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The thrill is gone

~ Guest Opinion

Pro football used to be my shelter from the storm. On Sundays I could actually kick back and have an excuse to just waste my time. It was so much fun to get excited and talk about the upcoming game and who was going to do what to who.

Football helps me cope with short, cold winter days and a lack of sunshine that leads to depression. It is a way to let off frustration, anger and emotions in a safe and controlled way. It is a time when the worst of enemies can all agree that for those few hours all we care about is whose team came out on top.

On Mondays we all go back to work, back to our everyday territorial wars and corporate ass kissing, just waiting for that next Sunday to either get revenge or gloat.

I had a large group of neighbors who worshipped the San Diego Chargers. For the past decade we had a drawing every season for hosting dates and during the season we would parade around the neighborhood attending a different party every week. It was a wonderful way to promote community spirit and camaraderie. My wife and I looked forward to those Sundays, especially when it was our turn to host.

For me, when the Chargers announced they would leave for greener pastures in Los Angeles, it was like losing my dog. It still hurts.

Then, to make matters totally unbearable, the league decided to abandon Americanism. The national sport that pits 32 teams against each other over a three month long season, then settles our differences in a spectacular display of Americanism called the Super Bowl, suddenly turned against their own fans. The NFL decided that making political statements by a few of their multimillionaire employees was more important than paying tribute to the nation by standing to sing the National Anthem.

The employers are pandering to their petulant employees.

The NFL’s problem is even bigger than the politics of dissent: The game has changed. It has morphed into a virtual reality video game of inhuman superhero humanoids. The equipment and rules changes have neutered the running game and pass defenses. The selfish showboating, the foul language, the long delays for video replays and advertising, and the disrespect for the coaches and officials, has destroyed  tempo and tempered momentum, and tarnished respect for the traditions of the game.

The whole idea of fanatical local allegiance has been marginalized. With the advent of fantasy teams, who cares where you live? Who cares about any one team? Loyalty based team history is out the window. It is all about individual stats and fantasy team performance now. It has evolved into a TV bloodsport. It is Survivor with a pigskin.

It is impossible to form a relationship with the team or the players. They don’t care about us anymore, as those of us living in San Diego have been so rudely reminded. And to allow players to disrespect the American flag during the singing of our national anthem was the last straw for traditionalists.

Between social justice anti-American politics, fantasy leagues and free agency, the teams don’t recognize us and we don’t recognize them. For me and my affair with pro football, the thrill is gone…

I can’t watch anymore, because my Sunday peacetime is too important to me.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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