About three seasons ago I went cold turkey and gave up football. It wasn’t easy. I’d been watching my whole life as far back as I could remember. I grew up in a Giants household back in the days when fans wore paper bags over their heads in shame. (Maybe that will make a comeback after this season). My first boss had Jets tickets and sometimes I, a lowly researcher, was given one. I owned my first home in Patriot territory, but I never got to a game in person. I’ve lived in “Redskin Nation” for almost thirty years. My children grew up fans of the “skinnies” as we called them, always being a little too politically correct to go with a Native American moniker. My ex was a rabid Green Bay fan.
What made me do it? First, it was the expansion of the NFL into every nook and cranny of the TV schedule. What used to be a terrific Sunday pastime, with must watch Monday Night TV in addition, turned into Sunday, Monday, Thursday, sometimes Saturday and a zillion cable channel nightmare. And then there was fantasy football and the chat about that all week long. I figured if I didn’t call it quits I might actually end up unable to lift my butt off the couch.
And then there was the concussion issue. I’d seen some horrible injuries over the years, including one west coast player whose name I can’t remember becoming a quadriplegic right on camera during a Monday night game. But the increased number of brain disorders diagnosed as tests became more sensitive and helmets and padding became more not less lethal seemed to mark a turning point. An article in Talking Points Memo yesterday posited that perhaps all pro football players suffer damage not because of concussions per se but because of repeated knocks on the head. You can read it here.
And then there is the controversy over the Redskins name and Dan Snyder’s adamant refusal to change it. And the mystery of what the heck happened between Incognito and Martin in Miami. Is the culture of football just a bit toxic? I know that football is America’s game, made all engrossing by high definition TV, the yellow line, cheerleaders, halftime shows, the Super Bowl, yadda yadda yadda.
I just concluded that while I am not a hater, I wanted to reclaim that time for other things. I’ve paid a bit of a price, since I can’t always knowledgeably participate in the convo at the gym or get invited to the nachos and beer parties that I used to go to. But overall, I’m happy that I’ve retired my jersey, a couch potato no more.