My romance with football began in January 1987, on a day when I pulled for the team whose colors matched my hometown sporting loves. John Elway drove his Broncos 98 yards into history and on to SB 21, and I was hooked.
Many irrational actions would follow. There was the face painting well into adulthood. The pilgrimage to Mile High with a pair of colleagues I didn't even know that well. The trip to SB 33 with a bunch of complete strangers. Considering whether I could install a DirecTV dish inside my New York apartment in order to watch Broncos games each week (many buildings there won’t allow residents to erect contraptions outside their apartments, understandably).
Oh right...starting a website to write about the Broncos everyday for more than four years. The NFL has played a significant role in my life for a very long time, especially recently. Over the past 4.5 years, I've spent more time thinking and writing about the NFL than I had over the previous 24 years combined.
So much has happened in those 4.5 years. I've grown as a person, become a father, left my job as a stockbroker to be an at-home dad, and moved out of NYC for the country.
I've also fallen out of love with the NFL. For that reason, I've been posting less and less frequently in recent weeks, and will no longer be writing about football, here or anywhere else.
My priorities have changed, and I've become more political and principled. It's an ongoing process which has manifested in choosing to support companies and causes which align with my morals.
In no way does the NFL approach that standard. It's become increasingly difficult for me to think about football outside the context of the brutal long term physical and cognitive toll the sport exacts upon its players. This would be somewhat more palatable if I thought the league and its owners cared about their current and former players to a greater extent than a settled class action lawsuit dictates. Their actions consistently suggest otherwise.
Given those long-term consequences, I’ve known for quite some time that I wouldn't want my son to ever play tackle football. More recently, I realized I didn't necessarily want him to become a fan. Sure, I'll have far more control over the former than the latter, but what example would I be setting by continuing to pour so much energy into chronicling and analyzing the NFL?
Teams pump players full of (performance enhancing) narcotics to mask pain, stay on the field, and risk more serious injury. But when those players turn to HGH to help rebound from this increasingly brutal sport (hello, Thursday Night Football), they're branded as cheaters. Owners hold cities up for hundreds of millions of dollars in stadium subsidies, while simultaneously demonizing players who seek to maximize their earning potential during limited career spans.
Despite the glaring hypocrisy throughout, fans eagerly back management on all fronts.
I understand that NFL owners are businessmen looking out for the bottom line. That this drives them to morally reprehensible decisions does not make them unique. It would be obnoxious for me to air this list of grievances without acknowledging that whatever the NFL and its owners get away with, they only do so because our larger racist, sexist, homophobic, and class-war-stricken society condones or even encourages them to.
Will I continue to watch games? I don't know. As it's only April, it would be easy to make the grandiose claim that I'm disengaging completely. But I’ve already told DirecTV not to renew my NFL Sunday Ticket package, and frankly, I'm excited about the idea of family time trumping the NFL come Sundays this fall and winter.
All of that said, I have so many people to thank for their support over these past 4.5 years. Obviously, you readers are first, because without you, there never would have been an IAOFM. I have boundless gratitude for your readership, loyalty, compliments, and criticisms; you made all of this worthwhile.
Whenever I've needed encouragement, advice, or information, Lindsay Jones and Andrew Mason have been there at a moment's notice. Brian Burke, Chase Stuart, and Jason Fitzgerald are invaluable resources, and pretty sharp guys, especially for a Ravens fan and pair of Jets fans, respectively. With their direct help and simply by example, these five had an immeasurable impact on the quality of our site.
Of course, my wife has put up with a lot over these years. She's allowed the (ever expanding) NFL calendar to dictate our schedule, and I can't tell you how many times she waited for me to post one last item or write one more paragraph before we could head out the door. I hope my decision will help me become a better husband and father.
Finally, Doc, TJ, David, and Ted are/were the best partners I could have asked for. While it's been a joy working with them, I'm most appreciative for the impact each has had on me as a person. I'm undoubtedly better for knowing and having teamed with them.