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I, like many red-blooded Americans, am a football fan.  And, while I enjoy the college game, I was raised on a steady diet of NFL on Sundays.  I learned the rules of the game from my father and grandfather as we watched Joe Gibbs coach the likes of Joe Theismann and John Riggins for the Washington Redskins.  I sang along with the Chicago Bears on the “Super Bowl Shuffle” during my years in Chicago, and then swore I would never cheer for them again after the team was practically dismantled after that Super Bowl.  And, I joined the supporters of the fledgling Carolina Panthers, a place my loyalties continue to lie despite their recent slide.

In short, I’m an NFL fan.

As an NFL fan I have dealt with my share of headaches.  I suffered through Dennis Miller doing color commentary.  I gritted my teeth and swallowed it when Disney moved Monday Night Football off of ABC and on to ESPN despite the fact that I don’t, and won’t, pay for cable.  I suffered through the shenanigans of players being stupid (Plaxico Burress) and the outrage of players being violent (Michael Vick and Rae Carruth).  I have dealt with these things and still support the game.

But, this current “crisis.”  It’s trying my patience.

The owners and players all go running to the media extolling their own virtues and demonizing the other side.  Everyone wants you to think the other side is looking to take terrible advantage of them.  I even saw a quote from Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson calling NFL players “modern day slaves.”  Really?  Somehow I don’t think the slaves were making millions of dollars and living La Vida Loca.  And the owners are no better.  Do men who, in most cases, made a fortune elsewhere and own NFL teams as a hobby or sorts really expect sympathy from the rank and file of the American public?

Listening to multi-millionaires argue with each other over who is going to get how big a slice of a multi-billion dollar pie is enough to make my head explode.

But, there is another side to this that is one of the real reasons this irks me.  All the owners, agents, players, and various other hangers-on sit and beat each other to death over this enormous pool of money.  I look at all that money flowing through the NFL and I have to wonder a few things.  I wonder why ticket prices are so high that I can’t afford to go to a game.  I wonder why any kind of merchandise with any kind of NFL logo has a markup on it that defies description.  I wonder why these people think any of us care about their precious salaries when many of us are out of work.

The NFL has managed to price their product beyond the reach of most fans.  A trip to an NFL game will end up costing a couple hundred dollars by the end of the day once tickets, refreshments, programs, and parking are paid for.  And, the NFL isn’t the only culprit here.  Ball games, regardless of what kind of ball, are no longer an accessible means of entertainment for many people.  And that isn’t just because of the current economic woes.

I really think that it’s time for all of the major sports to take a step back.  They need to remember that if they don’t have the fans, they don’t have a sport.  And yes, I can watch the games on television.  Heck, in many ways that is a superior experience.  But, some of us remember with fondness the feel of a live game.

Unfortunately, that feeling may never be experienced by future generations because the quibbling billionaires want to price the riffraff wight out of the stadiums.

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One Comment

  1. I agree with you 100%. I too grew up on the NFL on Sunday, watching and listening to the Eagles play. Thinking to myself how amusing it was to watch my mom get so upset and yelling at the TV when the Eagles were having a bad day. Sometimes we had arguments over her Eagles and my Patriots (30+ year fan as you know). I also remember an upstart to the NFL, called the USFL. They played int eh spring, but we could go to the Philadelphia Stars games at the stadium because they were affordable. It was also refreshing to see player enjoying the game they chose as a career, as did the NFL of the 80s. I do not have that same feeling of today’s players. They are all about the money. The attitudes have changed and they are no longer role models to look up to. Like many big business today, they have to realize with out the common working folk like us, there is no money for them.


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