When I was 5 years old, Sister Anne would tell us to keep our hands to ourselves. “No hitting. No hitting!” she’d say to the class, over and over, every morning. Then the bell would ring and an hour later Mr. Millison would blow a whistle and instruct us to “Hit him! Rip his head off!” over and over, every afternoon. I was conflicted. “But that’s Kevin from Sister Anne’s class.” I had to hit Kevin. This was Pee Wee football.
It was the beginning of a lifetime of competing emotions related to football. With mental-health, safety and social issues mixed with national anthem protests, you’d have to be insane to not be somewhat conflicted while watching professional football these days.
However, this Sunday I’ll ignore all of these pressing concerns because the team I love more than most things could win the Super Bowl for the first time. I’ll be at my favorite bar, wearing my lucky shirt, with my dad. Unless we’re losing. Then I’ll switch my shirt, my bar and my dad. Nothing’s more important than this game.
Admittedly, this is wrong. I’m now well informed on how repetitive head trauma can lead to a degenerative disease in the brain known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E. That will not affect me Sunday. For the well-paid warriors battling on the field in Minneapolis, this game will be a continuation of a system that places money and tradition above their health and lives. For me? It’ll be pure bliss.