Like many of you, I made the mistake of watching the Bengals-Steelers game. I wish I hadn’t; and here’s why!
Shame on the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Shame on goons like Vontez Burfict – and yes, throw in JuJu Smith-Schuster, as well.
And Shame on the NFL for further placing the seeds of doubt in everyone’s mind – that football should considered for its consequences by future would-be adolescent participants.
As a matter of fact – shame on any of you out there who justify what we saw, and call it football! I admit, that it was something, but it wasn’t what I just witnessed for three days in Canton at last weekend’s OHSAA state tournament.
You can write to me (and some will) and tell me it was professional passion, simply a step beyond that of youths playing for a gold trophy and their community’s pride and esteem. You’ll say that anyone who questions is just adding to the “pussification of America”, as many now like to write.
You can write and justify that it’s grown men, aware of the consequences, playing for careers and their livelyhoods – just trying to pay their bills and take care of their families.
You can write and say that they knew price before they signed their contract as professionals. But it doesn’t necessarily register with me that professionalism means being carted off the field – twice – because someone chose to put your life at risk.
You can write and say that if Ben Roethlisberger says it’s OK, “Just AFC North football”, then the rest of us should understand that ‘anything goes’ is just a matter of course. If you accept that, you need to check yourself…and your own values. Don’t assume the rest of us are idiots by stating it was just “karma” – that what goes around, comes around.
What it was, NFL owners, is a reason NOT to watch your product – a reason not to hold up this kind of so-called “professionalism” to young players as an example of how the game is played by those to whom it matters most. You can say that about Peyton Manning, perhaps. But make sure you differentiate. What we saw Monday night … was an eye for an eye!
You can say that it was just the passion of the moment – that it’s OK to come back on Sunday and start fresh again. Except, we’re not accepting this about drive-by shootings, which some violators pass off as just that same passion of the moment.
You who read do the math. Add up the attitudes of disrespect for the national anthem, and those who died to preserve the sanctity of our flag and way of life; of those professionals who deliver multiple head shots and then stand over a fallen opponent to taunt, not knowing the impact of their actions.
Wait, go one better. Go on Twitter and see how many posts you can find from people that say Ryan Shazier was owed a spinal cord injury by the football gods because he went helmet to helmet on Gio Bernard in the playoff game back in 2015.
Consider the words of coach and analyst John Gruden, among the game’s most highly profiled spokesmen, who called it cheap and disgusting – and then consider the empty justification of those who would call it, “Just AFC North football”.
Remember, too, that football is a great game, or was. Just don’t make the mistake of accepting it as what the ancient Romans once considered as good clean Sunday fun. That’s what it looked like to me.
It was something, but it wasn’t football!