LOS ANGELES, December 15, 2012 — As with far too many NFL Sundays this year, this week’s football games are played amidst the backdrop of tragedy. During Hanukkah and only days before Christmas, a young man killed 26 people before taking his own life. Twenty of the killed were children under the age of ten.
While it seems silly to discuss football amidst all of this carnage, Americans who have the ability to escape desperately wish to do so. The people of Connecticut do not have that luxury, but even under the worst of times we have to somehow, some way, live our lives and find normalcy. This does not in any way dishonor the victims. It is just life.
Some people could not even escape by watching the NFL, since real life tragedies rocked the league the last two weeks. Yet this week there are no specific tragedies related to football, allowing for some quiet solace on Sunday for fans.
So with a deep respect to those suffering, this column is about football. Many sports columnists such as Jason Whitlock use their columns to promote social causes and political agendas. While my personal political opinions are very strong and documented on the internet for all to see in my political columns, Narcotics For Leatherheads is about football, and only football. My Sunday recap will only cover football. The real world and its pain will still be there on Monday.
Like life, religion, and politics, football can be a source of negative behavior. It can also be a tremendous force for good. Football matters, and the National Football League is a great source of goodness.
For those celebrating Hanukkah, take joy in learning about Alan Veingrad. He is the only Orthodox Jew in America with a Super Bowl ring from playing in the NFL. He was on the Dallas Cowboys 1992 squad under Jimmy Johnson who won it all. Now he speaks around the country offering an inspiring tale of sports and faith.
Former Patriots linebacker and Hall-of-Famer Andre Tippett converted to Judaism. One of the all time great Jewish quarterbacks was Sid Luckman. He led the Bears to the 1940 championship with the “Monsters of the Midway.” One of the craziest players to ever play the game was also Jewish, that being the Raiders’ Lyle Alzado.
American Muslims have also contributed to the National Football League. Hamza and Husain Abdullah both are NFL safeties, who fast during Ramadan yet keep their strength and conditioning up in order to play football. One of the most well known football players who practices Islam is former NFL wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim. Mr. Hakim was a member of the St. Louis Rams “Greatest Show on Turf” that electrified scoreboards from 1999 through 2001 and gave the Rams their only Super Bowl as a franchise.
There are many devout Christians in the NFL. While Tim Tebow is the most famous Christian currently playing, the most successful one would most likely be the late Reggie White. Known as the “Minister of Defense,” this gentle giant sacked quarterbacks during the day and studied scripture at night. With the Eagles and Packers, he tried to get athletes in his locker rooms to lead kids by example and stop cursing. He was studying ancient Hebrew when he died at age 43 from sleep apnea.
Retired NFL running back Ricky Williams was raised Southern Baptist, but he did use Hindu-based “pranic healing” to recover from his injuries. Free agent running back Josh Scobey (not to be confused with kicker Josh Scobee of Jacksonville) is a practicing Buddhist. Retired running back Robert Smith was a key cog in the Minnesota Vikings offense that lit up the league from 1998 through 2000 and reached two NFC Title Games. Mr. Smith is an atheist.
So why does all of this matter? It matters because it does not matter. For those scratching their heads over that one, the National Football League is about people of all shapes, sizes, races, and religions who love the game of football.
After 9/11, the New York Giants and Jets helped their fallen city heal. After Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Saints lifted an entire Gulf Region and put it on their backs.
Football is only a game, but during the toughest of times, it can be a uniting force. So let’s pray and grieve for those who are hurting and learn from the best of football. Come together with your neighbor and watch some football this Sunday. Your team may not win, but you may find out you have a great neighbor.
With that, here is the NFL 2012 Week 15 Preview
Cincinnati Bengals (3) @ Philadelphia Eagles was the Thursday night game.
(Upset special, Eagles win outright)
New York Giants @ Atlanta Falcons (1.5)
Denver Broncos (3) @ Baltimore Ravens
(Upset special, Ravens win outright)
Green Bay Packers (2.5) @ Chicago Bears
Washington Redskins (1.5) @Cleveland Browns
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans (10)
(Texans win but fail to cover)
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Miami Dolphins (7.5)
(Dolphins win but fail to cover)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints (3.5)
Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams (3)
Detroit Lions (6.5) @ Arizona Cardinals
(Lions win but fail to cover)
Seattle Seahawks (5) @ Buffalo Bills
(Upset special, Bills win outright)
Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Chargers (3)
Pittsburgh Steelers (2) @ Dallas Cowboys
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders (3)
San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots (4) is the Sunday night game.
New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans (1.5) is the Monday night game.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian who is obsessed with the National Football League. There is no offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” When not watching football, his only other hobby is Republican, Jewish women. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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