When the leaves begin to change, the nights become crisp and cool, children return to school and the days get shorter; after a long, hot summer, vacations and picnics conclude, there is an annual tradition that has become a mainstay in American households everywhere: the longing for the first weekend after Labor Day, and the return of the great game of football.
Distinctly American in every facet of the game, its brutality and successes, its mistakes and consequences have never been more apparent in any other sport played on our hallowed ground as when 11 men line up, preparing to attack 11 men on the other side of the line of scrimmage, in an attempt to push them back, conquer territory that is believed to be rightfully theirs, and perhaps even take possession of the pigskin for their side.
The buzz that builds throughout the stadium as the offense lines up at the 3-yard line, and everyone in the building knows—yes even the defense that a well-built, 200 pound running back is getting the rock, and that on 4th and Goal to go, he is going to use every bit of energy in his being, to attempt to use the half dozen or so monsters in front of him to make his presence known by way of breaking that plane, to reach the ultimate in football satisfaction—the endzone.
The physicality of each and every play involved on the gridiron takes us as a society back to medieval times, when force and dominance, the conquest and taking of another man's spirit plays out dozens of times each Sunday afternoon, evening, and Monday night. The battle for supremacy is not measured in weeks or months, but through the perfect execution of a predetermined, diagrammed plan of attack to humiliate the opponent, and to exude the basic animalistic values that the history of the world has used to evolve into a civilized people.
The game is historic and contemporary at the same time. What is often times considered archaic and holds no value can easily be brought back to life at a moment's notice, and used to seize the moment of weakness when an opponent believes they have turned the tide, will rise up and make the other side pay for such foolishness. As each season passes, each new generation of coaches and leaders develop new strategies to replace the copycat versions of the old ones, the game and its participants evolve, yet remain true to their purest form. Without the building blocks of those that came before them, there is no chance for innovation, creativity, and improvement on this perfect game.
The ultimate in grandeur is trail taken in pursuit and garnering of the Lombardi. Named after a dinosaur in terms of coaching philosophy and approach, his name and legend remains as strong as it did the day he turned a long-suffering franchise around, pulling them from the abyss of decades long failures, and made them true titans of the sports. Whether the game is played in frigid conditions in Wisconsin, Chicago or Buffalo, or the perfect paradise climates of south Florida and golden California, the aim and task at hand is the same.
Each weekend throughout the fall and winter months, we as fans argue, celebrate, curse, cry, scream, laugh, and talk trash, believing in our heart of hearts, that when the smoke clears and the dust finally settles that first weekend in February, that our beloved team of skilled athletes, well prepared coaching staffs, and our fellow fans, will be the last ones standing on Super Sunday to enjoy the hoisting of the ultimate prize, celebrating the ultimate game, the only game, America's Game.
This is not who we have always been, but it is who we are now, and as societies and civilizations evolve, so do our loyalties and love affairs, our precious times and our priorities, for without the grand American game of football, we as a nation would have one less beautiful layer of identity to call our own.