The first weekend of regular season games was viewed by more than 109 million TV fans and was filled with its usual exciting upsets on the field.
There also were some surprises off the field. They started with insightful stories last Sunday in the New York Times and Washington Post, which both in recent years have a tendency to view the glass half-empty when it comes to our great sport.
A Times headline on Sunday stated that “Football Is Here to Stay” while the Post headline was “Far from Being in Trouble, The NFL Will Thrive for Years to Come.” That news must be comforting to the NFL owners as well as to those of you who partly rely on your NFL pensions in retirement.
The Times stated in part: “…with a handful of additional (medical and playing rule) reforms at all levels of play, none of which would threaten the fundamental character of the game, the NFL’s second century could look as good as its first…High schools, including in affluent areas, continue to experience strong interest in football tryouts. The National Federation of State High School Associations reports that participation, while dipping last season, remains above the level of a generation ago.”
The Post gave an abridged history of our sport on the opening Sunday and stated “…fans needn’t fear the game’s demise. Football isn’t going anywhere. Because the sport has become deeply enmeshed with ideas of American masculinity and because pop culture has for generations cultivated a romanticized vision of football as something heroic, it is likely to remain robust long into the future.”
The bottom line is: let’s sit back and enjoy the games while also reminding the owners and players union at every opportunity that it took many of us– and our predecessors– to help build the sport to the popular level it now enjoys. We will continue to press both labor and management to increase pensions, especially for pre-93 players, when collective bargaining gets serious in the months ahead.