Remember, Amazon pays $1 billion per season for this. That means that Thursday’s Colts-Broncos hobo ho-down cost Jeff Bezos somewhere around $62.5 million. In the words of Axl Rose, “You get what you pay for, and life is real high priced.”
Part of the charm of baseball, basketball, and hockey is the length of their seasons. No matter how good a team is, there are just those nights in July — or February in the case of winter sports — that just fade into the background. Whether they’re in Cincinnati, Portland, or Ottawa, there’s a routine, a droning rhythm to it all. All those regular seasons enter a valley of indifference or blandness. The games blend together, and that’s sort of the point. You’ll hear a lot about getting through it. All the plane rides, bus rides, late-night check-ins, the bumps, the bruises, the soreness, and doing it all again the next night. it beats the players down. The sheer amount of games beats fans down. Only does the whiff of the playoffs toward the end of the season wake everyone up. But before that, there are always a few games where everyone involved, from player to fan to usher, is asking themselves, “What are we even doing here?”
Football is supposed to be the antithesis of that. There are only 17 of these things. They’re usually a week apart, and even last night’s jamboree of sadness still had fans of the Broncos and Colts waiting around for four days. That’s if they’re still admitting they are Broncos and Colts fans today. There are the same intense meetings, the intricate planning, the dissection of weaknesses on both sides, and how they’ll be taken advantage of. The press conferences, the meeting with the broadcast, the production of Amazon hyping this game, all the talking heads both locally and nationally breaking this down. Every football game is supposed to be an event. You stop your day for it, if not plan your week around it. In the NFL, there is no rainy Wednesday night in Stoke or cold night in Buffalo, or steamy evening in Atlanta. Everything is a pivot point, every game to be a statement of something. Fans tailgate, travel, wave their towels, and get hyped as normal for the centering of the week.
And then you get that.
All that planning, all that ceremony, all that intensity, and suddenly you’ve got a festival of incompetence and silliness on your hands. There isn’t supposed to be “another one off the schedule in football.” Players are psyching themselves into the same frenzy over 17 games to be in the right state to play such a violent and painful game. They’re engaging in a car crash pretty much every play, their career hanging by a thread with every play, only to watch Matt Ryan throw a ball into a Broncos team meeting. They’re taking years off their life to give Russell Wilson the platform to throw two INTs in the end zone, costing the Broncos the game.
Bernhard Raimann, the Colts tackle who was called for holding 48 times? He studied all week, prepped in practice, lifted all those weights, and did the rigorous pregame stretching and warming up, only to do that. Fans forked over hundreds of dollars to watch him do it.
Somewhere late in the second quarter, or maybe early in the third, after these teams have been violently hurling themselves at each other to literally go nowhere, where the veil falls off and we realize that despite the pomp and hype, football can indeed be as bad and rote and a waste any of the other sports. Everyone is trying so hard to make this good and they just can’t. All those schemes and routes and blitzes drawn up by the coaches and shown to the players and none of it goes where it’s supposed to. Watch the receivers closely after this point, and you can see a drag on all their steps that screams, “Here we go again with this.” Or the way the QB’s shoulders slump when he walks up to the line after breaking the huddle, looks over the defense, and knows he’s about to have some large men sit on his head again.
All these things that have been turned up to 11 in and surrounding the game to make it seem like it’s truly important and then the game deflates into a beer fart on a frat house couch. All this intensity on all parts of the field and it all just become inert. It collapses in on itself.
You can’t really match it. It’s a sport at war with itself, and devouring itself as a result. You only get something this bad a few times a season (if you’re not a Bears fan). You have to truly soak it in. There’s magic in it.
MLS doing MLS things
I’m a day late on this, but MLS was on one Wednesday night. From the Charlotte FC-Columbus Crew game, perhaps the goofiest patch of play you’ll see in any soccer game:
Does Columbus’ Lucas Zelarayan even try this freekick if he hadn’t seen Charlotte’s Ben Bender try in 10 seconds before? I like to think Zalarayan was playing a game of horse that Bender didn’t know about.
Not to be outdone, then in Miami:
Something in the water on Wednesday. Maybe they should have shared with Russell Wilson or Matt Ryan.