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Why Football Matters In 2021


Roughing The Passer is a football blog. We talk about football.

Football isn’t the most important thing in the world. As much as my kids and I love the game, in the overall scheme of things, football is just that… a game.

2020 was a year that reminded us of that. This damn plague wiping us out by the hundreds of thousands. Race wars exploding in out streets. So many horrific stories, one after the other. I mean, was it really only a year ago that Kobe died?

We, as I’m sure many of you did yesterday, we all watched the events in Washington in Horror. Thousands of protesters stormed the United States Capital building. The Senators and Congressmen and women had to be evacuated through tunnels beneath the building. People died.

It doesn’t seem real, even as i see the words I just typed.

The only event in my life that is even vaguely similar was 9-11. Just the surreal nature of all of it; I lost count of how many times I asked myself “Is this real?”

I won’t get into blame, or politics, or parties here. Aside from the fact that the rest of the web is already weighing in everywhere, as I said, this is a football blog.

What I’m going to do instead is ask you to watch a video.

Football is just about as American as it gets. I’ve owned a bar in Northern Wisconsin for more than 20 years, and as such, some of the most amazing moments in my life (aside from family stuff)…. some of my best memories, are centered around this wonderful damn game. It’s something that brings us all together, A common love we can all share.

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I saw this video some years ago. It was the first of these ‘Soldier surprise” videos I ever saw. They are fairly commonplace now, and I think that’s great. As far as I’m concerned every damn one of our returning soldiers deserves a homecoming like this. But this… it’s still the best one. When you see him come up on the screen, that crowd roars. When he mentions the Gamecocks, they roar louder. And when they announce that he’s actually there, the whole place loses it’s mind.

It’s just an amazing moment… and it’s a moment that, at least to me…. and to those tens of thousands of people who shared that moment, I would imagine… was everything it means to be an American. In that moment, there weren’t any Florida State or South Carolina fans. That was just a stadium full of moms and dads and kids and brothers and sisters… and Americans. I promise you in that moment, not one damn person in that stadium gave a sh@t who the person next to them voted for or weather the were a “D” or an “R.

I served this country for 8 years. Put my life on the line on a number of occasions for one reason; I believe in this country and everything it stands for. A phrase I have used, and heard used many times, is this:

“I don’t agree with your opinion. But I would give my life for your right to have it.”

Over the last several years we have become a nation that is full of hate; not just for others but for out fellow Americans. This is the United States. This nation was built on a handful of concepts, one of the main ones being that we all have the right to believe in what we choose. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about how you see God, how you feel about tax cuts for certain folks, Guns, or who you voted for.

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America isn’t the ground we walk on. It’s not the politicians we see on TV. It isn’t the “rights” we’ve heard so many scream for with no real concept of why exactly we have those rights or what they mean. This nation is an idea, a concept. Unique in the history of the world. In America, many of us have forgotten those ideals. Americans don’t hate each other because we disagree on issues. We respect one another for them. We debate, and we look for compromise. We work together, and as a whole we have each others’ backs. We believe in one another, and we will stand together with our fellow citizens.

Many of us have lost our way. Yesterday was a dark day, but it was not the end of anything. I can only pray that it was a day of awakening. Politics has become not a subject for debate, but a contact sport, and a violent one at that. People root and chant and support their ‘favorite’ not because of issues, or beliefs, but because politics is now about competition and winning.

It wasn’t that long ago we were a nation who believed all of that. We stood side by side, and we believed in each other, regardless of how the next person felt about any political issue.

I pray that yesterday is a day that prompts change. A day where we, as a whole, stand up, look around, and scream “This is not who we are!”

Every person in that stadium up there knew that. They felt it. In that one amazing moment, every person there understood what it is to be an American. This is football, and at its best it shows who and what we, as Americans, are. COVID has helped to remind is of that; every time I see a Lambeau Leap into empty stands I appreciate everything football represents more and more.

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It isn’t too late for this country, But don’t bullsh*t yourself; in some ways, we are on the ropes. As you go out into the world today, maybe take a moment to remember who we are. At the end of the day, regardless of what we believe or who we support, we’re all still Americans. The day that stops mattering…. is the day we lose what I and many like me fought, and in far too many cases, died… to defend.

If you’re reading this, you are my brother or sister. I don’t care if you support Donald Trump Or Joe Biden. I don’t care if you’re a Bears or Vikings fan (although I will talk sh*t to you if you are). Live today with that thought: At the end of the day, we are all Americans. Together. And anyone who tries to drive a wedge in that belief… is not a real American at all.

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