Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Youthful Magic of Pro Football and the CFL- The View From Chicago

When one thinks about Chicago, a lot of things I am sure come to mind to the outsider- crime, the Cubs (sorry White Sox), Michael Jordan (the Bulls have sucked ever since he left), maybe the Blackhawks (but not until Old Man Wertz allowed home games to be shown on TV), Sears Tower (accept no other names), deep dish pizza, O'Hare Airport (ugh, I prefer Midway), our accents, our traffic, and lastly Da Bears and their venerable homes of Wrigley and Soldier Fields.

You see my friends, Chicago is the home to A LOT OF football history.  Much like Toronto can lay claim to being the home of Canadian football history and Montreal is the home to hockey history, Chicago is where the NFL's history is home.  Yes, I know Canton, Ohio is where the Hall of Fame is, but in Chicago, we still have the only stadium still standing that served as the home of the NFL in it's earliest days when both the Bears and Chicago Cardinals called it their home. Soldier Field also served as the home team to both before the red birds flew south.

However, I digress...



Professional Football in North America



For those of you who follow my Twitter account, you should know by now that I am an NFL Films junkie.  John Facenda will always be the definitive voice of football in America, even centuries from now (if the game survives that long) while Steve and Ed Sabol will forever be the men whose vision turned professional football into a visual art-form.  Unfortunately, the legacy of all three men is fading as are their memories as we move deeper into the 21st Century and away from NFL game men like me, in our 40s to 50s, remember fondly as children, when it was a game of (from our young perspective) heroes...


However, as I saw as a young man the professional game I love, I saw it drift farther and farther away from me and the other fans who grew up glued to CBS, NBC and Howard Cosell (on ABC's Monday Night Football). The sport we loved quickly went from "professional football" to "$$$$$$$ football."

Not that money has never been a factor in the professional game, of course it has.  However, the NFL in their zeal to solidify the market on the pro game in the United States did everything it could and still does, to quash competition (sadly I agree with Trump on this point), make as much money as they could off the backs of fans (have you priced tickets for the NFL lately?), and control their properties (the NFL quashes all copyright violators on YouTube and elsewhere, even though no one is making money off the images).

Which brings me to the subject of the CFL.  The CFL is the purest form of professional football that I know of, for it's players are a mirror image of you and I- honest hard working fans who love the sport and remember that the professional game is dependent on us (the fans) for it to survive in the 21st Century.  I love the fact that it only has nine (ten soon I hope) teams whose rosters are filled with men who play with the burning desire to compete and be successful.  In watching CFL games the one thing I notice more than anything else, is the hustle of each man.  The same type of hustle the NFL players of the 1970s had when I first watched my first professional game on TV during 1977's Cardinals/Dolphins Thanksgiving contest.

Since that game in which Bob Griese (he was my hero then) threw six touchdowns on a cold grew day at Busch Stadium, I have been a hooked football fan, and whenever my thoughts turn to the game I am ten years old again.   Which is how I approach every CFL game on TV and the Internet I watch.  For I am forever that wide eyed child in a Miami Dolphin #12 jersey cheering his heroes on....

Which is now why I listen to every CFL podcast I can, and read every article printed online, for the CFL is a league whose fans are vital to its success and permanence.  The CFL is a place where fans like Lanny and Scotty in Tokyo and other podcasters are truly important to keeping the true spirit of professional football alive and within the reach of all of us who simply want to sit back and enjoy this magical game we grew up with and love....

Next Time- CFL vs. NFL