I’ve been watching this silly game, American football, for many years now. As I become older and wiser, though, questions have started coming to mind. These, I’m sure, are things the NFL doesn’t like you to think about, but that’s their problem.

So here we are… today are the NFC and AFC Championship games… it’s not quite yet, you know, the “world championship” game (presumably labeled as such because the National Football League plays a game in London every year). These are the issues I have with the NFL and the sport it represents:

1) Field Officials dictate the outcome of games. Because of problems in past years, this is the first time the NFL has institutionalized a centralized officiating crew – in New York – to confirm calls. However, the only other time I’ve heard so much noise was when the NFL used replacement officials a couple years ago. The rules are too vague, and officials haven’t given enough time to confirm reviews with the home office. Officiating has been a problem for a long time (see the “Tuck Rule” for an example – inaccurate officiating that surely allowed a team to continue through the playoffs and, ultimately, “win” a Super Bowl).

2) Subdivisions suck. The Panthers – though they put up an impressive game against Arizona – they never should have been in the playoffs to begin with. A team with a losing, regular-season record should NEVER, EVER, EVER be in the playoffs. Currently, far superior teams in some divisions get shut out of the playoffs because of the current system requiring a subdivision winner. An example is that the Panthers (NFC South, 7-8-1 record) made it to the playoffs, while the Eagles (NFC East, 10-6 record) were shut out. In fact, seven non-playoff NFL teams had more regular season wins than the Panthers.

3) Home Field Advantage and Bye Weeks. If you’re a superior football team, why do you get to skip a game AND potentially play all of your playoff games at home? If you’re so awesome, shouldn’t you have to prove, just like any other team, that you belong in the playoffs? Maybe even have all playoffs games at “neutral” sites, and we’ll see who the better teams are.

4) Back to officiating… Playoff officiating crews have proven to be especially awful. No one seems to be able to explain why officiating crews stick together during the regular season and, in the playoffs, hodge-podge crews are thrown together. The regular-season crews learn to trust and understand each other. This year, we’ve seen good calls in the playoffs get overruled because another official saw the play go down a different way. In that case, officials determine the outcome of games when it’s close – not the teams. p.s. What happened to the centralized, New York crew that confirms calls?

5) The games aren’t exciting when you realize how slow-paced they are. You know, I actually get a lot of stuff done when I have the football games on at home. I half pay attention to what’s going on. I don’t subscribe to the NFL Network, I don’t buy football swag. I get crap done and think about how much of a time suck giving full attention to the games would be. It takes, what, 3 or 4 hours to play a game that, on the game clock, officially takes 1 hour 15 minutes? Check it out next time… anytime anything happens, the NFL goes to a commercial – a touchdown, a field goal, a kickoff return, a punt return. They have A LOT of advertisers, make a CRAP-TON of money from them, AND the NFL home office is actually considered to be a NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION…………….

6) NFL IS A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION. I didn’t know about this until grumpy (like me today) sports guy on NPR, Frank Deford, mentioned that the NFL home office falls under the category of non-profit org (listen or read at NPR here). The commissioner, Roger Goodell, made over $44 million last year. I guess it’s “not profit” if the organization is funneling its money to the boss… then it’s just “salary,” right?

Speaking of, I once volunteered to help set up for a Super Bowl, and this is the sort of thing Frank Deford was complaining about. I didn’t think about it then… I was more thinking how it was an awesome thing to be able to put on my college applications (I was in high school then), and how it would be a cool opportunity to see the field being prepared for the game millions of people across the world would watch. Now that Deford taught me a thing or two, the NFL doesn’t need any volunteers at all. They could easily pay every single person that helps out… but they don’t do it because they don’t have to – they “AREN’T IN BUSINESS TO MAKE A PROFIT.” Pfhhhhh.

7) Conflicting Rules #1. For kickoff, the clock doesn’t start until the returner catches the ball and runs it beyond the endzone. Punt the ball, and the clock starts ticking at the start of the play. I don’t get why there’s a difference.

8) Conflicting Rules #2. Kicking the ball out of bounds on kickoff results in a penalty, with the ball then normally being placed at the 40 yard line. Kicking the ball out of bounds for a punt, I guess it’s considered strategic – or a big mistake, and there’s no penalty.

9) Coach’s Challenges. Coaches are limited in the number of challenges they can make during the game (2 per half?). Considering the problem with officiating this season, coach’s should be able to challenge 3 times per half, since they have 3 time outs per half. You’re never gonna be able to convince me that shouldn’t be the case.

10) Overtime rules are stupid. Okay, check this out… two teams duke it out all game long. They’re pretty evenly matched, and the game ends in a tie. Luckily, one team ends up winning the overtime coin toss and chooses to receive a ball. They score a touchdown, like they did throughout the game (and so did the other team), but because they scored THIS touchdown, they win. That’s freakin’ goofy. The game was evenly matched, one team received the ball and scored a touchdown, and that’s it. It just seems weird.

11) I don’t buy into egocentrism/ethnocentrism. Until I stop hearing commentators saying “world champions” (yeah, I’m talking especially to you, Joe Buck) and stop seeing banners in stadiums saying the same, it’s just over-the-top and going to frustrate me. I touched on that a bit earlier, and there is nothing “world” about it. You want to see “world champions?” Watch the WORLD Cup. American football has been growing in popularity for the past few years, but it’s got a long, long way to go to be the world’s most popular sport. In the meantime, stop bringing “world” into it, or maybe show everyone how strongly you feel and call last year’s winning team the “champions of the universe.” I’d like to see how that goes.

For now, I’ve had enough. I really have. I’m turning the TV off at this point. I might come back but, for now, the NFL has a long way to go, in order to make it a legit (more than just a money-printing) operation. In the meantime, I’ll be busy living my life. See ya!

 

 

UPDATE TIME, YAY!

12) Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, has no spine and/or real power on his own. There was the whole Ray Rice fiasco, and the Commish said “Okay, you punched your wife. You can’t play in the NFL ever again.” Some time passed, and an arbitrator said “You can’t do that, Roger,” and Ray Rice was reinstated. He hasn’t played yet, but he’s allowed to. Meanwhile, in the NBA, Adam Silver told not a player, but a billionaire owner, “You’re banned for life, and you have to sell your team,” and the team was sold.

THEN, on the day I wrote the original post, it turned out the Patriots had used deflated footballs, thus breaking game rules for what we assume to be THE ENTIRE GAME. Goodell, who is allegedly a good friend of Patriots owner, Robert Kraft (and a picture of the two hanging out at an event at Kraft’s mansion is on Goodell’s Twitter page), then says “Oh, well, we’ll do an investigation and let you know what we find after the Super Bowl.”

Are you freakin’ kidding me?

Okay, so some people argue “Well, judging by the score, the Colts would have gotten clobbered anyway.” Oh, so you can tell me with a straight face that the Patriots are so terrible at cheating that they’ve broken the rules a total of two times ever (Deflategate and Spygate) and got caught 100% of the time? That organization has a history of controversy, including questionable officiating, giving the team a free pass through the playoffs (see “Tuck Rule” mentioned in point #1 above). It’s much older, but also see “Snowplow Game” if you don’t know anything about it.

So there you have it… the NFL sucks, and that’s why you should stop buying overpriced nick-nacks and put that money towards retirement or a legit charity – not the NFL charity.

I’ve come to a conclusion: Empirical evidence suggesting that the new age, world-is-connected idea is bullshit, considering that everybody, except those in Tallahassee (who think a football game is more important than morals, accountability, and societal norms) is rooting against the Seminoles. It’s no secret that the quarterback – the leader and face of the team – has been accused of:

1) stealing soda from a Burger King. An employee reported that, after not buying anything, the QB asking for a water cup and continually filled it with soda.

2) the QB was seen on surveillance video shoplifting crab legs. Where I come from, shoplifting equates to more than just community service.

3) the QB jumped on a bench at school and yelled/proclaimed “fuck her right in the pussy.”

4) the QB was handcuffed for shooting a BB gun at squirrels “on campus,” then was released when it was determined he was “not on campus.” “OOPS – THAT’S OUT OF MY JURISDICTION”….. that must happen alllll the time. Dang noobie campus cops.

5) the QB was implicated in receiving money for signing hundreds of autographs (this I’m not opposed to, if a university sells jerseys with your number on it and uses you as a money-making tool… though that still doesn’t mean you have the freedom to do whatever you want.)

6) oh yeah, there’s the sexual assault investigation. Although the QB has never gone to trial or faced any charges, the G.D. primary investigator has done work for the main financing arm of FSU Athletics – the Seminole Boosters. No weird, conflict of interest there at all. No sir! The latest is that the QB’s lawyer is pushing to have the code of conduct hearing being delayed until after the football season. How amazingly convenient that would be. “The prospect of justice can wait…. Now let’s get out there and win some games!”

Maybe the problem is society. It’s that, after the QB’s half-game suspension was announced, fans in Tallahassee were loudly proclaiming “If we lose this game, it’s because you ratted out our QB for asking for EVEN MORE ATTENTION and yelling inappropriate things!” Football is more important than real life, of course! The problem is the lawyers pushing to have hearings pushed. It the university, allowing to have hearings pushed. It’s the Seminole Boosters. It’s the campus police. It’s the TEAM. It’s society, for tuning in, hoping for the worst (including me) and the sponsors, who are making a ton of money because people like me are tuning in, hoping for (finally) a repercussion for one (or many) wrongs. The problem is the coach, for acting like there’s a conspiracy brewing when your team’s rankings drop after the receivers drop passes, the QB throws a bunch of interceptions, and the team has crappy opponents most of the season.

Sure, there’s a conspiracy, and ulterior motive, if you want to call it that. The brewing conspiracy is that the majority wants YOU to fail. People are fed up with this crap, with the complacency and excuses.

If the universe has shown it doesn’t revolve around new age, the-world-is-connected ideas, people are at least waiting for the concept of karma to prove itself.

Personally, given the QB’s ankle issues as of late, I wouldn’t be at all opposed to hearing about an abduction from campus and a “Misery” moment. In good conscious, I absolutely can’t support any S.O.B. who has had¬†innumerable societal infractions. After all, I’ve heard there is some truth to any rumor.

It’s amazing to think that numerous crazies have scaled the White House fence for no apparent, good reason this year but, to my knowledge, no dipshits have tried to bring some vigilante justice to an equally important force in America – football.

A lofty but real dream of mine is to make as much money as possible, then move to another continent, because American football and half of society on that host continent is so occupied with complete bullshit. Check out yahoo.com right now. What you will see is likely this: “news” about how Amanda Bynes is insane or bipolar, Kim Kardashian “breaking the internet,” with naked pics of her huge butt (weird, since she’s not even the most attractive Kardashian, anyhow), or Kristen Stewart suffering a “nip slip” at an awards show.

We think we’re so advanced and ahead of the world, but how can we be when we’re really more like a bunch of neanderthals, getting off on pics of nip slips (how exiting, right?!) I have nipples, and you have nipples, too. We’re also completely obsessed with hoping a bunch of football players lose. I can’t think of anything more inconsequential, except that a single, alpha male in our society is working towards being awarded, at the highest level, with prestige and millions of dollars in his pocket, and it’s driving me crazy that society will likely allow that to happen.

That’s right – “millions of dollars” – just like other alpha males such as Ben Roethliseberger, Mike Tyson, Lawrence Taylor, Tom Brady, and Dave Meggett. Upstanding citizens.

One can only hope that such a person goes the way of recent, polarizing figures and, at most, the QB ends up getting signed at the highest level, and then absolutely nothing comes from it. That would reinstate my believe in not the new age, world-is-connected ideas, but instead, pure karma.

I like to watch football…lot. College football doesn’t really get my adrenaline flowing so much, though, because it’s impossible to keep track of what seems to be an infinite number of teams. Identification becomes difficult, and locations seem too broad-specific. Here is an example of what I mean: you have University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, and Western Kentucky football programs. Who knows what other Kentucky prefixes or suffixes that particular state also offers. Then you have people talking about “O.U.” Is that Oklahoma? Ohio U.? Perhaps Oregon? There is just too much to think about, rather than enjoying the greater simplicity of 32 teams that are almost all associated with major cities.

On the other hand, Sundays become complicated when you don’t cough up the $400 it takes to subscribe to the NFL Sunday Ticket. My viewing experience is pretty limited with TWC’s basic high-def package. In fact, on some Sundays I am almost convinced that Los Angeles just hates football. There just isn’t any other logical explanation when the local Fox affiliate airs the pre-game show, then cut to golf rather than showing, ya know, the game.

Also – and I’m sure it comes as no surprise – but the west coast likes to show west coast teams. I didn’t grow up following any of those clubs, so west coast-exclusive matchups become passive viewing in my household. And in those cases, I tend to just automatically favor the underdog. Everyone loves an underdog story when there is no other interest involved….. but existing in this rather unfortunate time in history, we are all subject to watching players like Tom Brady sit back in the pocket all day long, eating a sandwich and drinking a glass of Chardonnay, while waiting on a receiver to get open. We all know that, once the Chardonnay is gone, BRADY IS PROBABLY GOING TO END UP PASSING TO WES WELKER, SO COVER WES WELKER! And therein lies the problem: our armchair logic becomes infuriating when the defense on the field disregards the telepathic messages we send, and we watch Wes Welker and Tom Brady connect for yet another touchdown. How boring to watch winners keep winning.

With all this rationale and time spent, this sport isn’t good for my health, I am realizing. My interest in hoping to watch the Goliaths of the league be brought down brings out the profane negatives, which supersedes the things I should really be appreciating. Football is fun (sometimes), but it isn’t REAL for all of us. It’s only real for the guys on the field, abusing their bodies every week, and for the staff traveling with and supporting these players. For everyone else it’s some level of hobby.

The real point of all this is that I let it become frustrating, and I just need to chill out sometimes. I got sucked into fandom a long time ago, and it’s funny to think about how much I hated football until playing it, starting in 4th grade.

I am only an observer now, and this is my time to create my own, new reality. The obstacles standing between me and my goals are there and really exist, and my energy and focus needs to be on that. After all, we all must remind ourselves that the defense on the field isn’t going to listen to us, so what they do (or fail to do) is out of our control. For as long as we are passengers on the ride, we sometimes need to take a break, take a second look at the things we once noticed and appreciated, and to just stop for a moment and smell the freakin’ roses.