The NFL season is one game old, and it’s already old. Is it possible to be tired of the NFL when the NFL season is just waking up?
Are you ready for some football? Like it or not?
I’d be more ready if I hadn’t been bombarded with it since last February, when it should have ended, or at least paused for a breath. I’d be in full anticipation, if I hadn’t been slammed with daily Tebow Updates, Peyton Manning Updates, “breaking news’’ from Bountygate , draft analysis, more draft analysis, futher draft analysis, 40-times live from the Combine, live updates from Jets camp, more live updates from Jets camp, Jerry Jones saying something inane, Tony Romo responding to Jerry Jones, head trauma findings, replacement referee updates, Chad Johnso-Cinco updates, live updates from the Meadowlands, or whatever they’re calling it now, where ESPN had a reporter at 8 o’clock on Wednesday morning – live! – to update me on what was happening 12 hours before the New York Giants were to host the Dallas Cowboys.
With apologies to Elvis Costello:
I used to be excited.
Now, I try to stay awake.
The NFL is 10 pounds of hype in a five-pound bag. We could have Caesar’s Legions against Patton’s tanks on Monday night, and it wouldn’t be equal to the advance hype-shoveling the NFL and its media partners foist upon their mindless public.
We media have made the NFL a 12-month preoccupation. It is not. It has its season. I don’t need to hear about the NFL in February, March, May, June or July. Or, come to think of it, August. I really don’t need to hear about the NFL in August.
ESPN is the worst offender. It usually is. ESPN beats its subjects deader than dead. The horse is six feet under and Chris Berman is still going live to Sal Paolantonio, at Jets camp.
The product itself isn’t Caesar vs. Patton, and hasn’t been since Vince vs. Tom. Lombardi and Landry were genuine legends, their statures assured by selective exposure. Seeing Lombardi grace a sideline was impressive. Seeing Rex Ryan is somewhat less so.
In Perfect World, I’d ban replay, tighten up on the commercials and get the games back to slightly under three hours. As it is, the NFL somehow crams 12 minutes of action into a three-hour and 14-minute window.
I was watching a night game a few years ago. Oakland and somebody. It took them 12 minutes to run three plays. It went this way:
Goal line situation, requiring a touchdown review. Did he cross the plane? Commercial. He did not cross the plane. Next play, he did. Touchdown. Commercial. Next play, kickoff. Commercial. Next play, injury timeout. Commercial.
This is entertainment?
The league’s arrogance has grown in direct proportion to its TV ratings. It knows it’s important, and it behaves that way. I prefer the rumpled overcoat of Bud Selig to the Park Avenue of Roger Goodell.
The NFL is using replacement referees, even as it has more money than it can spend. It charges its fans full fare for August flights to Fakeville. It blacks out games in towns where the stadia aren’t full, even as said stadia were paid for by folks who can’t afford a ticket but would like to watch on TV.
It charges exorbitant admission prices, then ponders why fewer people go. The Bengals can boast of being fan-friendly. Their average cost for a family of four is “only’’ $397.03. In Dallas, it’s $634.78. Yippee-kai-yay.
Stripped of hype, the pro game can be dull. Its coaches are right-of-Rush conservative, highly afraid of losing their jobs if they don’t gain three yards on 3rd-and-2. Innovation is dead in the NFL. They borrow it from the colleges. Ironically, NFL coaches would have you believe their game is more complex than a nuclear warhead.
And so on.
I raised this rant last week in The Morning Line, my blog at Cincinnati.com. I got a few hundred reactions. Surprisingly, most agreed with me. We are a football-crazed clan. The NFL is king. Still, this was a typical reaction:
I enjoy my Sundays at the ball fields now …I enjoy harvest festivals when not watching softball games with my family. I get yard work done. I read. Removing the NFL from my Sunday has been a true awakening.
On Bengals bye weeks, I used to park myself on the couch at 1:01 and de-camp for the bed at midnight. Afterwards, I’d feel as if I’d torched a whole day. Every time. Especially if the weather was good.
I don’t do that any more. When the Bengals are off, so is the idiot box. I get out in the daylight, and go for a walk.
Is this you?
Am I strange?
What is so high-holy fabulous about the National Football League?
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