Football of the Future: The Killing Fields

Most observers predicted the 2005 season would be the last for the foundering NFL. Teams were hemorrhaging cash, half of them teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Attendance had plummeted. Television ratings had bottomed out. ABC canceled "Monday Night Football" after it started coming in dead last in its time slot, even losing to UPN's low budget game show, "Who Wants to be a Thousandaire."The decline came swift and steady, beginning in February 2001, when the World Wrestling Federation launched their own football league, the XFL. Although dismissed initially by the naysayers, the XFL immediately snagged fan interest. The furious pace of the games, the hip hop attitude, colorful characters, well-scripted story lines and most of all, the flexible rule interpretation helped the new league usurp the venerable NFL.Which explains the fateful decision made by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue before the start of the 2005 season. He suddenly and very publicly retracted all previous denials to admit that not only do NFL players have a propensity towards violence, but in fact, they excel at it. In a stunning reversal, while flashing gang signs and admitting that he was "strapped," the commissioner embraced the thuggish undercurrent that ran through the league.Locker rooms brimming with brawlers, stalkers, burglars, crackheads, gunsels and murderers became the cornerstone of the NFL marketing strategy, and helped draw a line in the blood separating the two leagues. While the XFL outwardly seems more violent and over the top, they are just role playing. NFL players are the ones with actual rap sheets. To them, violence is not just something that peels off with the uniform. Which brings us to Super Bowl XXXX, the culmination of the NFL's turnaround season. It is being played on a balmy night in January 2006. Listen in:Hello, everybody, and welcome to this epic clash between the Washington Wife-Beaters and the El Paso Carjackers. I'm Vin Jackson, coming to you live from O. J. Simpson Memorial Stadium. Oh, it's gonna be a doozy of a game. Joining me in the broadcast booth, sedated, shackled and under heavy guard, a man who's made the All-Madden Death Row Team every year he's been in lock-down, Rae Carruth. And there's the opening kick-off! Fielding it at the 5 is Derek Armstrong. He's at the 10, the 15, the 20! Just look at that little jitterbug go! And oh my! Out of nowhere, he is shanked from behind at the Wife-beater's 26 by Lance Brady! But there's a flag on the play. Rae: Yeah, my man Lance caught a little face-mask with his blade when he was hacking at Armstrong's jugular.Vin: Lance Brady is one of the human interest stories that makes this game so special. Just last October he was drag racing drunk and plowed his Porsche into a school bus full of kids, killing three and injuring a dozen more. Well, a lot of players would have let that turn into a distraction, but Brady just dedicated himself to working that much harder. He's had a stellar season and to cap it off, the parents of those dead kids are in the stands tonight, courtesy of free tickets provided by Lance Brady.Rae: I hear he autographed a t-shirt for them, too.Vin: When you talk about character in professional sports, Lance Brady is one of the first names that comes to mind. The ball is spotted at the Wife-beater 41 after the face-mask penalty. And here's the snap. It's a screen pass to Tyrel "The Perp" Sanders and he's got some blockers. He rumbles across mid-field, to the 45, the 40 and... whoa nellie! Out of nowhere, 'Jacker's strong safety, Kurt Slick drops Sanders with several rounds from a Glock 19! Those are 9mm, hollowpoints whizzing around. Somebody came to play!Rae: That's what I'm talking about! Teach that punk to break a tackle. In this game you got to keep respect.Vin: They'll spot the ball as soon as the body stops twitching. Hold on, I do believe there's another flag down. Oh my, but the zebras have the laundry hanging out today.Rae: Looks like one of Kurt's 9s clipped someone in the stands.Vin: Wounding a spectator will tack on another 5 yards. That's the kind of rookie mistake that gives a head coach spastic colon. The 'Beaters will line up with two tight ends. Here's the snap, Jimmy Bozworth, who led the league in sexual assaults this season, takes the hand-off and gets nailed at the line of scrimmage! The ball squirts loose and there's a pile-up on the field! And I do believe the 'Jackers have recovered. Jay Cruise, whose entourage capped four victims during a pre-season coke orgy, comes dancing out of the pile holding the ball.Rae: That ain't the ball. That's somebody's liver.Vin: Right you are. Somebody has been disemboweled at the bottom of the pile and his internal organs are being pulled from his still breathing body. Wife-beaters keep the ball. Now wait a minute, did I just see what I think I did? I can't believe it. That's just repugnant. Wife-beater, Terry Matson, just used his finger to make a slashing motion across his throat. I am stunned at such an insensitive gesture.Rae: That is lame. There's no place for something like that in this league. Vin: And the officials agree, they've ejected Matson from the game! And rightly so. How else will players learn that there are consequences to their actions? While there's a break on the field, we'll take a break for a word from one of our sponsors, Smith and Wesson. When some punk needs to be smoked, smoke him with a Smith and Wesson ...

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