“Thanks a Bunch!:” Why We Love the NFL

7 Sep

While the amateurs (FBS) kicked-off their season Thursday night, the pros will begin their long procession towards Super Bowl 50 (Santa Clara (2.7)), a journey most football faithful hold as near & dear to their hearts as any pilgrimage, the following Thursday night (9.10) when the Steelers travel to Foxborough to face,…well, the face of the NFL, a beaming Tom Brady and his defending champion Patriots in the League opener.

The Patriots starry QB cleared customs, courtesy of Federal District Court Judge Dick Berman (SDNY) who vacated NFL’s 4-game susp’n of the signal-caller for what appears due process (“notice”) violations in the Deflategate matter. The League appealed the ruling but don‘t be so sure Roger Goodell is singing the blues. Privately, he may be slightly relieved ‘the face’ will start the season.

Bad Spot

More important than Deflategate doings was a suspiciously growing chorus of complaints this summer from NFL media & bloggers concerning validity of the exhibition slate.

Suspicious because the value of NFL’s pre-season has always been discernable by most everyone concerned. Now all of a sudden some are suggesting it be halved (2g), which would, ta-dah, make room for an 18g season.

Not only does the P/S afford needed time for making hard choices in roster cut & keep but it also gives football ravenous fans a period of relaxation to watch & learn about the new team as it takes shape and ease into the upcoming season.

Fans haven’t been complaining, nor players or coaches, not so you’d notice.

Baseball has an extended spring training that spans February – March.

And with all the time and attention we now devote to the college draft, before, during and after the overblown event, you’d think those who do most the blowing (media) would afford these young draftees all the time necessary to acclimate to their new surroundings and enhance chances of making the roster. You’d think.

Why We’re Ga-Ga Over the NFL

1) It’s ain’t brat-ball (MLB)

Baseball’s great, it’s our national pastime born professionally in the heartland (Chicago 1876 (NL) & 1901 (AL)). But today’s player behaves more like a school-boy than a man in spikes and I’m not so sure the youngins like it that way.

Short-tempers, long beards, drag-pantalones in summer heat, watercooler – shave-cream-pie-in-the face hijinx, home-plate bunny-hop jubilees for every game-winning hit and no-no pajama parties (Cubs) are all giving the game of Koufax, Mantle, Perez and Mays a very odd feel.

The NFL can be short on maturity itself to be sure but footballers seem, on the whole, to pride themselves on being a pro. The PED use, it’s still an issue.

2) The place to be

Let’s face it, today’s standard in fun & frivolity isn’t what’s good but rather what’s trending. That’s world-wide, thanks to the internet. And nothing trends as virally in the States like the NFL which, from September to January, plays bigger than Oprah (Super Soul Sunday) and maybe even Jesus (gulp). John Lennon might’ve agreed and were he alive today the Liverpoolian turned New Yorker very well could’ve been a Jets fan (See; underdog).

3) More stars than the Milky Way

Milky Way is a whole lotta’ hyperbole (and creamy, delicious goodness by Mars®, if you can look past the HFCS, hydrogenated palm oil and gluten (See; milkywaybar.com)), but it’s safe to say that there are more nationally recognized NFL players than the other three majors combined. You’ve got half a dozen in NHL and NBA each, maybe ten in MLB. In total their number still will likely fall short of the illuminated NFL line-up.

4) Showing constitution

No issue in sport today screams for exactitude like the crafted controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins’ 80-year old moniker. It’s a campaign that rose out of virtual anonymity before 2012 when Nike began flexing it’s merchandise muscle in performance of it’s terms under NFL contract and has been taken up as a cause by a malleable media and political sect that prior to 2012 had not made a nary a peep in protest.

The battle over it’s existence is waged on two fronts: the media and federal court where the last round went to opponents when a District Court ordered cancellation of the logo‘s trademark registrations (7.8). While the war being waged by the 4th branch to have the Redskins name removed is clearly a contrived effort, given it’s timing, Washington owner Dan Snyder, his peers, Commissioner Goodell, NFL sponsors and, as it appears, the mass of NFL fandom remain loyal to it’s retention, seeing the effort at it’s removal as largely insincere, bully-like and hypocritical by those who‘ve only recently claimed offense at the maligned moniker.

Choosing democracy over oligarchy (dictionary & media boards of editors, tribal elite, political strong-arming (P&TO)) and once and for all determining a Redskins definition through ballots cast by those majorities in tribal and non-tribal communities across the land seems at this stage the only just, sensible route to pursue.

5) Roger Goodell

Seems an odd time to be naming Roger as a reason why fans love the League, with the Commissioner once again licking his wounds after suffering another legal defeat (Brady – NFLPA) and the media piling-on in hopes of ousting the besieged potentate.

But in fact, I’d not be straying too far out on that proverbial limb in presuming that all the owners, most of the players, every sponsor (PepsiCo) and a super majority of fans are A-okay with Goodell and his efforts to keep the game fun, fair, reasonably safe and current.

The man from Jamestown, New York has made his missteps to be sure and the greed he feeds is not lost on this writer, but then, if he’d not made a few boo-boos he most certainly wouldn’t be doing his job, an undertaking that goes beyond making mounds of moolah for the ownerships.

This latest call for his resignation in wake of recent Deflategate ruling seems simply one more salvo fired from those in the media captured by an agenda to remove the sitting Commissioner that began with Bountygate, mushroomed with the national-media bolstered anti-Redskins movement (’12) and grows with every flame-fanned firestorm that flares (Ricegate, Peterson, Deflategate).

When Goodell does eventually step down, which can’t be too soon for his heart and family, his replacement will still shovel the shenanigans that players and owners have and will continue to drop on and off the turf, year in, year out, that has the man with the big scooper, the sport Commissioner. The only difference may be that the new leader might buckle on the Redskins issue which may in fact be what’s been fueling Roger’s crass critics all along.

NFL popularity is at an all-time high and it’s not due to the sports media or America’s great admiration for it’s legal system.

6) Pro style play

A quarterback League, the man under center has set the tone since helmets came into vogue. But the NFL is undergoing a subtle change. The proliferation of flash-QB in college, i.e. Sir-Runs-Alot, cultivated by coaching-on-the-cuff and fast filling up draft boards, is phasing-out precision passing, dousing diversity and making the rabbit-habit (’athleticism’) his play-call of choice.

But the professional theater of pigskin is still strong and favored by NFL fans.

Whether it’s the steely poise of pocket passers who “take a licking and keep on ticking (Timex®),” the protective walls on-line that adapt to diversity, ball-carriers who grind like tanks or cut like a surgeon, receivers with hands of glue that brave the blind-side or the tackle-machines that cover, enabling the glory-guys (sacks / INT) to do their thing, it’s a smorgasbord of skills & style that keeps the football in the game.


Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credits: ThankYou, wc.cca, 11.25.09, vistamommy; NFL-symbol, Wikiproject.
Posted: 9.7.15 @ 2:41am; edit 11:59 EST


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