions. Especially a sport where every single play involves one person making a decision on the play call at one end, another making a decision on the play call at the other, and then 22 other decisions made by players on the field. Who those players are is itself another decision made with the play call… and who is even available for that is the product of decisions made collectively by any number of people in the offices of team after team.

Some of those decisions mean more than others. Sometimes, that’s made obvious in an instant. Other times, it takes years before it’s even possible to wonder what would’ve happened if a different decision had been made. Either way, in a sport defined by decisions, some decisions define the sport.

This is a series about those decisions, and how they could have changed the game and how we see it.

This is The Cutback.

We begin with a look back at the biggest trade in NFL history that never happened.