By now, you are undoubtedly saying, "Marls, why are you bringing up any Andrew Dice Clay films other the TR favorite "Casual Sex" or "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane?" Partially, it's because I celebrate the entire cannon of Mr. Clay's work, except for that "Blue Jasmine" crap. But mainly it's because the title relates well to my current feelings about the NFL.
On Friday, the paper of record (the New York Times, not the Daily Press - sorry FOGTB Dave Fairbank) published an op-ed piece by Eric Kester entitled What I saw as an N.F.L Ball Boy. Kester is an author and 2008 graduate of Harvard who spent time on the Crimson football team, though he appears not to have lettered for them. More importantly, in 2003 Kester was a ball boy for the Chicago Bears. That was 10 years ago, and the NFL will undoubtedly say that they have made the game safer since then, but one can't help but be troubled by a view into the world that we all know exists but don't want to think about while downing wings and crushing cold beers. As Kester says:
As fans high-fived and hell-yeahed and checked the progress of their fantasy teams, and as I eagerly scrambled onto the field to pick up shattered fragments from exploded helmets, researchers were discovering the rotting black splotches of brain tissue that indicate chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Known as C.T.E., this degenerative disease is the result of players’ enduring head trauma again and again. Symptoms include dementia and extreme aggression, and C.T.E. is considered at least partly responsible for the string of recent suicides of former and current N.F.L. players, whose anger, sadness and violence eventually collapsed inward.After reading that, even a crisp pint of Pliny the Elder does not quite taste as good.
Kester's op-ed piece is written as a defense of the good things about football while advocating for change to ensure that football can continue. However, after reading it, I can't help but be moved closer to this blog's prediction of a rugby ascendancy. That said, as I am writing this, I am getting ready to turn on today's slate of NFL games.
In the end, we the fans are all Teri Hatcher, minus the copious amounts of plastic surgery. We have fallen in love with a brain smasher and can't give it up. Only, in our case, the brain smasher is real and we pay good money night after night, weekend after weekend, in support of the spectacle of a modern day gladiator tournament with each player willing to put their bodies, minds and long term health in jeopardy for fleeting money and fame. All of this is fueled by us, the fans, who are all too willing to rise up in righteous outrage at the transgressions of players or management, but only as long as it doesn't get in the way of our enjoyment on Sunday.
None of this is new or groundbreaking information. Nor am I saying that I'm going to stop watching. I guess I'm just admitting that I'm in love with a the brain smasher even though I know that on some level it's wrong and makes me feel like I need to take a shower.
Just to lighten the mood, I leave you with a clip of Ed O'Neil in Ford Fairlane performing the Disco Express classic "Booty Time."