As the summer heat slowly turns into a crisp fall breeze, fans across the country are preparing themselves to sit on their couches for hours every weekend to watch sanctioned gladiator matches.
In layman’s terms, football is back.
I’m not sure if I’m happy about it or not. Don’t get me wrong; I love football. Tom Brady headbutting everyone in sight after carving up a defense for an easy touchdown, Odell Beckham Jr. daring to do the impossible on every snap, Darrelle Revis making wide receivers disappear, J.J. Watt doing a Hulk impression every Sunday.
Week to week, the NFL provides us with entertainment and athletic marvels we’ve never seen before.
But is that enough to make me forget about all the horrors and travesties the NFL is responsible for? When do I start watching football with my brain instead of my heart?
Concussions and CTE.
Ray Rice. Greg Hardy. Sheldon Richardson. Ben Roethlisberger. Aldon Smith.
Roger Goodell and his never ending Emperor Palpatine impersonation.
Scandal, controversy, and lawsuits are words that are more representative of the current state of the NFL than touchdown, sack and interception.
How can I feel good about myself watching a league that consistently allows its employees to suffer life altering injuries, with little regard to their future?
Seeing the New England Patriots win the Lombardi Trophy last season immediately became one of my favorite sports memories. Yet, I can’t help but think of Julian Edelman getting absolutely lit up over the middle, clearly dazed and confused, then return to the huddle for the next play. Was a trophy worth it? Five years ago, that never would have bothered me. Now, it does.
Along the same lines, how can I support a league that allowed one franchise, the Indianapolis Colts, to essentially run a sting operation against another franchise? How can I continue to watch a league that brought Tom Brady to court for a minor equipment rule, yet allowed Aldon Smith, a man arrested five times in three years who was cut on August 7th after getting yet another DUI, to suit up Week One, no questions asked?
Watching football is a choice everyone must make every Sunday. All I know, is that this Sunday, I woke up, put on the English Premier League in the morning, wondering what I would do at 1 p.m. I flipped over the pregame shows, saw exonerated murder defendant Ray Lewis, fall guy promoter Cris Carter and the most biased NFL flack Chris Mortensen discussing big hits. My decision was a lot easier after that.
At 1 p.m., I turned the channel to SNY to watch the Mets try to sweep the Braves. I toggled between that and the Yankees attempting to salvage the weekend against the Blue Jays.
My choice is made. For now. Maybe these early Sunday games have just been bad. I’ll probably watch Sunday Night Football. And Monday Night Football. I’ll still check my fantasy teams.
But I don’t feel good about it.