The National Football League: America's Pastime

The National Football League: America's Pastime

I’m a big Googler. Literally, every time I hear or see someone ask a question they don’t know the answer to I pull out my iPhone in an effort to show them how smart I am.

There’s even a science to it, you know? There’s a certain évidence (that’s French, girls) separating the fact from fiction, which internet savvy folks like myself can recognize.

But . . . let’s backup, shall we?

Monday morning I hopped a flight from O’Hare, Chicago to John F. Kennedy, New York.

28 hours later (isn’t that a zombie movie . . . maybe that’s “days” . . .) I was back at JFK, writing my then third column about the shirts NFL players would dawn some five months from now, while eating an $18 Caesar salad (I regret every bite).

It wasn’t until today that it hit me: Yesterday was one day prior to the official opening of the Major League Baseball season.

One day prior to MLB and everyone, it seemed like to me anyway, was talking about . . . the shirts NFL players would dawn some five months from now.

Back to Google . . .

So, I decided to Google “America’s Pastime” earlier today just to see what would come up. Every post on the first page of results—in some way, shape or form—referenced baseball.


The 2011 World Series finale (a Game-7, mind you) attracted 25.4 million viewers.

How cute.

Just 10 weeks into the 2011 NFL regular season, and the Giants @ 49ers game was watched by 25.9 million viewers. That was one regular season game, among 13 other games played that very same afternoon.


From Peyton (Manning) to Payton (Sean), from Tim Tebow to an over-the-top Nike uniform reveal, the NFL is on the tippy-top of the American sports world. Believe that.

Nothing is simple anymore, and everything is a production.

There is no more NFL offseason. The minute the season “ends,” fans get the almost as exciting process of free agency talk, which leads so perfectly into the Combine and the Draft, which leads so perfectly into the offseason program, and which ultimately leads so eloquently into training camp and the preseason.

I just posted an article today on the Bears’ MEANINGLESS! preseason schedule, which garnered notable attention. An article I posted months ago, on which teams the Bears would face in the 2012 season has been our No. 1 post (in terms of reads) almost every day since being published.

I’m willing to bet 99% of my readership knows who Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck are. I’m willing to bet that same (or similar) percentage has no idea who, both, Mark Appel and Byron Buxton are.

What would you say if I told you that an estimated $80 to $100 billion (yes, billion) dollars is wagered on the NFL each and every year? What if I told you that’s over $300 for every man, woman and child in the United States?

What does all that mean? The hell if I know. All I know is we love us some football.

The NFL is the ultimate soap opera. And so what?! For those of you who want to hate on a group of 100+ media members spending two days covering uniforms, which showcase subtle changes at best, over the start of a new MLB season, get over it and realize that the NFL is king.

Baseball is second best . . . at best.

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  • Whenever I read an article like this, I recall the late, great George Carlin and his routine comparing football and baseball. Football, and it's innumerable combat metaphors fits better in post-Vietnam America, where one only has contact with military matters if they choose to. In America during the draft era, one knew at least at a visceral level what war was really like. Everyone either was a veteran or knew someone who was.

    Baseball is a more sedate game, more designed for less competitive true PLAY and kind of evolved into beer league softball today. What's important in baseball is a day in the fresh (well, smoggy these decades) air with friends. Football is stylized battle, for those who do not remember, nor wish to ever contemplate, much less experience actual war, until they chicken-hawk about blowing up Iran.

    Don't get me wrong, I love Bear football as much as the next exiled Chicagoan, but it's just sad to contemplate how we've regressed as a society.

  • In reply to LordDragon:

    Love this comment, and I do appreciate the sentiment! I enjoy a day at the ballpark as much as the next guy. In fact, some of my favorite sports experiences involve taking my family to Sox games. I think I’ve yet to experience something that can put you in such a content, good mood as quickly and as easily as an evening baseball game.

  • Baseball died for me in the mid-80's...too many strtikes, too much disappointment with the Cubs. I worked my way through high school and college painting houses around Chi-town and radio broadcasts were a regular part of my work day.

    For me, football is king and NFL Sunday Ticket and TIVO are the most important innovations for me in my lifetime as I have chased my career around the country and no longer live in the Chicago area. I never miss a game....and while I get very frustrated at times with the Bears, I can not root for another team! And I am in no way an emotionally driven person...but Sundays at Soldier home or in person, get my blood pressure up!

    Football is the consumate team sport....there is no doubt to me the the QB is a position that can and does alter the outcome of most games/teams/coaches/GM's...but aside from that, there is no one player that can change the outcome of the game. The strategy, the chess match and of course the physical intimidation/warrior factor is what it is all about...controlled violence in a skill setting.

    I am an NFL is dead for me, the Bulls are entertaining but I'm not passionate about it. I used to watch the blackhawks with my dad as a kid but then I couldn't because of tv I hardly remember the rules. Soccer is watching paint dry...don't blink or you might miss the one goal of the game!

    Internet boards like this one only fuel my hunger as I can interact with other NFL junkies from hundreds of miles away!

  • "dido!"

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