[Walks into the DFO Clubhouse, grabs chair and turns it around, sits down and turns hat backwards]
This feels right.
I’m Bill from The Free Ballin’ Football Podcast. Happy to be here, excited for you guys to hear us for the first time. I’m an Eagles fan and love playing fantasy football, even though I’ve experienced my fair share of Draymond Green inspired dick kicks over the course of many seasons. I also have a supreme love of hating Todd Gurley on a daily basis (and I’ve never even had him in fantasy), as you’ll see in The Pod. I think Carson Wentz is the certified Truth and the second coming of Brett Favre, hopefully minus all the interceptions and dick pics, and I won’t stand for any differing opinions on that.
I also have a daughter who is going to turn two in November. She’s great… quite literally the light of my life. Last week she started screaming “football” when the games came on and raised her fists in celebration. She’s old enough now to recognize the sport, partially because I’ve dedicated a lot of time to make it something that we do together. I can only hope that football becomes a tradition and connection between us and that we watch it together for years to come… but more and more I’m wondering will we really want to though?
It’s not news that ratings are down for the NFL this year and everyone is FREAKING THE FUCK OUT. There are many reasons for this, and there’s any number of places where you can read or hear broad or specific breakdowns of those reasons, including our podcast this week. For me personally, though? I’m having trouble coming to terms with the fact that if I raise my daughter right, there will likely come a day when she asks me why we love a game that at an institutional and individual level causes so much harm to so many people. The NFL is morally ambiguous at best, amoral at worst, and it has become a moral dilemma for me.
Gone are the days where I can unapologetically watch football. While crunching hits used to bring me off my seat in elation, they now more often than not make me cringe as if I’m the one getting hit. When my daughter watches football with me and we see someone lower the boomstick, I find myself tempering my reaction so I don’t glorify to her a higher degree of violence in an inherently violent game. With every case of CTE and its effects (many times tragic and violent) that become public, I shake my head, wondering how a league that is incapable of reflection will address the long-term health effects to players over the next few decades. With every bungled sexual assault or domestic abuse case, I lose faith but also wonder how much things like CTE play into these horrific acts for these particular individuals. The violence of the game seeps further off the field than we ever previously realized.
As a father of a daughter, I am increasingly having trouble squaring my love as a fan with my unhinged anger I feel whenever another Friday rolls around and we hear about the next scumbag that decided to beat his girlfriend or wife. Josh Brown is not the first or the last man that will assault a woman; he’s simply the latest we know about. It won’t be the last time Goodell and/or a team completely bungles their handling of such matters. Sexual assault and violence against women isn’t a unique thing to the NFL, but sports, and the NFL in particular, hold such an elevated status in our society that when they screw up, it has more meaning than it probably should. However, this only makes the blatant disregard even more appalling. The outright lies the NFL and various teams have told to cover their own asses (See: Rice, Ray; Hardy, Greg; Brown, Josh) is insulting to any non-sociopathic human being. Sometimes I sit on my couch and think “what the hell am I doing supporting the NFL” and other times I suppress it deep down and wonder if my soul isn’t turning just a little bit blacker because of it.
I don’t mean for all of this to be taken as some huge plight put on me… it’s still just football in the grand scheme of life, especially when compared to the real problems we’re discussing. This also isn’t meant to be a curmudgeonly “won’t they think of the children!!!” post. It’s not the NFL’s or anybody else’s job to raise my daughter and set an example for her. I can hold two thoughts in my head. I can say “I love watching football” while also saying “the NFL covers up for wife beaters and murderers all the time and that is abhorrent.” Again, if I raise my kid right, she’ll be able to do that too. It’s just becoming more of a struggle than I ever could have imagined when I got the news two-and-a-half years ago that my wife was pregnant.
So what’s the answer? That’s the shitty part, man. There is no answer. While some people will (have?) dropped the NFL from their lives, there’s so many more that won’t, including me. We’ll keep on watching because we love it and want our daughters and sons to love it… or we have money invested in it… or we’re desperate for a Super Bowl win to validate literal THOUSANDS of hours of fandom. We’re part of the problem… I’m part of the problem. I want my daughter to grow up and watch football with me… I want her to experience the incredible highs and lows of fandom, because quite honestly there is nothing like it. However, I find myself wondering more and more each year if at some point it’ll all be too much. What if the juice ends up not being worth the squeeze anymore?
Alright, thanks for letting me get that out. So what do we have for you in this week’s podcast? Well… it’s a monster one this week, a little longer than we usually like, but I promise it’s worth it! Like I said we talk at length about the NFL ratings, which makes up our flex segment (Production Note: the flex segment covers a different topic each week, so hit us up on Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a good idea). We also give you our regular segments like recaps and previews. We throw people into the Basket of Deplorables, which is basically a mythological place for anyone we feel slighted by through their actions on the Field of Football. We give some survivor pool picks and round out the podcast with fantasy football and betting advice.
Have a listen and let us know what you think in the comments.
Hit us up on Twitter for our daily NFL thoughts and to let us know what games/questions/Basket of Deplorables candidates you think we should cover.
Thanks for welcoming us into the Clubhouse. And as always…. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL OUT!