“Football is a microcosm of America.” LaDainian Tomlinson said so, and he’s right.
This ultra-American game is violent by design. One team acquires the territory of another. Like the land on which the game is played, football’s territory is highly contested, and this constant striving and insecurity is a mirror into the American soul. So no, it’s not just a game. Pride and identity are all tightly wrapped up in this. It’s all about one’s city, state, or school against the other.
Kicking Into the Wind
As the NFL kicked off its 101st season in Kansas City last Thursday, the league debuted a short film honoring the unprecedented offseason, recognizing the historic social justice movement and community engagement of players and clubs in addition to recognizing the invaluable efforts of frontline workers across the country in the fight against COVID-19.
It’s hard to believe this is the same NFL that ruined a man’s career for taking a knee. Now Colin Kaepernick is featured in this testament to racial injustice. He’s not impressed.
“While the NFL runs propaganda about how they care about Black Life, they are still actively blackballing Eric Reid for fighting for the Black community,” Kaepernick wrote on Twitter.
“My agents have been in communications with teams daily, but there have been no developments,” said Reid when Deadspin reached out to him to gauge the level of contact he’s had with NFL teams.
It’s Money Time, Big Time
NBC said it sold out of ad space for the season-opening game on Thursday night, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, with revenue up substantially from last year and an average 30-second commercial costing nearly $900,000.
The NFL also introduced a new 90-second spot, “It Takes All of Us” featuring NFL Legend LaDainian Tomlinson’s emotional 2017 Hall of Fame induction speech.
The spot is set to Grammy award-winning artist Alicia Keys’ new song “Love Looks Better.”
“We are honored to leverage LaDainian Tomlinson’s powerful message,” said NFL EVP and chief marking officer, Tim Ellis. “His words provide a message of unity and hope that will carry the league through an extraordinary 2020 season.”
Just Two Live NFL Audiences (So Far)
Kansas City, MO, and Jacksonville, FL were the only two cities that allowed NFL fans into the stadium. All the other games were played in front of TV audiences only during Week 1.
Here’s more information on where all 32 teams stand on fans attending the games.
Culture Wars an Added Dimension In Already Tense Rivalries
Football (at all levels) is a flashpoint in the culture today. Few topics send liberals into a rage faster or more effectively. Now that the discussion has moved from player safety to public safety, libs are pontificating all over themselves. Someone please, get them a bib.
Jonathan Holloway, the President of Rutgers University, for one, is “gobsmacked” by the blowback the Big 10 has received for its decision to postpone its football season. Rutgers is new to the Big 10, but that’s no excuse for Holloway’s lack of comprehension (or compassion for the other side) on this issue.
Is it so hard to understand how players and coaches and fans at Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska would be outraged at the cancellation of the football season? The cautious and paternalistic approach that was taken by the Big 10, Pac 12, Mountain West, and others might be legally wise, and smart from a public safety POV, but it’s a disaster from every other angle.
Let’s zoom in on one region to help provide greater degrees of understanding. Iowa State in Ames played football with lives fans in attendance on Saturday. The Cyclones lost the game, but they’re winning the battle. Meanwhile, Iowa and Nebraska—the two big schools on Iowa State’s flanks—are not playing football or any sports.
Word has it the Big 10 is reconsidering and that football could begin on October 17. The league needs a reason, of course, and they’re using advancements in testing as their go-to. Admitting it was a mistake to cancel the season…that’s too much to ask.
But Will The Dude Abide?
While liberals are strident, conservatives are flippant and willfully dense. Both are losers in the American equation today. For instance, if you were to enter the stadium with a mask on but then take it off and leave it off as if the pandemic is not real, you’re an asshole. You’re an asshole because you’re political gesturing puts others in jeopardy. More specifically, it puts the players and coaches and the season in jeopardy.
If Scott Frost, the head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, went on TV and asked every Nebraskan to abide by common-sense public safety measures, and made it ultra-clear that the team’s season depends on it, he would get widespread support which would be reinforced by every Huskers fan in the state.
In this case, it’s pretty black and white. Abide by the mask-wearing measures and social distancing measures, and Nebraska plays football. Fail to do so, and Nebraska does not play football.
Back in real life, the Republican Governor of the Cornhusker State is relaxing COVID-19 health measures in most counties. Starting this week, all counties in the state except for Lancaster County will move into phase four. During phase four, outdoor venues can operate at 100-percent capacity, indoor venues can open at 75-percent capacity, but large-scale events will still need approval from their local health department director.
In my dream sequence, Coach Frost intercepts this pass. He asks every Nebraskan to abide by the necessary measures because every Nebraskan, just like every American, and every earthling, is in this together.