San Francisco 49ers players during the national anthem. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Written By Austin Hall (@ADWAustin)

One of my fondest memories growing up is when my dad would get excited for a Patriots game. He’d always say the same thing: “Tomorrow is a big. BIG. BIGGGG. GAME.” The more importance the game held, the more “big’s” and dramatic pauses he’d add to his statement.

On Sundays, I would occasionally suit up in my mock Patriots uniform: a plastic helmet, Drew Bledsoe jersey, shoulder pads and pants, a present my paternal uncle got me. It was, and will forever be, one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I’d put it on and run around the TV sometimes while Dad would throw a football to me. Even writing about this now, I’m filled with tender happiness.

Dad needed to watch the Pats on Sundays just like I needed to watch the Pats on Sundays.

In recent years, Dad has gone to bed before the last two Pats Super Bowl victories, thinking they’d lose. When he found out they won, he didn’t really mind missing it.

My dad and I (along with my mom), have talked exhaustively about the atrocious treatment of NFL athletes, from the fumbling of the players kneeling during the National Anthem to raise awareness about police brutality, to the brutal violence of the game that has been linked to CTE, and the racist name of the Washington, D.C. football team.

I talked to Dad recently about whether he’d watch football this year, and he said he probably won’t, due to the violence in the game and how it will hurt the athletes both during and after their playing careers. I don’t blame him.

I could write an entire article about how shitty the NFL handles their business, from the Ray Rice case, to the new tackle and catch rules, including the aforementioned lack of self-awareness and empathy that NFL owners have for their players. I’ve already written about my own crummy team last February when they lost the Super Bowl and I didn’t care. I could write about the gross macho-bullshit that’s been on display in Hard Knocks, so much so that I couldn’t even bother to watch this year. Chris has got you covered on that front.

Right now, here’s where I’m at: I didn’t buy last year’s Madden football video game, the first time I haven’t gotten the most recent football game since before I even had a PlayStation. I didn’t buy it for a number of reasons: Tom Brady was on the cover, who I don’t like, nor respect; it takes forever to learn the more and more needlessly complex controls in order to even play it; and finally, because it exists in a world where nothing is wrong with the NFL.

I decided not to play fantasy football for the first time since I was a senior in college (which is about 6 or 7 years), so that I won’t feel like I have to watch. But will I?

I don’t know.

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