For reasons beyond reason, the National Football League is still grappling with the conundrum of fitting the Buffalo-Cincinnati game into a schedule rendered unforgiving by their previous schedules. Alright, I guess, for those in the league office who need to work to fit that dodecahedron into a trapezohedron-shaped peg, but what we don’t hear is the screaming of the people outside from Roger’s workshop who want the game restored.
It’s because there isn’t. For a nation that has sold us football in all its forms, there seems to be little interest in this all-important but not important 272nd game. With Damar Hamlin still needing help breathing, the lack of worry about a game that might but might not determine the top seed in the American Football Conference is complete.
In short, America spoke by not speaking. They don’t need this game to complete their viewing pleasure, and even schedule finalists who watched the league bond over psilocybin pretzels to complete the 2020 COVID schedule show no measurable interest in inserting this game. marquee in what the Brits like to call an overloaded fixture list.
So a simple solution that appeals to everyone in the sense that it doesn’t offend anyone is to just call it a no-game. Buffalo and Cincinnati will play one less game than everyone else, Buffalo gets the bye, and Cincinnati will just have to deal with the schedule inequality knowing it was caused by nothing but an unpredictable tragedy that is still playing out. Only the most macabre of ghouls would start any sentence with “Well, if Hamlin hadn’t been hurt…” and although we know these ghouls exist, we can muster the strength to ignore them, or if we need to interact, to make fun of them for dumping their souls in a port-a-potty stadium parking lot.
It may concern the highest of NFL peaks that a single game was rendered less than vital nationally, but they’ll get over how they happily gave up games during one of their many lock downs. -out. These games were declared fully fungible simply based on contract negotiations that management was winning anyway, so it’s not like the games are godsends that can’t be rejected. Even this game, which would only decide which team won’t play in two weeks, is easily disposable given the horrific circumstances.
Moreover, no one is harmed by the fact that it is not played. Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor, who has the most reason to want the game to be played, seemed cleanly and nobly to ignore it Monday night by inserting his humanity where his hypercompetitiveness would normally be. Bengals owner Mike Brown already has the ticket money, the parking money, a good chunk of the concessions money, so he’s not hurt even though his reputation as the cheapest skate is fine. worn. ESPN, which struggled to broadcast the game and got more eyeballs across a nation of rubberneckers than it would if the game had just been a game, might feel a bit pinched, but they can fight with the league for a refund. It does not concern us. The league can invent a Celebrity Pro Bowl and give it to the network if they complain about it.
See, the show doesn’t have to go on (which the NCAA is keen to find out by suggesting that their basketball tournament isn’t too big but 22 teams are too skinny, an idea hailed by all humans everywhere as stupid with a side repellent). We love our entertainment, but there’s a third rail even for our obsessions and Damar Hamlin on a fan seems like a good place to put it.
But here’s an idea. Since it was the players and coaches who decided they would not continue on Monday under any circumstances and told the messengers as much with their five-minute warm-up note – one of many principled examples on display in Cincinnati that night – why not ask them what they want to do? They don’t even need to be asked about the logistics of jamming two games next weekend, or scrapping the Super Bowl bye week, or whatever other dumb stuff the league pays its drones to assemble and adjust. Just “Do you want to do this or not? Your vote counts, and only your vote.
If they say yes, then yes it should be. And if they say no, no, so should it. After all, they showed what players can do together in the face of indignity, just like the Milwaukee Bucks did when they opted out of Game 5 of their playoff series against Orlando in the bubble on the murder of Jacob Blake and the NBA. followed suit by postponing further games in recognition of Milwaukee’s position. WNBA players have made a series of equivalent stands in their roles as the sport’s leading conscience bearers. It’s empowering players in a way that an extra year of free will isn’t.
In short, rather than waiting for the NFL to decide, or even asking the league what its plans are, let the players decide. It’s their game and their life, a statement once considered tedious and trivial, but now all too real.