You may remember the name Chris Borland from a little early in the year. The former San Francisco 49ers linebacker retired after his rookie season citing fears of brain damage as the primary reason for stepping away from the game.
It all started with one of the NFL’s classic “random” drug tests in April. Usually the league sends you a pee cup after a great performance the week before (or in kicker Pat McAfee’s case, after laying out a return man), but Borland had been out of the game for about a month when he received the request.
Apparently the NFL holds the right to test you even after you’ve retired, just in case a player tries to Brett Favre his way out of it every time they attempted to watch him pee.
Well, Borland wasn’t having it. He knew he couldn’t say no and cast a shadow of doubt over his short career, but he also had a legitimate fear that the league would lie about his drug test, probably in an attempt to discredit him moving forward.
“I don’t really trust the NFL,” Borland put it simply and straightforwardly.
Borland was so skeptical of the league’s motives, he actually went out and hired an independent firm to drug test him. Both tests came back negative.
“I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist. I just wanted to be sure.”
Now while I agree that Roger Goodell is probably plotting something, and you can’t trust him as far as Tim Tebow can throw him right handed, Borland went on to rag on the game of football as a whole going as far as to call it “dehumanizing.”
“Dehumanizing sounds so extreme, but when you’re fighting for a football at the bottom of the pile, it is kind of dehumanizing. It’s like a spectacle of violence, for entertainment, and you’re the actors in it. You’re complicit in that: You put on the uniform. And it’s a trivial thing at its core. It’s make-believe, really. That’s the truth about it.”
That’s a little far, Mr. Borland.
Sure, football can be a violent sport. No one is going to deny that. But, at the same time, it’s not boxing. The violence is not the main focus of the sport.
The main issue that I take with Borland’s statements is that it paints all football players as actors, like this is their job. Yes, they get paid to play football, but to the majority of players, it’s is also a lifetime of passion that goes into their play each week. Obvious exceptions include Jay Cutler.
But aside from Cutler and other players that look like they’re just out there for the check, these men are playing the game they love. The only difference between them playing on Sundays now and the kids playing tackle football at the local playground are the thousands of screaming fans.
Football is entertaining. Just like basketball, baseball, and even boxing. We love watching sports just like we love playing them because we love admiring greatness and the product of natural talent and years of hard work and dedication. No one just ends up of a 53-man roster on accident.
So, Mr. Borland, you may have a good point to make, but you aren’t communicating it well. These players are out there for themselves, for fun, and for the spirit of competition just as much as they are out there for entertainment purposes.
I’m sure you can relate to what I’m saying. Well, at least you could have at one point.