LOS ANGELES, February 17, 2013 — Normally late February and early March are the worst weeks of the year. The Super Bowl is over and the NFL Draft is not until April. Sure there is the Scouting Combine, but even many leatherheads cannot feign excitement for that. There is no sport at a critical juncture. Fans are forced on Sunday to go and “do things,” perhaps even outside.
So in a typical year, the end of the NFL season would be a sad affair. Yet for the first time in my lifetime, the passing of football season brings relief. The end of NFL 2012 brings two words that should never be associated with the game of football: Good riddance.
This column was delayed out of respect for the greatest game in the world bringing America one of the most exciting Super Bowls in history. Yet now a couple weeks removed from the confetti, it is a relief that NFL 2012 will never be played again. One of the best Super Bowl games cannot paper over the worst season in the history of the National Football League.
It began in July with the suicide of former star Junior Seau. Dave Duerson also killed himself. Jovan Belcher murdered the mother of his child before taking his own life in front of his coach. Josh Brent was involved in a drunk driving accident that killed his teammate. Before the season was over, another one of Brent’s teammates would be arrested for drunk driving.
The New Orleans Saints began the year with players and coaches suspended for instituting a bounty program designed to deliberately injure opposing players. While former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned the suspensions of the players, this was not an exoneration. The bounty program did exist, and Commissioner Roger Goodell was right to crack down hard.
Even the Super Bowl was not immune from unfortunate circumstances. Linebacker Ray Lewis was asked about being involved in a double homicide twelve years earlier and about using illegal substances in the 2012 season. While Mr. Lewis was innocent in both cases, the questions cast a pall and reflected poorly on the media. This was before a 34 minute delay in the actual game because the lights in the Superdome could not even stay on properly.
This was only a few weeks after Robert Griffin III reinjured his knee without being touched. This is part of the game, but still grisly to watch. It was not as bad as Joe Theisman a quarter of a century earlier, but it still turned stomachs.
On the eve of the glorious Hall of Fame celebration, potential nominee Tim Brown accused former Oakland Raiders Coach Bill Callahan of throwing the Super Bowl. Brown quickly backtracked from this ludicrous statement, but the damage was done.
The NFL decided to sabotage its own awards show at the end of the season by revealing the names of the winners before the show even aired. The NFL Network could not even get the time right for the champion Ravens victory parade, listing the time after it had already ended.
Even fans who can never get enough football rejected having Thursday Night Football every week instead of just to open the season and on Thanksgiving Day. The games were terrible, and television revenues will keep the NFL from pulling the plug on an unnecessary expansion of games during the week.
From beginning to end, everything bad about this season washed over what was good.
Commissioner Goodell is heavily promoting the NFL’s “Heads Up” youth football program to teach coaches how to show kids the right way to play football. Even kids now know to lead with their shoulders, not their heads. Advancements in medicine could show if players have CTE while they are currently playing. This may prevent 2013 from being as miserable a year as this past one.
The National Football League is the king of all sports. It remains the game I love. Yet next year must be better if this game is to survive into the future. As for now, at least the misery that is 2012 is gone.
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.”
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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