#NoKaepNoNFL, Week 7: The Death of Fun

I peeked.

I was sitting in a bar, waiting for my wife and my friend to join me for lunch. I didn’t intentionally sit where I could see the screen, but…

… I peeked.

I saw scores. I saw highlights… and it was glorious. I miss the NFL. I don’t know if I can explain this to a non-fan, but I miss my Sunday ritual. I miss the game. I miss all the commentary. I miss managing a fantasy team. I miss wearing my gear. I miss it all.

I miss the Steelers.

During the highlights, they showed the scoring plays from the Bengals vs. the Steelers. Immediately after one of the Steelers’ touchdowns, Le’Veon Bell and rookie wide receiver JuJu Shuster-Smith did an end zone celebration that was essentially a mock game of hide and seek. It made me giggle to watch. Despite the No Fun League cracking down on player celebrations, the Steelers have been defiant in their willingness to make asses of themselves after they score.

Sigh… I miss that.

They beat the Bengals, which is in and of itself a good time, and they did it in Heinz Field. Good times. I miss it.

Watching Roethlisberger throw laser-accurate passes to Antonio Brown, watching Le’Veon stiff arm Bengals defenders, watching the defense swarm to the ball for an interception…


I hate this!

And yet…

When the protests began across the NFL, one of the common refrains was “stick to football, don’t get involved in politics!”. The implication was that the enjoyment of the NFL audience was more important than the issues being raised by the protests, more important than the lives of black men and women lost to brutality and those whose lives have been affected by harassment…

Yeah… fun isn’t the most important thing in the world.

There’s another side to this, and I have to be honest here: I never expected this thing to last this long. Last week, Aaron Rodgers got hurt and I thought “oh, thank God, I hate this moral high ground thing!” I was sure the Packers would be calling Kaep. Then I saw this…


Are you kidding me? Packers! Sign this man!

Nope. They decided to go with… (checks NFL.com) Brett Hundley? Who the hell is that?!

It probably didn’t help that Kaep decided to bring a lawsuit against the NFL last week. I’m sure he doesn’t expect to win, but I get the principle. He’s been blacklisted unfairly and a light has to be shined on that fact. Still… I bet he’s kicking himself a little, launching his lawsuit the week A-Rod gets hurt. How’s that for timing?

I expected this to be over by now and it looks like it won’t end this season. I wonder if football will ever be as fun for me as it once was. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch the NFL again without thinking about this season. I won’t be able to watch without thinking of the influence Trump, Jerry Jones, and Roger Goodell have had on my enjoyment of the game. I won’t be able to watch without thinking of comments that I’ve read on websites about how “entitled millionaires” (niggers) need to shut up and play. Something about the game has been fundamentally lost this year and I wonder if I can ever get it back.

I know a lot of my friends would read this and say “good, you should have given this mess up long time ago!”.

I really wish those friends wouldn’t.

I get that you don’t have the emotional attachments I have, but please try to respect what this has been like for me. It’s not fun.

A lot of things have been less fun since November. I sincerely think that the latest season of “House of Cards” was sabotaged by the election. I think Negan was a little too Trump-esque for the last season of “The Walking Dead” to be fun. Had Cersei Lannister’s hair been a bit worse, maybe “Game of Thrones” would have been lost too. When shows like “West Wing” and “Newsroom” feel escapist, you know that the world is in desperate need of release.

I think that’s part of what’s frustrating right now: the horrible, orange man that half of the country decided should be president has infected so many of the things that I use to love. His influence feels inescapable and I feel like that’s exactly what he wants. It disgusts me.

So I get my life these days where I can: the little bit of fall gardening that I can do, planning next spring’s garden, podcasts made by black people who are as geeky as I am, Bourbon, my work, my friends and family who have been bombarding me with love lately… Oh, and The Roots are coming back to town after Christmas!!!!

The weight of what’s happening in the world feels enormous and our personal need for entertainment can’t get in the way of taking notice of what’s happening in the world. Last year, Essence magazine posted a list of 13 organizations leading the fight against police brutality in cities across the country. When the very first organization is in the city that I currently call home, it’s hard to ignore the realities that are right down the road from me.

It’s ironic for me to write this in the middle of one of the most fun months of my life.Fun need not be dead in this era when everything feels like a matter of life and death. It’s just that the joy that is to be found in the world in these days is the joy that can be found in relationships and community versus the joy found in those things that we consume.  It likely should have always been that way. Perhaps I should be thankful to Supreme Leader Trump for bringing my focus back to where it should have always been.

Yeah… no.



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