Can’t shake an addiction to something bad — the NFL

Listen
 Officials try to break up a scuffle between the Washington and Philadelphia players during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Officials try to break up a scuffle between the Washington and Philadelphia players during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

I have got to stop watching football.

I can’t stop watching football.

I mean, really … How can I continue to support, with my attention and dollars, an organization like the National Football League, whose gut response to proof that one of its players beat a woman senseless in an elevator was: “But, hey, otherwise he’s a good guy.”

On the other hand … how ’bout those Eagles? They look like a team of destiny this year. That Darren Sproles is off the hook.

Yet … how can I lend allegiance to a league that either knew, or should have known years ago that its rules and equipment would leave one in three of its players seriously impaired from brain trauma. A league that saw the problem made vivid by suicide and autopsy, and did next to nothing. A league that seduces physicians into violating their Hippocratic oath so that they can use the team colors to market their practices.

But my childhood team, the Cleveland Browns, drafted Johnny Football and the buzz is back in the Dawg Pound. The orange helmets might just be decent this year.

Still, how can I cheer players so desensitized to violence by their sport’s culture that one of the most famous of them can brutally flay a 4-year-old child, and call it loving discipline.

But my fantasy football team looks loaded this year. With Shady McCoy as my top running back, it’s Super Bowl or bust, baby.

How can anyone even think of buying the merchandise of a league that thinks a two-game suspension for a woman-beater is appropriate, while it fines players thousands for wearing their corporate-logo uniforms the “wrong” way?

But on a Thursday night, when my overworked brain feels like tapioca and the dishwasher has been loaded, nothing is more relaxing than catching the second half as Peyton Manning matches wits with the Seahawks.

I’m the husband and father of proud, smart, independent women whom I love and admire. How could I possibly give fandom to a league whose only role for women — when they’re not being slapped around, that is — is to prance as thinly-clad, robotically programmed sex toys on the sideline?

But what if this really is the year the Eagles win the Super Bowl?

Lord, enlighten me. How can my chronic behavior sit at such a great distance from what I thought my values were?

This must be what addiction feels like.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.