Other Voices

The strangest NFL season ever finallyis in the books

A Dallas Cowboys helmet sits on a locker behind the bench during the NFL Pro Bowl football game last month.
A Dallas Cowboys helmet sits on a locker behind the bench during the NFL Pro Bowl football game last month. AP

Analyses abound on what happened to the just concluded NFL season, so I thought I would add mine since our region of the country is so heavily invested in the sport.

No, I don’t pretend to possess any qualifications to do so, but I might be able to offer a view from that of an ordinary person living among the country’s seemingly most dedicated fans.

To begin with, we agreed a dozen years ago to tax ourselves to help build a place where the game is played that is arguably the most extraordinary football field anywhere.

What is not arguable is the fact that while attendance at the games was in decline across the country, the Cowboys led the league again and set a record of 741,775 who showed up in person to view a very disappointing season.

After falling far short of his rookie season performance, sales of quarterback Dak Prescott’s jersey were topped by only two others — both of their teams wound up in the Super Bowl.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s jersey had the sixth-highest sales of all 1,696 players in pro football, despite spending six weeks in NFL exile.

Perhaps the culmination of local enthusiasm was best expressed by Cowboys legend Roger Staubach, who predicted the team’s Super Bowl victory next year.

So, all seems well in these parts. But, elsewhere — that’s another story indeed, and it’s being told in about as many ways as there are those attempting to describe what happened.

We do have some random facts.

The most lucrative of all sources of NFL revenues took a hit across the board. Average television viewership declined significantly for the second straight season.

Privileged, talented and wealthy players showed stubborn disrespect for our country’s flag, those who serve it, and those who died for the freedom for which it stands.

Reports of fans expressing their disgust at such behavior by turning off their television sets and staying home from the games were printed and broadcast across the country.

An exciting Super Bowl game won by the underdog team led by a backup quarterback out of nowhere, managed to attract the smallest audience in nine years for the game’s premier event.

President Donald Trump stepped into the fray by calling out the players who wouldn’t stand for the national anthem and then sublimely pressed up on his criticism in his State of the Union Address.

In turn, some of the players on the team with the Super Bowl trophy say they will not accept the president’s invitation to the White House for the traditional celebration.

I have no idea if any of that had anything to do with what happened in downtown Philadelphia last Sunday night, but trashing the city with insane and violent acts of vandalism seems a very odd way to celebrate.

Downplaying the behavior that might have resulted in much stronger police action in the riot-like atmosphere, Mayor Jim Kenney identified the hundreds of perpetrators as “some knuckleheads.”

And there’s a final nexus to our Dallas Cowboys that produces a question: If the Eagles are our team’s archenemy now, and if Staubach’s prediction does come true, will Dallas knuckleheads try to outdo their brotherly love counterparts?

We can only hope not.

Now that my analytical offering of the game of smash mouth is over, let’s get ready for something with a little more grace and character.

Pitchers and catchers report for spring training in Surprise, Ariz., next Wednesday. Opening Day in Arlington is March 29, when our Texas Rangers take on the World Champion Houston Astros.

It’ll be a welcome change from the strangest NFL season ever.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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