'The NFL will corrode your soul. So you should skip the Super Bowl'

By KEVIN HORRIGAN | St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Published: February 6, 2016

Here’s an idea: Don’t watch the Super Bowl.

It’s OK. You won’t be arrested. Go to the park. Go to a movie. Watch something else. Cut your toenails. Anything.

Don’t reward the evil-doers who snatched the Rams from St. Louis. It’s like quitting cigarettes: Once they’re gone, it’s easier to admit how damaging they were.

The Broncos. The Panthers. You don’t live in Denver or Charlotte. What do you care? Here are 20 more reasons:

1. Stan Kroenke will get a piece of the loot.

2. Roger Goodell, too.

3. So will the 29 other NFL owners who dumped all over you. Fight back. You’re in the 21st largest media market in the United States. Maybe they won’t care. In which case I’ve made my point.

4. You don’t want to miss the cute commercials? Missing the commercials is the whole idea.

5. You say you like Clydesdale commercials? Why is a brewery whose headquarters is in a city that’s been dumped on not once (the football Cardinals), not twice (the Purple Stallions) but three times (the Inglewood Rams) advertising on the Super Bowl? What kind of loyalty is that? Buncha Brazilians.

6. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I’m pretty sure Edmund Burke was talking about the NFL.

7. Peyton Manning. He’s hooked up with “Papa John” Schnatter’s pizza company. Schnatter is hooked up with the Koch brothers, who are undermining democracy, thus Peyton Manning is undermining democracy. You could look it up.

8. Cam Newton. Anybody named Cam who works in Charlotte, N.C., ought be a NASCAR driver.

9. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.

10. The fourth quarter will probably overlap the start of “Patton” on TCM. You don’t want to miss the start of “Patton” and George C. Scott in that shiny helmet and all the medals on his chest, talking about how “Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.” I’m pretty sure Patton was talking about the Rams.

11. Brain trauma. The NFL’s own actuaries estimated that 28 percent of its players will develop long-term cognitive problems. If you knew an airplane had a 28 percent chance of crashing, would you go out to the airport to watch it take off? Wait. Don’t answer that.

12. The late Mike Webster, who won four Super Bowl rings with the Steelers, is now the face of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Ken Stabler won the 1977 Super Bowl with the Oakland Raiders; last week a postmortem revealed he had CTE, too.

13. There are 1,696 NFL players. Are we good with 474 of them developing long-term cognitive problems? For our entertainment and to sell cars and pizza?

14. We’ve banned dog-fighting and cockfighting because animals don’t know any better. Most football players apparently don’t either. An Associated Press survey conducted this football season found only 39 of 100 players who said they were more worried about the long-term effects of concussions than those of other injuries. Twenty either said they are not concerned at all about concussions or less concerned about them than other injuries.

15. In “The Game’s Not Over,” author Gregg Easterbrook says the NFL is “the quintessential American sport, a magnificent incarnation of our national character.” In reviewing the book in the New York Review of Books, David Maraniss writes that Easterbrook praises the NFL’s “aesthetic beauty, the way it brings together fans of disparate races and incomes, and how it provides an outlet for emotion and manliness in an artificial universe where, unlike the real world, nothing terrible happens.”

16. Except for, you know, a little chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

17. Quoting Steve Almond in “Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto,” Maraniss writes: “Nearly three quarters of the construction fund for CenturyLink Field came from Washington State taxpayers. “The [Seahawks’] owner, Paul Allen, pays the state $1 million a year in ‘rent’ and collects most of the $200 million generated. If you are wondering how to become like Allen, one of the richest humans on earth, negotiating such a lease would be a good start.”

18. Lady Gaga will perform the national anthem. Beyoncé and Coldplay will perform at halftime. They clearly hate St. Louis. You should boycott them, too. I certainly have.

19. I miss “Up With People.” Back at Super Bowl V, “Up With People” performed with the Southeast Missouri State marching band. SEMO was never invited back. The NFL hates Cape Girardeau, too.

20. The game cannot possibly live up to the pregame. The Broncos sent a practice squad player home after he was ensnared in a prostitution sting. Let’s see: This guy’s a professional athlete. He’s at the Super Bowl. There are a zillion young lovelies around and he gets caught by an undercover cop at a Motel 6. This guy doesn’t need a brain injury.

As the poet said:

“The NFL will corrode your soul.

So you should skip the Super Bowl.”


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