Footballs and football are deflated

Football Fetish Nation—The Finale. Well, yes, and here it is. America’s Money Shot Sunday. Place your bets. Have a few. Have a few more. Pound some salty snacks. Easy on those tater tots. And hope like hell that this year’s Superb Owl (a tip of the hat to you, Stephen, for that perfect gag from last year) isn’t ruined by something unimaginable (although Katy can go right ahead and have a wardrobe malfunction if she must).

In a year marred by elevator punchups, medieval thigh-switching, brazenly deflated footballs—hey, somebody let the air out of those effing balls!—and loads of really shitty calls by blind zebras, the NFL says TGISBS (Thank God It's Super Bowl Sunday), and somebody turn out the lights when this kegger is over.

But is the writing on the wall as far as the NFL's days as Big Daddy El Supremo being numbered? I'm not saying this as someone who necessarily wants to see football get dethroned. I've enjoyed watching games at various levels of interest and passion for—gulp—54 years. (One can only wonder at the toll in terms of brain cells.) But look at the following quotes and see if you can't see the seeds of … of … well—deflation about 20 years down the road.

Begin with President Obama's 2013 quote—“I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football.” Here's a recent from King James (a.k.a. Lebron), who has two young boys—“Only basketball, baseball and soccer are allowed in my house. It's a safety thing. As a parent, you protect your kids as much as possible. I don't think I'm the only one that's not allowing his kids to play football.” I'm getting that feeling too, Bron. Notice he had no hesitation dropping the “S” word into his mix. Soccer is a word that used to make American jocks all squidgy in their tummies.

Finally, there's this quote from burly gruff legendary tight end/coach/talking head Mike Ditka, who was asked if he had a young son, would he say OK to football? “Nope. That's sad. I wouldn't. And my whole life was football. I think the risk is worse than the reward. I really do.”

Now, hold on here. This isn't a quote from some metrosexual hairdresser in San Jose, it's from Mike Freakin' Ditka, a guy who very likely has a DVD of himself catching passes and running over puny tacklers that he can pop in the box whenever he's blue and needs a little cheerup.

I'm not predicting a thing. In fact, in five years, it's safe to say the Superb Owl will still have its gleaming sheen of godzillesque kitsch goin' for it, like now. But in 20 years, 30?—will football finally yield its throne to … football (as in the S word)?