On Superbowl Sunday (XX) in January of 1986, the Chicago Bears won their last NFL championship, soundly defeating the Patriots in New Orleans. My friends and I were watching the game on a magical snowy day in the Chicago suburbs. Or maybe it wasn't snowing at all. You see, my memory is a little fuzzy: I previously had suffered a mild concussion playing "touch" football, when the back of my head landed solidly on the frozen ground during Thanksgiving Break from college.
According to National Public Radio's On the Media (OTM), "In the past two years, seven former NFL players [most recently Jovan Belcher] have killed themselves, and in each case, many argued that depression and dementia brought on by job-related concussions were to blame." Given that self- and media-based diagnoses of mental conditions are a flawed enterprise, I still think it's significant that the NFL has embarked upon a PR campaign to demonstrate what the organization is doing "to make the game safer", as seen in this staged exchange between Tom Brady and the mother of Ray Lewis.
Ok, I get it: it's supposed to be a humorous, light-hearted response to a serious issue even though I don't have a clue who these players are. Why? To be perfectly honest, that 1986 Bears Superbowl was the last football game I ever watched purposefully. Although I played football (informally) growing up, attended Illinois games with my dormmates, I've never really seen the attraction, apart from the social aspects of the stadium culture or the camaraderie of watching with friends.
I know I am an American anomaly: most Sunday afternoons I actually spend at the grocery store, and I am always wondering where the heck everybody else is. So this post is directed at you NFL fans: tell me why this violent game shouldn't be banned or significantly modified. Is is the money? Is it too sacred for Americans to consider changing?
P.S. Here is the OTM interview just in case you wanted to listen. I could go on about this, too, but purposely held back (hint, hint)...