It would screw things up if they didn't play every NFL game every week. That doesn't exactly mean that taking a few games off per week wouldn't be the right thing to do; it would. But if some visionary had decided not to have the Jacksonville Jaguars play against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, it would have been a mistake. This game had to be played.
Think of the Raiders fans, for instance, all dressed up like members of GWAR and with no game to watch, left to wander the Bay Area, grumpily piling their spiked foam shoulder pads into booths at a Red Lobster franchise in San Jose for endless shrimp, or disconsolately buying tickets for We're The Millers and then finding it both amusing and surprisingly heartwarming in its recognition that families come in all shapes and sizes. And think of Jaguars fans. Always think of the Jaguars fans. It is not easy for them, and they do not ask for too much, and they do not receive any of it. Lord, think of the Jaguars fans.
Anyway, while few people would really have noticed or minded terribly if this game had just been preempted in favor of "Mad About You" re-runs and the final score had been announced as (a very convincing) 19-9, that's not how it works. Television affiliates air the games no matter how much those games resemble sinus-headaches or two possums fighting over an old wet hot dog in the parking lot of an abandoned Big Lots. This is the deal, and although television stations sometimes apologize for doing so, they air the games. The results count in the standings and go towards players' career statistical records. Clay Harbor's late touchdown reception from Chad Henne on Sunday was the fifth of his NFL career. It counted.
But also look at this picture. What is happening in this photo, in this football game? Is this really something that should be on television?
What is happening in this photo is that Terrelle Pryor is briefly losing control of the ball while Jaguars defensive end Brandon Deaderick attempts to unscrew his legs from his torso. So what's happening is an awkward-looking football play happening on a patch of dirt that's usually the Oakland Athletics' infield.
It is both a Very Raiders Image in that regard -- something bad happening to a Raiders player near second base -- and a Very Jaguars Thing, given that somehow no turnover resulted from the moment when the panicked opposing quarterback and tried to make a football pass through his helmet. A closer look, though, reveals more still:
And there it is.
There is Terrelle Pryor sporting what appears to be a tooth tattoo, but is revealed upon closer inspection to be a Raiders-logo mouthpiece. There is the pained facial expression of a man being harmed by a large lineman-type person. There is a NFL quarterback demonstrating proper fumble prevention form by maintaining multiple points of pressure on the football with his fingertips and his own head. And there is the game between the Raiders and Jaguars. It included this moment, but mostly it was this moment.