ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!!!???
No? Well too bad.
Yes, that’s right. In case your backyard fallout shelter isn’t wi-fi enabled, you need to know what’s going on.
The unquenchable, competition-crushing sports juggernaut known as the (NFL Films Voice) National…Football…League is kicked off, literally and figuratively, this past week.
It is a fall ritual that pays respect, if not blind devotion, to such universal themes as athletic excellence, high-impact violence, bright and shiny high-definition imagery, non-stop commerce, elevated sodium and alcohol intake, gambling, and shouting at strangers.
Why yes it was in fact invented in America.
Why do you ask?
It is a by-Gawd festival of excess.
Millionaire players play mega-million (occasionally billion) dollar stadia for billionaire owners.
Fans spend thousands on tickets, jerseys, team-licensed barbecues, and foam-finger-thingies.
Those who are too far away (geographically or financially) to attend a game in one of the league’s 31 gleaming coliseums, or Oakland, can take solace that EVERY FREAKING GAME will be available in the comfort of their own person-caves, thanks to the availability of the almost-reasonably-priced NFL Sunday Ticket TV package.
Hey, $5 billion in annual TV scratch doesn’t just raise itself, you know.
(I’m not kidding…5 BILLION… From 4 networks…A YEAR. I did mention non-stop commerce already, right?)
It’s amazing that a league that plays only 17 weeks, plus playoffs and (NFL Films Voice again) SUPER BOWL from September to February, with one game a week per team, mostly on Sunday, can practically take over the sporting consciousness of a nation.
Well, when I say 17 weeks, I’m leaving out a couple of other little items that manage to fill programming time on all of the NFL-focused networks: the scouting combine, the draft, free agency, spring mini-camp, summer two-a-days, training camp, and the exhibition season.
So that’s February to September covered then.
By now you’ve got my point.
People really, really, really love the NFL.
I’m not even mentioning the absolutely massive following NCAA football has south of Line 49, or the absolutely adorable following the CFL has north of it.
Not to kill the head from your Official Light Malt Beverage of the NFL, but the shine has come off the shield in NFL-land lately.
Player involvement in violent or otherwise illegal behavior has been prevalent and quite public.
As well, allegations of coaches putting bounties on other team’s body parts, illegally filming opposing team practices, stealing signals, manipulating comm systems, and, absurdly, intentionally deflating the ball itself before a conference championship, have called the league’s commitment to fairness and parity into question.
Investigations were called, testimony was heard by high-level judges (for a game, remember), and MILLIONS were spent by the league and sundry parties.
I guess if you’re paying $45 million to your league’s commissioner, what’s a few more mill for a little legal light housekeeping, right?
The real problem the league, and the game of football itself, is facing today has to do with a far more serious issue: The health and safety of its players, past, present, and future.
The recent discovery of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in the brains of former players, many of whom committed suicide, has resulted in a collective soul-searching across the game.
Years of violent collisions and repeated blows to the head have shown to cause severe, debilitating, and permanent damage.
Sadly, CTE has been found in the brains of dead players as young as 16.
After a class action lawsuit was filed, the NFL settled with former players suffering the effects of a career in football to the tune of $765 million.
The league has also added new protocols in practice and games to try and mitigate, if not eliminate, the damage the game inflicts on its stars.
Today’s players have taken notice as well, and some have walked away in their prime, leaving millions on the table, rather than risk a life after football with their faculties permanently altered.
So football, the Money Game, is at a crossroads.
Now that I’ve depressed you all sufficiently, let’s get back to what we do here: Intelligent Solutions for the Modern Sporting Sooite.
How about touch football?
Played locally at the fields of John Rhodes, it’s a fun, high-energy, zero-contact alternative to the pads, helmets, cleats, and mayhem of the tackle variant.
If you want to experience the thrill and majesty of catching a perfectly arcing spiral pass in full stride on your way to the end zone, facing only a single outstretched hand in defence, rather than a human patriot missile zeroing in on all of your crucial cruciate ligaments, it could be the perfect way to satisfy your Aaron Rodgers fantasies (GO PACK!) without the somewhat less satisfying reality of a surgeon’s arthroscope, or 10 minutes in the quiet room and a bag of frozen peas.
The Sault Ste Marie Touch Football league is underway right now and is looking for more players to try their hand, and foot, at a fun, muddy, sweaty, blast of a time.
If you want to start your own squad, you’ll have to wait until next year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend that time working with friends on your zone blitzes, stunt defences, bubble screens, or play action passing.
(Google them, I’m at my word limit).
I’ve played touch football, and trust me, it’s a riot.
And it doesn’t hurt…much.
Maybe you were ready for some football after all.