It would be disingenuous of me to start in with the "it's only a game" attitude now as pertaining to the National Football League. Far too many Sundays and accompanying weeks have been spoiled by what I deemed to be "important" wins or losses made on behalf of my favorite team. Last year, I tried to be a good Tebow supporter, and when the winds in the Mile High City switched direction and it became Peyton's Place, I let that support go and became a Manning fan. Happily, I only have to answer to my own conscience when it comes to these shifting allegiances.
Still, when I read about Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs killing his girlfriend and the mother of his child, then taking his own life, I tried to imagine how football would respond. At a time when the league is working to make their game ever more safe for the players, what could Commissioner Roger Goodell say? This is a man who is so interested in the relative health of his players that he is considering eliminating that most dangerous of plays: the kickoff. Players are ever-more-penalized and fined for play or conduct on the field that could result in serious injury.
How about a gunshot to the head? That would probably be a personal foul, right? What if you were a commentator and decided to air your views about the connection between violence on and off the field and the use of handguns in our culture? Bob Costas had a week of appearances on various talk shows to answer for what many felt was an inappropriate soap-box moment. The Second Amendment is still safe and sound, and Mister Costas was flagged for unnecessary pontification, which results in an automatic first down and a trip to Fox News Studios.
Guns don't kill people, though speeding cars sometimes do. A week after Jovan Belcher committed murder and suicide in Kansas City, Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter
after what Irving, Texas, police described as a high-speed early
morning crash on State Highway 114 that caused his car to flip at least
once before winding up on a service road. His victim was teammate Jerry Brown,
a twenty-five-year-old linebacker from St. Louis. Brown, a passenger at the time
of the crash, was a teammate of Brent's at the University of Illinois. That was an accident. One that involved drinking and driving. No one is going to ask to reinstate the Eighteenth Amendment. We are all about our freedoms here in America, whether it's owning a gun or getting wasted and sliding behind the wheel. But please be careful about how you launch yourself at that quarterback, and when you attempt to grab that speedy receiver who has just raced past you on the way to the goal line, show a little restraint. It's only a game. We've got rules.