Not Much of a Football Fan this Morning

I’ve loved American football ever since I was a child. While other kids were coloring pictures of astronauts and dinosaurs, I was drawing pictures of all the different football helmets and typing out the division standings. In elementary school, I used to check out all the books with titles like Gridiron Greats and World’s Best Quarterbacks.

Brett Favre would have been in both of those books. I have no doubt that a lot of kids will grow up with vivid memories of having watched him play in some of the most incredible and historic games. He is one of the immortals, certainly one of the best to ever play at his position. It would have been something special to see him go out gunslinging in the Super Bowl two weeks from now.

Watching the brutal onslaught brought on by Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints (ha!), was a hard lesson in the fundamental violence of the game I love.

It’s easy to forget that underlying all the newsreel highlights, the strategems, the individual and collective talent, is a cutthroat desire to win. That to the victor — and only the victor — go the spoils.

As the epic gladiator battle played out, I cringed in horror as Brett took body-blow after body-blow like a punch-drunk fighter who refused to go down. It was like watching one of those bad Rocky movies where you overhear the Soviet (I suppose he’d be Islamic, these days, sadly) manager urge his fighter to pound his opponent’s weak spleen or hit him in the bruised ribs. “Bring the pain — make ’em hurt. Show no mercy!”

If life were the movies, Favre would have capped the final drive last night with a touchdown… or he would have tucked the ball and run with it for eight yards and a cloud of dust to set up the game-winning field goal.

But life, alas, is not the movies. The Saints’ strategy paid off.

By the end of the game, Brett was so beat down that he reverted to his old self, improvising, carrying the team on his shoulders, trying to do too much.

When he heaved a lame duck pass that got intercepted, it was a weary (and fitting) conclusion to a monumental career.

I hope he retires now. I hope he doesn’t have to endure another year when other teams will employ the same Machiavellian beatdown strategy against his by then 41-year-old body. Because they will. Because that’s the true nature of the game.

One of George Carlin’s best comedy bits involves the differences between America’s two national sports: baseball, he points out, is a pastoral game with no time limits, where the goal is to return home safely.

Football, on the other hand, is a war fought in the air and on the ground upon a battle field where the task is to heave bombs against your opponent, to pound them in the trenches, to sack the opposing quarterback.

Last night, these differences became more apparent to me than ever. The game I grew up loving as a child is a grinding sport played by grown men for glory and great financial reward.

I’m sorry to see Brett go out this way. Life, not the fantasy. Machiavelli, not James Cameron.  Shakespeare — never one to blanch at the way the world really works — would have appreciated (and noted) the telling difference, I’m sure.

I will always love the NFL… I’m just not much of a football fan this morning.

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One Response to “Not Much of a Football Fan this Morning”

  1. Thank you for your great article. I also must say that your layout is a pleasure to view. Keep up the good work.

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