Over the NFL…

Well, the preseason is underway.  Soon the regular season kicks off.  And, here I sit, unable to work up any real interest.  I’ve been a football fan for as long as I can remember.  My first favorite Quarterback to Receiver tandem was Roman Gabriel to Jack Snow, so…there’s a reference.  (Some people know, some are like, “who?”)

Truthfully, I don’t give a rat’s tail about Colin Kaepernick’s “protest.”  Well, no, that’s not right.  I don’t object to the protest.  In fact, I’d say he has a point.  I’m not going to boycott the game because some players think bad cops shouldn’t murder people.  I wish I was more surprised that so many of my fellow Americans think Kaepernick is out of line.

As I’ve indicated in the Gabriel-to-Snow reference, I’ve been watching a LONG time.  I don’t object to changes to the game, either, so long as the changes in question are for the better.  I know, who gets to decide what qualifies as “better?”  In this case, me…because this piece is about how the NFL is losing (has lost?) me…

I don’t mean to go all, ‘you kids get off my lawn’ or ‘back in my day’ on you.  I don’t hate the game.  In fact, I really like the change to the PAT and overtime rules.  I expect to watch games this season.  I feel certain I’ll watch the playoffs and their stupid “Big Game”.  (Apparently, the NFL sues anybody who makes reference to the Supr Bwl without paying the fee…)  To quote Hamlet, “…ay, there’s the rub.”  The money.  I’m of the opinion that, as is so often the case, the pursuit of the almighty dollar has damaged the overall product – in my case, to the point where I’m just not as interested in consuming that product.

If you want to watch a football game on television, you need to expect to give up three and a half hours.  According to the clock, football is played for sixty timed minutes.  With normal stoppages (timeouts, reviews, injuries, etc.) I could see two hours being consumed strictly with football-related events.  So that leaves an hour and a half…for commercials!

Every year, the NFL announces rule changes, insisting the idea is to “shorten the game” or speed it up, depending.  But it keeps being three and a half hours.  So, if they’re speeding up the game but I’m still dedicating three and a half hours, what’s changing?  More commercials.  I know, corporations have to make money.  The product cost has to be covered.  But you know what?  I don’t watch football to find out which beer I should be drinking or which truck I should be driving.  I watch for the game.

Sixty minutes of game time.  One hundred and fifty minutes of NOT game time.  That’s only 29% of the time dedicated to ONE game that’s actual game.  That’s a pretty massive waste of time.  It was bad enough when it was contained to Sundays and Monday night but then the NFL – ever mindful of yet another dollar – added Thursdays to the mix, as well.

I HATE Thursday Night Football.  It invades my space.  Worse, it ruined fantasy football for me, as well.  I can’t really explain this without you understanding how fantasy football works and either you know or you REALLY don’t care so just suffice to say that it forces you to make decisions you shouldn’t yet have to make on players who really should have a full week to recover but don’t get it because…well, the NFL needs more money…

And, oh, yeah, the players.  No one needs to explain to me about the player’s career being so short or the dangers of the game.  I know.  I get it.  But when I loved football, I LOVED my team.  “My team” was the players, not the uniforms.  “My team” was the philosophy one team would use to beat another team.  There was a time in the NFL when trades didn’t happen as often and WHEN a player moved from one team to another, they couldn’t – couldn’t – take the field right away because they had to learn the playbook and language of their new team.

These days, playbooks have been so standardized, I genuinely believe a player could play for his old team on Sunday morning, get on a plane, and play for their new team the next day, on Monday Night Football.  This happened because players wanted their cut of the pie, too.  I don’t blame them.  They ARE the product.  A football game is a damn boring three and a half hours without players.  But it means there are no teams anymore.  I mean, sure, there are team names and team colors…team statistics and team outcomes.  But the “team” is the group of players who play – individual strengths and weaknesses and how they fit into the whole…

I still admire the athleticism that goes into the game but I’ll tell you this: I want to root for a team, not the laundry.  The NFL only wants the money.  The corporate headquarters constantly works to maximize profits for the league and the players association has maximized profits for the players but, in the process, they’ve turned it into a bad deal for the consumer…

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