Ben Hochman on the love-hate relationship with the NFL:

I start thinking about all the good times we had, the early stages of our relationship, with APBA Football or Tecmo Bowl. I can hear the echoing voice of John Facenda from NFL Films and the melodic Al Michaels on big games. I remember a fresh-faced Favre. I hum along to the networks’ NFL pregame music. I recall the bigness of my first game. I cherish that ride of following favorite players into the draft and into the league and into fame. I also get a strange kick out of the busts. I love that random player that just seems to make a team every year. I get nostalgic thinking about at whose house I watched which Super Bowl.

OK sure, but then I think about what a football game really is: 22 men treated as gladiators for our entertainment, brainwashed into believing that being an athlete completes one’s self-worth, but in the meantime having their brains washed by the very sport. They make their money and achieve fame and then waft off, some into a life of luxury, but many into a life of brain damage and chronic pain and second-guessing and forgetting some of the very memories they once lived to accomplish. Then throw in the NFL’s lack of respect for Native Americans. And how for generations, teams swept domestic violence cases under the Astroturf. And how seemingly every week some player is arrested for something. And how Leonard Little got that second DUI. And how the commissioner of the league comes off as a big pile of (insert whichever word you’d like here — feel free to be creative).

Read Hochman’s full piece here.