The Future is a Mess

There are some in this world that believe you can wish things into reality. If there’s a will, there’s a physical manifestation; or so the thinking goes.

If you believe in the Law of Attraction, this is definitely on Ed Hochuli’s Vision Board:

The mantra among fans was well-worn just three weeks into the season. The lockout antidote is simple: Force the game in the uneasy hands of impostors, then lean in towards the screen and watch in horror. Just don’t blink, and hope it’s not your team that gets the shaft.

There is no Secret here but the wishes of many, hoping that calamity and chaos can bring enough shame to the NFL that ending the referee lockout becomes an imperative. Forget principles and good business and consider the good of the sport.

This strike would not end based on player safety, and fan outcry would mean little in the face of league ideology. It had to be something big. Something embarrassingly messy and wrong.

Last night’s calamity in Seattle is about as close to pure chaos on FieldTurf as you’ll ever see. It was, as I said at the time, absolute goddamn perfection. An impossible ending to an improbable game on the largest scale imaginable. If Bill Belichick getting handsy with an official in Baltimore is cause for concern, scab officials staring blankly and crossing signs in the endzone is the reason the nuclear football exists.

(Quickly: If only the NHL had a national platform to be utterly undressed on in consecutive weeks. Its lockout would carry a much different tenor than the silent anger currently brewing in hockey towns. Where is hockey’s finger-tapping Steve Young, berating his league on national television?)

It happened, and now we wait and see what happens next. But know that that’s as good as it’s going to get. Fans will come back to football on Thursday, Sunday and Monday. A player’s strike—citing player safety and whatnot—still seems incredibly unlikely. Watching scabs directly impact two team’s win/loss record on basic cable is about the worst thing that can happen to Roger Goodell these days. That’s your money shot, folks.

The replays and GIFs and tweets will dominate the sports world for the next day or so. Hot takes will be spit far and wide. The pressure will be on. But like everything in our present reality, this crisis will be fleeting. There’s a game scheduled for Thursday at 8:30 p.m. in Baltimore. Expect a sellout crowd and plenty of televisions tuned to NFL Network, maybe more than ever.

Somebody will wear black-and-white stripes and hold whistles; but just because we all know who should be there holding the flags doesn’t make the universe obligated to abide.