The Super Bowl is only days away, yet if you open the sports pages, there’s not much real football being written about.
The rancor surrounding the game sounds more like a scripted build-up to a WWF Wrestlemania than the biggest game in legitimate American sports.
The whole build-up to Sunday’s game has centered on cheating and the conduct of infantile players. There’s not much of the typical talk about how the game is going to play out or which players will dominate the others on the field.
Already hurt by the way it handled a number of controversies earlier this season centering on domestic violence by some of its players, the hype surrounding Sunday’s event really illustrates how bad the National Football League and professional football has become in terms of integrity and sportsmanship.
In the forefront of the news, Americans continue to hear about the “Deflategate” controversy, which centers on the alleged deflating of footballs in the AFC championship game.
For days now, we have seen accusations fly that the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady softened the footballs they used in the game to make them easier to pass and catch.
The WWF couldn’t have theatrically played out such a controversy better. First it seemed that it was part of a plan by the Patriots to win the game. Now it seems that a lone-wolf ball boy is being implicated in deflating the balls.
Fox Sports reported the NFL is targeting a Patriots locker-room attendant as a “strong person of interest” and that there are “anonymous sources saying the NFL has interviewed him and has video, but the league was still figuring out whether this person actually did anything wrong.”
Really, who cares?
Then there was Seattle Seahawks superstar running back Marshawn Lynch making a mockery of the NFL’s Super Bowl Media Day.
Last season, Lynch, who is known as one who does not like to share his thoughts with the media, was fined $100,000 by the NFL for media violations. It seems that the NFL requires players to talk to reporters whether they want to or not.
So Lynch showed up in a room of 200 reporters, set a timer on his phone and just sat there for the requisite time, stating, “I’m here so I don’t get fined” every time he was asked a question.
Rather stupid, right?
Some teammates defended Lynch’s actions: “This is who he is. I don’t nitpick or judge, so I just accept a person for who they are,” All-Pro safety Earl Thomas said. “I just love who he is. He is so random.”
When I used to think about the Super Bowl, the image of Joe Namath guaranteeing victory over the Baltimore Colts – and then Namath and the Jets actually winning the game – stood out as the ultimate hype before a great game.
That doesn’t exist anymore. Deflategate and Lynch’s attitude really illustrate how bad the game of football has become. It’s not solely in how the game is actually played, but in how it is sold more as a “random” soap opera than as a sport.
No matter who wins on Sunday, Americans have been cheated out of a great game and a great sport.
Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, N.Y. Column courtesy of Context Florida.