A decade or two from now, I’ll show this screenshot to an NFL fan and wait for the quizzical look.
Then the questions will come.
“Why was the Broncos – Patriots game postponed?”
“Why is there a team called Football Team?”
“The Jets and Bengals were terrible teams back then, too?”
I’ll pause for a moment, reveling in the confusion, and then I’ll explain:
“This is a screenshot from the 2020 NFL season.”
Honestly, knowing it comes from this God forsaken year should be answer enough, but I’ll continue:
“The Patriots and Broncos were postponed because the Patriots starting quarterback and their reigning defensive player of the year both tested positive for COVID-19.”
“Tom Brady tested positive for COVID-19?” my confused friend will ask.
“No,” I’ll say. “He was playing for Tampa Bay in 2020. I know it sounds strange, but Brady decided to waste his final two years in the league on a team from Florida that wears orange. Sure, he could’ve remained with the franchise where he won six championship and retired as a Patriot, but instead, he played two forgettable years on a team that has still never won anything.”
“Oh,” my friend will say. “That was stupid.”
“Yes,” I’ll reply. “It really was.”
“But what about this team named Football Team?” my friend will ask.
“That is the team known formerly as the Washington Redskins.”
“Yes, I know,” I’ll say. “For years, people told the owner that he should change the racist name of his team, but he said it was fine. Tradition and such. And he found a handful of Native Americans who agreed with him, which in his mind made the racism just fine. Kind of like the three Black Republican members of Congress when Donald Trump was President.”
“Yup,” I’ll say. “Just three. I know. Crazy. Right? But since there were three Black members of Congress, Donald Trump could claim that he had Black friends and therefore wasn’t racist. He only hated most of the Black people, but not all, so he could support white supremacists and claim that members of the KKK were very fine people and refer to African nations as shithole countries and put brown children on the southern border in cages and it was all fine. Not racist at all. Because he had those three Black friends supporting him. Oh, and Herman Cain, too. Until Trump killed him by inviting him to an indoor rally without masks or social distancing.”
“Is this all real?” my confused friend will ask.
“Yup. I know. It was a lot. I lived through it. But yes, all real.
I’ll nod in agreement. “But I digress. The owner in Washington refused to change the team’s name, but then lots of videos began emerging in 2020 of white police officers murdering Black Americans. This had been happening for decades, but it wasn’t until we all had cameras on our phones and recordings of these murders were broadcast when white people started to believe it was a real problem. Some white people, at least. So organizations like Black Lives Matter began protesting throughout the land, and changes began happening. Not systemic, meaningful changes, mind you, because the President was a racist and there were still plenty of racist white people, but some things started to change, like removing racist iconography from boxes of rice and bottles of maple syrup. Tearing down statues of traitors to our nation. And finally changing the name of the Washington football team.”
“But why does it say Football Team instead of the team’s actual name?”
“Oh,” I’ll say. “The owner was so afraid of making a bad choice with just a month or two before the season started that he decided to play the entire season without a team name.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yup. I know. Crazy. But remember, it was 2020.”
“Okay…” my now beleaguered friend will say. “But were the Jets and Bengals always as bad as they are today?”
“Yes,” I’ll assure my friend. “We may have been in the midst of a global pandemic, nationwide protests, a corrupt, impeached Presidential administration that was aggressively undermining confidence in our democracy, restricting voting for vast swaths of the American public, and accepting assistance from foreign adversaries, plus murder hornets and the burning of California, but the one thing you can always count on is the ineptitude of the Jets and Bengals.”
“That must have been a little reassuring. Right?”
“Yes, my friend. Back in 2020, we were grateful fore anything foundational and reliable. The Jets and Bengals could always be counted on to lose, and they never disappointed.”