The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER says: “In football, as in life, our very sanity is tested pretty much week-to-week…”

October 18, 2011
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     Last week was a pretty tough week for the Sports Philosopher’s extended family.

     First my girlfriend, Roxanne, is slammed into by a hit-and-run driver, her car spins wildly out of control across four lanes of traffic, and slams into the guardrail which saves her life by keeping her car from plunging off the freeway and into the chasm below.   She’s not seriously hurt, but does break a rib, and does get bruised up a bit.   Bruised both physically and psychologically.



     Speaking of getting bruised psychologically, Rox is a Ravens fan.   Perhaps the only one west of the Mississippi.   More on that in a minute.


A family of Chicago Bears fans….that’s “Papa Bear” Jeff Eastland on the right.


     Not to be out-done, my brother Jeff promptly gets into a car accident in Virginia, where he lives the life of an eccentric money-grubbing collectables dealer.   The accident costs him a couple thousand fish, which means that’s plenty of interesting old regional postcards and fascinating ancient sports trinkets he won’t be able to buy cheap and shrewdly turn over on eBay for a tidy profit.   This vexes Jeff.   He did, however, admit to me that the crash was probably his fault.   I figure he was probably daydreaming about the Chicago Bears, which he has been doing pretty much every day for about half a century.  

     More on the Bears in a minute.

     Meanwhile my son’s locker was broken into at school.   Twice.   In consecutive days.   The first theft cost Rob his iPod, his cell phone, his headphones, his sunglasses, his padlock, his wallet, his cash, and his innocence, in no particular order of importance.   The second time, all he lost was the replacement padlock I loaned him.   Apparently the parentless soulless hooligans that prowl the halls of his high school employ their shoes—of all things—as bludgeons to blast the padlocks off the lockers.   Pretty clever, in a way.   Like his dad and his Uncle Jeff, Rob is a Bears fan.

     All of the above occurred within a span of 48 hours.  

     Not to mention that I myself (is “I myself” even grammatically correct?) was in a particularly irritating car crash of my own only a couple weeks ago.

     Do the gods suddenly hate me and mine?

     Well, the answer to that one is grist for another column.  Or a novel.   Or therapy.

     But this isn’t about me.   It’s about the plight of three desperate, unlucky people; Roxanne, Jeff, and Rob.   Girlfriend, brother, and issue.   I drove up to Valencia to visit Roxanne last weekend, inspect the crash site, and minister to her various needs.   And since she was injured and was in pain and was depressed, the main need she needed fulfilled by me involved the thing she always wants me to do with her when she needs something especially stimulating to take her mind off of her pain and her troubles.   I think you can guess what she wanted me to do….

     Watch some football with her, of course.

     Which I did.   She loves football, and is beyond-ridiculous ravenous for the Ravens.   Unfortunately for her, her Ravens are rarely on TV.   As I said, she’s pretty much the only Ravens fan west of St. Louis.   Fearing poor ratings, the canny network execs in charge of obscene corporate profits almost never televise the evil black birds.   I’ll prove it: do YOU, dear reader, personally know any Baltimore Ravens fans?   And if the Ravens were on TV, would you watch?   I rest my case.

     So what we did was turn down the volume on whatever game was on TV and pull the Ravens’ radio broadcast up on her computer.   Let me clarify this.   I listened to an entire Baltimore Ravens game on their local radio station via a lap-top, all the while concurrently listening to my woman moan.   You know; from a combination of rib-cage pain and every time the Ravens made a bad play.   She moaned, but I didn’t complain once.   Does that make me a good boyfriend or what?

     Despite all the pessimistic feminine moaning the Ravens, one of football’s best teams, won easily.   Roxanne is feeling no pain at present.   And that’s my point.

     Meanwhile, brother Jeff’s pain is relentless, ongoing, and never-ending.   It’s the Bears.   He agonizes over the Bears like a mother agonizing over the misadventures of her brain-injured child.   He moans about how the Bears never learn from their mistakes, the way historians moan about how Mankind never learns from its mistakes.   And this year it’s worse than usual, because the perennially-confused Bears were 2-and-3 going into last weekend, and have played poorly this season in virtually every phase of the game.   This vexes Jeff.

     Throw in the fact that Jeff was still quite miffed regarding his relatively minor traffic accident (minor compared to Roxanne’s, at least), and the result was that my big bro approached Sunday night’s Bears game against the hated Minnesota Vikings with a sort of “last straw” mentality.   In other words, if the hapless 1-and-4 Vikings were to somehow rise up and beat his beloved Bears, there was a chance it just might finally nudge him over the edge.  

     Nudge him over what edge, you ask?   Thee edge!   I’m talking potential bi-polar meltdown time here, people.   I’m talking running naked and screaming into the night and wailing like a banshee.   That sort of thing.   We all have our breaking point.

     Fortunately for brother Jeff, the Bears played by far their best game of the year.   They ran the ball like an advancing Roman legion, the passed and caught the ball like a troupe of circus acrobats, and they rushed the enemy quarterback with all the zeal, ferocity, and primal athleticism of real bears.   Final score: Bears 39, Vikings 10.   It was a slaughter.   Life is good.   (I talked on the phone with Jeff during a portion of the game.   As the Bears’ lead grew, Hope returned to his deep gravelly voice.   I could tell that he had decided that life was worth living again….at least until the next game, that is.)

     Rob was almost as pleased as Jeff, of course, but curious adolescent that he is he was forced to ask me the obligatory question: “Dad, why can’t the Bears just play like that EVERY week?” he texted me with his brand-new phone (Yes, we had the instant-replacement theft insurance!).    I text-replied, “because they’re stupid”.   The Sports Philosopher always tells the truth, especially to his own son….  

     So only a couple days removed from the brink of collective insanity, the Sports Philosopher’s extended family is suddenly sleeping a little sounder this week.   Roxanne’s ribs don’t hurt quite so much, Jeff’s wallet doesn’t feel quite so empty, and Rob no longer looks upon his own suddenly-unsafe school as The Blackboard Jungle.   All courtesy of the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens.   A double dose of over-the-counter Prozac, all hand-delivered free of charge by the National Football League.

     What joys does the NFL have in store for next week?   What pigskin magic is in the offing?   What sad souls will be healed by their favorite teams storming to victory?    

     Who knows?   Maybe your own desperate life will be improved; if only for a little while….

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0022

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered literary giant, and a firm believer in the healing and recuperative powers of pro football.   Brad’s other recent columns for La Verne Online can be found in the Sports section 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, of triumph, and of despair, WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology, simply search for it on,, or   it’s easy!    And he appreciates it….






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