"Silliman! Are you writing a recap story? Put down 2010 as the year the NFL goes total wussy!"
It's my former neighbor, Lyle. He spotted me at the Hastings coffee shop, the Hardback Cafe, as I'm fumbling through a crossword puzzle.
"Hi, Lyle," I say, trying not let his chicken neck jaw-jutting detain me from dashing down D-a-n-u-b-e as a six letter word for "River in a waltz."
"Did you hear me, Silliman? Goodell and the No-Fun League are handing out fines like a meter maid in front of a brothel. Guys are getting ticketed just for tacklin' "
"No, Lyle, guys are being fined for leading with their helmets... and head-to-head hits."
"That's what I'm talking about, Silliman. They went wuss! James Harrison can't breathe on a guy without drawing a fine. This year they took all the football out of football."
I'll give that one to Lyle. It does seem like fines are in record number. Then I tell him they're trying cut back on injuries.
"Powder puff. That's what you got. Why not strap some lingerie on those guys and have a pussy league? I like to watch me some pain."
Oh gee, Lyle mentions the Lingerie league just as I'm answering h-a-l-t-e-r for "Summer top." Then I say "C'mon, these are tough guys--Ray Lewis, Urlacher-- don't act like they're letting up."
"Goodell is trying to convert them to a sissy game. None of them is Lawrence Taylor. You know what happened when LT hit you? Your tibia would snap like this..."
"Hey, that's my pencil, Lyle!"
"You should be working with a pen, anyway, Silliman. Besides, that's where the wussiness started this year... with Lawrence Taylor!"
"With LT? You're craz... I don't get..."
"Here's Lawrence Taylor, the guy who breaks Joe Theismann's leg, on his tippy toes doing a waltz on Dancing with the Stars. Goodell sees that and figures if Taylor can go fancy-pants then football fans won't mind going wussy on Sundays."
"You ruined my crossword puzzle."
"That's all you can think about... when the game's going down the tubes? It's not just the fines. The whole year, they've been nannying the game. Minnesota moves their home game just because their roof caves in?"
"Yeah, I would think fan safety might count for some consideration," I say.
"Wussies. Fans are tough. We'll wear helmets if we need to. When have you ever heard of them postponing a game like they did in Philadelphia just because of snow? The NFL has gone total pansy."
"You don't want a bunch of car crashes with fans trying to make it through a blizzard."
"It's not baseball. Your fav, George Carlin, would be spinning in his grave. Fans will drive through a blizzard, bring their hand warmers and paint their flabby chests to go to a football game... and that's just the wimmen."
"You can't call everything about 2010 football wimpy. Brett Favre took the shots, tried to finish his 20th year. There's some..."
"Don't get me started on Favre. More proof. I used to admire his toughness... but after he sent those flaccid penis pics, I lost all..."
"What do you mean? Now, he's a wuss, too?"
"Damn right. You don't send half-hard pics over a camera phone. Bronko Nagurski would have never done that. He'd be at her door, pounding on it... with his manhood. Bam! Bam... bam! No pants on the ground! Pants completely off, punching holes in the door with his arms behind his back!"
"So that's your example, Bronko?"
"Yeah, that was a football player. They didn't have flak jackets in his day. He was an All-American on both sides of the ball, recovered a fumble as a defensive tackle, then ran the ball six times in a row for the winning touchdown, while having a broken vertebrae in his back. That's what we want, guys with broken backs scoring touchdowns."
"So you're not seeing that today?"
"No, and they did it for the pain... and the love of the game. Even when Jimmy Brown played, that was a football player, they didn't get big money. And Jimmy Brown would hit you. He'd slug you when he carried the ball... and he wore no hip pads. And he didn't have to send out puny penis pics to get a lady. He'd just go find one and hang her upside down off a balcony."
"You miss the good ol' days?"
"Damn right! Tell Goodell we want our football back. And to quit canceling games because of a little snow."