I’ve been a die-hard Washington Redskins fan since George Allen’s first season as head coach in 1971. Through the next 41 seasons and five Super Bowl appearances, I can count the number of games I’ve missed on two hands. For me, Skins football was do not interrupt time, don’t schedule an alternate activity time, and absolutely leave me alone with my TV time. But no more. This season, I’ve played golf, visited historic Harpers Ferry, and worked at the ACC men’s soccer tournament during Redskins games. Yes, missed three out of ten already and to be honest, I haven’t “missed” them at all.
I don’t know if you are noticing but the entertainment quality of NFL football has been on the decline for years and is now heading downhill like a runaway freight train. Yes, they still routinely fill stadiums, but a groundswell of discontent is building and it’s starting to drive lifelong fans away. Some of the problems are the NFL’s fault, and some are not. Let’s dive in.
The game is turning soft. NFL play used to be a rugged game played by tough guys but no longer. Quarterbacks are overprotected because their star power is directly tied to TV revenue. Receivers are all of a sudden “defenseless,” kickoff returns are too dangerous, you can’t form a wedge to block on a kick, and a ball carrier can’t lower his helmet to protect himself. The league thinks if we lose a marque player to injury the fans will lose interest. Sorry, NFL, I’m losing interest now because you are no longer playing tackle football. Why not slap a yellow penny on the quarterback, make it two-hand touch, and dispense with all the pseudo roughing the passer calls.
Under the threat of litigation from former injured players, I get that the concussion issue is becoming a real problem for the league, but current players are NOW aware of the risks. They are highly compensated for the risks. I don’t begrudge any football player any amount of money he can get for taking these risks. If the sport is too risky don’t ruin the sport by over-legislating safety, just encourage those that are too risk averse not to play.
The game is too long. The problem is instant replay and the attempt to try and make the game too perfect. Every scoring play is now reviewed. Every turnover is now reviewed. The coaches challenges are now reviewed. Pretty soon they’ll be reviewing penalties and judgment calls. Each review takes 10 minutes. Breaking news: IT’S JUST A GAME. So what if you blow a call. The sun will come up tomorrow.
Political correctness is running amok. Yes, this one hits home for my Redskins. True fans of the NFL and vast majorities of folks with good common sense know there is nothing wrong with the team name and cringe at the thought of another tradition being needlessly yanked away. Does this technically detract from the game? No, but it sours the attitude. Why do these media talking heads need another meaningless cause du jour, and don’t they have anything more constructive to worry about? How about the real struggles of today’s Native Americans, with poverty, drug abuse, and rampant alcoholism? In the big picture, who really cares about the name of a football team? I can’t wait for the media blitz covering the 15-person protest in the parking lot at the great Native American Bowl on December 8 between the Redskins and Chiefs.
The good news is that college football is still a great quality product. I’m watching more SEC on Saturday and less NFL which is a great way to get my fix and save time on Sundays. What do you think of the state of the NFL?