This is the power of the NFL: it can brand something you respect into something nauseous. I have a lifelong fascination with the military: my grandfathers were pilots in WWII, one also in Korea. My stepfather, a man I love and respect, only retired from the Air Force this decade. I attended high school near Eglin Air Force Base, living out near Range Road, where you could sit on your roof at night and watch the bomb tests light up the underside of clouds. Most of my friends’ dads were in the service.
But just like that friend’s dad who got in your face all OORAH about how you could never dare question him (on anything) when you knew in reality that he ran Quicken for the 101st Chairborne, doing sorties on Excel columns, the NFL doesn’t have an off switch on its deployment of big words like battle and sacrifice. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell glad-handing veterans who’ve lost something, smirking under a flyover, is another avatar of the rear-echelon dudes who spent their Iraq War scanning the base doppler for tornados in the midwest and up-armoring their word rage to combat the “libturd” War on Christmas, daring you to question those who do their duty. The NFL is in the business of not being questioned, and the troops are its favorite accessory.