American Football Has It Backwards: The Offense is Really the Defense

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New American Journal graphic: Walter Simon

By Walter Simon –

I’m not much of a football fan. But due to circumstances beyond my control, I ended up in a house watching the Alabama-LSU game last night and something dawned on me.


Walter Simon

In American football, we have it all ass backwards. The defense should be called the offense, and the offense is really the defense. Here’s why.

The paradox of football begins at the foundation of its tactical ideology, calling the actions of a group of armored warriors “defense” when clearly it is the offensive team whoseek to escape the clutches of their pitiless enemies who stand in the way of their seemingly simple goal, to get an inflated segment of the skin of a swine across the hundred yard goal line amid the screaming of thousands of blood-lusted Romanesque spectators. One hundred yards is a measuring stick etched into my youthful mind long ago as a measurement of strategic distance.

The offensive team are not allowed to kick, nor punch, nor kill their “defense” opponents, but instead they are the ones under direct attack (especially the quarterback), with a line of men shielding their leader and the dextrous pass receivers from the mad howling rush of massive humans grunting and spewing such profanity as which if aired would have to be censored by a solid wall of bleeping noise. This does not seem necessary as the majority of the sound coming from the television is a cacophanous tide of voices rising and falling, sometimes like a storm surge, other times resembling, to my warped mind, at least, the togetherness of Nuremberg. “Defense! Defense! Kill the quarterback!”

These cries for revenge found a welcome place in the home of my childhood, often functioning as a pressure release valve for the excess buildup of domestic nuclear family codependency, fueled as much by cheap beer and cigarettes as the steady collapse of my father’s station as a white male baby boomer.

The irony of calling it “Defense” parallels the passive aggression of American foreign policy (wars of invasion for profits) and presents the police and troops (increasingly hard to distinguish since Ferguson) simultaneously as both heroes and victims while they beat the crap out of anyone and everyone in their path of victory, paid for by huge subsidies from tax burdens raised upon the consumer, who are coerced into being voluntarily subjected to an onslaught of bad tasting commercial propaganda at every possible opportunity when a play is not being made or replayed.

The irony of a Chic-Fil-A animated cow suddenly rising up from the field petitioning chicken factory farming over cattle slaughter while the coach frowns and signals for a time out from the battle, to me illustrates the proverbial elephant in the room come to bizarro life. Being from Alabama I assure you there is never a chance to forget the existence of the object of so much worship, idolization, and demand for human sacrifice as the Alabama Crimson Tide, the representatives of a troubled defeated failed insurrection, as well as the hope of so many strong athletic boys of color, descendants of the people who built the South as slaves, but as an artist I often feel as if I’m on the other side of the looking glass, wondering which world is more real, that of “normal” society, or the natural world plundered by the traditional forces of organized criminal power that rule this land through coercion, finance, or force.

Cotton was once the petroleum of its day, now the inconvenient truth of a society whose elite remain in power through ownership of property inherited by the controllers of the slave trade. The uncomfortable reality of an unfulfilled and much deserved apology is managed by a suppression of feelings of guilt or empathy for the other so often by the white members (both liberal and conservative) as to create in my mind the image of literally brown-nosing the big red elephant in the room that is the state of Alabama, the sacred symbol the GOP and the object of sacrifice to fans of the Crimson Tide, the bodies of the college youth of Alabama who in the end got their scholarship (everyone deserves free education anyway), but also more often than not a pair of bad knees and a dose of traumatic brain injury, much like the returning troops are praised for their personal sacrifice of having their limbs blown off in the line of duty while “defending our freedoms”.

Courage, strength, cleverness, victory; everyone admires these qualities. Can we not find a higher heroism than violence? The answer is found in the textbooks of military strategists, PR specialists and advertising professors.

© 2015, Walter Simon. All rights reserved.