Sunday, October 11, 2015

It's Football Season (isn't it always?)

Relax. This is not another dump on the NFL and the legions of crazed and increasingly gambling addicted fans marching in the parade of Sunday afternoon football, Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football and 24-7-365 Fantasy (aka gambling) football. All have richly earned all that has been dumped on them to date and, here’s some news, it’s only going to get worse.

I once knew what football was about. Every fall we played sandlot football for hours at Oak Hill Park. Lakeside kids played at Fort Ontario and other neighborhood kids played in school yards all over the city. Some games were touch, others were tackle depending on our numbers, the more the better.

The one constant was no adults; no adult coaches, no adult referees, no adult spectators (Adults hanging around playgrounds? Bad news.), no helicopter parents, no benefactors providing uniforms, turf fields or travel teams. We picked our own teams, made up our own rules and settled our own disputes.

High school varsity games were on Friday nights or Saturday afternoons. We’d go to watch the ‘big kids’ play, horse around and dream about playing freshman football on stripped fields.

Some kids had helmets, fewer had shoulder pads. No under armor base layers; no light weight, impact resistance body armor, form hugging pants and jerseys, perfectly sized helmets with a wide variety of face guards, mouth guards, windshields - now beginning in elementary school. Not all of our gang had sneaks.

Playing professional football in the NFL, was a seasonal job and the league was not yet a tax exempt religion with services on Sunday afternoon, the NFL Sabbath, and follow up services Sunday evening and several weeknights for the truly faithful.

The NY Giants played  in Yankee Stadium and Jim Brown averaged over 100 yards per game rushing (still the lone player to achieve that feat) over his nine year career and retiring while still healthy (one of the few to achieve that feat). 

While it’s true that the Eagles Chuck Bednarek cracked Frank Giffords skull on a huge hit, the injury was most remarkable for its rarity. Players were neither big enough, strong enough or fast enough to deliver a steady stream of disabling blows.

In 1962 Julie London, dressed in a black sheath, plugging Marlboro’s during broadcasts of Giants - Browns battles was the sexiest thing on television. 

No more. That NFL no longer exists. 

The ‘game’ no longer exists. 

Big business, driven by big money has replaced the ‘game’. The NFL is an engine that drives television commercials and gambling. Cheerleaders show more cleavage and but crack than Victoria’s Secret catalogs and Plumbers Union Local 2877. Team loyalty is eroding. Owners have none for the cities they play in and fans increasingly care more about their fantasy teams. 

Yeah, I know, you’ve got to go. It’s time for a kickoff. Somewhere it’s always time for a kickoff.

 - Z. Vod

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