Although we would all agree that the vast, vast major of NFL players are decent people, I’m finding it harder and harder to get excited for professional football these days.
The NFL is over-exposed. There’s no off-season anymore. There’s always a new story and I find that to be draining. I want to take time away from the game, follow some other sports and actually miss the NFL. That’s almost impossible with ESPN and the other networks’ 24/7 coverage of any little, bitty, tiny story. Player misconduct is a worthy news item no matter when it happens but other than that, the NFL needs a real off-season.
These days, I honestly find the NFL product to be a bit boring. It’s roughly the same types of offenses and defenses, with little variation. Whereas there was once a slight variety of offenses – smash mouth, west coast, run & shoot, long-ball – nowadays, everyone seems to be running roughly a variation of the west coast with some spread principles. The real innovation in offenses continues to be on the college side. I have no problem turning on a random college football game but I often fall asleep watching any NFL game.
Coupled with the tone-deaf response to player misconduct (to put it lightly), it’s just not as fun as it used to be. Humans are a Fallen species and so no sports league, no institution is ever perfect. But all this shit, it wears on a fan. I can’t block it out anymore. Not sure if I should either.
So why continue to follow the NFL, even just a little? Part of it is residual tribalism. Indeed, professional football in Pittsburgh is a huge part of the local culture, as it is in many other areas of the country. I’m still a fan of the Steelers, an organization with warts of its own. And I love sports. I thoroughly reject the notion that there must be more important things for me to do with my leisure time. It’s leisure time for a reason, inn’it. I enjoy the camaraderie of belonging to a fan base, gathering with friends to watch or go to the game, the highs and lows of following a team.
Look, I’m not trying to get all moralistic here. For those who are still excited about the professional game, who can keep to the perspective that most of the players are good men and not criminals and miscreants, who hanker for expanded draft coverage and worship Mel Kiper’s flowing locks, so be it. Enjoy the season. But I’m worn out and so I’ll be watching more soccer and college football. That’s right, I’m substituting the NFL for more NCAA & FIFA. Nothing can go wrong there. But at least for now, I still find college football and soccer to be… fun.