In virtually every other country in the world, “football” means soccer. For good reason − American football is excessively violent, with a devastating injury toll. Small wonder, then, that we’re almost the only country that plays it. And the violent imagery it promotes seeps into American culture.
(Example: ESPN, in its game-summary of the AFC championship game, said of Peyton Manning: “If he’s given enough protection, he’ll kill you.”)
If anyone needed a reminder of football’s violence, it was on display today, as the New Orleans Saints administered a harrowing pounding to Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Brett Favre. Favre holds nearly every significant NFL passing record, but that doesn’t mean he got any slack. The New Orleans’ defensive players went after him with a passion.
(Baseball may be American’s pastime, but football is America’s passion.)
(Passion, on one level = suffering)
Yet Favre was undaunted by the Saints’ constant assault. He displayed, as an ESPN analyst put it, “pure courage.” If one were to mythologize the game, he was like Achilles, the noblest Greek fighter in the Trojan War.
Like Achilles, however, he was not untouchable. The race does not always go the swift, it says in the book of Ecclesiastes; in the hurly burly of the arena, contingency can intrude. Sometimes in the form of a penalty for too many men in the huddle.