To separate or divorce from the NFL

To separate or divorce from the NFL

By Eric Becker

Sports Extra

If it wasn’t for high school football, there wouldn’t be any football worth watching.  It’s the only brand of the game that I can truly say I enjoy   these days.

My former loving relationship with professional football is one I wish would rekindle. But, given the circumstances over the past seven months, it’s hard to put into words how difficult it’s going to be for me to watch the NFL this year. I certainly won’t be following it as closely as the last three decades and that includes my favorite team.

As of this writing, come week one of the season, I will not be tuned into the games. Is it on principal? Is it me being a bitter, bitter football fan over the NFL’s handling of the Rams move? Yes, and yes. That has a lot to do with it. I still have not forgiven the corrupted league for its inability to put greed over the common sense of following their own relocation guidelines.

I knew it was a possibility the Rams were leaving for L.A. But then the Rams so-called leadership kicking St. Louis even more on the way out of the city was just propane on the fuel.

Every year since the early 1980s, I would sit in front of the television set in either my parents house, my college dorms, or my own apartments or houses in various parts of the state and country and watch the NFL for six or seven hours each Sunday.

I’d write down scores to all the games, keep track of the standings and stats for some of the players, with an emphasis on my team, the Seahawks. I now know I’ve wasted a good portion of my life watching a product not worth my time any more.

Watched every Super Bowl starting with the 1982 game between the 49ers and Bengals in Super Bowl XVI. Well, that streak ended last year when I did not turn the game on until there were two minutes left, and that was by accident.

Since Jan. 12, 2016 I watched only one playoff game – the Seahawks/Panthers game. The Panthers were up 31-0 at one point I said enough was enough and missed most of Seattle’s second half comeback bid. Still, I was not mad about that. I proved that me, myself and  I could survive without the NFL.

The NFL doesn’t need  fans like myself and I don’t really need the NFL. A few years ago a representative from the St. Louis Rams public relations department contacted me to chat. He asked about possibly purchasing season tickets, or to a single game at the dome.

If I knew what the Rams were going to do then, I’d have given him a not so nice Mr. Becker speech to him.

Of course, Kroenke doesn’t care what I think. The NFL doesn’t care what I think. ‘Ooh, one less fan, how will we survive?’ they would probably question.

I don’t follow college football at all, so that leaves high school football.

Yes, there is discussion about whether the sport is too violent. The number of concussions are on the rise and the IHSA has done its part in trying to combat these valid concerns.

It’s still a thrilling sport to watch, especially at the prep level where these youngsters try to better themselves and help the team achieve success on a week-in and week-out basis. Last year watching Carlinville  was the best time I’ve ever had covering football on a prep level. Winning football tends to do that. I’ve had a season here and there where the team was winning, but never a 7-2 record in the regular season, then to actually host a playoff game and actually win that? I felt spoiled.

In past years I’ve had terrific performances and good seasons here and there, but never the consistency that the Cavaliers had last year, despite all the injuries. Goes to prove how depth can be beneficial, and when given a chance to perform, kids are ready for the call. That’s a credit to the coaching staff at CHS.

Last weekend, the St. Louis Rams had one last hurrah at the dome, as a flag football game featuring several members of the Greatest Show on Turf came back for one last dance.

I really considered going, but alas thought better of it. It’s better to let bygones be bygone and be gone.

So long, Rams (1995-2015), and farewell for now my relationship with the NFL (1981-2015).

***

Took my son Evan to the Cards game Sunday night, the hottest summer day/night thus far.

He got a free Build-a-Bear stuffed animal, which was the highlight of the evening. Named the bear “Cardinal.” Even ripped his Cardinal shirt off.

We enjoyed Dippin’ Dots, a water, and lemonade trying to stay hydrated.

We ended up staying for two innings. That was it. I’ve never been more miserable at a game, and this was a night game, mind you. Imagine if the game hadn’t been moved and had been played at 1:15 p.m. It was 97 degrees at game time with a heat index of 105.

I’d rather have it hot than really cold, but still, this was a bit too uncomfortable.

The Cardinals pitcher making his major league debut, Mike Mayers, had a nightmare. Four batters into the game, he had allowed a grand slam home run. Doh! The opposing pitcher added a two-run single to cap a six-run first inning. He didn’t make it out of the second inning, giving up nine runs, and his ERA is 60.75. Cards comeback came up short in a 9-6 defeat.

Just a miserable night at the ol’ ballpark in many ways. Sometimes it just happens.

The good thing is my son took it in good stride. We walked the streets of downtown St. Louis around dusk on Sunday night heading back to the car and while we were both hot, it was fun to spend some time with him. Along with his bear, he picked up a rock from a construction site for his growing rock collection. Well, why not?

He’s going into kindergarten this year. His reading levels is incredible. He proudly read the Saint Charles street sign while walking to the game. Evan is a character, but smart at the same time. Not bad for a five-year-old.