NFL 2011

Tim Tebow Is My Seaweed-Wrapped Japanese Rice Ball
The stadium scene.
Dec. 8 2011 4:50 PM

NFL 2011

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Tim Tebow is my seaweed-wrapped Japanese rice ball.

Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow speaks to Adrian Peterson after the Broncos' win overthe Vikings

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images.

Here's the problem with comfort food, Barry: If you eat too much of it, you die. After 12 weeks of devouring the NFL's mac 'n' cheese, I am near cardiac arrest. I long for deviance in my diet. I hunger for things like umeboshi onigiri (sour plum seaweed-wrapped Japanese rice balls). Tim Tebow has been my seaweed-wrapped Japanese rice ball up to this point. He's an amazing story, one who exists beyond the reach of the NFL's marketing arm, even as the NFL attempts to capitalize on him. The Broncos game was the only one last weekend that I really wanted to watch. And mainly I wanted to watch it to see if God might serve Tebow his comeuppance. (There, I'm not ashamed to admit it.)

My gripe isn't so much about what happens on the field. Almost every week, I find some feat of creativity to appreciate, but usually it stems from a play call instead of a ball play. As Nate Jackson pointed out last month, athletes in the NFL are toy soldiers to be moved around the field by pretend-generals. In that context, spontaneity is permitted when the system allows. Which isn't very spontaneous. That's not to say ad-libbing in the NFL doesn't happen. It just happens when the system breaks down. Unsurprisingly, those are always the best moments.

My problem with the NFL, rather, is the way I am forced to experience it. Barry's Cats-on-tour analogy is appropriate. When I was 10, I thought Cats was great. As a sentient adult, I'd be able to sit through it once or twice before stabbing myself in the face. The NFL is a relentless neurotransmitter-hijacking, commodity-pushing pipeline to your brain. At this point in the season, I feel like I've been hogtied inside the Mall of America inhaling Cinnabon fumes for four months. Hence the spectator fatigue. To watch what I want to watch, I have to wade through too much scripted consumerist dreck.

Advertisement

So let's talk about fairness again. We spent some time discussing the subject with the overtime coin toss. Yeah, the coin toss isn't fair. And, no, I don't care. Fairness doesn't exist outside the lab, no matter how many capuchins you bandy about, Dan. After all, it's not fair that I have to sit through three-and-a-half hours of hooey to find 11 minutes of mac 'n' cheese waiting for me. My point was that I require unscripted events, if for no other reason so I can yell about them and experience an emotion that hasn't already been focus-grouped and market-tested by the NFL. Because sports is about emotion. This year, Tebow has gone off-script and given us plenty of the stuff. Last year, we had Michael Vick. Rice balls, Dan. Rice balls.

Luke O’Brien is a writer in Washington, D.C.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?