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Their sport under fire, NFL players shoot selves in foot

Growing up in Savannah’s Fairway Oaks in the 50s and 60s, I could walk out my door and down the street and get into any one of three or four pickup football games going on in some kid’s yard. The same was true for pickup baseball and basketball games during those seasons. When was the last time you saw a bunch of the neighborhood kids playing a pickup football game? It doesn’t happen. Video games have put a halt to them. That’s just one aspect of what I call the wussification of the American male. Much of it can be attributed to boys growing up in single parent homes where that single parent is the mother or grandmother. I am sure these women are doing the best they can but many, if not most, do not consider football or any team sport a priority for their sons. The Lamar County football team currently has only three juniors on its roster – a glaring hole that has much to do with the team’s winless record. It will take time to overcome that problem. Coaches can’t coach guys who are at home playing Call of Duty. I recently ran across one of the LC juniors at a soccer game and asked him why his classmates do not play. He did not sugarcoat his answer. ‘They’re just sorry,’ he replied. You will be hard-pressed to find a bigger football fan than me. I love working the sidelines at high school games. I love college football and am basically glued to my seat or my TV when the Dawgs play. As such, I recognize the threat to my favorite sport. Kids are not going out for football in anywhere near the numbers they used to and that is a growing problem. Then there is the whole matter of concussions. Not to play down the danger, but this has gotten out of hand. Football haters are trotting out old, punch drunk NFL retirees who claim to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). They conveniently forget to mention the vast sums of money they got paid to get hit. Back in the old days, players got their bells rung, went to the bench, got some smelling salts and a couple salt tablets washed down by tepid water and went back in the game. Now, they enter the black hole that is the concussion protocol and some are never seen or heard from again. CTE is also blamed for crimes. His defenders claim pro Aaron Hernandez murdered another player due to CTE. They donated his brain after his prison suicide for study. They forget to mention Hernandez was born a thug and died a thug and a well-paid thug at that. Make no mistake, the concussion folks are coming after football and they are coming quickly. Amidst all this, a number of NFL players decided to alienate fans by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem before games. At NFL games played in London, players kneeled for our anthem then stood at attention when ‘˜God Save the Queen’ was played. This did not go unnoticed. Fans were outraged. President Donald Trump rather harshly called them out. Some burned the jerseys of their favorite players. Many stayed home. TV cameramen worked hard to avoid shots of empty seats. Ticket sales on the secondary market plummeted. TV ratings likewise fell. These players bit the hands that feed them. They struck a severe blow to their golden goose; their cash cow. Parents, many of them those single moms, are steering their sons to soccer which is rapidly growing in popularity in America. Go to any weekend youth soccer tournament anywhere and the parking lot will be full. Atlanta United, the city’s fledgling MLS franchise, is drawing sellout crowds and is the first ever Atlanta sports team to make the playoffs in its inaugural season. It’s players, though most of them are not American citizens, stand for the National Anthem. It is called respect and those pro players best summon up some of it. Football is in danger. It does not need the self-inflicted wounds it has suffered at the hands of the clueless millionaires of the NFL.

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