National Football League tackles problems

By Mike Murphy

Falling asleep on the couch while watching an NFL preseason game during which the Cleveland Browns could not run off two consecutive plays without being called for a penalty,  I dreamt that the gazillion-dollar baby Johnny Manziel ripped off his helmet, rolled and started smoking a thousand-dollar bill while pulling down his pants and mooning the Washington Redskins bench which, at that very moment, was surrounded by a group of angry Native Americans pounding on drums and chanting a protest concerning the team name.

Abruptly, I woke up, long-snapped back to reality and thought: Welcome to the 2014 football season!

There’s just nothing like switching from the long, boring major league baseball telecasts which consist of watching players running, spitting, diving, spitting, etc. all of which frequently result in season-ending injuries or at least time on the DL (Disabled List) due to players slipping on spit and getting hurt.

I swear by mid-season the Colorado Rockies had more starters sitting in the dugout competing to see who could cram the biggest chew in their mouths than on the playing field.  Everything from tripping over the foul line to choking on sun flower seeds seemed to result in time off for players this season. What is going on?!  Why, Babe Ruth once ran into a brick wall, was knocked unconscious, yet stayed in the game and went 3-for-3 at the plate.

So, at last we get to switch to watching a real man’s sport, football.  No big, tough football player is going to let some injury keep him from . . . wait . . . what’s this?  An NFL injury list as long as the preacher’s Sunday sermon?  We’re halfway through the preseason and players already out with hurt toes, necks, ribs, ankles, etc.  A number with season-ending injuries before the season has even begun!

I’ll tell you, if I was an NFL coach there would be no contact during preseason.  I would just use psycho-cybernetics and have the players sit and imagine running, tackling, spiking the ball, dancing, etc.  And don’t tell me they need contact to get ready for the real season.  That’s like saying a boxer has to practice getting punched in the head so he can take a punch in matches.  I’m not buying it.

Of course, injuries aren’t the only cause of football players missing in action.  No doubt I’d be favored to win the Super Bowl if I could manage to post bond and form a team with all the incarcerated NFL players.  There are dozens.  Yet only three players from the Canadian Football League currently are doing time!  Yah, sure, you betcha, the Canucks are a little smarter when it comes to the nightlife.

Apparently, part of NFL players’ grueling off-season training regimen includes hanging out at strip clubs until dawn—the sacrifices these athletes have to make!  Not satisfied with a lap dance, they frequently end up doing the Harlem shake on some dude’s head, and often the dude turns out to be a policeman.

What is it about football players and legal problems?  It’s gotten so bad that the NFL commissioner has considered a rule banning them from the clubs.  Some players would probably just end up stumbling into trouble elsewhere, for example looking to beat up Jack at an open-all-night Jack in the Box.

At the rate legal problems continue to plague pro football players, someone should organize an NFL Fantasy Felon League.  If that happens, it’s a safe bet that Aaron Hernandez will be designated a franchise player for his team.

And it’s not just the pros that are having preseason problems.  What about Notre Dame’s investigation into football players getting other students to do their homework?  When asked if the players received help with their school work, head coach Brian Kelly responded, “Say, I’ve got to run.  Need to bone up before taking a trig final this afternoon.”

Despite the injuries and legal issues, this should be a very entertaining football season and full of interesting twists, such as:

The Oregon Ducks’ new Nike uniforms will actually make the players invisible resulting in an undefeated season—or at least that’s what they’ll tell us.

The Cleveland Browns will tally more concussions than touchdowns by season end.

Ratings will skyrocket as broadcasts show cheerleaders more often, and coaches adjusting headsets less.

The hurry up, no huddle offense is taken to a new level when players do not even bother to get up off the turf before starting the next play—no, wait, that’s rugby.

Finally, the biggest story will be that for the first time in NFL history, a gay married couple will line up against each other in a regular season game.  At home later that evening, one of them will be relegated to sleeping on the couch.

Mike Murphy of Pocatello retired after a 35-year teaching and coaching career.  He has a master’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is an Associated Press award-winning columnist.