Some days, inspiration for a post is very hard to come by. Other days, the blog practically writes itself.
Such was the case today, when I got in my car and was summarily treated to the inane blathering of one Colin Cowherd. Cowherd holds the aural Bristol fort during their national mid-morning feed. Perhaps not coincidentally, most major ESPN Radio markets have their own programming during the day, so it comes as no surprise that Cowherd’s reach is likely intentionally stunted by geo/demo- graphics.
Really, it’s for the best. Unless you happen to live in the holy city, where their local show starts at 11. As wretched as that broadcast is–two guys who are still living the Old School dream, giggling uncontrollably and talking about Domino’s Pizza for an hour while sprinkling in hackneyed commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals–at least their tripe is kept to a mid-sized city and only for an hour. [Unrelated, I miss Common. At least Dan Cole has a schtick that works. Even if that schtick is mailing it in on a daily basis.]
During the very hour I write, Cowherd had the gall to suggest that concern about concussions in football was “fear-mongering” and thus overblown. In preface to that proposition–what made me nearly run over my mailbox while backing out of the driveway–he proffered that boxing in America was, at its height, only a regional phenomenon, relegated to a few cities. He justified that statement by claiming that boxing was poorly run and mismanaged and that the NFL was a better-executed business than boxing ever was. This writer agrees to both of those premises, but saying that boxing was only big in a select few markets is downright laughable, and undermines any hope he might have had at making a cogent argument, which he prima facie failed at, anyway.
80 years ago, no one gave two craps about football. Not even my beloved Green Bay Packers mattered. Basketball was still in its professional infancy. Hockey was decidedly regional, Canada and predominantly, the northeastern United States. The three sports which held the nation’s interest? Baseball, horse racing and…boxing. In fact, though boxing is held widely with disdain today, a good boxing story will still draw an audience. The Fighter? Cinderella Man, anyone? An episode of Mad Men predominantly featured Ali-Liston II. Box offices were chartered out to show fights. National radio broadcasts featured blow-by-blow commentary. Newspapers had boxing columnists.
Cowherd can’t possibly be dumb enough to believe what he is saying, can he? I mean, this isn’t even up for discussion. Boxing, for all its dirty underbelly, was a very big deal for decades. MMA is becoming now what boxing was then.
Now, let’s *ahem* tackle the other issue, concussion concerns as “fear-mongering”. In the wake of Dave Duerson and, most recently, Junior Seau, to marginalize concussions this way is at the very least tasteless. Granted, there are former football players who have sustained multiple concussions who seem to be fully-functioning–Troy Aikman and Steve Young to name two, though the former seems to have difficulty putting a coherent thought together on FOX’s NFL crack-shot A-team duo but at least he has a plausible excuse; which reminds me, what’s your excuse, Joe Buck?–the fact that there is considerable growing concern about the lingering effects 250 pound men can have colliding into each other with greater velocity cannot be relegated to fear-mongering akin to Y2K.
Plus, as extra-football examples, what of baseball’s Justin Morneau, or Corey Koskie? No pads, but one career has been severely railroaded while the other was ended outright. No big deal, Colin? Hockey’s Eric Lindros?
The notion that the NFL’s success as a wildly-successful business will preclude it from being seriously scrutinized down the line, as Cowherd went on to say, is then even more absurd. The size and success of a business does not protect it from a regulatory or litigious smackdown; just ask the tobacco industry, or banking, after 2008, or last week’s disclosures. In fact, if a company is too big and too successful, it could be subject to antitrust penalties (Standard Oil, AT&T, Ma Bell, amongst others.) The NFL has an antitrust exemption, but it could easily be stripped.
In all likelihood, a player will die on the field before that time comes. And that’s a shame: no one should give his or her life to entertain. Just ask Howard Beale. In fact, Beale made more sense than Colin Cowherd, but no one is asking Cowherd to blow his brains out on national television. Nor do we want him gunned down by guerillas as the opening of the new season of the Mao Tse Tung Hour, much less by the doofi from Around the Horn.
We just want you to take a hint from one Champ Kind and quit saying things that crop up off the ol’ skull.