Friday, July 30, 2010
A Kinder Gentler NFL??? I Say Thee Nay!!!
In fact, training camp for most of the 32 teams began this week and ESPN has issued its annual Power Ranking of those teams.
In the interest of full disclosure, I "played" three years of high school football; however, "played" is subjective because I only logged three plays TOTAL during my football career.
In fact, the team mascot, freshman statistics compiler and coach's 6-year old son saw more game time minutes on the field that me (sigh).
To compensate, EVERY game I would sneak out of the locker room early during halftime and grind a few fistfuls of dirt onto my white, radiantly pristine football pants - I know, pathetic but I had to. I couldn't be the only player running onto the field during the second half who would give Mr. Clean a run for his money (sigh).
Furthermore, I immaturely quit the team my senior year because I couldn't bear the shame of riding the bench my last year of school. As you might have guessed my football injuries were emotional rather than physical (sigh).
Despite my unseen scars and pain, I'm a huge NFL fan and recognize the real physical risk of the sport. The average career of an NFL player is less than four years due to the physical toll their bodies endure. That fact came to bear in a recent Washington Post story by Mark Maske about a possible redesign of the helmets to reduce concussions, as well as hiting less during practice.
Professional football is a dangerous sport - that's obvious - and I know these players willingly choose to engage in such a high-risk career for which they're usually well compensated. Yet, it's difficult for me to balance the tradeoff between their multi-million dollar salaries and the reality of a self-induced, life-long paralysis. Simply stated, I don't want someone crippled for life simply for my entertainment.
However, as an NFL fan I don't want less hitting - I want more. The primary appeal of football is its gladiatoresque spirit, so much so the players themselves call each other warriors. That's one of the reasons I love the NFL is because of its inherrent spectacle and risk. I don't want the NFL to stand for Nicey Flag-football League. That might sound barbaric but it's the truth.
Perhaps my seeming NFL bloodlust is driven by my repressed, high school sports inadequacy manifesting itself as a displaced, visceral retaliatory backlash against those who achieved what I couldn’t. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a guy.
Regardless, I love the NFL!!!