Fifteen years ago I was a faithful NFL Season Ticket Holder. We had 20 yard line seats on the lower deck. I bought the licensed NFL gear. I had (still have) complete tailgate supplies-tent, fold up chairs, tables - a tiny tv for instant replay (people use their smart phones now). I have special binoculars meant for stadiums. We even selected our a cars based upon how well it would work at a tail gate.
On off weeks we'd meet in sports bars or other people's homes and tail gate there. We bought the big tv's (currently 70") and hosted the playoffs and Superbowl parties. My Sister-in-law was the chef for the Dolphins when they used the Rolling Hills Country Club for their cafeteria. I visited their "new" training center - it's the best place to buy the new NFL licensed gear.
I love football.
I'm a Dolfan, but I also like the Browns and the Giants. I root for anybody who beats New England and/or the Jets. I don't watch NE/Jets games unless the outcome somehow benefits the Fins. My cousin played for the Packers many, many, many years ago. I like to see Denver and Seattle win, unless they are playing the Dolphins. During the playoff's I just like to see great football. Here's my all time favorite picture I took of Tom Brady right after he threw an interception ending New England's chances of going to the Superbowl a few years back. I could stare at this picture forever. Brady's expression is perfect.
I love football.
When the Dolphins moved from the Orange bowl to the fish bowl (I don't know who currently paid for naming rights this year), I really liked the stadium; until I sat in it for the game opener and it was 108 degrees inside the bowl. But! That's great! because the Jets and New England have to play in that heat every other year and it really tanks their energy!
Ok, Dolfans can get a bit fanatical.
Somewhere along the line, I stopped loving football, but I still liked it, a lot.
After 9/11 going to the games became less pleasant. More rule heavy. Lots more restrictions on what you could take into the stadium. The Body pat downs got a little too personal. The last year we bought season tickets we had 3 crucial incidents that helped us make that decision.
1. We took our daughter to one game wearing normal teenager tight short shorts and a spaghetti strap tank top (it was one of the 108 degree days). She clearly had no place to hide anything in that outfit. She was a teenager, but she looked like a tween. She was subjected to a highly inappropriate pat down search by a pervert. That's not just my opinion, but also the opinion of my Dolfan game going friends with me that day.
2. A couple games later, we were walking into the stadium following the crowd when I got separated from my husband. I turned around to see that he was being tackled by a police officer a foot taller than him and out weighed him by an easy 60 pounds. He was trying to catch up to me and the police officer said he was suspicious. The other three officers present didn't agree with the tackler, but my husband had his ticket confiscated. A compassionate eye witness to the tackle gave me an extra ticket they had and wouldn't take any money for it, but that game was a real downer for us.
3. We had given up our 20 yard line tickets and moved to the end zone. I loved sitting in the end zone and we took the end zone duty of making A LOT OF NOISE WHENEVER THE VISITING TEAM WAS CLOSE TO SCORING AT OUR END ZONE. I didn't love the price of those tickets as they neared $100 each. Parking passes were creeping up $5 per year, too. When we got the bill for the new season the seats went to about $120 and the parking passes were something like $25. When I added in the gas the tolls the special gear, the thuggishness of the stadium employees; it was an easy $5,000 decision to let our season tickets go.
I still liked football a lot, but I no longer cared to go to the games in person.
When I was getting my master's degree over 10 years ago, one of my professors gave me an assignment to look into NFL sports injuries. I lost the paper long ago, but I got the point. The NFL has not been very good about injuries once players leave the NFL for good. The NFL doesn't do a good job of managing or preventing injuries. They are better at spinning research and hiring shills to do their studies. The NFL is loath to even admit some injuries have long lasting, debilitating effects. Over time the studies got better despite the NFL's interference. Concussions and CTE are the big headlines today, but arthritis and opioid use issues can be just as debilitating if not as violent. Today, some people wonder about a possible connection between concussions, CTE and domestic violence. Research is sure to follow that thought. Some people aren't waiting for the results and are calling for a ban on tackle football until players are 16 years old. That's probably the best thing for the players.
I always admired Junior Seau as a player. Seau played with heart on the field and I was saddened by his off field issues. The Seau family has opted out of the concussion settlement and is pursuing a wrongful death case against the NFL. When Junior Seau died and I read about the circumstances of his death, I decided to redo the assignment my professor gave me a decade ago and I've been monitoring NFL injuries ever since.
Then there is the criminal aspects of the NFL that lead back to college football. Jerry Sandusky, Jameis Winston, Aaron Hernandez are just a couple names to think about. Why didn't Joe Concha cover the angle that Hope Solo is married to Jerramy Stevens, one of the 84 NFL players with an arrest history? It may be just a coincidence, but it's an interesting coincidence. BTW, speaking of Hope Solo, we are seeing a connection between soccer and CTE and we're finding soccer isn't all that safe after all. Are there dots to connect between brain injury and domestic violence? Research has yet show show a causal link. All we know for sure is that a lot of well paid sports personalities behave very badly. I loved football, but I don't want to see anyone destroy their body over a game.
Then, there's last year's Ritchie Incognito - Jonathen Martin situation that was wrong on multiple levels. Chris Kluwe is no longer playing. Michael Sam is on a practice squad instead of playing.
How the NFL mishandled Ray Rice was not a final straw for me. It was a confirmation.
I loved football. I rationalized my decision to separate all this injury, crime and intolerance from the game. All I wanted to do was watch football. Kick back, relax and enjoy watching and talking with my friends. I loved seeing some great plays and awesome athleticism. It was great for something to talk about on Monday mornings during the fall and winter.
I still like to watch football, but I'm not enthusiastic about it anymore.
I haven't watched a game so far this season.
I'm not boycotting the NFL so much as I'm doing other things when the games are on. I'm surprised to be able to write; I'm not missing a thing. Will I be hosting a Superbowl party this year? I don't know, maybe.