Day 122: But No, Seriously, Fuck Football
A little part of me died on May 2, 2012. I was hovering over a crowded bar in Greenpoint, one that is sadly no longer standing, when the news came on the muted TV. Former Chargers linebacker, Junior Seau, had committed suicide. He shot himself in the chest so that his brain could be studied. Inside his head, they found a battered specimen. Junior Seau was the poster boy for Smash Mouth Football in the late 90’s, picking up where Lawrence Taylor left off. He was the most entertaining defensive player on any field and was the face of the Chargers franchise that I loved so dearly. You could even say that I wouldn’t be that obsessed with football if it weren’t for him. But it came at a cost. In his career, he was rumored to have had over 1500 concussions. The game that he lived for also killed him. In that moment, my fandom diminished considerably. I knew that the game was dangerous and came at a physical cost, but to know that it took the life of my hero, that was the last straw.
And you all know the story from there. I switched to baseball, stopped writing about the NFL and in my time away, the sport has gotten significantly shittier. It’s in no way safer than it used to be, yet they keep piling on rule changes that do next to nothing except make the game more insufferable. Every year, I’ll toy around with the idea of watching football. And I’ll dabble away until something stupid happens that forces me to turn off the TV. Then, I’m good for another year. I’m not going to lie, I was kind of hyped for the Browns-Chiefs game yesterday. I’m a sucker for an underdog and the prospect of the Browns and Bills duking it out for AFC supremacy is a total dream scenario. That dream turned into a nightmare towards the end of the 2nd quarter, when this bullshit happened:
Let’s unpack some stuff, here. The Browns were in very good position to get back into the game. Rashard Higgins makes a valiant dive for the endzone and he’s treated with a big hit. But not just any hit. An illegal hit. It was a literal helmet-to-helmet tackle, one that could easily cause suicide-inducing brain damage. In 2021, you’d think this would be flagged to high heaven. None of the refs gave a shit. They saw absolutely nothing wrong with the tackle.
The impact of the illegal hit made Higgins drop the ball. The ball was not knocked out of his hand. He dropped it on his own volition. In fact, no Chiefs player even touched the ball through the entire play. It was dropped just before the endzone, it bounced and went out of bounds inside of the endzone. In basketball, if the ball goes out of bounds, possession is awarded to the team who didn’t touch it last. But this is football. In football, if the ball goes out of bounds, possession is awarded to the team that handled the ball last. The only exception is if the ball in in the endzone. Because football.
To summarize: the Browns receiver took a helmet-to-helmet blow at the 1 yard line, causing him to drop the ball. Because of this, not only were the Chiefs not penalized, they were awarded possession. This gaffe essentially cost Cleveland the game and none of it is their fault. The Chiefs advance, they’ll probably beat the Bills next week and then have a Past vs Future Super Bowl against Tom Brady & Friends that the very thought of makes me puke in my mouth a little. All because the NFL still doesn’t give a shit about player safety but have a hard-on for arbitrary rules.
Say it with me now.
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.