Quitting Football

Like my dermatologists are so fond of doing to my basal cell skin cancers, I’d like to cut football out of my life. Literally throw a switch and not follow it anymore, high school, college, pro.

Now that we know about CTE’s devastating effects on players, it feels too much like watching Christians and lions in an ancient Roman Coliseum. Except in this case, both sides lose.

The title of this post is too optimistic. I’m not sure I can throw the “no football” switch. “I Want To Quit Football” would’ve been too wordy. I grew up playing football so I’m talking about severing a childhood root. And I enjoy following sports more generally and it’s impossible to watch SportsCenter or listen to Dan Patrick without half of the content, half of the year, being football-related.

In 2016, in the Pacific Northwest, you can be disappeared for not being a “12”, the name given to Seattle Seahawk fanatics. Lots of (oddly elderly) people have taken to wearing Russell Wilson jerseys to church in an apparent effort to curry God’s favor. To my Canadian friends to the north, imagine how ostracized you’d be if you gave up hockey.

I didn’t care about either team, but still watched about 50 minutes of the SupBowl, 20 live and 30 at enhanced Tivo-speeds. Besides the brain injuries, I can’t take the pace of play with the incessant challenges, television timeouts, injury time, and commercials. Hey Roger, I have a dog that needs walking, a work project that I’m behind on, a house that needs packing up. Here’s an idea that only someone suffering from CTE might propose, let’s take 10 minutes from the billion viewers to determine if the receiver had possession. That’s a well spent 10 billion minutes.

There were no concussions at halftime despite an angry dance-off between Bruno’s boys and Bey’s girls. They can dance some, but if they ever play one-on-one basketball, I’m going with the Queen. She can just back him down. And of course it’s the one time of year that the commercials are actually worth watching. I’m going to buy a jeep and then the GalPal is going to throw herself on me. Or I’m asking for my money back.

That pgraph right there highlights the challenge. You can’t be culturally literate without knowing somethin’ somethin’ about football. If I somehow find it within myself to stop watching, I’ll continue to see headlines and read boxscores. Will even that make me complicit in the violence?

I’m confident I can go about eight months without watching a single snap. Here’s hoping even longer.

 

 

 

 

Thank You Pete Carroll

Two minutes to go the length of field and win back-to-back Sup Bowls. I ask no one and everyone, “Can we really do it again? Can we take it the length of the field?!” “Yes,” I’m assured by some Hawk faithful. And then, sure enough, our offense starts clicking. The more pressure, the more better. Key third down completion. Circus catch for the ages. 2nd and goal on the 1 with enough time and timeouts to run it three times if necessary. Hell yes we can do it again. Just have Wilson keep it or feed the Beast. Either way back-to-back baby!

Wait! No, no, no! Shotgun formation? Are you kidding me?! What on earth are they thinking. “Get back under center!!!” Interception. Ballgame.

People start saying not very nice things about Seattle’s Offense Coordinator, Darrell Bevell, but as my brother-in-law convincingly pointed out to me, the head coach has to take charge in that situation. Pardon the blasphemy, but we also don’t know yet if #3 called an audible.

What to do now. Obviously we need Washington State’s congressional delegation to investigate and determine without a shadow of doubt who made the worst call in football history. Not just professional football history, but street, Pop Warner, high school, college, CFL.

If it was a Wilson audible we’ll keep paying him the same salary for another three years (saving the team about $75m). If it was Carroll, we’ll have to act swiftly to assure his safety. Meaning Witness Protection. If it was Bevell, we should still act swiftly to assure Carroll’s safety, since he should have taken charge of that call. Meaning again, Witness Protection. New name, identity, and location.

In actuality, Seahawk fans owe Pete Carroll a huge thank you because there’s no decision any of us can possibly make in 2015 that will be anywhere close to that bad. That is freeing! Here’s how things will most likely go down in my Post 2nd and 1 household. “I’m really, really sorry honey, even by my standards, I did something really stupid.” Then the sorrowful explanation. Then the Good Wife, “It’s okay, really, it’s not like you decided to throw on the goal line with Marshawn fucking Lynch in the backfield.”

SuperBowl Edition

Secular holiday Sunday. I’m down with it, but for the love of all things non-material, please kill the Pro Bowl and return to the original one week between conference finals and kickoff.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a Peyton Manning essay by Stefan Fatsis on Slate.com Friday. I’ve enjoyed listening to Fatsis, a sports business analyst/writer on National Public Radio over the last few years. He also writes for the Wall Street Journal. Smart, fast-talker, good insights. He lets his hair down a little in the Manning piece.

Fatsis’ piece brought to mind lots of things including what a curse perfectionism is for those encumbered by it. Perfectionists can’t help but project their unusually high and often unrealistic expectations onto others which subjects them to perpetual frustration. Others can’t measure up.

When I finished writing my lengthy self-assessment for promotion recently, I felt a real sense of accomplishment, but not in the way you might expect. Here’s the truth of the matter. I could be a better teacher, scholar, and university citizen (the shorthand term for service). And I could be a better husband, father, son, brother, and friend. And I could be a better triathlete and blogger. And I could read more fiction, keep the gutters cleaner, and manage my time better.

My sense of accomplishment comes from fulfilling a wide range of roles as well as possible. I’m never going to win an MVP (most valuable professor) award or the Hawaii Ironman and I don’t anticipate, fourteen, seventeen, and forty-nine (yikes, did I just out the gal pal as not young, more evidence I fall short as a husband) ever teaming up on a sculpture in honor of me (my birthday is fast approaching though).

I choose to live a more balanced life than Manning, that doesn’t make me better, just different. Would I like to play in the Super Bowl*, of course, but I would not have traded the breadth of life experience I’ve enjoyed for that type of single-minded success.

At times, I wonder if I use the “balance” argument as an excuse for not pursuing excellence in a particular area for a particular time. Do I opt for success out of fear of Success? I wonder, maybe I should dedicate myself to excellence in one role, whether to write a book, race an Ironman well, or become the man my dog thinks I am—for a period of time. It’s very hard for me to accept doing some things poorly in order to do one thing especially well.

I expect the Colts to win, but I’ll be pulling for the Saints. And if the Saints pull the upset, I’ll be watching for Peyton to blow.

* I realized my football career was pointless in eighth grade when I was a bad-ass (a legend in my own mind) cornerback for the Lexington Lions. Screen pass to the other team’s stud who looked like it was his third go-round in eighth grade. Someone missed their assignment and I was unblocked. Closed the eyes, wrapped, wrapped, uh, wiffed. Started playing more golf at that point!