Saturday, June 16, 2018
Sports

Here's why you'll forgive the NFL for all its many sins

The Saints and Giants played a game Sunday afternoon in New Orleans that explains why the National Football League gets away with it. The league can willfully ignore the heinous damage football inflicts on its players. It can employ and empower people who abuse children and beat women. It can tap-dance around the hypocrisy of bleating about the integrity of an enterprise built on gambling and beer advertisements. And damned if it doesn't deliver on Sunday.

The NFL dares you to look away, and it knows you won't.

In New Orleans, Drew Brees tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes, and because Eli Manning matched him pass for pass, the seventh only tied the score late. The Giants could not get out of their own way on a late punt, which allowed the Saints to line up for a game-winning, 52-yard field goal. Kai Forbath booted it through. Saints 52, Giants 49 — a push for the bookmakers, a party for the home crowd.

The result tightened playoff chases in two divisions, invigorated a star quarterback's career and showcased Odell Beckham Jr., one of the most exhilarating athletes on this big, green planet.

Neither defense offered more resistance than a stiff breeze, but we're talking about entertainment. The NFL lets you down in so many ways, but in the most crucial way it holds up its end of the bargain. It provides point spreads and fantasy football fodder and breathtaking athleticism and fascinating strategy. The NFL is a drug. The product brings you back.

As Forbath kicked the game-winner, another game, Falcons-Buccaneers, pushed deeper into overtime. Three other games that started at 1 p.m. had been decided on the final play. The Seahawks-Cowboys game in Dallas had just kicked off, with woman-beating defensive end Greg Hardy ready to rush the passer a week after a sideline outburst and an embarrassing no-comment session with reporters. It was the national game of the week on Fox.

It should be a league so easy to discard. It just spent eight months trying to suspend one of its best players, Tom Brady, for allegedly putting too little air in the football. The process that culminated with the NFL getting its reputation stomped on in federal court for the third time in a calendar year. The episode was farce, but also tame in comparison to the league's other sins. In some cases, the game literally kills its players. Former players still have to pull teeth for fair health insurance.

It is also a spectacle. In the predetermined span of about three-and-a-half hours, you could watch Brees's pass sear through the Superdome's stuffy air, or you could flip the channel and watch sensational Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley gallop into the secondary, or check out No. 1 overall draft pick Jameis Winston and Tampa holding off Atlanta's furious comeback and triumph in overtime. You could track your daily fantasy team, root for your office pool picks and be justifiably awed by the feats of the players.

You hear a lot about the possibility of football's imminent decline or even death. All of the arguments are legitimate. But there's also the RedZone Channel to watch and DraftKings lineups to pick and a couple beers to drink on the couch. The appeal is as inherent as the harm.

On a day like Sunday, during a game like the Saints and Giants played, NFL football can make you forget how guilty you should feel for liking it. The Saints and the Giants played a harebrained classic, a smorgasbord of offense conducted by two star quarterbacks. It was a game you had to watch.

No matter the score, the NFL wins.

— Washington Post

Comments
Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape charges

Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape charges

Times wiresVISTA, Calif. – Former Bucs and Hurricanes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was jailed without bail Friday after pleading not guilty to nine counts of kidnapping, rape and other charges.If convicted on all counts, Winslow, 34, could face...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg frustrated, but optimistic

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg frustrated, but optimistic

NEW YORK — So what does the boss — lowercase, of course, around here — think of this up-and-down, hot-and-cold Rays season so far? Appropriately, a variety of things.In a 30-minute chat with the Tampa Bay Times before Friday's 5-0 l...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: Nathan Eovaldi pitches well against his ex-team but gets no help

Rays journal: Nathan Eovaldi pitches well against his ex-team but gets no help

NEW YORK — RHP Nathan Eovaldi made an impressive return to Yankee Stadium on Friday to face his high-powered former teammates.It's too bad he didn't get any help from his current mates, in what ended up a 5-0 Rays loss.Eovaldi was in command an...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Give RHP Nathan Eovaldi credit for not letting emotions get in the way in his return to Yankee Stadium. He said he planned to treat it as all business, despite memories and friendships and he did just that, working impressively into the eighth.The Ra...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Saturday, June 16

TODAYArena FootballPhiladelphia at Albany6 p.m.CBSSNAutosTrucks: Iowa 250 qualifying4:30 p.m.FS2Trucks: Iowa 2507 p.m.FS1BaseballRays at Yankees1 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMMarlins at Orioles4 p.m.FSFTwins at Indians4 p.m.MLBRed Sox at Mariners8 p.m.FoxCFLHa...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Captain’s Corner: Fishing this month is all about diversity

This is the month of diverse opportunity. The choice of species is unlimited, as long as you have the bait. You can target snook and tarpon in the morning, then fish for Spanish mackerel, bluefish, snapper, sharks and cobia in the afternoon. The tarp...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — In his vision for this weekend, Connor Coyle is standing in the ring at the Coliseum, and the referee is raising his gloved fist.He’s got a National Boxing Association middleweight championship belt around his waist, the first of sev...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Services set for former USF, Storm lineman Kenyatta Jones

Services set for former USF, Storm lineman Kenyatta Jones

A pair of visitations and a celebration-of-life service for former Bulls OL Kenyatta "Bear" Jones have been scheduled for next week.Jones, the first USF player ever taken in the NFL draft, passed away June 9 in Colorado of cardiac arrest, according t...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Florida’s Brady Singer voted top college baseball player of year

Florida’s Brady Singer voted top college baseball player of year

OMAHA, Neb. — Florida pitcher Brady Singer has won the Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball's player of the year.Singer, who received the award Friday, carries a 12-1 record and 2.30 ERA into the College World Series, which begins Saturday. T...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Fort Myers’ Travis Blankenhorn wins first FSL home run derby

Fort Myers’ Travis Blankenhorn wins first FSL home run derby

TAMPA — First time is the charm for Travis Blankenhorn of the Fort Myers Miracle. Competing in his first Florida State League All-Star Game home run derby, he took the trophy Friday at Steinbrenner Field with 31 home runs."Feels pretty good esp...
Updated: 6 hours ago