It's Not You, It's Me


This is the first season of the NFL I've missed in 32 years. I can't say I didn't miss it. I keep up with the news, mind you. I can't name the playoff teams, or tell you who the Super Bowl favorite is, much less pick my own. But I know that Tom Brady and Payton Manning had great years--and that Adrian Peterson cleared 2000 yards. It was not as hard as I thought. I used to live for Fall Sundays--it was the one day I had totally and completely to myself. Everything that had gone wrong in the week--and there was always a lot--just seemed to melt away.  

But now there's the matter of time. I basically have two governing passions in my life--writing and family--and everything, somehow, ties to one of them. And the older I've gotten the more time each has taken from me. (And the more they have given back.) When I was 25 there just seemed like there was so much time. And then there's the fact that both of my passions are so tied to brain function. I don't know what I am without my writing and my family. And I don't what those things would be to me with an (more) inhibited brain. 

I thought about that constantly last season. It probably goes to far to say I watched football strictly for the violence. But I certainly didn't watch in spite of it. I can't say I would have felt the same about flag football. When Ray Lewis would smash into Eddie George, I would feel an electric charge surge through me. And I loved it. I loved Ronnie Lott because he was such a big hitter. I still think fondly of Steve Atwater--like the recovering alcoholic recalling one of his great benders. But the fact of the matter is that my view of violence--ritual and otherwise--has changed in the past ten years. I hear Ray Lewis is retiring. And all I can do is worry about his brain.

Which isn't to say that I didn't miss some things. I'm mostly sad I missed the quarterback play of RGIII and Andrew Luck. I'm really sorry I missed Peyton Manning's comeback. I watched a half of one game this year--the Thanksgiving day game, so I did get to see some of RGIII's wizardry. And on that note, I caught enough news to be very happy to no longer be a Cowboys fan. On Sunday, my twitter stream was filled with people laughing at Tony Romo and Jerry Jones. It was like hearing that your lush of an ex-spouse had, yet again, made of a drunken fool of himself at the company party. You are sort of embarrassed for him. But you are also glad to no longer be attached. He'll never change. 
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

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