|All-Pro Offensive Lineman, Tom Mack|
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Super Bowl Sunday...One Day Closer to the Start of Spring Training
I must be one of the odd ones but Super Bowl Sunday never has meant a lot to me. What I love about it the most is that it means that we are one more day closer to baseball season and the media frenzy over that game will finally stop.
As a sports fan, football has always been a part of my life, but never with the passion and overall enjoyment as the national pastime. Over the years, with the Rams and Raiders departure from Southern California, I lost interest. That really shouldn’t make sense because I left the region at about the same time. But it goes to show you that my mindset ties my team to my home town. Once the Rams were out of SoCal, so was my loyalty to them. When they went to the Super Bowl as the St. Louis Rams, I wanted to root for them, but I simply couldn’t.
Football has changed so much since I was a kid. I believe that the game really changed in 1977 when they outlawed allowing offensive lineman to partially use their hands. This forced teams to make their linemen bulk up. The finesse on the O-Line was gone. You needed size and enormous weight up there. With those great Rams teams in the 70s, players like Tom Mack were an institution. Mack was a constant pro-bowl offensive linemen at a little over 200 lbs. Nowadays, a player like Mack couldn’t crack into the lineup of a NCAA program at that weight.
Football, aside from being dominated with overweight linemen that they bulk up to astronomic weights is now made up of incredibly fast receivers and defensive backs, running backs that seem to be getting shorter and quicker and pampered quarterbacks that cannot be touched at all or a myriad of penalties will be assessed against the defender.
Stats are practically meaningless to me in football. What's an 1,000 rushing season these days? Did the player accomplish the feat in a 14 or 16 game schedule? How can a player like Bruce Smith be labeled as the all-time “sack” leader when the inventor of the “sack,” Deacon Jones, can provide documented evidence via game footage that he had more in his career. Give Deacon his sacks!
It’s a game with constant rules changes. Lets see, do they kick off from the 40? No, they determined that was too close, too many touchbacks. Take it back to the 35, nope, still too close. Move it back to the 30. The play clock, they put it at 30 seconds, but that wasn’t long enough...change it to 45 seconds. Two point conversions, disallowed then allowed. Overtime rules- ridiculous. Overtime rules in the playoffs-confusing and ridiculous. Replay rules-you can check this, but you can’t check that. Oh, and by the way, add another 10 minutes to the game as we decide whether we can check it or not. And then when they do check it, so often they fail to rule on what we obviously saw on the tape, which results in more controversy.
Then there are the “No fun” penalties. No excessive celebrations, no removing your helmet in celebration while on the field. A spike after a touchdown is alright, but no scripted dancing, jumping in the stands, (with exception of the Lambaugh leap, which was grandfathered into the rules), etc., etc.
Football has its rabid fan base that turn the events known as games into drunken parking lot festivals. My experience attending a Monday Night 49ers-Eagles game several years ago was not a positive one. It was the one time in my life that I actually felt that I was not safe at a sporting event. The place was full of drunk, profane, angry fans. And that was before the 49ers lost. After that, it became a place full of REALLY drunk, REALLY profane and REALLY angry fans. It was not an enjoyable evening and while leaving following the end of the game, walking through the sea of empty beer bottles in the parking lot, I told myself that I would never attend an NFL game in my life again.
Then you have the ego-maniac players that have been pampered, coddled and treated as celebrities all their lives. This probably is no fault of their own, but more that of a sports loving society. Players that emerge as extremely talented at a young age, have been getting special treatment since they were children. Getting a pass on rules, grades, often receiving gifts, preferential treatment, something that they come to accept throughout their lives.
NFL teams these days have actually hired retired cops and lured away law enforcement officials in the prime of their careers with big dollars in order to babysit these primadonnas that have a history of criminal activity. The NFL will never claim that these “security” guys are glorified babysitters. They will say that they are a necessary security requirement, that each team to needs to protect their players. I don’t want to stereotype these athletes into one pool of criminal thugs but the statistics are out there. A book was even written on the subject, Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL, by Jeff Benedeict and Don Yaeger, who determined that in 1998, a full 21% of NFL players have been charged with a serious crime. We are talking rape and sexual assault, murder, hard drug possession, drug possession with intent to sell, assault, disorderly conduct, battery, trespassing, stalking, and more. Yes, the book was written in ’98, but few changes have taken place since then. Off the top of my head I can think of serious legal incidents involving Ray Lewis, Plaxico Burress, Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, Braylon Edwards, Pacman Jomes. Those are the stars, there are many more incidents with NFL players and the law over the years.
So anyway, that’s my assessment on the NFL. I’m not much of a fan. Perhaps my view is too harsh. Certainly the other sports have their share of problems and bad apples, but I doubt that it has reached the levels of the NFL. My comments are by no means scientific and backed by empirical evidence. Just the way I see things from a distance.
So enjoy the game folks. After the Patriots and Giants sort things out on the field, Spring training will be just around the corner.