Like most Americans, I find the National Football League highly entertaining. Unlike most Americans, part of me also hates it.
I realize that lands me in the shrinking minority with a target on my back as pigskin replaces pearl in our Nation's sporting consciousness, but it's the truth. Major League Baseball will always be my favorite sport and the issue will never be particularly close.
Since the League is pretty much the antithesis of the Show, I'm a bit disgusted by it despite my respect for its athletes and overall enjoyment of its product.
The NFL definitely features superior athletes and the action—what little of it there is—tends to be more viscerally exciting.
Furthermore, professional football players are just about the only pro's who can formulate a valid argument to justify their obscene paychecks.
These guys quite literally put life and limb at risk whenever the ball is snapped. Even those who survive a career "healthy" seem to face an increased chance of developing serious issues later in life such as neurological disorders, circulatory problems and a host of other things that sound equally unpleasant.
So, yeah, the abuse they absorb for our entertainment might actually merit all those zeroes.
Nevertheless, I can't shake the feeling that the NFL is the reality television of the athletic world—more sideshow than go.
To me, it's no coincidence that football's ascension to America's favorite sport comes at a time when "Jersey Shore" somehow pulls an audience and being obnoxiously self-centered appears to be the only requirement for celebrity.
As the linked Wall Street Journal article points out, the games are far more glitz, glam, and nonsense than actual gridiron substance.
Those 60 minutes on the clock translate to about 11 of real movement—the rest is a hodgepodge of play-calling, slow-motion replays, splashy studio graphics, analyst's prattle, shots of cheerleaders and advertisements.
The segmented action is perfect for a decreasing national attention span—tune in for a few ticks, tune out for a few more.
Really, that assessment can be extended to the entire season.
The NFL comes at you in easily digestible, one-game-per-team-per-week (roughly) snippets while the rest of the days are filled with preening, posturing, and/or other unsavory pleas for attention. Monday through Saturday also feature a non-stop deluge of over-analysis that's often rendered moot by kickoff on Sunday.
Then, there's the eternal circus that shadows the NFL.
The off-season is an apparently unnavigable minefield of scandal and controversy.
The worst you can say about the big fat man is that he's incredibly selfish, which can be erased with a couple good games.
As for Vick, well, he should just be at home knitting after the second chance he's gotten. Instead, he was promoting his "ALL-WHITE 30th Birthday Bash" in an area that eventually saw gun play.
Still, I gotta give the bejeweled dunce cap to Young.
Einstein shared a locker room with Pacman Jones during the height of the latter's legal troubles, yet he's still getting in an altercation at a strip club? Over an insult directed at his alma mater?
Yikes, that's not really the kind of composure I want my quarterback showing.
Now that the regular season is about a month away, the excrement is only going to get deeper and louder.
It's not even August yet and already we've been treated to a barrage of Terrell Owens stories. The mega-mouthed one has signed on with the Cincinnati Bengals and his buddy (at least until they start vying for looks from Carson Palmer) Chad Ochocinco.
Forget about pass attempts, I just hope there's enough oxygen on that field to sustain those two egos.
Both monuments to ironic insecurity have reality shows on VH1 that are thinly veiled tributes to themselves. It seems only a matter of time before the Twitter Twins develop some new scheme to utilize their combined affinity for the spotlight in an effort to grab even more of it.
Think that duo might get a shade tiresome by, oh, Week Six?
There's also been the ultimate non-story firestorm coming out of Big D.
Seems Dallas Cowboy rookie Dez Bryant—whose dad was NOT a pimp and whose mom was NOT a prostitute, for the record—refused to carry fellow wide receiver and veteran Roy Williams' pads.
Who freakin' cares?
I'm the first to dump all over ANY 'Poke given the franchise's historical torture of my San Francisco 49ers, but give me a break. It's a punk move and nothing more; certainly not worth breathless coverage by ESPN as if it were a development with Super Bowl implications.
And who can forget about Brett Favre's tedious soap opera?
Nobody, if No. 4 has his way.
I'd ask you to wake me when the football starts, but who can sleep through all this noise?