Tag Archives: super bowl

Seven Days Until Pitchers and Catchers Report: Patriots Win Super Bowl

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

My friends there are only seven days until pitchers and catchers report and life really begins again, for this my friends is the true harbinger of spring. If you like me need to keep track a link is provided below, but I digress…

http://whendopitchersandcatchersreport.com/

But anyway, in a world of so much uncertainty and woe, baseball is what helps keep me sane, or at least some semblance of sane. As Sharon Olds said back in 1987 “Baseball is reassuring. It makes me feel as if the world is not going to blow up.” Since Donald Trump now has access to our nation’s nuclear weapons, this is a very important thing to me.

But truthfully I am thanking whatever deity may be out there baseball is coming back, even though it is just spring training. You see for me, that is comforting because baseball is more than a game to me. I agree with George Will, the vociferous conservative critic of President Trump, “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.”

By the way speaking of games I watched one last night, the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime at a magnificent and inspiring concert starring Lady Gaga.

Have a great night,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Bigger than Jesus? The Super Bowl at 50

  

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Judy and I watched the Super Bowl with friends last night at our version of Cheers, the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restuaurant. Now for Judy, she wasn’t doing much watching, as she is an artist and has no interest in football, she drew. For me the game is more of a social event. If pressed I would watch the game at home, but even so football for me is just a sport. Football, for all of its popularity is not the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, the church of baseball. 

Now speaking of church, if you look at the polls, the United States is one of the most religious nations outside of the Middle East in the world. But despite the fact that polls generally report that about 40% of Americans attend church weekly, actual church, or religious service attendance according to multiple studies is actually closer to 18% or about 52 million people a week, and that is all denominations. If the pols were right that 40% figure would be about 120 million people a week, but people lie to polls. 

According to pre-game estimates some 189.9 million Americans will watch the game. The total amount of money that will be spent on the game will exceed $15 billion. That number does not include the amount of money that will be spent on gambling, online betting, or Super Bowl pools. The National Retail Federation estimates that the average view or partygoer will spent about $82 on food, decor and team apparel. My friends, that is a lot of people and a lot of money, and if you measure faith by spending, that is a lot of faith. As Feregi Rule of Acquistion number 104 states “Faith moves mountains…of inventory.” 

But let this sink in for a moment and think about what this says about our culture. I mean really, the Super Bowl celebrates power, celebrity, money, and violence. Please do not get me wrong, I do think that football, like all team sports can teach good life lessons, the value of teamwork, hard work, and excellence. But that being said, there are many instances at every level those who promote the game teach the wrong lessons. In college many players are given a pass on academics in order to maintain their eligibility to play the game. The use of Performace Enhancing Drugs plagues the game, and drug testing regimes of the NCAA and NFL are woeful. Acts of violence committed off the field by players, and sometimes even coaches are commonplace, and many go unpunished or with a slap on the wrist. If everyday people committed these acts they would not be rewarded with massive contracts, and in some cases sponsorships that pay great amounts of money. Even so there are many players who are outstanding citizens who lead exemplary lives, and who give back to the community. One can never forget them even as we offer legitimate critiques of the football culture at many levels.

Then there is the physical cost to many of the players, those crippled so badly that they can only walk with great pain and difficulty, those that suffer from CTE and other brain injuries, including various forms of dementia. It seems that every moth that more and more of these stories are coming to light. The late Ken Stabler, the legendary quarterback of the Oakland Raiders was the latest big name player to be known to suffer for this. The lives of many NFL and even Super Bowl greats are littered with such tragedy, and until recently the NFL did little or nothing for the men whose on field performance and sacrifice made it what it is. One has to wonder how different we are from the ancient Romans who rebelled in watching gladiators slaughter one another, with little hope of survival. 

But all that being said, the Super Bowl and everything associated with it is great entertainment, even when the game is not that great.  The truth is that as for teams playing in the Super Bowl I had no dog in the fight, and I was not impressed with either team’s offense. Neither Peyton Manning or Cam Newton were impressive, Manning because he is not what he once was, and while the Bronco’s defense was outstanding, Carolina played a conservative game never took advantage of Cam Newton’s running ability. Thankfully the game was not a blowout, and it did hold my interest, but it was nowhere close to being one of the greatest games ever played.  Denver won, but despite that I was not impressed. I have seen a lot better played football and Super Bowl games. 

But then maybe that is a metaphor for where we are in our society. We spend our time and money to be entertained watching a game that profits the NFL, which since the 1960s has been tax exempt, and its Fortune 500 advertisers, much more than it does the players who sacrifice their bodies and minds on the gridiron, or the stadium employees who work for a pittance at every NFL venue do, even when the game fails to measure up to the hype.

By the way I wonder just how much money Payton Manning was paid to say that he was going to “drink a lot of Budweiser” after the game? I mean really, a rich guy like Peyton drinks a crappy mass produced beer? But then there is no accounting for taste, and it could be the effects of one too many concussions. But I digress…

But as Rule of Acuisition number 69 says, “Ferengi are not responsible for the stupidity of other races.”  I think that the NFL has figured that one out. Who knows, maybe unlike the Beatles, the Super Bowl might actually be bigger than Jesus. I doubt if you will hear Roger Goodell or anyone in the main office being quoted as saying that, as it might be bad for business, and that would be tragic. 

Anyway, until tomorrow. Have a great day.

Peace, 

Padre Steve+

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The Triumph of Ray Lewis: God’s Work and Glory or Typical Christian Spin?

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“To the family: If you knew, if you really knew the way God works, he don’t use people who commits anything like that for his glory. No way. It’s the total opposite.” Ray Lewis to CBS Sports before Super Bowl

After the Baltimore Ravens won the Super bowl in 2000 Ray Lewis, their Pro-Bowl Linebacker and MVP of Super Bowl XXXV and two of his friends were involved in a fight after a post-super bowl party. The fight turned out to be an ugly affair and when it was done two men lay dead, the blood of one in Lewis’s limo. The suit Lewis was wearing during the party was never found. Lewis ended up taking a plea bargain in which Lewis plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice in exchange for his testimony against his companions and the dropping of double homicide charges.

Since that time Lewis has distinguished himself on the football field, won many accolades and done much charity and community work. He has been active in church and worked for the benefit of many people. For all of those things he should be commended. He is beloved in Baltimore, not merely because he has brought football glory to the city but because of those acts of charity and community involvement.

At the same time his silence about the murders, in which he is one of three men living to know the truth about what happened on that night is troubling. Even more so when I saw his interview before the Super Bowl as well as other comments made back in 2006 to Sports Illustrated in The Gospel According to Ray http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1108943/1/index.htm as his image rehabilitation efforts had propelled him back into the favor of fans and the league.

Do I believe that people can change? Yes. Do I believe that God loves and forgives sinners? By all means. Do I value Ray Lewis as a football legend, man of great civic charity and even faith? Yes. Do I have questions that are unanswered about the unsolved murders and Lewis’s involvement in them? Yes.

In assessing Lewis and his legacy I agree with Boomer Esiason who at the end of the interview this Sunday commended to Sterling Sharpe, the man who conducted the interview: “It’s a complex legacy that we’re talking about here…Because he was involved in a double murder.  And I’m not so sure that he gave us all the answer that we were looking for.  He knows what went on there.  And he can obviously just come out and say it.  He doesn’t want to say it.  He paid off the families.  I get all that.  That’s fine.  But that doesn’t take away from who he is as a football player.  And I appreciate you going down there and asking him that direct question.  I’m not so sure I buy the answer.”

However, for me the questions are even deeper than Lewis’s individual guilt, innocence and involvement in the murders. That is a big issue of its own but I see a bigger issue and that deals with Christians who are willing to bury the murders because Lewis has found God, been successful on the field and done many wonderful things for his community and the disenfranchised in it.

The problem that I see is not new. It is a problem that has been the bane of American Evangelical Christianity for at least a generation. That problem is the “Prosperity Gospel” which puts a premium on earthly success as a measure of the blessing of God on an individual, business, church or organization. In fact, that message basically has been used and abused by a multitude of preachers who have committed crimes against God and man, adultery, murder, greed, avarice, lies. You name it a prosperity preacher has done it and found a way to excuse their sin based on God’s “blessing” of their ministry and earthly success.

The sad thing it is not just preachers, nor is it limited to the “prosperity” crowd. The banal covering up of crimes in order to protect legacies of preachers, churches or popular “Christian leaders” is epidemic in the life of American churches. The incidents are so many that they have become numbing. One only has to look across the denominational spectrum to see the terrible effects ranging from the Roman Catholic sexual abuse scandals to unseemly behaviors by church leaders in other denominations to see the rot that has been covered with a veneer of righteousness and deception which cloaks their misdeeds under the vail of temporal power, opulence, political influence and material success.

In his interview Lewis made the comment that “if you really knew the way God works, he don’t use people who commits anything like that for his glory.” Actually Lewis is wrong on this. According to scripture God used many unseemly men for his glory, but the key for those that are honored in scripture is that they acknowledged their sins and sought forgiveness.

I think that the most notable of these was King David, a man who killed the husband of a woman that he was conducting an adulterous affair to cover up her pregnancy. David tried to cover it up but was uncovered by the a prophet named Nathan. David repented and Psalm 51 documents that repentance. However endured an awful price from his sin. The baby died and his son led a rebellion against him. He was forbidden from building the Temple, despite scripture’s proclamation that David was “a man after God’s own heart.”

My issue with what has gone on with Ray Lewis is the fact that the records for his court settlements and pleas are sealed as are the records of his out of court cash settlement with the family of one of the dead men. The truth is known by Lewis and is being covered up by him even while he proclaims his own victimhood, in the 2006 Sports Illustrated article that being booed and criticized was like being “crucified.”

But that is par for the course in modern American Christianity. If Ray Lewis’s actions  were an anomaly it might be more remarkable, but they have become all too common, even the now disgraced former Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles Roger Mahoney is spinning his cover ups of the sexual abuse scandals and claiming victimhood for himself following his suspension from public ministry. No wonder people are fleeing the Church in droves and that the fastest growing segment of the religious belief are “the nones” or those with no religious preference.

The involvement in and cover up of what happened do not take away from Ray Lewis’s remarkable on field accomplishments. He is one of the most gifted and accomplished football players who ever played the game. However, when it is all said and done is that all life is about and is that all that Lewis or any of us want as our legacy?

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Thoughts on Super Bowl XLVII

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Well the NFL Season is now over and the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII by a score of 34-31. It was a very competitive game with many twists and surprises.

I have always been a 49ers fan, well before the days of Joe Montana. I have nothing against the Ravens and had they been playing almost anyone in the NFC I would have been cheering them on.

I like both of the Harbaugh brothers, John and Jim. I love their competitive spirit and the way that they have brought their teams to such a level of excellence. I like the way that both adjusted during the season, with John replacing his offensive coordinator and Jim replacing his starting quarterback. I think both were proved right.

On the purely football side of the equation I was disappointed in the result of the game. I felt, and still feel that the 49ers are the better team and will be a factor longer in the NFL than the current rendition of the Ravens.  That being said the Raven’s deserved to win, they made the plays that needed to be made, Joe Flacco was outstanding and the 49ers underperformed. Now I expect that within the next couple of years that the 49ers will win the Super Bowl and Jim Harbaugh, his team and their young quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be vindicated with a Super Bowl ring.

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But Sunday was a day for the Ravens. Joe Flacco was simply amazing and continued a remarkable playoff run without an interception while facing three of the best defenses in the NFL during the post season. He ran his offense well and they responded. He made the big plays when he needed to and The Raven’s defense also found ways to hold, sometimes with what I thought was help from the officials in their non-calls in critical situations. That aside, Flacco was amazing.

Likewise the 49ers had plenty of chances to win the game, despite the officiating and have only themselves to blame for the loss. They had several chances to score touchdowns, tow of which ended in field goals and one which died with under two minutes left in the game. The Ravens made better adjustments to the 49ers offense than the 49ers did to the Ravens.

Had any of another plays gone differently the 49ers might be a six time Super Bowl Champion today. But that did not happen and the Ravens are the Super Bowl Champions. Joe Flacco deserved the MVP award. The game was competitive and the final score was in the balance until the very end of the game. Since so many Super Bowls have ended up in blowouts this was a good thing. I may not have liked the final score but it was a good game.

However at the beginning of the third quarter it didn’t look like it. The Ravens took 21-6 lead into the half after the 49ers secondary blew coverage on a Flacco pass to Jacoby Jones and Jones made the 49ers secondary look bad. The Ravens then took 28-6 lead on a 108 yard kickoff runback by Jones to open the 3rd quarter. I looked at my friend John at Gordon Biersch and said, “the game is over.”

Then the lights went out and after a 34 minute delay it seemed that the 49ers were a different team. They dominated the second half and had a chance to win the game with 2 minutes left, but couldn’t pull it off despite having a first and goal and the Ravens won.

A few thoughts on the game, some personalities and the festivities.

NFL: Super Bowl XLVII-CBS Sports Press Conference

The CBS Broadcasting Team: Not good, wish that Fox Sports had the deal. Much better announcing and commentary. To me it felt like the CBS crew was the home team play by play group for the Ravens. They ignored blatant bad calls and gave the officials the benefit of the doubt even when it was obvious that calls were bad, even when Jim Harbaugh challenged a Ravens first down which was obviously short, and won. I was disappointed in the coverage and expected far better.

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers

Opening Ceremony: The Rendition of America the Beautiful by the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and Jennifer Hudson followed by the National Anthem by Alicia Keyes brought tears to my eyes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZt749TIW-4

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Halftime Show: Better than the typical Super Bowl halftime show but something that I would not tune in to watch as a stand alone event. Beyonce Knowles has very athletic and attractive thighs which were worth the look and did not to be lip synced to.

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The Lights Go Out: When the lights went out I wondered what was going on. I wondered about a terrorist attack for a moment but figured that it was probably the spirits of people that died in the Super Dome during Katrina trying to get attention. That makes more sense than the power going out 10 minutes after the halftime show.

Commercials:

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The most memorable one was the one that made my stomach churn. That was the Godaddy.com commercial called The Perfect Match http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-1oixpSShs.

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The Budweiser Clydesdales commercial called Brotherhood http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2prAccclXs was excellent as were the M&Ms Love Ballad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2prAccclXs 

Naya-Rivera

 

the Gildan Getaway http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMcMgPGpspY . 

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Doritos Goat 4 Sale http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4d8ZDSyFS2g

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and Wonderful Pistachios Crackin’ Style http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE6iiiDdTNY 

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Ray Lewis: I have tired of the show of Lewis hiding behind the Bible and God while two men lie dead following a murder in which he was involved. I admire him as one of the greatest Linebackers to ever play the game and on-field leaders. Since the NFL  elects players to the Hall of Fame purely on their on-field performance I am sure in a few years there will be a tearful induction ceremony for Lewis.  But between the murders, for which Lewis took a plea deal in exchange for testimony against his companions, who were acquitted as well as allegations of PEDs which have sunk the careers and reputations of Major League Baseball players are answered I cannot join in the tears of joy shed for Lewis at winning the Super Bowl in his last game. I am just glad that he won’t play again. Yes God loves, God forgives and God redeems, but there is the little thing called murder and God’s justice. To hear my Christian friends fawn on Lewis and excuse him from any responsibility in the murders that he was connected to while condemning women who have had an abortion is abhorrent.

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John and Jim Harbaugh: Possibly the best pair of NFL coaches ever. They both could end up winning multiple Super Bowls and both be in the Hall of Fame. Having them compete against each other and seeing the fire with which both teams played the game was an experience in energy, emotion and exceptional coaching talent that should make the NFL better for at least the next decade.

The Future of the NFL: As any reader of this site knows I am a no-holds barred Baseball fan for whom that sport is a religious experience. Football to me is just a game, even when my favorite team is playing. That being said, the NFL has managed to package its product better than any sport. Even with the latest controversies regarding PEDs and concussive head injuries and the crippling effects of them and other injuries on former players I believe, unlike some that the NFL is in no danger of going away anytime soon. Americans enjoy the NFL and comparisons of the NFL to the demise of Professional Boxing as one of America’s favorite sports are ill founded at best.

A Final Thought about the Game: I didn’t like John Harbaugh running the safety to run down the clock at the end of the game. The reason is that that kind of play is simply another means of running out the clock and ensuring that the opponent doesn’t get a last chance to win. Call me old fashioned but I find this particular facet of football quite unmanly. The late Earl Weaver put it well: “You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the damn plate and give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all.”

Just saying.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Super Bowl XLVI: Commercials, Madonna and a Football Game

Well the Super Bowl is over, my predictions were right and amid the commercials and halftime show a football game was played.

I didn’t have a dog in the fight this year so I was able to watch the game and do running commentary on it, the commercials and the half-time show starring Madonna on Twitter. I tweeted more tonight than any single night that I have been on Twitter and it was really fun.  Seeing what other people were saying about the game, commercials and Madonna actually made watching the game a lot more enjoyable than I normally find it.

There were a number of commercials that I liked for various reasons and some that I thought could have been better.  My favorite was the Apocalypse commercial for the Chevy Silverado.  How could you go wrong with Manilow’s Look’s like we Made It playing amid scenes of destruction and Twinkies?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxFYYP8040A

Likewise I found that the Bud Light commercial involving the rescue dog Weego was really well done. My little dog Molly is a rescue and the commercial was cute.  I love my rescue dog.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoplehNzYoI Budweiser had a great commercial on the end of prohibition but if I had to choose a beer to celebrate the end of that sad period I would do a craft beer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGgosT-v5sw

Honda had a commercial for its Acura NSX starring Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, a space alien and Jay Leno that showed that Seinfeld has not lost his touch.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUFSHzT2xuY It was too bad that he didn’t have a hand in the Jockey underwear commercial featuring David Beckham. That would have been so much better if they had used George Costanza doing the photo shoot with Kramer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NL5wSs-9kI

Honda had a great commercial with Matthew Broderick reprising his Ferris Buehler persona for the Honda CRV.  I love Ferris Buehler and have had a Honda CRV since 2001 so for me it was two memories. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhkDdayA4iA

A different automaker had an ad which was far too funny and that I didn’t expect. It was the ad for the Fiat 500 Abarth. The commercial was really quite well done as only Italians could do mixing sexuality, Cappuccino and cars. This is not how I viewed Fiat for most of my life. When I was in Germany in the 1980s it was not uncommon to see Fiat 500‘s littering the roadside broken down.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7q1Ry0udQY

From an inspirational point of view the best commercial of the evening was Chrysler’s Halftime in America with Clint Eastwood doing the voice over.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8VpW8P8_kU

The halftime show by Madonna was better than I expected. It was kind of a retro 1980s Techno show, the only thing missing was Hans and Franz to pump you up. Madonna did the lip-sync thing well and didn’t do anything scandalous although guest singer MIA evidently have the middle finger salute during one of her solos. I didn’t see it because I was too busy tweeting pithy comments about the show to notice.

As for the game itself. It was about what I expected. It was close, the teams were competitive and it wasn’t a blow out. I really didn’t care who won so that took the pressure off. I saw the game as close enough that either team could have won and New England blew a chance to practically seal a win with about 4 minutes left in the game when Wes Welker dropped a pass that he would normally catch inside the red zone.

Eli Manning as he has shown all of this year showed that he could win when winning mattered. He, the Giants and their coach Tom Coughlin seem to have the Patriots number in big games.  The Patriots season ended with a Super Bowl loss. Tom Brady could not bring the team back in the final minute after the Patriots appeared to let the Giants score a touchdown in order to get the ball back with time on the clock. The move was a bit of twisted genius by Patriots coach Bill Belichick and if the “hail Mary” pass tossed by Brady in the final seconds had been caught by Rob Gronkowski the Patriots might have come out with a remarkable and miraculous win.

So football season is over and we can now get serious. Baseball season is just ahead and not a minute too soon.  Within minutes of the end of the game I flipped the channel to the MLB Channel.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Padre Steve’s Super Bowl Predictions

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”  Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra

Yes we are inexorably approaching another Super Bowl Sunday and it will be a a back to the future day with the New England Patriots playing the New York Football Giants.  This year it is Super Bowl XLVI and it is a rematch of Super Bowl of Super Bowl XLII and a rematch of Eli Manning and Tom Brady.  The last time that the teams met the Patriots were undefeated and lost to the underdog Giants. I like the use of the Roman numerals in the Super Bowl. It is manly, just like the movie Gladiator. There is something about the use of the Roman numerals that just make the game seem so much more important.

George Santayana said “those that do not read about the past are doomed to repeat it” and likewise based on my knowledge of the past I can pretty accurately predict three things.

I am going to go on the line here and boldly predict that the halftime show headlined by Madonna will suck. Most halftime are forgettable unless someone shows a bodily part that they are not supposed to and Madonna has said that her clothes will stay on so it will just be us watching another aging star lip sync her music while a hoard of excruciatingly skinny gyrating dancers in weird clothes mimic sex with her.

I also predict that the commercials will be cool and even if the game is bad, which it shouldn’t be the commercials will be a major highlight. I like to wait to the day of the Super Bowl to actually watch the commercials being that Super Bowl Sunday is almost a religious holiday. However like a kid finding his Christmas presents before Christmas I happened to watch Matthew Broderick do his updated Ferris Buehler for the Honda CR-V on the internet.  Even though I have seen it I am still excited about seeing it on the big screen.

As far as the game I can accurately predict that one of the two teams will win and to me it doesn’t really matter because it isn’t baseball. I don’t have a dog in the fight even though I am sure that if she had the chance that my little Papillon-Dachshund mix Molly would get in a fight if she could but I won’t let her.

Speaking of Molly she stole what was left of a bag of tortilla chips that I had left over from my take out order from El Zarape  last night. Molly has nervier done this before but tonight she got bold and right in front of me sticker her head in the bag and dragged it off. I laughed so hard that I didn’t take it from her until I took pictures with my I-Phone.

Anyway with all that said, have a nice night, day or whatever it is when you read this and may your team win because my team isn’t playing. Like I said, it isn’t baseball but I will watch it.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Myth of Excitement in the NFL: It’s Really about Violence and Meetings not Action

“Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.” George Will 

I am always amazed when I hear football diehards knocking baseball for supposedly being “boring” or “slow.”  Allegedly according to the football enthusiasts that knock baseball football is fast paced and exciting.  Well for an average of 11 minutes in a typical three hour plus game it is, unless there are two teams that can’t move the football or score.  11 minutes, which is the average time, spent actually playing the game.  11 minutes out of almost three hours of a typical telecast.

So what happens to the rest of that three plus hours?

Can you believe that 17 minutes are spent on replays? Well unless you are watching ESPN where replays sometimes take up to 24 minutes of air time.  Of course commercials take up an hour or more and about 67 minutes is spent on shots of players milling about or hanging around the sidelines.

A typical play takes about four seconds to run and unless you are watching a top team with an outstanding offense going up against an outstanding defense many of those plays will frankly be pretty boring.  Since teams get 40 seconds to run a play and have 3 two minute timeouts a half the percentage of time the ball is in play is minuscule.

In football you can leave the room that you are watching the game and have a quickie with your significant other during the commercial breaks or during one of the two per half challenges that coaches can request.  Of course those can take an ungodly length of time to resolve which results more shots of players sucking oxygen on the sidelines or drinking Gatorade while talking about what they plan on doing after the game or what they plan on “tweeting” after the game.

NFL Football games on average are 17 minutes longer than Major League Baseball games, 3 hours and 7 minutes versus 2 hours 50 minutes for a baseball game, unless the Yankees and Red Sox are playing.  During a baseball game the ball is almost nearly always in play.

Of course there are games where there is real tension where the game goes down to the wire.  Despite the other delays the 11 minutes of action in those games can be amazing.   But for each of those games there are many more that are blowouts where a team plays so badly that only the most diehard fans of that team actually watch the second half.  Then there are the last five minutes of most games where the team that has the lead runs the clock out on the opposing team.  But in baseball it is much more common for a team to come back when things look hopeless because the other team still has to play without the comfort of being able to run out the clock.  Earl Weaver said it the best:

“You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the damn plate and give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all.”

Now the NFL has been the king of sports marketing in the United States. While baseball may be America’s pastime, football has become its passion.  We have become a football nation.  This is in large part due to the way that the NFL has marketed itself.  First there is the NFL Films which has actually turned out more drama than the vast majority of NFL games.  Then there are the Fantasy Football Leagues which have become almost like a drug in their addictiveness by making people have more than a passing interest in the game.  Fantasy leagues get people personally invested in the game in ways that they never had been in previous years.  Then there are the ways that the NFL has packaged for television.  Why go to the game when you can get a better view at home? Football has also become closely matched with the entertainment industry with major musical acts and stars to open games and high tech shows that promote the game.   It really is quite amazing and to that end you have to hand it to the NFL they are the best at packaging and marketing their product.

So the real difference that I see between football and baseball is how football has managed to create a fiction that it is a game of action and excitement when in fact it is a ponderous game punctuated with a few exciting plays as well as some gratuitous violence.

But then maybe that’s what we like, the violence, to be transfixed as we watch a player have his femur bent in half, or laying on the field unable to move because he has suffered a head, neck or even spinal cord injury.  Maybe we just put it out of our minds that NFL players tend to die young and that many suffer from early onset dementia or that other former player can barely walk.  Then there is the fact that football players who have devoted themselves to the sport since childhood only have on the average a 3.2 year NFL career.  Many leave the game crippled and financially bankrupt within a few years of their “retirement.” To top it off it was only this year that the retired and disabled players that made the game what it now is were provided for in the collective bargaining agreement.  But heck, football is big money and now that we call can have a piece of the action in the Fantasy leagues why do we care what happens to players after their careers are over?

So if a person wants to mock baseball as boring as compared to football they need to look at the facts and also maybe just ask themselves exactly why they think that football is so exciting.  It certainly cannot be the pace of play, so maybe it is the violence.  Maybe that says something about us as individuals and a nation.  I wonder sometimes if the exponential rise of football as a form of entertainment can be correlated to the rise in violent crime and corporate greed.   I haven’t seen any studies about this but it seems to me that as football has risen in popularity so has violent crime, the incivility of our politics and media and the excesses of Wall Street and Corporate America.

You see my beef is not with the players who sacrifice their bodies and health for years just to get to the NFL, men that actually work incredibly hard to reach that pinnacle.  I have the highest admiration for them.  I went to high school with Derek Kennard who played for the then Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys.  I was a trainer on the high school team that he played on after I figured out my sophomore year that I was neither big enough nor fast enough to make it in football and should have stayed with baseball.  Many players are outstanding examples of leadership, determination and make their communities better, the players and especially those that have honed their skills to be the best I have nothing but the highest admiration and teams that perform at the highest levels year after year one can only admire.

No my issue is with the culture that has come to surround the game. It has almost become synonymous with the excess and violence that have come to characterize our American culture.  It’s not that one cannot learn good things from football, teamwork, hard work and leaving everything you have on the field to come out victorious, one can learn a lot of virtues by playing football.  However football is for most of us that are not playing or coaching the game is simply another form of violent entertainment where good men play out our fantasies on the battlefield called the gridiron, it has for some become a religion.

Now other sports can have a nearly religious following, after all I am a member of the Church of Baseball.  But baseball is different, there is a sense that we always have next year that permeates the life of a fan.  Maybe it is the ebb and flow of the 162 game season where even the best teams lose a third of their games that gives us a sense that life does not end when our team loses and the realization that the game is never over until it’s over.

Maybe it is the exaggerated level of importance and emotional investment that many people put into football that sets it apart from other sports.  The legendary sports broadcaster Howard Cosell made a comment that I think hits the nail on the head.

“The importance that our society attaches to sport is incredible. After all, is football a game or a religion? The people of this country have allowed sports to get completely out of hand.”

Something to think about, don’t you think?

Peace

Padre Steve+

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