Except during the playoffs.
Now is when the NFL evolves into its violent prime. Now is when our true gladiators rise to an astronomical level. Now is when the tackling and blocking becomes crisper and more ferocious. Now is when the most gifted players in the world perform transcendent moves, both balletic and acrobatic. Now is when the game goes from savage to barbaric. Now is when defensive backs and linebackers try and take your head off instead of ringing your bell. Now is when contact is so brutal and the injuries so devastating that you cringe and feel revulsion and come close to tears at watching these splendid young athletes in their prime squirm and writhe in agony, perhaps ruined for careers and lives.
Now is when the Hall of Fame quarterbacks become cool and relaxed and drive their teams to victories in the final tense seconds while we fret and shake, realizing there is a reason these guys get paid what they do and receive the adulation they deserve.
They are not like us. They are not like anybody we know.
If New England gets their key players healthy, nobody will beat them in the AFC and the only way to beat them in a Super Bowl is do what the New York Giants did to them twice—rough-house their offensive line and beat up Brady.
The key player is Edelman, who has perfected lightening quick moves off the ball, and cutting so sharply that, like Wes Welker, he makes the 5 to 10 yard catch every time, and is tough enough to absorb the contact. This is their running game, a replica of the West Coast Offense run by the 49ers back in the day, with Joe Montana making short precise passes to people like Roger Craig, so that defensive teams were always facing 2nd and 2 or 3, and at the mercy of the next play by these brilliant play callers. The rush doesn’t matter. Brady always hits his man, and his receivers always make the catch.
New England coach Belichick has an insight into not just opposition teams, but their coaches. He reads their minds. He takes pride in owning them.
New England’s defense might be the most surprising element of the playoffs. They always have guys like Ninkovich who make big plays that turn games around—like Teddy Bruschi in former championship years. It’s in their DNA.
I still don’t trust Cam Newton to do it all with his limited offense.
All this conjecture about Pittsburgh going all the way is nonsense. They have no defense.
Sorry, but Green Bay, Washington, Minnesota, and Houston have no shot at all and can only hope to injure key players on better teams if they advance to the next rounds.
I wonder if Kansas City is one of those physical teams that really punish people and get on a roll.
Unlike the ex players on ESPN, I am not that impressed with Denver’s defense.
Seattle versus Carolina will be the most brutal game of the playoffs and maybe the best—if they play. Unless one of them play Arizona.
Will Arizona, a loaded team, choke, because they really don’t have that championship DNA? Like New England?
The goody-goody role-model image the NFL tries to portray, led by their commissioner, is a sham and on the verge of expunging it of every last vestige of colorful characters and personality. Professional football is not composed of wholesome All American Boy Scouts and good Christians—it is an outlaw league full of outlaws. Most of its players are poor and black and come from terrible places where their lives are not worth a nickel without football, much like boxers of another generation that fought their ways out of slums to survive and avoid a life of crime or poverty.
Who else would absorb the kind of punishment they do? Certainly not affluent white suburbanites.
The colleges and coaches who recruit these kids in the name of building character are instead building their own careers and making money for institutions that cater to the affluent and wealthy of this country, most of whom are white.
The rich white financial barons running the NFL along with their stooge commissioner are out of touch with the people they pay to perform for the masses, except for Jerry Jones, who grew up poor, actually played the game at a high level in college, and identifies with his black players. 150 years ago he would have been a riverboat gambler unworthy of trust.
The NFL has been sanitized, and eliminated the culture of the old Raider teams who had real characters. Their entire allure that of outlaws of the old west.
Johnny Manziel would have been perfect in the old NFL, like Kenny Stabler, Don Meredith, Bobby Layne, Sonny Jurgensen, men who liked to party and seemed to thrive on hangovers come Sunday afternoons. So what if Manziel likes to booze it up and hang out in hotspots as opposed to nightclubs of a different era. If he likes to booze it up let him. Not everybody who boozes it up is an alcoholic. Some of the world’s happiest people are borderline alcoholics.
The NFL policy of kicking a player out of the game for a year for smoking a harmless drug like pot and reinstating criminals and woman-beaters reemphasizes their hypocrisy and greed.
The NFL’s cruel fines for players who celebrate and gloat are egregious—allow these kids to blow off steam, to strut, to taunt; to act out the achievements of their childhood fantasies. Don’t stifle their alpha-dog egos that make them tick.
I find J.J. Watt of Houston nauseating, and his commercials embarrassingly stupid and whorish, and his stilted personality offensive. Seems like he’s all about money and image, scheming to take Howie Long’s place some day as an analyst. Such behavior sours me and takes away from his incredible performance as a player.
Give me Lyle Alzado andTed Hendricks and John Matuszak any day, openly hostile on the field and never apologetic or politically correct.
Does anybody think the powers that be really give a damn about the imposition of concussion protocol? It’s all about money, baby, always has been, always will be, at the expense of ones health—the American way. Just go reread “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair.
If you watch the NFL draft and listen to the experts, it plays out like livestock appraisal among a bunch of farmers and ranchers.
As the season draws tensely into the playoffs, fans turn more fanatical. City bragging rights and pride trump all reason and sanity and compassion for the players who go down as in war movies--fleetingly exalted as heroes--as the battle roars on in a mindless territorialism, tribalism catering to our most basic instincts.
I recall my father and I, at a Ram/49er game in The L.A. Coliseum back in the late 1960’s, yelling “kill, kill, blood, blood!” as we stood and roared, shaking our fists, banging each other on the shoulders, crazed, my father a former professional athlete who’d played the game as I had, sucked into the maelstrom.
Only in America does such a game exist. This time of year, as the cream rises to the top, I’m sorry, but there is nothing like it, and if I’m guilty of loving it in all its horror and inhuman pain, so be it.