I wonder how many games Jack Lambert would have been suspended for today if he threw a player after the play was over? He remains one of my favorite defensive players of all time and along with Deacon Jones and Dick Butkus who are all hall of fame players. I also know now that they would be so fined and suspended that if they played in today’s wussy NFL that they would have had their careers cut short because of the atmosphere of whine and cry about unfair and how mean they were.
I never was attracted to football because it was about fair. I was attracted to it because it was an honest game and just most of the time. It had other factors that I respected. But as time passes I see less and less of these factors and it makes the game not as fun or engaging for me anymore. About the only thing that brings me to the television screen is the strategy of the game and the fact I am a fan of one team in particular on Sunday. I may just graduate to cheering for no one and just being a fantasy player because I just don’t see the intangibles I used to enjoy that much anymore. It is ultimately the intangibles that provide emotional attachment to anything and I just have a hard time being emotionally attached to football particularly of the professional variety. I find myself more drawn to a football field in Reed City on Friday nights than other places because I still have a lot of emotional attachment to that place. I played there and watched my sons play there. It is sacred earth to me. I don’t feel that sacred earth attachment like I used to with professional football today and I think it is because there are certain factors that simply have changed too much for my old school mind.
1) I miss great defenses – I guess I was spoiled as I saw the Steel Curtain play. I saw the 1975 Rams as a child. the 1990 New York Giants. It is interesting to me that only two defenses have really made that list since 1990 – the 2000 Ravens and Last years Seattle Seahawks. In the 70s and 80s there were a lot of them. Most people like to point to Montana for the 80s 49ers dynasty but the defense of that time for the 49ers was stellar. Last year was the first time in a while that a truly great defense was put together and I enjoyed it every minute. Defense these days is downplayed and difficult in part because the great talent athletically is drawn to offense and the rules are definitely in the favor of the offense. I am not one to whine about unfair but this is unjust and being a former defensive player and it shows a lack of respect for the value of defense. It seems everyone has forgotten that offense may draw crowds, but defense wins championships.
2) Toughness – The athletes today are better athletes but I am going to say it – they are simply not as tough as the old players. Mentally or physically they are lesser. There are notable exceptions but as a general rule if you gave me a choice between old and new for toughness give me the Jack Lambert of the 70s or any player from the 1950s. Today what often causes a player to be Questionable for next weeks game would have years ago been patched up and sent back out on the field that game in a matter of minutes. I remember myself playing with blood dripping down my hand in a game. It was not about how hard you hit but how much of a hit you could take and still get up and keep playing. That has changed and not for the better. Looking back at it this was the greatest life lesson football ever taught me. Keep going, don’t ever quit. I see a lot of current players that give up on plays to easily, don’t finish or just plan quit.
3) Power Running – Last guy I considered to be a power runner was Jerome Bettis. Now there are some hopefuls like Bell from the Lions and others but true power running was more than about the running back but it also involved the offensive line which these days finding good run blockers in a pass happy league is not easy. It was about true smash mouth football and it is a rare these days.
4) The Value of a Touchdown – If there is a universal truth it is that the more of something there is the less value it has. In days gone by scores were 21- 14 or 14-6 and people considered that the touchdowns had great value because a single touchdown was a game changer or even game winner. Not any more, you can score a touchdown in the late fourth quarter, take the lead and still lose the game. There will come a point where a touchdown will be scored and people will yawn because they know more are coming. perhaps the NFL should not the arena league does not do well because the scores are so high.
These are the highlights of what I think is missing at least for me. This is my opinion so you don’t have to share it. But it does explain why I often find myself drawn to Rugby more and more.