The NFL: It’s A Thin Line Between Love And Hate

nfl-logo4I’m confused.

I know, I know.  That’s my natural state of affairs but seriously, I’m torn.  Perhaps you can help me out because I’m getting some really mixed signals.

Are we supposed to love, or hate, the NFL?

Think about it.

We’ve got its combatants regularly arrested for wrongdoing.  You name it and they’ve been booked for it.  If that overwhelming sense of entitlement wasn’t enough, all we hear about the league is how mistreats it players and how dangerous and even deadly a game it is.  We have reports, books, films not to mention cadavers that prove this is so.  We have a commissioner we love to hate, enforcing rules we don’t completely understand.  We pay outrageous prices for shitty tickets and lukewarm beer without giving it a second thought.  Owners dangle their team’s rights as ransom over a city’s population before ultimately deciding whether or not we’re worthy of its existence.  All of this seems unfair, self-serving and downright inhumane.

Yet we gather around every autumn to welcome it back from the spring and summer where we missed it like a long lost friend.  We count down the days until the regular season starts, giddy with excitement.

Fantasy drafts have replaced bachelor parties as rites of passage, with some (far too many) using them as an excuse to get liver-shockingly drunk.  (Seriously, there was a group of guys that came into my bar so piss-drunk after their draft party this weekend they could barely stand.  I couldn’t help but wonder if that would be grounds for divorce when they got home if only their wives weren’t attending draft parties themselves!)

As I’m writing this, I’m glued to a pre-season game between two teams I have no vested interested in, a game that has no meaning whatsoever yet I can’t find it within me to change the channel.  Like a warm security blanket, I take further relief that there’s another game coming on immediately afterwards.

Lionel and PeytonAnd I can’t help but tingle inside when I see the NFL’s masterful advertising about its upcoming season.  You mean to tell me you have a commercial with Lionel Richie playing piano as a bathrobe-wearing Peyton Manning shops for groceries, using coupons nonetheless?  Yes, please!  You’ve got the Pointer Sisters singing “I’m So Excited” to video of players shaking and shimmying down the field countered by Bill Belichick’s glorious grimace?  Sign me the hell up!

These ads fatten us up for the kill.  The NFL is master advertiser, master motivator and most certainly master manipulator.  And we can’t get enough.

The NFL is not only king in this country it is queen, knight, bishop and rook.  Checkmate!  It consumes our every Sunday, Thursday and Monday night.  When we’re not watching it, we’re talking about it.  When we’re not talking about it, we’re thinking about it.  It takes precedence over all.  To even suggest not watching a game would garner a funny look from your friends and might even get you labeled unpatriotic.

We are defenseless to the league’s power.  And I haven’t even mentioned the gambling.

Every year, the league’s final game smashes previous viewing records with advertisers paying five million dollars for thirty seconds no one will listen to.

So in the end, do we love or do we hate the National Football League?

We fucking love it, that’s what we do.  Despite its flaws, it is an art form that is truly American, strong and ugly, violent yet beautiful, vindictive yet sportsmanlike, prehistoric yet cutting edge.

I suppose in the end, our love affair with the NFL is just like any other relationship.  Sometimes the game will do things that piss us off to no end and sometimes, well, sometimes, it knows just how to make up for it.

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10 Replies to “The NFL: It’s A Thin Line Between Love And Hate”

  1. As I was writing my Kaeperdick piece, I came to realize I could easily live without the NFL. They better give me a better on-field product than they have in recent years or I could go back to the 90’s when I couldn’t have given a shit about the NFL.

  2. I’m not sure I can say the same, Dub, but I’m far easier than you.

    I think that much has been established.

    I like forward to your thoughts on my Kaepernick Kounterpoint.

  3. I love football as much as anyone, the NFL probably moreso than college. The trick for me is to watch the game only and not the incessant over-analyzing that introduces and follows the game, ad nauseam. Talking football heads are about as interesting and stimulating as political ones. That is to say, not. If there is no sound with the game, that’s a plus. I do commit Sundays to watching. Perhaps even a Monday night. I choose not to discuss egregious acts by miscreants in pads. That’s somebody else’s job.

  4. Love and hate are strong words. I don’t love or hate the NFL. I’m indifferent, which is probably worse than love or hate.

    Not only have the players ruined the game for me, but the NFL itself has ruined it with their constant rules changes—what was a penalty last year isn’t this year—and challenges which prove they still get the call wrong from time to time.

    It’s more difficult to compare today’s game and players with the game and the players of yesteryear. But baseball is doing the same thing.

  5. The powers that be in all major sports leagues change rules, after much discussion and deliberation one would think, to make their games more watchable and more marketable.

    Some are for the better, some are for the worse.

    I get that football is a violent game but the sport definitely got a little less exciting when they essentially did away with kick off returns, not to mention killing the career of Devin Hester.

  6. Il go ahead and throw my two cents in on a rule. Im not sure it ever really changed….but it seems it was tweaked at one point…..The Late Hit on the Quarterback rule.
    Look, I know hitting the QB after the ball is released is not the best thing for the QB’S health…but what about the defender who is in mid-air that doesn’t have air brakes and puts on a clean hit? ..some hits that don’t even bring the quarterback down. Ive seen these calls literally change outcomes of games. It drives me bat shit crazy. Again..there is no such thing as brakes when your airborn. Am I wrong? I completely open to being wrong here… but drives me nutts.

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