Just Do Your Job

Last year, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, previously known only to special teams aficionados, gained national attention when a Maryland state delegate asked the Ravens to prevent Ayanbadejo from speaking out in support of same-sex marriage. Vikings punter Chris Kluwe published a response on Deadspin eviscerating said delegate, becoming a national civil rights figure himself. Now, both are out of jobs.

This isn’t about them. After all, Ayanbadejo himself noted that he was 36 years old and not producing like he used to. As a Vikings fan, I know firsthand that Chris Kluwe was and is a maddeningly frustrating punter. These decisions can be easily defended in a football context.

This is about the rest of us. Continue reading

Causation

The Sandy Hook Shooting made me think about guns, children, mental illness, the Bill of Rights, violent video games, and an assortment of related topics. I’ve also been thinking about collective guilt and the NFL. Concussions, suicide, premature deaths, and my role as an avid football fan have been weighing heavily on my mind since the death of Junior Seau, the first casualty whom I can remember watching play. I also play video games with violence and explosions. (Yay!)

While these topics might not seem connected, all three have led me to the same place. Our society’s glorification of violence doesn’t cause violence. It’s an effect. We glorify violence because, at heart, we are a violent people in a society that values violence. Continue reading

How Do We Measure Elite?

With yesterday’s Super Bowl victory, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco guaranteed that, next year, he’ll be getting muckafuckin’ paid. At the beginning of the year, Flacco asserted that he was an “elite” NFL quarterback. During the regular season, Flacco finished in the middle of the pack in every meaningful statistic. That narrative changed with one of the greatest playoffs performances in NFL history. Is Joe Flacco an elite quarterback? Continue reading

Nationalism, Sports, and Loss

I don’t care about the Olympics.

There. I said it.

While everyone else caught gold medal fever this summer and sang the praises of Olympic heroes old and new, I awaited the end of a long, ugly baseball season and the start of NFL Training Camp.

I don’t care about American athletes in international competition.

This contrasted strikingly with the people of Scotland during Wimbledon. No British tennis player had won a Men’s Final since Fred Perry in 1936. While I was visiting my friend Dylan in Edinburgh, Andy Murray, a Scotsman, made it to the Men’s Final against perhaps the greatest tennis player in history, Roger Federer. Continue reading