OK, the end of Monday night’s game was awful. An embarrassment. A disgrace. Steve Sabol is already rolling over in his grave. (Too soon?) But the replacement refs are actually the least of the NFL’s problems. The bigger issue: football itself is a really f’ed-up sport. Here are 17 reasons its design is seriously flawed.
1. It has 800 rules, 900 clock stoppages per game and requires eight people to officiate.
2. And takes four hours to play.
3. And cuts to 50 commercial breaks.
4. And costs a thousand dollars per player in equipment, and requires 50-plus players on each team.
5. And paralyzes people.
6. And causes so much brain damage in other people that they are compelled to shoot themselves.
7. And offensive linemen, whose main job is to be huge, end up dying before they’re 55 because man isn’t supposed to weigh 385 pounds.
8. And guys’ helmets are on so tight that when they remove them, they’ve got huge red imprints on their foreheads.
9. Or their ears rip off.
10. And the contracts don’t mean anything.
11. And half of the millionaire players are broke 10 minutes after they retire.
12. And the coaches study game “film” 20 hours a day, like they’re searching for a cure for cancer.
13. And 90 percent of Americans never played it in any organized way and wouldn’t survive a single snap.
14. And it’s played on fake grass so that guys can run even faster and collide into each other even harder.
15. And it’s called “football,” even though feet touch the ball for roughly 14 seconds per game.
16. And after you score a touchdown with no time left to win the game, you’re required to kick a point-after, even though the defense can’t score off it, rendering the play, ahem, pointless.
17. And there are apparently specific footballs used just for kicking (which I didn’t even realize until last night, and I’ve been watching the game for about eight hours per week for the past 30 years). Which is another inane detail about a sport that’s full of inane details, and which keeps getting reinvented, season after season, like some bloated Hollywood movie that’s gone through 27 different screenwriters and eight different directors. And not even NFL lifers like Jon Gruden can keep up with the plethora of little tweaks and wrinkles and changes.
So why can’t I stop watching?