Here at 20 Prospect, the opening day of the National Football League season is an official national holiday. Aside from a mutual affinity for Beer, and Darts, one of the things that first drew me and Mrs. 20 Prospect together was our love of football. Having grown up in Western New York, I was born and bred to be a Bills fan. Mrs. 20 P., as a lovely princess from America’s Dairyland, was raised a Packer Backer. Yes, it was love at first sight.
As a Packer Fan, she has always been much more of an optimist than I. We met during the Bills infamous streak of scratching on the eightball four straight times. If it hadn’t been for her I would have given up watching the sport after their 2nd humiliating loss in the Superbowl. But no, her optimism kept me watching. Even during the 1992 playoff game when they were losing 35-7, but later rallied for the greatest comeback in NFL history. (Of course, that only prolonged the season enough to lose another Superbowl.) Such is life in Upstate N.Y. But I digress, this is not a post about the futility, and fatalism of being a Western New Yorker.
We don’t watch a lot of TV in the 20 Prospect household. Mostly because we are better people than you are. (Kidding!) No, its not for moral reasons, we just seem to be busy with other stuff most of the year. But in the fall that changes. When football season returns you can forget calling the 20 Prospect household on Sunday afternoons, or Monday evenings. That is the time we devote to cheering on the beloved Packers, the hapless Bills, and whoever happens to be playing the hated Vikings.
Of course, our lack of TV watching during the rest of the year does not prepare us for the NFL on Fox. If ever their was a sign of the decline of the west it has to be the FOX Network. Honestly, they have single handedly set western civilization back about 400 years. From the idiocy and boorishness of their commentators, to the moronic dancing robots, to the commercials for their low brow protruding brow programming, every hour we spend watching the game must cost us at least 20 IQ points. Seriously. I get the feeling they will not rest until they have lobotomized the lot of us. May God grant me the patience to endure 20 more weeks of promo’s for the Family Guy, the latest slasher-sadistic crime investigator shows, and endless, moronic prattle from the likes of Terry Bradshaw.
Now I understand that football is not exactly high art. As a sport it has never been loved, or pontificated about as eloquently as baseball. Ken Burns doesn’t make bloated documentaries about football, filled with self important media types, and navel gazing historians waxing eloquently about the pathos of the Buffalo Bills. No, that type of pompous krep is reserved for baseball. The reasons for this are many, but mostly come down to class. Baseball is the sport of 19th century America. It is the village green, and agrarian life in a pastoral America. Or at least our stylized memories of agrarian America.
Football on the other hand is a product of the Industrial revolution. It is a sport for the urban immigrant class. Football is mud, and blood, and brutality. The combination of brute strength, physical intimidation and byzantine legalism speaks to the lives of mill workers, factory hands, and miners. In fact, the brutality, and legality of football and labor unions are both born of the same Mother.
So I understand, football has always been low brow. My Grandpa played semi-pro ball in the 30’s for a factory team somewhere in Western Pennsylvania. I’m sure he was happy to get beer money out of the deal, even if it meant losing a tooth or two. But I guess what is upsetting me is what the FOX coverage of football is telling me about America. It is telling me that America, like the NFL, has become a carnival sideshow of grotesques. Their commercials are filled with the same obese grotesques, bejeweled gangstas, and slimy con men that the NFL is filled with. Perhaps that is what upsets me so much. This is not the game of Paul Brown, Marion Motley, or Otto Graham. It’s the game of Daniel Snyder, Michael Vick, and Ray Carruth. We have gone from low brow, to protruding brow indeed.
Sigh… and it’s only week 1.