The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER asks LVO Nation: “Has the NFL become another Y2K?” — Brad Eastland Commentating

August 28, 2011
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      Something’s not right.

     I can’t really put my finger on it, but something’s just not right….

     ….With the NFL.   The National Football League.   Our national religion.   It just doesn’t feel right, as we approach the beginning of the 2011 regular season.  I don’t know if it has something to do with both the league itself and the nation which worships it being punished for the recent NFL labor dispute, I don’t know.   It did feel a tad unseemly for players and owners to be carving up hundreds of millions of dollars and whining about it, while our economy was in shambles, didn’t it?.   I hope we the devout fans of football are not being punished by some vexed, invisible deity.   I think the nation was already punished; for slavery, with the Civil War.   Just as Europe was punished for the Munich Pact and Neville Chamberlain with World War Two.   Just as the Red Sox were punished with 86 title-less years for selling Babe Ruth.   Maybe it’s something like that.   I don’t know.   I’m working on it.

Could supporting the weight of his huge, oblong head be the cause of Manning’s neck injury???

Could supporting the weight of his huge, oblong head be the cause of Manning’s neck injury???

     But no doubt about it, there is definitely some uneasiness in the air.   As the season approaches it just doesn’t feel as much like an old Billy Graham religious rally as it usually does.   Ennui has trumped enthusiasm.   Trepidation has quashed joy.   Remember back in 1999, when we were all out of our minds about the Y2K scare?   We weren’t getting ready to celebrate a magnificent once-in-a-lifetime event.   We were shaking with fear, having been told that when the clock strikes twelve on the 31st of December, and we get ourselves a new year that begins with a 2 instead of a 1 for the first time in a thousand years, that all our computers, clocks, electronics, biorhythms and I don’t remember what else was going to go to hell in what my late mother termed a “handbasket” (I still don’t know exactly what a handbasket is, but the thought of going to hell in one still scares me.).   Anyway, Y2K should have been a celebration but we were all too freaked out, worrying over the impending chaos.   It didn’t happen, of course, thank the gods, but we were sure worried.   Same with the NFL this year.   Where’s the joy?   I’m not feelin’ it. 

     Let’s take a peek at some recent developments:

     Peyton Manning is hurt.   I don’t care if you like him or not, he’s hurt and he never gets hurt.   Neck surgery.   Hush hush from the Colts’ camp.   Rumors he might not even start (gasp!) the opening game.   He hasn’t missed a game in 12 years.   He’s as durable as dandruff.   My faith in the planets themselves has been shaken.   What’s next to break down, gravity?   What kind of a national religion is this?

     To make us feel worse, the Colts hired veteran back-up quarterback Kerry Collins the other day to hold Manning’s coat, just in case.   Just in case Manning can’t play (gasp!) and that therefore the Colts actually need a new quarterback (sniffle).   Collins always was a very good QB.   Good passer, fine player.   But he just retired!   He’d already lost that lovin’ feelin’!   He was through!   He was at home, sitting on his couch, watching old “Gilligan’s Island” reruns!   Self-burnt toast!   Would you want him quarterbacking your team?   What’s worse, they paid him $4 million dollars!   For one season!   And $2.5 million of that was already paid to Collins a couple days ago as a “signing bonus”; meaning Manning could get healthy and they could cut Collins tomorrow and he would have just made more money in one week, coming out of “retirement”, as nothing more than an insurance policy, than Sammy Baugh & Johnny Unitas made in their entire careers combined!   And here’s the thing: Some of you out there have lost your homes.   Lost your jobs.   Are flat broke.   Or have cashed in your 401Ks early, paid the stiff penalties the law requires you to pay to cash out early, and you’ve almost burned through that money.   The economy is in shambles.   But Kerry Collins, god bless him, just got $4 million dollars for, well, I don’t know.   For existing.   Something’s not right.

     Something is also wrong with the New England Patriots.   Fresh off the Randy Moss debacle, they just hired Randy Moss Lite, namely Chad 85.   I will not spell out his pretentious last name in print, but I will translate for you; it means 85.   Why would the Pats and peerless head coach Bill Belichick risk having the self-absorbed Mr. 85 fracturing the clubhouse in the wake of the Moss meltdown of last year?   You suppose Pats quarterback Tom Brady complains about it to his gorgeous supermodel wife, while lying naked in their marital bed late at night with nothing else to talk about save Peyton Manning’s neck?   Something’s not right.

     We in L.A. still seem to be no closer to getting an NFL team.   One of the two most important cities in the country, and no NFL team.   By way of comparison, back in the 1950s New York City had not one not two but THREE baseball teams.     I blame the O.J. jury.   O.J.’s acquittal was in 1995, the Rams left L.A. in 1995.   The NFL hasn’t been back since.   Can’t be a coincidence.

     But maybe the strangest development in the Heavenly world of the NFL (and certainly the dumbest) has to do with the new kick-off rule.   Are you aware of it?   Up until this year they kicked off after touchdowns and field goals from the 30-yard-line.   In fact it used to be the 40-yard-line, but over the years it was gradually moved to the 35 and then finally back to the 30, to ensure that football’s powerful-legged kicker-offers would not kick the ball deep into the end zone or even out of the end zone for a touchback, thereby ensuring that football’s most exciting play, the kick return, would occur.   Good sound thinking.

     But now, due to concern over “catastrophic injuries”, they have moved the kick-off line back to the 35, to ensure the very thing they were trying to eliminate in the old days….the dreaded touchback!   All in the name of “eliminating catastrophic injuries”.   In other words, in order to eliminate injuries the NFL rules committee is now eliminating football plays from football.   Have you ever heard of anything dumber?   It would be like in boxing, if they suddenly decided it was against the rules to hit somebody….


     You know what?   If they’re gonna kick off from the 35, and therefore about 87% of the kickoffs will be touchbacks, might as well eliminate the kick-off from the game altogether.   Why pretend it still exists?   At least that would eliminate the mandatory TV commercials on either side of every kick-off, which is one of the 10 most annoying things in Sports.   Make that in Life.

     Anyway, something’s not right.



PS.     *One more thing: Fans of the Chicago Bears (like me) have more reason to be upset with the new kick-off scrimmage line than anyone.   Because we have the best kick returners!   We have Earl Bennett (he’s good), we have Johnny Knox (he’s very good), and we have the brilliant Devin Hester (he’s put “good” so far back in his rearview mirror that he has become—along with another brilliant old Bear, Gale Sayers—one of the two finest kick returners in NFL history).   One could argue that this new “rule” is part of an elaborate conspiracy targeted directly against the Bears.   It’s worse than the single-bullet theory.   Yep, ‘sure feels like a conspiracy….

….In fact, until someone from Roger Goodell’s office calls me personally to convince me otherwise, that is exactly how I am going to look at it.

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0022

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered fictioneer, and tireless soldier in the war against stupidity in all its forms.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels* and over 20 short-stories.   

*To pick up a copy of his recently published novel of life at the racetrack, “WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology”, simply search for it on,, or…it’s easy!  (people seem to like it…)




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