Pro football has been kind of a joke for a while now. For one thing, it is impossible to believe that steroid use is not widespread. The only alternative explanation for the breathtaking expansion in player sizes is some sort of out-of-control evolution, perhaps caused by the radiation from a distant supernova.
Another problem is the increasing awareness that the modern game, with the modern breed of gigantic players, has morphed from ritualistic warplay into ritualistic suicide. Autopsies of former players are revealing that the game turned their brains into applesauce. And it is only getting worse.
Then there is the culture of the game, recently unmasked in the "bounty scandal" involving the New Orleans Saints. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams's pre-game instructions before their playoff game against San Francisco—in which he instructed his players to attempt to impose specific injuries on specific players—shock the conscience.
For the past couple of years, I have become increasingly uneasy about being a fan of this sport. I have thought that if it weren't for (1) the Packers having such great seasons, and (2) fantasy football, I might have left the game behind.
At this point, I'm ready. I want to declare myself publicly done with pro football. Not a boycott, because I'm not lobbying for specific changes. I think it's too far gone. Brutality is really the essence of American football. You can't get the brutality out of the game without turning it into some other game. Maybe ultimate frisbee.
However, the inestimable Paul Clement has convinced me that I cannot leave pro football behind. As he argues, "once a Packers fan, always a Packers fan."