Illustration by Aaron Hadley Dana
The NFL is complicated, but it wants to be simple. In some basic ways, it is indeed simple, in the way of Faulkner's manchildren—its corporate steakheadedness and blusteringly backwards-looking front office approach and all that—but the game has never been more complex or full of more dazzling possibilities. The league transparently believes it's America, and sees its brand as an American flag a mile high, circled by barrel-rolling Blue Angels and with Kid Rock playing a song about his car on top of it all. The people hired to talk about it are, mostly, neckless coachy types and quotatious ex-jocks, all of which are locked in a high-speed race to deliver the most perfectly circular statements of straight-line maleness possible. They are protesting too much, all of them.
But if football's array of complicated possiblities is what makes it fun—and if its queasy ethical considerations make it so fraught a thing to consume—there is a space for simplicity in it. If the whole is intricate, it is comprised of binary things, tasks that are either done or not; the complicated whole depends on these little subsidiary simplicities. A missed assignment or a forgotten task leaves an ass-print in the mandala. It is complicated, and it is simple.
But when it is too complicated and the simple things go wrong... that is when you get things like the Indianapolis Colts botching an attempt at a swinging gate punt fake and authoring a moment of pure Breaking Madden ridiculousness. This is when things fall apart, and when they get hilarious. This is good stuff, if only because it is also rare.
And while it is unlikely that we will see that sort of thing again tonight when the Colts face the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football, it is important to be prepared. The best way to do this is to mute your television and crank Footballz, either here or at Footballz.org. Because it is important to keep some things simple, Mac and TD will be alone in the studio tonight, offering a stripped-down, Footballz Classic approach. And because it is important to appreciate the complicated whole, they're going to talk about the game only when and only as much as they need to. The rest, as ever, will be a 100% Gruden Free spectacle of jokes and free association and music. We already know it works. Not to get too Ditka, but sometimes some Power Footballz is just the best way to get the job done.
As ever, feel free to chat it up below.