Why do I love this crazy game? Do I love it for its violence? Do I love the pageantry? Do I love football for its intricacy? That is one of the things that makes the game so interesting to me. There are 22 integral pieces of a puzzle that can be filled by only a select few individuals. There are 32 teams competing for the talent to fill those 22 slots.
How many athletic 300 + pound people do you know? For me, it's zero.
The most successful teams gather up the best collection of starters and have success at finding talented backups ready to fill in when injury occurs.
Listen to this job description -
Wanted: World class athlete needed for 960 minutes of work per year. Overtime may be available. Significant chance of serious physical injury. Significant chance of physical debilitation at end of career. Average career 3 years or less. Must be a pillar of society (well - sort of). Extremely well paid salary commensurate with ability. Hours upon hours of homework required. Apply in person at Valley Ranch.
There's more after the jump...
Not many applicants have the physical requirements or the mentality to qualify for a position in the NFL.
Each of the 22 positions has a different role and requires a unique set of skills. The players speak in code on the field and coaches are valued for their innovation and for devising new schemes that use those 22 players. The team playbooks are several inches thick and are guarded like nuclear secrets. The teams employ young men in the prime of their physical life and encourage them to be as violent and aggressive and emotional as they can be on the field, and then give an intellectually dispassionate observation in a post game interview and stop and sign autographs with fans.
This is one complex and intricate game.
Football has surpassed baseball as the most watched sport in America.
George Carlin did a comedy routine about the differences between baseball and football. It's a funny routine, and it is an indicator of how football players and fans feel about the game.
Now, I've mentioned football. Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.
I enjoy comparing baseball and football:
Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.
Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.
Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park!
Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.
Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying.
In football you wear a helmet.
In baseball you wear a cap.
Football is concerned with downs - what down is it?
Baseball is concerned with ups - who's up?
In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error.
In football the specialist comes in to kick.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.
Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.
Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog...
In baseball, if it rains, we don't go out to play.
Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football has the two minute warning.
Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - might have extra innings.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death.
In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there's kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there's not too much unpleasantness.
In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you're capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.
And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:
In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.
In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! - I hope I'll be safe at home!
I can't explain why I love the game, but I do. I guess I do love its violent nature, the pageantry, the complexity and the drama. I love it because I played it and understand how difficult it is and how great it feels to have your mates cheer you when you do well. I'm a fanatic in the truest sense of the word.
Why do you love the game?