It’s no secret that I am a football fan. I don’t care if the Mississippi Rattlesnakes are playing the Arkansas Rut Hogs, if the game is on TV, I have clicked right on past the ‘I Love Lucy’ rerun and settled on football with my popcorn.

College football is my viewing choice, but the madness of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) has sent me to my medicine cabinet so many times, I have run out of aspirin.

So most NFL Sundays you will find me propped up in front of my TV with clicker in hand. I try to catch every game, and if there is more than one game going on, my clicker is getting a workout. When they came up with split screen viewing, I was among the first to sign up. When they advertised the NFL package, I picked up my telephone.

As far as I am concerned there is no better entertainment on TV. (Sorry Arnold. Sorry Stalone). Football is alive and unscripted. The only thing that can ruin the contest you are watching is a flag happy zebra, technically known as a game referee, who seems to be covering a bet to pay his car note.

However, there are games afoot in the commissioner’s office. NFL commissioner Roger Godell seems hell bent on ruining the game that we know and love. First, he decided that the NFL All Star Game, trademarked as the Pro Bowl, should be played before the Super Bowl. For my money this is stupid from all angles.

If my home team has a few studs selected for the Pro Bowl and they also are to contend in the Super Bowl, it isn’t fair that they should have to pass on the opportunity because they have to play the following week. The fans miss out, and the players can’t reap the benefit of playing in the Hawaiian sunshine after a game in the sub zero weather in Green Bay. There are a few dollars involved here also.

Then Goodell, in his infinite wisdom, decided it would be nice to extend the current 16-game season to an 18-game season. I am a fan and want to see as much football as possible, yet even I think this is a stupid idea. Some of the players have weighed in on this proposal, and they ain’t for it. This makes no difference to Goodell because he will be sitting in his luxury box sipping on a cocktail while the players are trying to avoid concussions in a February snow storm.

The next thing that concerns me is the fact that he will be diluting the product. In the 2009 season there were 22 games that weren’t sold out. Granted there are some nuts who will be sitting in the stands in Minnesota and Green Bay, but they will be very few.

Some of you are thinking that this beats the alternatives of baseball and golf. At the beginning of the season, baseball is a joke. For those of you who have miss-hit a ball in cold weather you know what I mean. You take a swipe at the ball and come away with this humming in your hands. As far as golf is concerned, Tiger and the boys will be slipping into their long johns for a few of these early events.

Another bad rule that came out of the commissioner’s office was a ban on excessive celebration. Celebrating after a touchdown was a part of the game. Back in the old American Football League (AFL), Billy “White Shoes” Johnson would do his version of the “Funky Chicken” after scoring, and the fans would go wild. Even opposing fans loved it. The celebrations took on a life of their own and it was a part of football. Now if a guy spikes the ball too hard it may cost him $10 grand.

Now “El Comish” has come up with another way to sap the fun out of the game for the fans. He is about to enforce a ban on trash talking. What is wrong with this guy? Trash talking is as much a part of the game as driving for a first down.

When I was a tyke playing on the sandlots, there were no paydays, but being able to talk trash to an opponent was akin to bragging rights. It wasn’t football, but I can remember Dick Barnett shooting a fade away shot from the corner and saying to an opponent just before he released the ball, “We are going the other way now.” As the ball swished through the net the satisfaction was all over Dick’s face. That was trash talking, and we loved it.

Stud athletes are not the type to march in a straight line, so my advice to the commissioner is to leave the game alone. It ain’t broke; stop trying to fix it.

 

Tim Lacy

Special to the AFRO