HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 05: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons is sacked by Dont’a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

So you’ve decided to watch the National Football League. Congratulations! Enjoy it now before the sport is outlawed or sued into extinction due to concussions. Who knew that repeated violent collisions between large athletic people could scramble your brains?

If football is around in 20 years, there will be no human beings on the field. Instead, the game will be played by robots. The sport will resemble Real Steel. It will no longer be about who is the biggest, strongest or fastest. It’ll be a battle of technology. Bill Belichick is probably already working on the NFL version of the Stuxnet worm to disable your team’s best pass-rusher.

But that’s in the distant future. Until then, football! There is nothing more American that plopping your butt on the sofa, watching games all day and eating deep-fried foods while ignoring your family for hours.

Follow these helpful hints to survive our nation’s most entertaining bloodsport.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

Root against the Patriots

You have to hand it to Dark Sith Hoodie. Bill Belichick might have done his best coaching job last year. Four games without Tom Brady. No Rob Gronkowski for the second half of the season. A 28-3 deficit in the Super Bowl. And these guys still hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. When will Belichick’s Faustian deal with Satan end?

The Patriots are the most successful and shadiest organization in sports. And now their good friend Donald Trump is president. Don’t be surprised if Belichick has the FBI, CIA, NSA and FDA funneling him information. Not that he’ll need it to win the AFC East for 100th straight year. Miami, Buffalo and the Jets might not win 12 games combined. The Patriots got better by adding Brandin Cooks (their best deep threat since Randy Moss) and cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

It’s just not fair.

Cheer for Aaron Rodgers

The greatest quarterback on the planet isn’t Tom Brady. Aaron Rodgers is the NFL’s all-time career leader in passer rating and touchdown-to-interception ratio. Nobody has played the position better — not Brady, not Peyton Manning, not Joe Montana, not Johnny Unitas.

In 2015 — Rodgers’ worst season — he still threw 31 touchdowns to eight interceptions and completed 60.7 percent of his passes. Neither Andrew Luck, the best quarterback under 30, nor Cam Newton, the 2015 MVP, has had a passing season that good.

No one in NFL history possesses Rodgers’ combination of accuracy, athleticism and arm strength. He’s so good that he’s mastered the hardest pass to complete: the Hail Mary.

If the Packers have only one Super Bowl appearance during Rodgers’ career, that’s a shame and that’s a waste. Rodgers has been undermined by a general manager who won’t spend and a coach that plays the game way too safe.

Aaron Rodgers is awesome. He deserves better.

Recycle those eclipse glasses. Wear them when Jets and Niners play.

Whatever you do, for God’s sakes, don’t stare directly at the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers. Not only do you risk going blind, but you could also develop a runny nose, dizziness, migraines, weight gain, weight loss, hallucinations, vomiting, depression and all over body pain.

The Jets and Niners seem to be in full tank mode for USC’s Sam Darnold, who could completely sabotage their plans by staying another year in college. Have you seen those rosters? As bad as they are, the odds are against them going winless. Going 0-16 is as rare as going 16-0. There are enough bad teams for both to squeak out at least one victory. The Jets play the Bills twice. The Niners play the Rams twice and the Jaguars.

We need to talk about Roger

Roger Goodell probably lights up a celebratory cigar every time he suspends a player. Not even the most unforgiving hanging judge in Texas enjoys punishment more than Roger. At least judges must adhere to the rules of law. Roger ignores due process and flaunts the all-mighty power bestowed upon him (stupidly) by the players union through the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Who cares if the player has never been arrested or charged?

Punish. Punish. Punish.

And yet, despite his bumbling insincerity and punitive ways, Roger keeps getting financially rewarded. This contract extension means that most owners still have confidence in his leadership and trust him to negotiate deals with the league’s media partners.

The CBA ends after 2021. By then, maybe we’ll discover the truth: Goodell is a goddamn robot!

Speaking of suspensions, let’s check in with the Bengals!

Every Cincinnati Bengals highlight should feature the Cops theme song. No team embraces the bad boy image quite like the Bengals. They’re like a physical manifestation of a crime wave.

The three most arrested players in the league since 2000 are Adam “Pac Man” Jones, Kenny Britt, and the late Chris Henry. Jones and Henry were employed by Cincinnati. Jones is still there and will be serving a one-game suspension in the season-opener for violating the league’s conduct policy. Jones has been arrested a league-high 10 times since 2000. According to masslive.com, Cincinnati has had 44 arrests since 2000, trailing just Denver (47) and Minnesota (49).

We haven’t even gotten to Vontaze Burfict who has the reputation of being the dirtiest player in the league. His latest transgression has led to a five-game suspension. And Cincinnati doubled down on its renegade image by drafting infamous tailback Joe Mixon whose knock out punch of a woman was caught on video.

Bob Costas called the Bengals “a halfway house for miscreants.” He’s not wrong.

Be at peace with the following: the starting QB for your team might stink

Matthew Stafford’s new contract should tell you everything you need to know about the position. Teams will overpay for average to above average passers because there is a scarcity of decent ones out there. Stafford has never been the best quarterback in the league, but now he’s being paid like he’s the best.

Here is the unremarkable list of journeymen, jobbers and JAGs (Just Another Guy) who may start the season openers: Josh McCown, Tom Savage, Blake Bortles, Brian Hoyer, Mike Glennon, Tyrod Taylor, Trevor Siemian and Jay Culter.

Yikes. What, is JaMarcus Russell not available?

This is why Stafford got paid and why Kirk Cousins is in line for a massive deal in the future. If you don’t pay Stafford and Cousins, what alternative do you have? Depth is so thin at the most important position in sports.

And yet still, Colin Kaepernick can’t get a job. OK.

Ben McAdoo is the most ridiculous looking coach in the NFL

I don’t know if Ben McAdoo is good at his job or lousy. But what is undeniable is that a man with that hair and that moustache should not be coaching in the league. Just look at him. For the past two seasons, he had a silly mop top with an unusual part and a caterpillar under his nose. McAdoo has changed it up lately, slicking back his hair. It doesn’t seem like much of an improvement.


You know you look terrible when Chris Christie makes fun of you.

So now he looks like Gordon Gekko’s less attractive brother. But maybe we should go to an authority on McAdoo’s appearance. Courtesy of The Dan Le Batard Show, here are the best descriptions:

1. Ben McAdoo looks like divorce.
2. Ben McAdoo looks like every guy on Dateline who helped his girlfriend kill her husband.
3. Ben McAdoo looks like a father who embarrasses his family by annunciating the “j” in “chicken fajita” when ordering at Taco Bell.
4. Ben McAdoo looks like the guy that sits in his boat drinking beer… that boat is in his driveway
5. Ben McAdoo looks like your friend who says the NBA is soft and that they don’t play defense like they did back when Bird played.

Cowboys could start 0-3 without Ezekiel Elliott


When it comes to predictions, nobody in the NFL knows what they’re talking. Last year, the Cowboys reportedly wanted to trade up to draft Paxton Lynch last year. They lucked into Dak Prescott, and Ezekiel Elliott exceeded expectations. But now, with Elliott suspended for six games everyone thinks Dallas will struggle to win the division. There’s a chance Dallas could start 0-3 and 1-4.

Running back is the most interchangeable position in the NFL. But you can’t replace Elliott’s speed and playmaking abilities. Still, Dallas has the best offensive line in football. And in those six games, only one time will the Cowboys face a clearly superior quarterback (Green Bay).

If there is silver lining here, Dallas will find out a lot more about how good Prescott really is. Everything broke right for him, thanks largely to Elliott. Now we’ll find out if Prescott was lucky in 2016 or if he’s really that good.

Cook or McCaffrey for offensive rookie of the year

The average lifespan of an NFL career is three years. Teams like players who are young and cheap. So, if you’re good, you’re going to get plenty of action.

The easiest position to make an impact early: running back. You don’t have to know all the plays. You just have to have fresh legs and have enough shimmy to elude the first tackler. Ezekiel Elliott’s talent, low mileage and the league best offensive line helped him lead the league in rushing.

The betting odds favorite to win is Leonard Fournette. But the two players who could be more impactful might be Christian McCaffrey with Carolina and Dalvin Cook at Minnesota. Cook looked electrifying at Florida State and should get a ton of work with the Vikings.

The Super Bowl we deserve is…

The Green Bay Packers versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Who wouldn’t love a rematch of Super Bowl XLV? Aaron Rodgers vs. Ben Roethlisberger. Well, maybe not Vikings fans who would have to sit through Rodgers potentially winning a championship in Minnesota.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.