The NFL Knew. And They Covered It Up.

If a big food corporation sells a contaminated product that makes people sick, they’re forced to remove the food from the shelves. If people actually died? Well, that could be criminal … or at least a top story in the news.

Same with pharmaceuticals. Car companies. Toy manufacturers. Anyone, really, who runs afoul of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the FDA, or even just riles up the local consumer action reporter at the evening news, has a lot of explaining to do if their product is dangerous.

So here’s what I don’t get.

How can the National Football League (NFL) endanger its players – knowingly – and still be not only the most popular sport in the country, but also the most profitable?

I loved football. Growing up, I was diehard for the 49ers. Oakland Raiders, too, but mostly ’9ers. I still have my Ronnie Lott bobblehead. My husband is from Colorado and a Broncos fan. Occasionally, I will say “55 to 10”. That’s all. Just “55 to 10.” He knows what I mean.  (Click here if you don’t.)

But, in recent years I’ve become increasingly disturbed by the growing violence of the game. The collisions seem uglier than usual. The game is becoming more about the train wreck, head-on-head, smash-ups. (And, this was even before the news broke this year about the New Orleans Saints’ “bounty hunting” – where players received financial bonuses based on the severity of the injuries they inflicted on opponents. The more serious the injury, the bigger the payoff.)

I started to lose interest in football, initially, because I was falling for baseball, and something had to give. Baseball seemed so much more athletically graceful. So much more strategically interesting. So much less ugly and brutal. So much more fun.

Oh sure, I thought football and I could still be friends. Even though I was in love with another game.

But, I finally had to break up with football.

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Slumpasana.  That’s what I call the droopy pose I sometimes see my Yoga students in.  They’re sitting at the start of class, but clearly the day has worn them down.  They’re stooped over, scrunched up.  Their muscles have abandoned them and their posture curls.   Their heart sinks into their belly.  Their spine collapses.

I can’t even make eye contact, because they’re all curled down.  They look so sad — a deflated body where a person used to be.

I’ll step behind them and adjust them by drawing their spine up and shoulders open.  It’s about getting the heart to widen.  Sometimes they stay up.  Sometimes … they slump right back down … or as soon as they think I’m not looking.

Without strong, healthy muscles, the body loses its structure.  Without energy, the body loses its structure.  And, when the world weighs heavy on you – physically, mentally, emotionally – you hang down your head and slump.  It just seems easier to be curled down.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is in a slump.  If my math is correct (and it is sometimes) he is 1 for 27 over the past week.  Wait, scratch that.  Since I’ve tinkered so long on this, he is now 1 for 30.  Sigh.  I better post this before I have to update again.

I don’t mean to pile on here.  I know it’s only temporary … slumps always are. Aren’t they?

It’s painful to watch a batter or a pitcher in a slump as they grimace in frustration, drop their head down, stoop their shoulders and shuffle off … out of the batter’s box or off the mound.  It can just break your heart.

I endure slumps on my Yoga mat.  Unrolling my mat can feel like an invitation to fail.   Fortunately, I don’t have 30,000 people staring at me as it unfolds.

Sometimes the failure is physical.  Really?  I’m a Yoga instructor and I can’t hold this pose for a minute?  I am weak and old and horrible.    Sometimes the failure is mental.  Dammit, where is this bliss they keep talking about?  Why am I the only one who sucks at this?  Heaven knows I’m miserable now.  Really? You, too, Morrissey?  And, sometimes I just lose energy.  I slump because all the energy has been sucked right out of my bones.

Sometimes I just lie down and wonder if that can be “good enough” for my practice.  And, that slump affects every other aspect of my life.  I sigh and my body sighs and everything seems harder and heavier and more annoying.

By the way, I’m actually rocking the Yoga mat like Buster Posey right now (he’s had a good couple weeks).  I feel strong and inspired and every once in awhile I see that magical bliss sitting out there and I can just about reach out and … nearly … nearly … nearly  touch it.  I vibrate from the inside out, and things are fun and the birds sing and my heart is wide and my spine is long and my body feels strong. Everything seems so effortless.

The next slump seems so far away … although I know it’s out there, just waiting for me to get cocky and a little too comfortable.

Not too long ago, I told one of my Yoga teachers about a struggle I was having with my practice.  He sent back a brief email.  It read: “Persistence is success.”


Just unroll the mat.  Just do it again, even if it really seems to not be getting better.  Because sometimes it’s the doing that is the most important part.  And, how will you know if a slump is gone, unless you keep at it?

So, what’s the point?  No point.  This is a blog afterall that is only a week old and really had no point at the start.  But, we all slump.  And, we unslump.  And, we slump again.

I hope Matt Wieters unslumps.  I hope that I don’t slump soon.  And, I wish non-slumps to you.