It’s pretty easy to draw parallels between the modern NFL and the Roman gladiatorial games. The powers that be want to keep the masses distracted from all the unscrupulous nonsense they pull each and every day by offering up a spectacle of human prowess, fraught with danger and drama. Sadly, it works just as well in the 21st century as it did in the first century to distract the population from what’s really going on in the world.
Houston, we have a problem.
The NFL has managed to get Uncle Sam to let them fill that need; the league (or at least one team) is even rewarded each year with a nice pat on the head and a “well done” visit to the White House after winning the Super Bowl. From the recently corrected non-profit status granted to the NFL to anti-trust laws that boggle the mind, it’s clear the powers that be desperately want to stack the deck in favor of the NFL.
Where the train jumps the proverbial tracks is when the spectacle loses its entertainment value. Sure, you’ll always have the long-suffering fan bases willing to hang in there “just one more year” in the hopes of finally being able to remove the bag from their collective heads long enough to win a Super Bowl. But in the politically charged landscape of modern America, where the players and owners are under more scrutiny than ever before, the slightest misstep can turn into a public relations fiasco that costs teams millions of dollars.
Doing something that evokes passion, whether positive or negative, can always turn out well for any sports franchise. When you continually put a subpar product on the field, however, even winning doesn’t always remove the stigma of apathy.
Watching Bill O’Brien take a highly talented roster filled with the likes of Deshaun Watson, Deandre Hopkins, Will Fuller V, J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney “AWOL” Mercilus and Tyrann Mathieu to continually produce an episode of “The 53 Stooges” does just that.
But, wait, NFL ratings are up!
Sure, the NFL seems to have managed to stop trying to shoot the goose that lays the golden eggs – for now – but this is Texas. We might love to root for the underdog, but eventually, we have to come alongside that dog and let him know his time his come to ride off into the sunset or be taken out back and put down.
Will Bill O’Brien get Deshaun Watson injured?
That’s a very valid question. It’s not hard to go back and watch the tape to see Mike Shanahan had a lot to do with Robert Griffin III’s career-shortening injury. It’s easy to say no Texans fan wants to see that happen here. At the rate Watson is getting hit, it’s a simple numbers game – unless Watson is channeling his inner Brett Favre, he’s going to land on Injured Reserve before the season is over.
Would you throw away $166 million?
From a purely business point of view, Texans owner Bob McNair is doing just that this season by allowing this “definition of insanity” offensive game-planning to continue. We’ve learned beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bill O’Brien is not the quarterback-whispering #NextGen offensive guru/prodigy he was sold to us as five years ago. Why continue to let him mismanage the game plan, the team’s preparation, play calling, clock management, and other aspects he obviously can’t do well?
It seems the Texans can’t even get the spectacle of the Roman games right.
J.J. Watt is a modern Maximus Decimus Meridius.
The lead character of the movie Gladiator was a fictitious mish-mash of actual and imagined people, but J.J. Watt is a real life superhero. Maximus had his own Romeo Crennel to save him from the evil emperor, but he was put to death. Unfortunately, Maximus and his team die at the end of the movie too…
The question remains: Are you not entertained?
The Houston Texans have managed to beat the teams they should beat the last three weeks, but after the Dallas Cowboys utterly destroyed the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, chances are the Jags’ defensive line is drooling at the opportunity to take on the Houston Texans offensive line this week.
Watching Deshaun Watson run for his life every time he touches the ball could only be described as entertaining for a masochist who has some deranged desire to see the best quarterback in franchise history maimed for life.
Is it a car crash we can’t stop watching? Or just a bar ditch waiting for us to drive into it?
Maybe that’s where the spectacle lies. Maybe it’s like watching Old Yeller, knowing the poor dog is going to be put down and we’re just waiting for gunshot.
Or maybe the Houston Texans finally pull the plug on the Bill O’Brien experiment and bring in a head coach who actually is what O’Brien was hyped to be.
In the meantime, the desire to watch erodes further each week.
Are you happy with the 3-3 record? Have on your Pollyanna glasses? Can you spot the upside here?