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No football season? Don't be talkin' like that

There are many niceties in this life I've learned to live without, among them silk sheets (too slippery), fine wine (too pricey), Corinthian leather car upholstery (too hard to clean up spilled chocolate milk), and elegant women (too easy for them to get restraining orders). But football, c'mon, don't ask me to do it. I need my sanctioned violence fix.

Other than the death, suffering, catastrophic economic damage and permanent loss of confidence in our entire way of existence, I think the potential for cancellation of the fall football schedule is the worst pandemic punishment. Yeah, I suppose you could make the case that the loss of millions of American jobs wasn't all that swell, either, but we're talking about a sporting tradition, a metaphor for the battle between good and evil, a chance for people from Green Bay to say nasty things about those thugs from Chicago. I mean, where else can you find that kind of hatred?

Yeah, I know, in Congress.

Anyway, as of right now (that would be Monday evening just before I take a 30-minute break to watch 'Wheel of Fortune') the National Football League plans to start its season as scheduled on Sept. 13, with some teams now planning to not allow fans in their stadiums for at least the first few games. All this could change on a dime (which is how much Aaron Rodgers is paid per nanosecond, incidentally) if COVID-19 breaks out in one of the NFL locker rooms as the players gleefully snap each other on their naked butts with wet towels.

Yeah, well, I like to paint a vivid picture, OK? It's what separates me from the people whose columns actually get read.

Football -- where players regularly exchange more bodily fluids than organ transplant recipients/ donors -- is obviously the sport in which COVID-19 is most difficult to control. Professional basketball, baseball and hockey have all resumed with only minimal virus concerns, but on that gridiron where linebackers eat running backs for evening snacks and linemen the size of shuttle buses smash into each other dozens of times per game (sometimes even at the halftime buffet table), tiny viral-infected breath, saliva and snot droplets will be flying around like radioactive isotopes at a nuclear test explosion site. If COVID-19 somehow enters a team's inner sanctum, it will likely spread faster than that silly rumor in high school about me kissing my dog on the lips to practice for a girl.

Like I said -- silly rumor. It was actually my neighbor's dog. He never did look me straight in the eye after that.

But hey, we were talking about football, and how devastated I will be if I have to live without it for a season. I've been watching Packer games most every Sunday since I was 10, and the sport is as much a part of my autumn routine as cleaning out the gutters and proclaiming, 'Cripes, Christmas is only two months away.' Yeah, I know, I still don't start shopping until Dec. 22, but at least I'm aware of it.

If you think about it -- and I have -- a bug like COVID-19 should be one of the last worries for big strong lugs who have spent their whole lives building their physiques to withstand great physical punishment. If it were me, I'd be far more concerned about the 320-pound nose tackle across the line of scrimmage who can break my femur like it's a chicken wing bone than I would a cellular-sized virus that might make me cough. Let's see. Clotheslined at full speed by a strong safety, or two weeks at home by myself with a perfect excuse to not take a shower? That oughta' be a no-brainer even for a Viking fan.

There is huge money on the line here, though, as players decide if they are going to 'opt out' of their commitments for a year so they don't catch COVID, or if they will risk infection in order to earn the full value of a contract that's worth more than the annual gross revenue of Botswana (that's a country in Africa, not a hip hop artist). Several big-name players have already chosen to skip the season, and I don't blame them, unless they're on my Fantasy League roster, in which case I'll be filing a lawsuit in federal court by early next week.

Owners stand to lose big-time, too, as the average NFL game, with 80,000 fans each paying $10 for beers and $25 for parking and $150 for tickets, rakes in somewhere between $7.5 million and however much it is that Bill Gates earns on interest every minute of his life. The NFL organization and the owners churn up billions of smackers in revenue each season, and, if the season is cancelled, all that dough would be used by average fans to pay off their debts and fix up their homes and add to their savings accounts for future tough times. But 'c'mon, where's the fun in that? I'd rather see the Giants upset the Cowboys on Monday night. If for no other reason, I think America needs a football season to create some sense that life one day will be sane again, rather than this peculiar predicament of political posturing and pandemic paranoia. While we're all at the point where we'd like to reach out and smack the person next to us in the convenience store who apparently doesn't know the difference between 6 feet and 6 inches -- even though there are large colorful stickers plastered all over the floor to show him -- we're all holding it in and taking deep breaths and building stress levels like the magma chamber under a steaming volcano. At some point, we're all just gonna blow - - my luck it'll happen when I'm wearing a white shirt -- and I believe that watching well-padded professionals beat on each other for a few hours on Sunday afternoons can help ease that pressure at least a wee bit. Well, sure, football is sanctioned violence, many of the things that occur on the field would be considered felony assaults out on the sidewalk, but what's wrong with using it as an outlet for increasingly pent-up frustrations? And hey, if the Pack covers the spread and you pick up an extra $20 on the side, then you have some extra cash to buy a second face mask. Ya' see how this all fits together?

And, well, if the season must be cancelled, so be it, I guess, I'll just be watching more 'Wheel of Fortune.' Somehow, though, I don't think seehing Vanna spin those vowels is gonna help relieve my stress very much.