The Super Bowl and the NFL are both still awful for living things

I did not see the Super Bowl — I actually spent the day rewatching “League of Denial” with my son, after which he decided he’d rather play FIFA 16 on the PS4 than watch American football — so don’t have any actual Super Bowl-related content to use as clickbait, though I know that’s how the game is played. So instead, I’ll direct you to read this article about how the Super Bowl is bad for cities, or this video from the Wall Street Journal, or this two-year-old article by me that still holds true. Or maybe you’d prefer an article on how stadiums get to host Super Bowls just as rewards for teams building them even if they suck, or a list of all the specific ways that the host stadium for this Super Bowl sucks, helpfully titled “Levi’s Stadium is garbage”?

Hope you enjoyed the game! It would be sad if all those players‘ brain cells, not to mention those public tax kickbacks, had died for nothing.


32 comments on “The Super Bowl and the NFL are both still awful for living things

  1. Also: The halftime show almost looked like it was pre-recorded, with the fans (and the card stunt) being ‘shopped into the stands after the fact.

  2. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: The NFL could have much better production values, and probably no worse ratings, if it replaced the entire game with CGI.

  3. The player’s brain cells did not die for nothing. They died in exchange for large quantities of money, as described by Bruce Smith in a 1991(?) tv interview (during a contract holdout as I recall… he was commenting on the hold out of Kent Hull and why football players need to make as much money as they can in a short time… because they were shortening their lives in order to play the game).

    I don’t disagree with you about football being bad for the human body and mind. It is highly damaging to both.

    Players may claim they had “no idea” of the damage being done. I’m quite sure many make that claim when seeking compensation. In my opinion, the NFL did not do all it could do to either protect players or help them deal with the injuries they do receive.

    But no-one who plays (or played) the game and saw friends and colleagues carted off not knowing where they are and who took months to recover (if they ever fully recovered, which is unlikely) can reasonably say they ‘did not know’ that the game was dangerous to their health.

    They may have preferred not to think about the damage they were suffering (no doubt the giant checks and fame enjoyed by professional players helped draw their attention away from seeking alternate safer employment at $15-20/hr). I get that. But “I had no idea” this was hurting me?

    No, they knew. And their families certainly knew. Many of the games greatest stars of the 80s and 90s retired “early”, some because they realized the lingering/permanent effects of concussion and other injury. So despite what Frontline and any number of lawyers would like us to believe, the players know that football is bad for their health.

    Anyone who watched Mike Webster, Ted Hendricks, Bradshaw, Aikman and countless others play know that.

    None of that makes it the player’s “fault”, of course. But I do wonder why we just accept that boxers become ‘punch drunk’ after too many fights (which is not true, really, its a function of damage and time, not of an arbitrary number of fights) and thus the authors of their own demise. Many people think that PED using olympic/NFL/TdF athletes who die young ‘get what they deserve’, yet find professional football players to be victims of their chosen profession? It’s an odd double standard, in my view.

    Why are players like Lyle Alzado less deserving of sympathy than a Dave Duerson or Junior Seau?

    People make choices (and/or trades of health for money). Those choices have consequences.

  4. I thought of the previous Levi’s discussions here as both teams battled the turf. Ward looked like he was trying to escape quicksand as he tried to get back to his feet after intercepting a pass in the 3rd quarter. Lots of strange slips and falls.

  5. The halftime spectator card thing in the stands reminded me of one of those bizarre North Korean spectacles. At least there were a few missing cards here and there, which means the fans were allowed to go off to the restroom without penalty of death.

  6. I just thought Denver’s defense played a heckuva game.

    Early on they got lucky. They rushed four most of the time and the Carolina O-line really stood up. But Cam missed some throws.

    Then Denver started red dogging and blitzing. Again I’ve got to give Carolina’s protection some credit, because Cam had time and open receivers on a few throws. There were times when Cam missed throws and there were times when Denver got lucky bounces, but bottom line Carolina was not getting the ball in the end zone like they needed to.

    By the fourth quarter, Denver DC Wade Phillips’s strategy paid off. When Denver brought extra men, they got to Cam. Even rushing four, sometimes they’d get pressure on Cam. It was something that just didn’t happen in the NFC title game, when Arizona’s pass rush was shut down.

    All in all, great job by the Denver defense, you’d have to be willfully ignorant to believe that the Super Bowl didn’t benefit San Francisco & the San Jose area economically (especially the hospitality industry), Levi’s Stadium is great except for the crappy field and the seats in the sun (but the latter only matters in summer, September & October), CTE is a myth whose symptoms are likely the result of partying, painkiller addiction & PED use as much as concussions and soccer – well, I like soccer, but it’s not the type of sport that teaches teens lifelong values the way that football is.

  7. “…CTE is a myth whose symptoms are likely the result of partying, painkiller addiction & PED use as much as concussions and soccer…”

    Okay, that settles it, you really have been pulling our legs for the past couple of years. Well done.

  8. Not only is CTE a myth, but so are the 14 boys who died playing tackle football this past season. Love those cheesy football is family North Korea ads.

  9. They found CTE in brain of dead high school football player , hey at least he lived a full live with all the partying , PED use and addiction’s .BTW concussion rates in boys soccer are 1/4 of concussion rates in boys football. Its also common knowledge that football rates are way under reported.

  10. Last week USA Today had a column by Krauthammer? titled “Is it immoral to look at the Super Bowl?”. It had to do with the concussions, but I think it could be immoral on other levels – including misspent public dollars for stadiums, etc

  11. Russia pays good money for trolling skills like Ben’s. Now that he’s out as tongue-in-cheek, why not get paid?

    Sounds like the SF side of the Bay has at least two stadiums that have no business hosting a football championship game. Maybe Oakland would do a better job?

  12. Ben, I should know better than take your bait, but I’m curious: You write, “I like soccer, but it’s not the type of sport that teaches teens lifelong values the way that football is.”

    What special lifelong values are learned by playing football but not soccer or other sports?

    I’m struck by the word “lifelong” because recreational soccer (and basketball, tennis, etc.) is *played* by adults well into middle age. But hardly any adults play full-contact football after their high school or college days. Why is this?

  13. I think Neil tipped his hand too quickly here. It would have been better to wait for April 1 to reveal that Ben is a phantom designed to increase page views and comment totals. It was brilliant – Phil Hendrie Show level stuff – but I’m not falling for it any more.

  14. I have met Ben, so I know he’s real. As for whether he’s trolling or serious, I went down that rabbit hole once recently, and you’ll just have to judge for yourself:

    https://twitter.com/benmiller/status/692932475874578433
    (scroll down, the thread continues for a while)

  15. David: I think as part of last week’s NFL dog-and-pony show, Goodell said something at one of his pressers about how only football can teach you some lifelong sports-learned lessons about honor and competition and now I’m making the wanking motion with my hand, etc.

  16. Michael: Yep… just wanted to see if Ben (if being sincere) wanted to deploy that rhetoric with a straight face.

    I think these notions about the character-building qualities of football are reminiscent of the values that sent young men to their deaths in World War I.

    Hemingway:

    “I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it. There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity. Certain numbers were the same way and certain dates and these with the names of the places were all you could say and have them mean anything. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.”

  17. Funny comment about the pre-recorded nature of the half-time show. At the very least, Coldplay pre-recorded it IN the Bay Area. The band sat next to me at bar in San Jose on Friday night. But not being a audiophile, our table didn’t realize it was them until they had left.

    And on the bad turf comment…that was the NFL’s turf brought in just for the game. Levi’s old turf was laid out on the street outside of the bar we were at. The city closed off the street for a temporary promenade.

    While the cost to cities is absurd, I have to admit I did enjoy the free concert by Huey Lewis and the News in Santa Clara. He still has it.

  18. “I think Neil tipped his hand too quickly here. It would have been better to wait for April 1 to reveal that Ben is a phantom designed to increase page views and comment totals.”

    I also considered that possibility. Exercising his fiction-writing skills to create a Colbert-style parody. The CTE and “lifelong values” comments seem a bit too over-the-top to be sincere. But who knows? The world is a very weird place.

  19. Breaking New: Santa Clara’s mayor quit today – the day after the Super Bowl. His ‘retirement’ takes place effective tomorrow:
    mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_29491905/santa-clara-mayor-jamie-matthews-announces-retirement-effective

    Speculation is that his resignation has to do with the civil grand jury investigation of Santa Clara and its Stadium Authority:
    sanjoseinside.com/2016/02/03/civil-grand-jury-investigates-stadium-authority-for-levis-stadium-site-of-super-bowl-50/

    AND tomorrow at 4:30 there’s a public employee performance evaluation for Santa Clara’s city manager, who (see the above article) apparently had a shredding party in his office.

  20. “which means the fans were allowed to go off to the restroom without penalty of death.”

    Dave, do you have evidence that fans who skipped the half time show were not killed?

  21. I usually appreciate what Ben Miller brings to this page and it is good to have a counter opinion. I might have to follow him on Twitter. I wonder, Ben, if anybody ran the hospitality numbers, San Francisco is a tourist town on a normal weekend. I’m sure there was an uptick, but how much compared to the susidies; it’d be interesting to find out. I didn’t know that about the sales tax revenues, the NFL is more like FIFA than I thought!

  22. It’ll be a few months before sales tax receipts are available for this year’s Super Bowl week. As noted in my SOE article from two years ago, though, studies of past Super Bowls have found only a very mild uptick.

  23. David,

    Soccer only accepts one body type. In life we should accept all people. Soccer penalizes most instances of physicality. For boys, physicality is an essential tool for growth into a good man.

  24. Also, using sales tax revenues to judge economic activity is propaganda and it has almost nothing to do with what actually matters, which is jobs.

  25. Also also, I I’m curious if anyone on here (Neil, especially) noticed the PLUS ONE study linking signs of so-called “CTE” to PEDs in lab rat studies. Anyone?

  26. Ben, Ben, I’m still laughing too hard at “soccer only allows one body type” (have you ever seen Messi standing next to Pique?), let me catch my breath before tackling “consumer spending isn’t a measure of economic activity.”

  27. Next time I’m going to a sporting event that combines an appreciation for all body types with unmitigated violence, though – I’m something like professional pinball, only with samurai swords – you’re totally invited along.

  28. As for PLOS ONE, the only paper I can find there on CTE is a meta-study says there’s no correlation between CTE and steroid use, only with traumatic brain injuries. This despite being coauthored by the Steelers’ former trainer who is the NFL’s go-to guy for trying to cover up CTE findings:

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0117338

    The corrections on this one are pretty hilarious, mostly on failing to disclose Maroon’s NFL connections:

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0130507

  29. As I recall, the study reported that only around 20% of the cases considered (this was not a clinical study, it was a review of documented cases of CTE on record…) showed a history of substance abuse.

    That substance abuse was not only PED use, but included use of alcohol, cocaine, pain killers etc.

    So, hands up everyone who thinks that 20% of NFL players using alcohol or pain killers is unusually high? Nobody? huh.

    Suggesting that the Maroon (et al) study links PED use to CTE is about as dishonest as it gets. Even the authors don’t fall down that particular rat hole. Maybe there wasn’t room with Ben already wedged in place?

  30. So the injured continue to sue the NFL until tickets are too expensive, and we replace players with robots. Throw that ball 100 yards but can it be caught?
    lol only half serious

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