Despite every effort from the NFL, I’m still a fan

Before I start out doling out any of my hot takes at you, I want to take this chance to give my quick appreciation to my staff and all of our readers who liked, followed and shared all of our stories from this past week and a half or so. We reached crazy amounts of social media engagement through our coverage of the registered sex offender seen around Mason and the rise and fall of the new Mason Dining guidelines empire.

A special shout out to the weird, crazed feral cat murderer/threatener/drug keeper-awayer who wreaked havoc on our comments sectioning the first week back, so that was exciting stuff.

What I actually wanted to talk about this week was the beginning of the National Football League regular season. Of course, the glut of the games happened yesterday, and boy, wasn’t it crazy when the good guys did the cool thing with the sports ball and the home team won? To any online readers, I sound like an idiot, and to print readers, the status quo is maintained in terms of intelligence expectancy.

From the usual thoughts you’ve seen in this space, you probably wouldn’t expect that one of the few ways I make a cursory connection with anybody is through a mutual love of sports, especially football. Sports have always been one of my main passions, and though professional football has taken a backseat recently to the agony of an 82-game hockey season, I am still a devoted NFL fan.

In recent years, that last sentence almost flies in the face of any logic a rational, sane person of the world should have. To make matters worse, not only am I cursed with the burden of being an NFL fan, I willfully support the Washington football team. And yes, I will fully admit to being someone who only hopped on the omitting the nickname bandwagon when the most recent conversation came around to stop.

I have no real, substantive reason for continuing my allegiance to Washington’s franchise beyond the blind faith and devotion any sports fan feels to their respective team. I have the merchandise, I’ve devoted well beyond the annual 16 weeks of 4-hour blocks of brainpower and torment that the NFL requires of its fans, and — against any better judgement of my 14-year-old self — the walls of the bedroom in my home oppose each other in coats of burgundy and gold.

I tell you this only to embarrassingly profess my addiction to a team that’s owned by an actual garbage man. The team I choose to love — in my time of willing cognizance — has been a damn near void of likability. Washington has employed and overpaid countless under-qualified men to try to play and coach a game in which the job description requires some level of competency. When a bonafide young superstar was brought onboard to the team, he was actually played until he physically could not play the game the same way again all in the span of four months. Oh, and that owner who defends his team’s racist nickname? He has sued the team’s fans, the team’s media critics and has legitimately hired a PR brain trust that includes a former Va. senator who holds that specific title for spouting a racial slur and Lanny Davis, whose client list includes a nation’s dictator in addition to an outright war criminal.

Yet, my heart goes on. Even in the macro view of the NFL and its ecosystem as a whole, in the past calendar year, we’ve seen a continuation of sweeping under the rug the physical effects and deterioration caused by playing the game. A public barrage of the most sizzling array of hot takes were dispensed when a prospective player publicly disclosed he was gay to the dismay of decent people who just want to move on from hateful bigots who still choose to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. The commissioner of the league not only turned in a jarringly ignorant decision to the stark reality and unfortunate prevalence of domestic violence in his league, but had the audacity to act as the moral arbiter of right and wrong in his attempt to correct himself when the flame he felt underneath burned too hot.

All this shade I’m throwing is not forgotten when I watch, but the ecstasy derived from the artful and operatic performance of the athletes who devote their lives playing a game numbs that inner rage on a weekly basis long enough to make the viewing worthwhile. The sight of a well-lofted pass heaved 60 yards, a swift, stiff extended arm from a ball carrier to a would-be defender and suddenly noticing a man who has achieved unfathomable levels of fitness and size moving at even more improbable speeds darting from off the visible lens of a television camera to deliver the perfect, clean form tackle that is turned into a .gif on my Twitter feed within three minutes.

Because really, plutocrats and groups of old, rich white men are so pervasive in enough facets of life that reckoning their influence and stench to enjoy a sport that provides a sense of connection to others and fills the void that any number of more reasonable activities could never sate is a trade-off I will make for yet another season.