Witness to History: Oh, Go Ahead and Watch the Fall of the House of Football

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Many males of our culture seem compelled to circulate and repeat their personal Football Moment of Truth anecdotes. Minus the contractions, it’s sort of our counterpart to the women who endlessly memorialize labor and delivery.

I do not claim immunity from the phenomenon: see my May 4 post, “Must Read: Q&A Between Journalist Patrick Hruby and ‘United States of Football’ Documentary Maker Sean Pamphilon,” https://concussioninc.net/?p=5600.

The start of the 2012 NFL preseason is likely to come packaged with many more such documents to grudging humanity. See, for example, this one by Nathan Fenno of The Washington Times, a very good reporter who had grimly tasked himself over the past offseason with maintaining a database of the hundreds of ex-players who are participating in the scores of concussion lawsuits against the league:

“NFL overdue for discussion of concussions,” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/9/nfl-overdue-for-discussion-of-concussions/

As indeed the NFL is – though I tend to view suspiciously suddenly risen new subgenres and wonder if their end point will be backlash against the backlash.

I have already made my own decision about NFL TV-viewing this year: I’ll do it, more or less as I always have. That is to say, I’ll watch quite a bit more of it than a non-fan and quite a bit less of it than a gambler or a hardcore in denial.

No doubt, reduced patronage is a necessary precursor to the downsizing of the football industry at all levels. But I don’t think we all need to announce our intentions based on our individual Moments of Truth. Just do what you have to do and let the process play out.

In his important recent column siding with those of us who do not believe football can be fixed, George Will refers, accurately, to the “increasingly guilty pleasure” the sport has become. While we’re at it, we might as well admit that there’s guilty pleasure in its agonizing silver age, too – the very human response of rubbernecking. A train wreck can be mesmerizing, even (especially?) in slow motion. Edgar Allan Poe, unwitting coiner of the name of his hometown Baltimore’s current NFL franchise, well captured the fascination of decay.

I’ll be watching NFL ’12, in part, as a witness to history. I don’t want to miss seeing the moment that defines it.

And no, I don’t really expect that moment to be an MVP quarterback murdering his supermodel wife on the 50-yard line during the Super Bowl halftime entertainment. The whimpers will be instructive, along with the bangs.

As Bob Lipsyte put it to me in an email to me on the eve of the first Sunday in February, “Have a Bowl.”

 

Irv Muchnick

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