From The Philadelphia Inquirer:
This is hypocritical in the most American sense of the word. This game is based on violence and intimidation. Part of the way a player procures the latter is by hitting--not tackling, no one cares about tackling--hard. Hits, not tackles are what comprise the 11 p.m. Sportscenter highlight package. In fact, until recently ESPN's professional football coverage included a Jacked Up! segment featuring the weeks most cringe-worthy hits. They'd air a clip of the play, and then a commentator--usually a retired NFL player, mind you--would say the "tackled" players name followed by, "you just got JACKED! up!" (Think of a cleaner version of Smokey's famous, "You got knocked the fuck out!")
Hits, not good, solid tackles attract the American voyeur. These hits are part of what make the NFL money-- quite literally. Until yesterday, the NFL was selling images of the aforementioned James Harrison hit on the Cleveland Browns' Mohamed Massoquoi. Yes, selling photographs of the hit that they later fined James Harrison $75,000 for.
Bowl for Columbine much?
As boys, these men were socialized, trained to play football in this manner. Now, they participate in the ultimate conundrum: being penalized for doing the very thing they are expected, and in fact are paid to do. Such paradoxes would be extremely befuddling if they weren't so familiar. Isn't being punished for violence we are traditionally taught to execute through our culture the American way? America packages, commodifies, and consumes violence at an alarming rate, yet fines, incarcerates, reproves the same behavior it venerates.
Meanwhile, although there concussions every week, the NFL owners and other powers that be would like to extend the season from 16 to 18 regular season games, but still does not want to adequately compensate current players with guaranteed salaries nor properly care for retired players who weren't famous enough to secure the big four.
I love and loathe this sport in the same way that I love and loathe this country. Is it Sunday yet?