NFL's message: It's game time, so forget all the nagging issues

Sep 3, 2013 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

Are you going to be there with me Thursday? Sure you will. Drinking the Kool-Aid we call the National Football League.

And, for us Broncos fans, could we hope for a better season opener?

The vicious Baltimore Ravens, the reigning Super Bowl Champs, who ended Denver's run a season ago, are back in Colorado to kick off the season.

It's like Shark Week revisited. The frenzy of the NFL is again upon us.

We feed and we feed and we feed. Fantasy teams, survivor leagues, Thursday nights, Sundays, Monday nights. All week long. All year long, really.

Because the NFL has our number. It has found our sweet spot.

We're all zombies walking toward the Vince Lombardi trophy.

Forget about the ugly off-season when the league had more of its players arrested (31) than Worland had suited up for last Friday's week-zero high school game against Riverton.

Forget about the $765 million-plus legal fees the league agreed to pay the 4,000 players and their families who felt they had suffered from injuries including long-term cognitive damage linked to head trauma sustained by playing such a violent game.

Forget that the terms of the agreement allowed the NFL to not admit that the players' injuries were directly a result of their playing football in their league.

Forget about the pressure that the NFL put on ESPN, and ESPN caving like a house of cards, to end its 15-month relationship with PBS's Frontline as work concluded on episodes of "League of Denial -- the NFL's Concussion Crisis" that describes the NFL and the hidden story of brain injuries.

Forget that ESPN gets about $5.50 from each of us, every month, whether we watch the network or not, and lobbies effectively to keep its channels bundled in our cable or satellite menu of programs -- meaning if we want one, we must pay for them all. Forget that ESPN needs to pay the NFL $1.1 billion each year.

Forget that, before last year's Super Bowl, on CBS's Face The Nation, host Bob Schieffer repeatedly asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell whether there was a link between brain injuries and football, even as a growing amount of research is making the link between the game and the development of debilitating cognitive diseases ever clearer and perhaps even overwhelming. Goodell gave Schieffer more jukes than Barry Sanders gave defenders in his prime.

Before you forget all of that, at least ask yourself, "Will football as we know it today survive?"

What was the question?

I forgot. Must be game time.

Have a great sports week.

Go Big Red!

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