Jon's NFL Mailbag: Football and baseball are better than each other

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Monday Night Football killed playoff baseball in the TV ratings, Larry Fitzgerald's name is fun to botch, and we cheered a concussion. We tackle (football term) these issues in this week's mailbag.

Welcome to another installment of Jon's NFL Mailbag. I am Jon. Here are some questions you definitely did not ask because I made them up.

is football better than baseball

- Milliam K., Fudge, Kentucky

I imagine you're asking this question in light of this bit of news:

I remember reading a book that was called something like The Illustrated History of Football. Can't remember the exact title. Within, it argued that football had usurped baseball as America's favorite pastime. Note: I read this when I was 8 years old. If I recall correctly, the book had been published at some point in the late 1970s.

Over the last decade or so, the NFL has become even more wildly popular. People across every demographic, from every part of the country love this game, which cannot be said of baseball (or, in fairness to baseball, any other sport). I'll admit: if you give me a choice between a random NFL game and a random MLB game, I'll certainly choose to watch the NFL game.

I think that to argue which is "better" is to miss the point, however. Baseball -- regular season baseball, anyway -- is my fishbowl. I keep a game on the TV, let it do its thing, and turn my full attention when something interesting happens. Aside from that, I let it play in the background. I've watched hundreds of baseball games that I gave my full attention throughout, and at some point I realized I like it better this way.

Hopefully you'll never catch me trying to argue that one sport is "better" than another sport, because I'll never possess the objectivity necessary to make such an argument. If I did, I'd probably argue the Aussie rules football is the best sport, because it probably is.

Do you like to call Larry Fitzgerald "Gerry Fitzlarrold" for fun?

- Tedward B., Fudge, Kentucky

Yes! It's an illness! I have no idea why I find that fun to do. While we're talking about Fitzgerald ... within the context of, "NFL player wants to succeed," it must be kind of a bummer to be Larry Fitzgerald these days, right?

His Week 2 game against the Patriots is perhaps the saddest game I've ever seen from an elite wideout: one catch, 4 yards. His quarterback, Kevin Kolb, just could not find him. Thursday night's game was a bummer, too: while he did manage 92 receiving yards, Fitzgerald broke away for what should have been an easy six points, only for Kolb to miss him by three miles.

Athletes of any position, in any sport, depend on others to succeed, but I don't know if any of them are as dependent on a teammate as the wide receiver is on his quarterback. Great quarterbacks can get the most out of mediocre wide receivers, but it doesn't really work the other way around to such an extent. It's sad. Well, not for him, since he's the owner of the largest contract in Arizona Cardinals history. I guess it's just sad for people like me who want to watch him bust loose.

our tap water has ants in it

- Killdred S., Fudge, Kentucky

I would love to help you folks, but unfortunately, nobody can decide where exactly Fudge is located. Besides, you must help yourselves first! Start drilling wells, friends!

do you think it's a neat idea to cheer when folks get hurt

Benneth D., Fudge, Kentucky

Not really! In case you missed them, here are remarks from the Chiefs' Eric Winston, following quarterback Matt Cassel's injury and subsequent exit from Sunday's game:

"We are athletes, OK? We are athletes. We are not gladiators. This is not the Roman Coliseum. People pay their hard-earned money when they come in here and I believe they can boo, they can cheer and they can do whatever they want, I believe that. We are lucky to play this game. People, it's hard economic times, and they still pay the money to do this.

"But when somebody gets hurt, there are long lasting ramifications to the game we play, long lasting ramifications to the game we play. I've already kinda come to the understanding that I won't live as long because I play this game and that's OK, that's a choice I've made and a choice all of us have made.

"But when you cheer, when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don't care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel -- it's sickening. It's 100 percent sickening."

Indeed, the Arrowhead crowd was cheering as Cassel left. Maybe they were cheering Cassel's exit, maybe they were cheering Brady Quinn's entrance. Fact: it was the same thing! They couldn't have been cheering one and not the other, especially while dude is lying on the ground and then slowly trudging to the locker room.

I talked about this for a bit a couple weeks ago. We ought to treat players more like friends than we usually tend to. Of course we're not actually friends because they don't know who the hell we are. The player-fan relationship is different, but it is a relationship. They do dangerous stuff for our amusement, and to treat a serious injury as nothing more than a plot element is ... well, it's not good.

Confession: when I saw Chiefs-Ravens highlights and watched Cassel walking off the field, I let out a sarcastic, "yayyy." That was a joke, in the company of like eight people who thought it was funny. But immediately afterward I felt shitty about it. That isn't the only time I've had to rein myself in in that regard. I grew up in the same sporting culture you did, the one in which we "hate" athletes who are doing a poor job.

That's part of being a decent sports fan and a decent human being: recognize the bullshit you spit out because everyone else lets you, think about it, and throw it in the garbage. I'm still working on it.

Thanks once again, everyone, for not writing in. I appreciate all the terrific questions from make-believe people in a town that was abandoned centuries ago. Good luck with your septic system, y'all!

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