My Buffalo Bills played the New York Jets on New Year’s Day. Both teams missed the playoffs, and ended their miserable seasons with a stammering dud of a game that was extremely appropriate for the occasion. The Jets coasted to a 30-10 win, in large part to the Bills benching quarterback Tyrod Taylor because they didn’t want to run the risk of him getting hurt and getting the money his contract entitled him to. He’ll be cut soon, and will hopefully go on to success elsewhere.
I spent most of the game at brunch with friends, and didn’t pay much attention after the first few minutes. It was great. The Bills are relatively easy to ignore in the offseason, and I’m looking forward to the coming months where days pass between them clouding my thoughts. But this year, more than any before, I’m ready to banish the rest of the NFL to the periphery of my day-to-day life. The only problem is that this isn’t actually very easy when most of your friends still love it.
You may have heard that the NFL is struggling. Whether it actually is or not depends on who you ask, of course. Struggling is a relative term, but after years of the league being talked about like some kind of unstoppable, unassailable monolith, people seem to have discovered it isn’t. This could be for any variety of reasons — some of which we’ve discussed before — but there are a few major ones.
The ongoing trickle of information about head injuries that makes queasy wincing a more and more common reaction to the big hits, rather than excitement. Then there’s the league’s bewildering discipline structure that punishes players more harshly for smoking marijuana to treat Crohn’s disease than for abusing women.