Perhaps there is nothing more uniquely “American” than the game of football.
Football started here. It developed and succeeded here. And there is no other country in the world that does it any better.
The popularity and profitability of the sport is unquestioned.
For many years now, the Super Bowl is the most-highly watched television program of the year.
The newly-instituted, NCAA college football playoffs enjoyed a nearly-unparalleled ratings success, once more displaying America’s great love and appreciation for this game.
But despite these things, football in America is under attack.
And this hasn’t been a particularly good year for the NFL game.
We’ve all seen the headlines and videos in regards to Baltimore Ravens’ running back, Ray Rice, and his then-fianceé, Janay, and their case of domestic battery in a hotel elevator. We also learned about the child abuse charges involving another NFL running back, Adrian Peterson.
Perhaps most of all, it has been the poor handling of these issues, that have placed the job of Ray Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, in serious jeopardy.
And the problems for the game continue.
The latest allegations of under-inflated footballs in the Patriots vs. Colts playoff game has only added to the problems for the league.
And unlike the other difficulties faced by the NFL this year, these allegations aren’t only an embarrassment to the league.
They also present a challenge to the integrity of the game.
Perhaps that is why I was so greatly disturbed to see a growing-number of NFL veterans join in the chorus of uninformed-accusations, attacking Tom Brady, the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback, who is without question one of the game’s greatest players.
Most of it just smacked of jealousy.
Whether or not you like Brady and the Patriots, it’s quite likely that their thorough smack-down of the Colts had very little with the condition of the footballs, and much more to do with the skills and conditioning of Tom Brady in these big games.
Like all the really great, clutch players in the history of sport, the guy just knows how to elevate his performance when it counts the most.
Nobody knows for sure what happened to these footballs, but I am confident the incident is under investigation. I also have no doubt the NFL is smart enough to make sure this shameful incident is never repeated.
Unfortunately, this situation only gives more ammunition to those who have the game of football in their crosshairs.
And shame on those ex-NFL players who did their part in aid in the cause of the game’s most-vocal opponents!
A number of years ago, there was a study released, which claimed that there were a significant increase in domestic violence cases occurring against women during Super Bowl week.
Like so many other things brought to us by the media today, the report turned out to be nothing other than Super Bull.
It was just the latest incident of someone trying to destroy a game they see as too closely-defined with rugged masculinity, in much the same way that a number of liberal, America-haters are currently trying to destroy the image of the late American Sniper, Chris Kyle.
There is an element in this country seeking to eliminate these qualities in men and the game of football, along with them.
America needs football.
Throughout its history, the sport has been a great instructor in the game of life.
And the lessons to be learned from these games on the gridiron often stay with the young men who played them forever.
Football has so much in common with the game of life.
Football teaches us the importance of teamwork and the need for each player to adequately fill his individual role in that mission.
Football, like life, reminds us that somebody always wins and somebody always loses. It teaches discipline. It shows us that those who often come out on top are always forced to overcome some sort of adversity. And it often illustrates that the best trained and hardest-working teams are often the ones that ultimately go on to victory.
But sometimes, just sometimes, football can also teach us that the ball is carried into the end zone, or the game-saving tackle is made just short of the goal line, just because the less-talented guy wants it a little bit more than his opponent.
Perhaps that is a lesson we all need to learn.
Another thing we get from the game is that it teaches children to dream.
As you watch these children play the game, in their backyards and sandlots, you can be certain that each one of them is dreaming of one day being the star player in the Super Bowl.
American children daring to dream, that is always a good thing.
It was a dream that discovered our country. Dreams forged our way across a rugged continent. They built a great nation. They even lifted us to the moon and back again.
Dreams. Mental and physical toughness. Diligence. Preparation. Discipline. Team work. Overcoming adversity.
These are qualities which are critical to the game of football.
And these are also the qualities that made America great and are crucial to our ultimate survival.
America needs football.
Now more than ever!