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Ron Upshaw: Why I’m a huge NFL fan and a hypocrite

Seahawks Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin. (AP)

I own at least a dozen items of NFL merchandise — T-shirts, hats, sweaters, cups, and signage. Needless to say that I, like tens of millions of other people, am pumped that training camp is starting this week. Because after training camp comes the games.

You could say that I’m a big fan.

You could also say that I’m a huge hypocrite.

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For the last few seasons, I’ve been trying to come to terms with the realities of the spectator sport that I love. Here’s my dilemma. I try to be a conscientious consumer. I eat my veggies. I recycle. For instance, when the CEO of Uber was caught on video berating a driver, and then a series of scandals broke, I haven’t taken an Uber ride since. I’m a Lyft guy now.

When Woody Allen married his own step daughter, I haven’t seen one of his movies since. In other words, I try to put my money where my mouth is. Except with the NFL.

What are we talking about here?

Over the past few seasons, it’s has become clear that the very architecture of the sport destroys the bodies and brains of the players. I’m not OK with that. At least that’s what I tell myself.

When I hear about star players that choose to take their own life because their brain is scrambled, I’m not OK with that. When a former player who thinks he has CTE comes up with a family plan that will prohibit him from killing them, I’m not OK with that.

Except — that I am. If you look at my behavior. Because starting in a month or so, I will arrange my weekends so that I will be able to watch my team play a game. I have already purchased airline tickets to watch games in other states. My actions are screaming that I’m OK with it.

I’ve thought about this a lot, and here’s the best I can come up with:

1)  It’s the violence and risk inherent in the game that make it exciting. As much as I hate it when someone gets injured, evidently I like the violence of grown men crashing into each other with incredible force. It appeals to my primal nature.

2)  They know better. In the modern game, everyone is knowingly accepting the risk. The players and owners and fans are all informed, and we have all signed the waiver.

3)  They make a lot of money. Yes, a good percentage of players might scramble their brains and wreck their bodies, but they made millions of dollars and for a short time, lived like kings.

What are we talking about here?

We are talking about living another season pretending like there aren’t long term side effects of supporting this sport we love. We are talking about finding a way to be OK with being a NFL hypocrite.

“What Are We Talking About Here” can be heard every weekday at 4:50 p.m. and 6:50 p.m. on the Ron & Don Show on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM.

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