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Defending the NFL - I Just Don't Get It


Yes, I don't watch football. Well, not anymore. 

I've been completey sober for two years, not counting that one hiccup in watching the Super Bowl in February. 

So yeah, I'm not into football. I'm not particularly fond of the sport's connection to CTE issues, it's blatant obstruction or disregard for science expressing it's connection to football, nor its handling of various matters over the years. And that's even before Colin Kaepernick decided to shake the core of our nation's reality my simply dropping to a knee. 

I actually don't even care for the sport, really. The NFL is rather gross in all that it is, and has been for a long time. And for those touting college football and it's culture - excuse me. I was born, raised, and currently live in the North East. I have friends and colleagues in the South and across the country who revel in those sagas that exist only for and around Saturdays in the Fall. But, not even college football interests me in the slightest bit.

And truthfully, I don't understand how one invests time into a team only to have a computer decided the fate - one that's typically the same handful of schools, anyway. 


So why am I writing this post? 

I saw something pertaining to football that is so grotesque, so ridiculous, so inhumane, I wanted to touch base on it shortly. 


For reasons I can't even begin to explain, Rob Gronkowski received a one game suspension for this action. I've had this discussion with various people who defend football, and defend the shield citing that one game is a lengthy time during the NFL season - true. But it boggles my mind how anyone can defend this. 

I just don't get it. 


Again, is it worth the long-term health of a player - heck, a person? Is it worth the (terrible) precedent, or lack thereof that is continually upheld in the NFL? 

Recently, Mike Mitchell, the safety of the Pittsburgh Steelers had the following comments on policing "hits" in the NFL: 
I don't know man. Man, just hand us all some flags. Hand us all some flags and let us go out there and try to grab the flags off them because we're not playing football. This is not damn football. When I was six years old watching Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, Sean Taylor, the hitters, Jack Tatum — that's football. This ain't football. You got to know what the risk is when you sign up. No one wants to be paralyzed, no one wants to have head injuries, these are all things that are negative. But let's not try to change football into a dangerous, barbaric game.
"This is how I've changed my family legacy. Before I got drafted I had $368 in my bank account. That is far from the case today. I've changed my family legacy by this beautiful game of football for forever. So let's not try to change it into some evil, dirty game. It's football. It's no different from UFC fighting. This is a combat, contact sport. There's going to be injuries. That's just what it is. But if you don't want to get injured then don't come out here.
"This is for real men. This is a man's game. Ray Lewis said that a couple years ago. I stand by that. It's a man's game. If you want to be a little kid, if you don't want to get your [butt] hit then don't come out here. Because it's for grown men. Straight like that.
I won't argue his point of what the game of football has meant to the socioeconomics of this country. After all, he's correct. There have been plenty of individuals who have benefited from the game directly, or indirectly. The economic impact is unbelievable to think about. The game has changed lives and one can argue, has lifted many minority men, especially black men, out of poverty or underprivileged situations. 

But the continued culture of football being this masochist endeavor - the closest thing to war without actually going to war - is ludicrous. And quite frankly, it's the kind of mentality that ironically is changing the lives of many - in another way, for the worse. 

While the participation numbers for youth football are falling around the country, making football obsolete is not what I wish for. My issues is with negligence. And the gross practice we see of it from the NFL, and within our culture as we for some reason continue to make this our version of Roman gladiators in battle. 

Brains are at stake each and every single week, and that's within the practice of the game play. 

When actions like Gronkowski's are met under the same umbrella of "harnessed anger", another phrase used to express this "man's game", I just don't get how we simply overlook it. How we accept it? How we slap a common penalty on it, and deem it justifiable?

A clear and deliberate shot to the back of a player's head who is not only vulnerable in his state prior to the hit, but was harmed after - AFTER! - the play was over, is absolute unacceptable. "Man's game or not", the human body isn't meant to receive those blows. 

Again, I don't get the overlook.

How can there be any respect or reasoning left to invest in this game? 

At what point do we drop the smokescreen loyalty to this game? 

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