Kit and I have had a declining relationship with football for years. Watching his Broncos win the Super Bowl was probably the last highlight, because of his family and community history with the team and the incredible pageantry and spectacle around that game itself. But it’s harder and harder to ignore the injuries that mount up every year, and the NFL’s foot-dragging response to studying them and taking simple, easy steps to ameliorate playing conditions, let alone helping former players live with the injuries they accrued over years of providing entertainment.
And this year comes the outrageous blackballing of Colin Kaepernick, at the very least a capable backup quarterback in a market desperate for that skill set. A couple owners have flat-out said that they wouldn’t hire him because of his famous kneeling protests during the national anthem (to protest police violence toward black men, women, and children); the others have spoken with their inaction. Fortunately, those protests have been picked up by other players and are continuing, but they are continuing despite the NFL’s best efforts.
Many of my friends are giving up football this year, and I’m certainly taking a step back. I’ve run a fantasy league for over a decade and this year I closed it down. I haven’t watched a game yet and have barely read any content compared to my usual football reading in years past. I’m sure I’ll watch a game this year, but I’m surprised at how little I miss it. And in a month or so, basketball starts up again (Warriors!).
This doesn’t mean I’m not going to write another Dev and Lee book. After all, the UFL has a lot of problems, and owner exploitation of the players is universal even if skin color is replaced with fur color and species. And Ty Game is still coming out next year, though there’s actually very little football in that one. So you’ll still have the Firebirds and the Manticores and the Pilots and the Rocs and the Dragons.
This also doesn’t mean I’m going to judge you if you keep following the NFL, and I’ll even happily talk to you about football and so on (I’m sure there will still be great personal stories about the people in the league, the stuff I really love, that I will keep reading up on). I mean, for years I’ve been watching the concussion issues and the homophobia and it took this last straw for me to realize that I could better use my time. But that was a personal decision for me, and that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone or even anyone else.