Steve Almonds Against Football or How I Learned to Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb
  • This is the cover of Steve Almond's book. He was at Hugo House last night but pointedly didn't watch the game.

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As the Seahawks continue on their Insufferable Journey to Rewinnining the Super Bowl™ questions arise. Questions such as:

Is there a limit to how good can Russell Wilson be? Does this team have enough quality on the offensive line to rewin the Super Bowl? Is the defense planning on forcing turnovers at some point? Are we restricted by the inconvenient burden of the status quo from any meaningful collective action towards progress? Is there no hope in life?

Some context:

I took in the Seahawks invigorating and yet also frustrating 27-17 win last night over the Washington _____________ at Hugo House, where they projected the game on a screen and served BBQ chips. Then there was a post-game discussion on the morality of football between Against Football author Steve Almond and Black Planet author David Shields. The game was invigorating because, well, the Seahawks were finally playing football after a 15-day hiatus, and because it featured some staggeringly good performances from linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner, punter Jon Ryan, and quarterback Russell Wilson. The frustration stemmed from a penalty-prone offensive line paired with the one-sided refereeing of Jeff Triplette, who managed to call off three Percy Harvin touchdowns, two of which should have stood… and… well…

If you'll allow me a rant:

NFL official Jeff Triplette is everything wrong with America. In my opinion. Triplette leads the NFL in penalties called, because he calls more unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties than any other referee, because, and this is a technical term, Jeff Triplette is an incompetent dick. Triplette once explained the rules of overtime, and got them wrong. Triplette doesn't get how downs work. Triplette once used instant replay to turn a correct call into an incorrect one by not looking at whether a player’s knee was down. Famously, Triplette threw a flag into the eye of Cleveland Browns' lineman Orlando Brown, permanently blinding Brown and effectively ending his career. In the altercation that ensued, Brown was the one punished. That story ends with Brown dead at 40, and Triplette getting promoted. Triplette’s consulting firm handled the 2012 NFL referee contract negotiations that led to both the replacement ref disaster and the gutted retirement plans for referees who entered the league after the negotiations were complete, while grandfathering referees of Triplette’s experience level. Looking at his non-footballing resume, Triplette spent his career at Duke Energy climbing all the way to vice-president, meaning Triplette can be linked directly to mountaintop-removal coal mining. Jeff Triplette's current gig is in energy and insurance consulting, which makes him a prime candidate for a plum position in Jeb Bush's future hypothetical presidential cabinet. Jeff Triplette looks like Billy Bob Thornton crossed with Lindsey Graham. Jeff Triplette is a goddamn monster.

And here's the thing: I can do nothing to get rid of Jeff Triplette. I am without agency in relation to Jeff Triplette's ongoing role in my life. I will continue to watch him officiate football games, despite the fact that Jeff Triplette is bed bugs. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is the slumlord who I would call to have said bed bugs exterminated, except Goodell is actually just a quasi-sentient human-suit also full of bed bugs. Again, Jeff Triplette is a goddamn monster.

Thanks for letting me share my feelings. Back to last night:

Almond's stance in the end is more tempered than the title of his book would suggest. He's less against football and more for a public consideration of what's happening in football. His consideration has caused him to stop watching the game, a sacrifice towards reclaiming agency within the hopelessness of hyper-capitalism. Almond is not only giving up the pleasure derived from watching football. Professional football is a social forum, and to disengage is to lose a connection with others and a shared emotional outlet. Its value is in many ways derived from being a place where the worst aspects of society live in abstraction.

Which means, perhaps Jeff Triplette is a feature of the NFL rather than a bug. He is the worst, but football Jeff Triplette is the worst in a way that's valuable. I choose to engage with Jeff Triplette, and I get to hate him in the abstract. Jeff Triplette is an object to me much the way Russell Wilson is.

Except Jeff Triplette is nothing like Russell Wilson. Strip away the academic reasons that football may or may not be valuable and awful, and it’s a game that some dudes play magically. Russell Wilson is one of those dudes.

Seahawks host the Cowboys next Sunday. I'll watch, and I'll do so having considered the costs. Hopefully Wilson keeps being magic and Jeff Triplette is nowhere to be seen.