By now, you have seen some of the trending sports reports and social media posts about a "professional" football game played in Cincinnati on Saturday night. It really looked more like a contest in the Coliseum in early Rome would have resembled than a football game. Gladiators covered in body armor and filled with rage and malice were out on the field last night. They were there to win the game and so engaged in a hand to hand combat unlike anything I have witnessed in sports.
The team I follow eventually won the contest, but I admit of feeling no satisfaction in it. If the term 'professional' is to be applied to those who went to war against each other last night, then I'm Shirley Temple....
The brutality used by both teams does not reflect well on the game of football, sportmanship, professionalism, and integrity. In fact, I can imagine tens of thousands of aspiring young football players who watched that game last night are now nurturing their own version of last man standing mentality as they move forward into their future.
The advent of training and muscle building have taken football far beyond the realm of football in the days of Y.A. Tittle and Red Grange. Of course, the evolution of football pads and helmets have turned an ordinary athlete into a launched torpedo. Can anyone remember Donnie Shell? Number 31 played for the Steelers back in the 70s and his nickname was "The Torpedo". I'm afraid his tenacious hitting back in the day would pale in comparison to the collisions out on the field in 2016.
The morass we find ourselves in is a byproduct of the billion dollar industry of the National Football League and the entertainment value that comes with it. There is a culture in this sport and a desire to do whatever it takes to win. Where are the hardnose men who lined up with little or no padding, leather helmets, and rudimentary footwear?
The incidence of concussions, torn ligaments, and damaged joints would plummet if football gear from the 1940s were reintroduced to the players. Football would return to the Xs and Os and how to best outpoint the other team. Instead, we still do the Xs and Os but now have added the vicious element of destroying....even injuring the opposition. If the other tream has nobody healthy to play then we will win by attrition. (Gladiators and those in the Circus competed with this strategy too.)
Well, I am no expert about such things, just a fan who longs for the days when a football game was all about tough play, good sportsmanship, and integrity of the game. I long to see both teams shake hands after a contest and even see a small group of them take a knee and thank the Almighty for a safe game.
Last night, all I saw after the game was water bottles flying through the air and players scurrying for safety. That ain't football!