Today is Super Bowl Sunday so I’ll begin this column with a confession. As a lifelong sports fan, I have a love-hate relationship with the National Football League (NFL) and the Super Bowl.
I love to watch NFL football but hate all of the hype and nonsense associated with the Super Bowl. After all, do we really need two weeks’ worth of hype and hoopla leading up to this afternoon’s Big Game between the Seattle Seahawks (my hometown team) and the New England Patriots?
And what about so-called “Deflate-gate?” I’ll emulate my learned friend and Appeal colleague John Barrette by quoting Willy Shakespeare: Deflate-gate is much ado about nothing, or a tempest in a teapot. Take your pick. I admire the Patriots’ organization — one of the most successful franchises in NFL history — and believe owner Bob Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady when they deny any knowledge of underinflated footballs. I think much of the Deflate-gate noise is being generated by wimps who want to turn the NFL into a touch football league.
And here’s where my love–hate relationship with the NFL comes into play. Although I love to watch professional football, I’m glad my twin 10-year-old grandsons, Duncan and Vincent, aren’t playing Mighty Mite football in Seattle. With all of the concussions and serious injuries that accompany tackle football, it’s better for the little guys to avoid football until they start high school. That’s when they and their parents can make intelligent decisions about the potential risks and rewards of tackle football.
I recently spoke to an intelligent 14-year-old whose father was an accomplished football player. When I asked him whether he was going to go out for football, he pointed to his head. He didn’t want to risk a life-changing concussion or other serious injury. Smart kid.
Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, who agrees with me and my 14-year-old friend, was recently quoted as saying, “If I had a 10-year-old boy I don’t know that I’d be real inclined to encourage him to play football, in light of what we’re learning about head injuries.”
But this is still a free country and kids have a right to make their own decisions after they turn 18. For many inner city kids football is a way out of the ghetto and for others it’s the road to fame and fortune. Astute players like John Elway, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Michael Strahan can parlay success on the football field into success in later life.
“One can almost sense a movement to ban football,” wrote Geoffrey Norman in the Weekly Standard. “It would start . . . with the children.” He quoted Chris Conte of the Chicago Bears as follows: “I’d rather have the experience of playing in the NFL and die 10 to 15 years earlier than not play in the NFL and have a longer life.” To which Norman added, “A comfortable, pain-free old age is little guarantee when the price is the kind of fame and money that comes with being a player in the NFL. And anyway, there are things that could cut you down in old age that have nothing to do with football.” Like the rest of us, NFL players must balance risks and rewards, and make their own decisions.
Which brings us back to today’s over-hyped Super Bowl game between the Seahawks and the Patriots. I could care less about clever commercials and a manic halftime extravaganza. I’ll tune in at 3:30 p.m. to watch the two best teams in the NFL square off against each other. My prediction: Seahawks 27, Patriots 24. Go Hawks!
Guy W. Farmer grew up in Seattle and loves the Seahawks.