Sunday, September 13, 2015

Some Unamazing Thoughts on the Beginning of the National Football League Season, Though I Do Manage to Mention Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus

The National Football League regular season gets underway today. Well, it actually started Thursday when New England's offense got the better of a confused looking Steelers D.

The talk coming out of the game was about Pittsburgh's sideline having the Patriots radio broadcast in the coaching staff's headsets. More allegations of New England's dirty tricks. Apparently it is a common occurrence for the visiting team at Gillette Stadium.

For a diehard Seahawks fan it was a tough way to begin the season: all the flashbacks of Malcolm Butler's Super Bowl interception; the repulsive Bob Kraft in hipster footwear hoisting the Lombardi trophy to the rapturous Foxborough masses; the tight camera shots of handsome Tom Brady; Julian Edelman making catch after catch. It was like sitting down to a several-course meal, and all the plates and bowls set before me were filled with steaming piles of shit.

But this morning hopefully things will turn out to be more appetizing. As a devotee of the Sunday ritual of television gazing, I usual begin each new season with trepidation. The thought is, "Oh, no. Here we go again." Seventeen weeks, plus the playoffs, from the end of summer to the beginning of winter, usually on my mattress on the floor, a newspaper or printout in hand, filled with stress and moments of ecstasy.

Sadly, it is what qualifies as communal activity in our digital age, a time when our political structures have been zombified by neoliberalism; it also connects us to the roots of our Western "civilization." Let us then call it essential activity.

I read a newspaper that features the writings of superb football reporter, Ken Belson; I get Dave Zirin's blog posts in my email inbox; and while I let my sub to Sports Illustrated lapse, I'll still pick up one now and then at the magazine rack of my local grocery store. That being said, I enter this season unprepared. I have followed very little the off-season and preseason developments, for instance, the huge loss of status of commissioner Goodell as a result of Tom Brady's Deflategate triumph in federal court. (I know enough to conclude that it is good for the players; the league office can no longer capriciously discipline individuals.)

The reason for my lack of preparation is the painful way the season ended. The Seahawks should be repeat champions with Marshawn Lynch the MVP of the last Super Bowl. The fact that they are not and the despised, corrupt Patriots are the world champions is a wound that has not healed.

But it makes this season one of incredible drama for Seahawks fans. This is most likely Marshawn Lynch's last year in Seattle. Once Beast Mode goes, the Seahawks will have a completely different personality; it will be a different team. So this is the year that the wound has to be healed. I liken it to Oedipus at Colonus. Can we come to terms with our past failures and be absolved by Zeus?

We'll find out. The morning is appropriately overcast and rainy. I am going to shelve plans for an eight-mile pre-game run and bunker in for the first NFL Sunday.

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