Posted by Brother Bob on 5 October, 2020 at 8:12 am. 26 comments already!

Commissioner Goddell:

Like many long time fans of the National Football League, I won’t be watching any games this fall. For that matter, I don’t have any plans to watch again as things stand right now. I know that this isn’t the first letter of this nature you’ve received, nor will it be the last. For the last few years I’ve ground my teeth as your league has quietly supported a group of racial separatists whose stated goal is to destroy this country. I put up with the continued National Anthem protests and felt relief when Super Bowl halftine show glorified strippers, as opposed to Beyonce celebrating a group of criminals that murdered police officers. The final straw for me came this season where your support has gone from quiet to full blown and in our faces. I’m sure that the irony is lost on you that for your opening night game you were fine with players engaging in an incredibly disrespectful gesture of protest on the eve of the worst terrorist attack in America’s history. It’s hard to believe that 19 years ago Chris Gizzi led the Packers onto the field waving the American flag in a sign of unity. You are of course, free to support whatever causes you wish. But the flip side is that I’m also free to tune out – if I want a sneering, condescending lecture from people who no longer feel the need to hide how much they despise me I have many other avenues to fill that void. Tuning out is not a decision that I take lightly. So that you understand the magnitude of my decision I want to tell you how much the NFL has been a part of my life for the last 40 years:

When I was 10 years old I attended my first football game – a college game visiting my brother at school. I fell in love with the game, and when I got home I talked to the kid across the street, Sal, about who I should pick as my favorite team. The Steelers & Cowboys were big at the time, we lived in the Jets/Giants country of North Jersey, but Sal told me that if I wanted a cool team I should root for the Eagles. Of course a good Eagles story should start with a dude named Sal, and I took his advice and never looked back.

Chickenpox went around my school in December that year, and I was lucky enough to avoid it until I came home the day that Christmas Break started and my Mom found chickenpox on my back. I spent vacation stuck home sick, but still remember watching the NFC Championship game versus Dallas, eating my lunch of some ring noodle soup out of the Eagles mug my parents bought me for Christmas. Many years later as a stocking stuffer my wife would give me an Eagles coffee mug with a pouch of ring noodle soup inside to help relive my earliest great Eagles memory. That would, of course, be Wilbur Montgomery opening the game with his long TD run and me getting to jaw at my Cowboys fan older brother. Had I known it would be the last playoff game the Eagles would win for a decade, I probably would not have left at halftime to go to the movies to see Flash Gordon with my friends. 

Two weeks later at my birthday/ family Super Bowl party I rememeber running up to my room and crying at some point in the 4th quarter, probably around the time of Jaws’ third interception. The next morning when I arrived at the playground before school there was a mob of Cowboys fans lined up to greet me in reprisal for all of the smack I talked after the NFC championship. I still remember how there were so many of them shouting at once that I couldn’t understand a single word that they were saying and that all I could do was laugh.



My first live Eagles game would be in high school, when my buddy’s older cousin scored tickets to the Eagles/Jets game at The Meadowlands. While The Minister of Defense’s two sacks on the day would would fall short of breaking Mark Gastineau’s record, I got to see Reggie White and Randall Cunningham in their primes for my first Eagles experience.

Throughought my 20s the NFL became a progressively bigger part of my life. My early 20s were spent working weekends, but I religiously caught the recap of the games watching Boomer, TJ & Mort on NFL Tonight. In my mid 20s I moved to Tampa, where I was working insane hours during the work week. But the weekends were mine, and with my Sundays now free, Sundays in the fall were dedicated to pro football. It started with a morning of the pregame shows, watching the early games at The Brandon Ale House up the block, going home to relax during the 4:00 games and then rallying to watch the night game. It was around this time I started to refer to the first day of the NFL season as “Holy Sunday”.

While living in Tampa we got there just before the team started turning things around under Coach Dungy. At one game where Barry Sanders was running wild on the Bucs en route to victory, I managed to get a picture of myself shirtless and wearing a paper bag over my head on the cover of the St. Petersburg Times. This being pre-internet, that Monday night after I got off work I remember driving around downtown emptying courtesey boxes to score as many copies of the pic to share with friends and family back home.

Even though I bleed Eagle Green, I also root for the Falcons. Why, you ask? Because the year I became a football fan they were the team with the other Polish quarterback (Steve Bartowski). Yes, it was a simple as that. In 1999 when Morten Anderson hit the game winning filed goal that was the greatest “Sports High” I had ever experienced up to that point. I remember jumping around my friend’s living room doing “D-Generatiion X” chops (it was the 90s), and screaming “I’m going to Miami! I AM GOING TO MOTHER ****ING MIAMI!!!” Going to a Super Bowl had always been a bucket list item of mine, and the three hour drive from Tampa to Miami was well worth it. Thankfully, it was just before the NFL truly took off, and the game being between two non-marquee teams, I was able to scalp a ticket for $600. The seat was actually pretty good for what I paid – upper deck, 15 yard line, first row. Kiss playing halftime was just gravy. Forget that my team got stomped, I got to experience a Super Bowl.

A few years prior I jumped on the fantasy football bandwagon. Although leagues I was in came and went, I’ve been in at least one league every year until this season. Our league decided to take a year off with Covid as the polite excuse, but unspoken is avoiding having to address why some of our members might choose to not participate. Playing Fantasy only expanded my love for the game, as I was now taking an interest in games like Colts vs. Bengals that would have previously meant nothing to me. And now that is gone.

Fast forward to the mid 00’s. I had moved to the Washington, DC area a few years earlier, and discovered an Eagles bar in Georgetown. I became a staple at The Rhino Bar, and it felt like the 700 Level at The Vet, right down to fights breaking out on a regular basis. Cheap beer, good wings, crazed fans, and the occasional fistfight. It was a wonderfully bottled dose of Philadelphia, and my greatest moment would come in January 2009. President Obama had just been elected, and Inauguration Weekend happened to fall on the same weekend as the NFC Championship game between the Eagles & Cardinals. Mayor Nutter of Philly reserved a table right next to where I always stood while watching the game. With our regular ring leaders out, after one of our touchdowns late in the game I jumped on a chair to lead the bar in the Eagles’ fight song. One of the mayor’s crew waved me off to let Nutter make it happen. When he got distracted and dropped the ball I finally had to shout at him, “MAYOR NUTTER!!! WILL YOU LEAD US?!?” Which he did. And it was cool. When the Eagles took the lead at the end of the game the wave of euphoria that went through the bar surpassed what I felt when The ATL advanced to the big dance. Obviously the good feelings were short lived, but we all walked out with our heads held high.

Jump ahead to the mid ‘Teens. I’m now married with a young son. In what would be my final happy memory of the Chip Kelly era, I wound up in Dallas in Jerry Jones’ owners’ box for their Thanksgiving game against the Eagles. For obvious reasons I couldn’t wear my Eagles gear or cheer for my team. Highlights included getting a picture of my boy with the Cowboys’ cheerleaders and passing Jerry Jones in the 4th quarter as he came out of the mens’ room. I wished him a happy Thanksgiving, and in response I got a glare and an unahppy grunt. So much to be thankful for on that day…

And of course, for every Eagles fan that great day came when we would beat the Patriots to finally take home the long elusive Lombardi Trophy. I spent the first half at home watching the game with the wife & kid, and taking advantage of the long Super Bowl halftime, hopped on my bike at the end of the 2nd quarter and took the DC Metro downtown to the District Anchor, where the now defunct Rhino Bar gang had gathered to watch the game. I got to watch the first half with my family, and celebrated at the end with my Eagles family. Aside from actually being at the game I couldn’t have had a better Super Bowl experience.

If all of this sounds like a self indulgent trip down memory lane for me, I’d say that’s a fair point. But I wrote all of this to show you how serious the decision is for me to cut the NFL out of my life. Yes, the league is still playing but it’s not the NFL I knew and loved. And this isn’t a case of “It’s not you, it’s me” – it’s you. Now that you have a mark on your back, it’s not a question of if the next escalation happens, but when. I don’t feel the need to stick around for when the NFL celebrates Gay Pride Month by forcing the players to wear rainbow themed gear in training camps, watching players burn the American flag before a game in protest, or celebrating the bravery of the league’s first open Pedophile. If what I’m saying sounds far fetched, if after that first weekend following 9/11 you told me that in under 20 years the league would endorse racial separatists disrespecting the flag and the National Anthem on the eve of a 9/11 anniversary, and have a Super Bowl halftime show glorifying cop killers I’d have said you were crazy. And yet here we are. 

It’s amazing that you’ve chosen to not learn the lessons from the 90s. You might or might not remember Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s National Anthem protest. The league took quick and decisive action, and back then it was actually OK for the league’s stars to deliver a rational critique, as Akeem Olajuman did (Sorry Dew Brees, your first take before you caved to the mob was the right one – damned shame you don’t have the spine to stick to your convictions). And when the NBA lockout rolled around the NFL launched its “Thank you” capaign, which depicted the players going door to door to personally thank every fan ( I still have the Thank You pin that came with the Super Bowl goody bag sitting on my seat when I arrived at the game). Sure it was just an ad campaign, but it was also a great way to capitalize on the image of overpaid, spoiled children that both the NBA players and owners projected. It’s hard to believe that these simple, common sense gestures are unimaginable today.

While I’m done with the NFL, this isn’t a case of the league being permanently dead to me. The mini Eagles championship flag still waves next to my front porch. Various Eagles memorabelia is still throughout my house. Whatever the NFL does, nothing can takes away the memories I have. But for the first ime in the 30 years since I first bugged my parents to buy me a Keith Jackson kelly green jersey for Christmas, the ten jerseys I’ve accumulated over the years will hang in my closet. I still occasionally peek in and check some Facebook boards, read the occasional article, or tune in for a few minutes of the games here and there. But it’s not the same. It’s like having your best friend sleep with your girlfriend – the fond memories you’ve had with them don’t go away, but now it’s like you’re looking at different people. I should be angry, or maybe I should be depressed at having such a big part of my life ruined. I’ve seen too many other things in my life, whether in literature, movies or old friends ruined by the poisonous ideology that now rules the NFL. The sad part is, my reaction is just a shrug and apathy. I’m actually enjoying having my Sundays back. When & if the NFL comes back I might not find watching your league as the best use of my time on Sundays.

It will be interesting to see where this leads. When the league’s lost stadium revenue and dropping TV ratings (good luck with trying to expand the league’s popularity with people who generally hate football) lead to players being offered pay cuts, the labor troubles will be fun to watch. It will be entertaining karma when they are forced to face the true oppression of watching their seven figure salaries get reduced to a measley six figures. Good luck with your next efforts to extort another tax payer funded stadium over threats to move a team. Your’e not going to get much sympathy from your old friends who’ve tuned you out, and I’m guessing that your new friends won’t consider this the best use of tax dollars. And don’t think for a minute that Vince McMahon (or someone like him) isn’t eagerly waiting for the country to reopen to launch the XFL 3.0. Whatever new league we might see will be able to easily peel off your old fans with a simple slogan such as “Football for people who like football.” Or maybe it won’t. The Radical Left has hated football for a long time and this may be where pro football begins its decline. It was a long time ago, but there was a time that horse racing, boxing and baseball ruled America. You can follow the NBA’s race to oblivion, and you can do it without me.

https://twitter.com/WhitlockJason/status/1311806189597007878

 

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Cross posted from Brother Bob’s Blog

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