In the NFL, the grunts on the line of scrimmage – the guys who actually get paid to overeat; good work if you can get it – are not traditionally put through the rigors of long distance sprints during practice.
Long distance being a relative term in the NFL. The workplace of offensive and defensive linemen is the 10 yards of the trench, the dirt, the mud, and sometimes the ice. They push, they pull, they grunt, they cuss, they fall down and, when things are going well, they knock other people down.
In the old days, they used to bleed all over each other, until somebody invented face masks.
So poor Cam Jordan, running faster and further than he ever has in his career this past Sunday to chase that rarest and most prized Holy Grail of defensive linemen throughout the decades throughout the league: A touchdown.
I’m not one for conspiracy theories. I don’t think the NFL hates us. In fact, I think if most players, officials, sportswriters and fans had their way, the Super Bowl would be played in New Orleans every year. But the league is beholden to the many cities that sell their souls to team owners to build them shiny new stadiums so they won’t move their teams and crush the souls of the citizen taxpayers.
But in the rarified galaxy of those NFL team owners – a generally wimpy, whiny and bloviated cadre of sweaty, overdressed and entitled men whose mothers are even likely hard pressed to love them – the Saints owner is the preposterously sympathetic figure of Gayle Benson.
Although she is no doubt prepossessed of the same cunning as all the other team owners, it’s hard to imagine Roger Goodell & Co. sitting around in a boardroom plotting ways to oust and joust the docile Ms. Gayle.
So I don’t think the NFL is out to screw us. I just think they keep screwing up. Because you would think – YOU WOULD THINK – that if there was ever a time and ever a game that the league and its officials would be treading lightly – EVER SO LIGHTLY – it would have been during our game against the Rams on Sunday.
YOU WOULD THINK.
Author’s Note: Maybe you’re not a big Saints fan. Maybe you don’t wallow in the details of the season. Maybe I am glibly referencing incidents and accidents from the team’s recent history without recounting specifics nor their historical context. If that’s the case, you probably stopped reading after the second paragraph anyway. So let’s move on.
Now what to think? Some folks suggest we still would have lost on Sunday after Drew Brees went down. (Well, not down, but out.) Others, myself included, suggest that such a game-changing play as Jordan’s 83-yard lung-busting romp could have tilted the entire contest in our favor.
But as Bill Murray’s camp counselor character insists over and over in the highly under-rated and tragically overlooked 1979 comic masterpiece, “Meatballs”: It just doesn’t matter. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!
I know. I’m using too many caps. I’ve come undone.
I was pretty convinced that Drew Brees was so driven, so determined, so hell-bent, so pissed – at the NFL, at the media, at life, at maybe even you and me – that he was going to part the waters on his own and lead us to the Promised Land one last time before he retired.
But it turns out that when the local waters parted, all there was to see were old couches, stolen cars, tires, plasma TV screens, video consoles and other random detritus of modern domestic life found in the bayous and drainage canals of New Orleans.
After writing that sentence, I am more convinced than ever that life here must be an absolute mystery to everyone else in America. And for good reason. And again, if you don’t know what I’m talking about – the couches, cars, etc. – I can’t help you. The troubled waters run too deep around here. Let’s hope the bridge over them holds firm. Go Teddy.
Otherwise we’re lost, tossed and hung on the cross. We’ve lost the sun.
I’ve come undone.