Bill Simmons’ piece today is really good, particularly his riffing off of Louis CK’s riff about how much we owe good things in life to the immense suffering of others.
…even if it’s not remotely as bad for NFL players (obviously), that same dissociative quality prevails for NFL fans. We just want to watch football. We put up with everything else. It’s just in the way.
We don’t care that Josh Gordon will probably lose a year of his professional career because he would have been better off popping 10 Toradols a day instead of puffing two different joints.
We don’t care that the league doesn’t seem to realize that, if it made an HONEST effort to clean up football from a painkiller-PED-steroid standpoint, there’s a chance we wouldn’t have as many concussions (because the players wouldn’t be quite as fast and strong) or as many off-field incidents (because the players wouldn’t be hormone yo-yos).
We don’t care that Wes Welker should retire right now, that there’s absolutely no way he should play football again after his last concussion, that he’s a 2022 Real Sports segment waiting to happen … and yet you know he’ll be out there in Week 6.
We care about what happened with Ray Rice, and how it was handled … but not nearly enough to stop watching football, right?
All of this, Simmons says, adds up to a league that’s thriving now even as it inevitably – though we’ve no idea how long it will take – heads off a cliff:
And that’s why the National Football League remains America’s true pastime, a reality that reflects our own faults more than we want to admit. The league’s ongoing prosperity will be battling an accompanying (and undeniable) shelf life as science evolves and our society evolves. It’s an end game of sorts. We can see it now. It’s an invisible seesaw that will tip over the NFL, eventually, whether it’s 15 years from now, 30 years from now, or after I’m dead. But it’s coming. And we know it.