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Gods Break Too

Updated: Jan 19

For decades the first segment of Monday Night Football culminated in an animated graphic of two empty helmets—charged with electricity!—colliding into a fiery plume of gas and atoms.

The broadcast always introduces the game: injury updates, boilerplate backstory, and a hard sell by the announcers that the contest promises to be a compelling watch—worthy of your time.

But Howard Cosell need not waste his vocabulary convincing me; one look at those helmets barreling together into mutually-assured destruction was enough.


When Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed in the first quarter Monday night medical personnel urgently performed CPR before taking him to the University Of Cincinnati Medical Center by ambulance the NFL world ceased revolving on its axis. Players, coaches, fans and media all stopped.

The 24-year-old had just made a tackle and gotten to his feet. The play looked so ordinary that the ABC cameras did not initially show Hamlin collapse moments later because they cut away to another angle.

Hamlin, who we now know had suffered a cardiac arrest, was lifted off the ground on a stretcher after 15 minutes of emergency medical aid as both teams huddled in grief-stricken disquiet. For a few minutes it appeared that the game would resume as scheduled; the teams rejoined their sidelines, some players put their helmets on and began to loosen up.

Though the game was young (5:58 remained in the first quarter), Hamlin was not even the first player to exit the game with the aid of team trainers.

On the third play of the game, Cincinnati tight end Hayden Hurst pulled around the right end and leveled cornerback Taron Johnson with a forearm shiver. Hurst, who has a running start and outweighs Johnson by nearly sixty pounds, hits him with the rehearsed precision of hundreds of hours spent pummeling a tackling sled; Johnson may as well be a sled for all Hurst cares as he turns the falling player around and drives him viciously into the turf face first with another shot to his neck.

The block is disturbingly violent considering Johnson may have been out on his feet long before Hurst body-surfed him. It is the type of hit that linemen fall out of their chairs cheering in film reviews in the days that follow: bone-jarring, intimidating, and abjectly legal.

The image of Taron Johnson—face down and prone—will be soon forgotten, just like the countless others injured before him.

On the Monday night prior to that, during a game between the Chargers and the Colts, Chargers safety Derwin James delivered one of the most violent hits you will see in the modern game. Upon obliterating his target (Colts receiver Aston Dulin), James was swiftly thrown out of the game.

Replays of the hit were slowed and dissected ad nauseum throughout the broadcast and later into the night. For as uncomfortable as the corporate oligarchs at ESPN and the NFL are about advocating blood lust, they sure played the hell out of the clip.

While the collision was still reverberating in James and Dulin's faculties, thriftless reactions to it spread in predictable and polemic directions online.

S​ome called James a dirty player who should be suspended and fined. Others lay blame at Colts quarterback Nick Foles for stringing Dulin out and putting him in harm's way. Older fans noted that the celebrated careers of hard-hitting players from Jack Tatum to Brian Dawkins would have been impossible without separating the receiver from the ball with the same ferocity James had.

Whatever moral conclusion you arrived at, all agreed that the Derwin James hit was the play that the league has been trying to censure for years: a defenseless player—entirely focused on the arrival of the football—running with indifference into another player who wants to deliver as violent of a collision as the laws of physics allow. The car crash hit, or the Woo Hit, as Ronnie Lott called it because of the sound the crowd made when you delivered one.

A​s Derwin James was escorted off the field he is protesting the official's decision gesturing to his shoulder pad to illustrate where he had struck Dulin. Unfortunately for James--and for the every other defensive player trying to legally tackle a world-reknowned athlete running at full tilt towards them--his head and neck are connected to the shoulder pad.

T​he days of crushing another man's face mask into his nose and brain pan are not long-gone, but they are gone, and the public's frightened indignation is a stark reminder of how far we have come as a football consuming nation.


On a Monday night in 1995 at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs hosted a young Chargers team that had parlayed a string of splash plays into a Super Bowl appearance. Cosell was long gone but by then MNF had been cemented as appointment television, regardless of the participants.

That night I saw Junior Seau do his best recreation of that MNF helmet detonation bit. It was unforgettable. It was rapturous. It was transcendent.

It was also tragic, as it turns out.

The old ABC animation isn't a smoking gun as much as it an encapsulation of how football used to be peddled.

Seeing those helmets pulverize each other became a cringe-worthy reminder of the violence that drew (draws?) fans to the sport and our uncomfortable relationship to it in the decades that followed.

Remember NFL Blitz, the Midway Games classic from the late nineties? Exaggerated game-play heightened sacking the quarterback and planting him into the ground like a wrestler would. Runners were pummeled and stomped after the whistle. The video game was so popular that it outsold MADDEN.

The NFL had no shame celebrating the violent crashing of skulls; highlight videos titled Merchants Of Menace, Search And Destroy, Crunch Course, and War Stories packaged danger and brutality synced to brassy melodies. A cymbal strike, timed up to Deacon Jones ear-holing your quarterback into insensibility!

To say that football was dangerous was like suggesting Al Davis liked track suits.

Knockout hits were a tactical advantage encouraged on every sideline. Legal hits, like the one that liberated Lions quarterback Joe Ferguson from his wits were lionized, for lack of a better word, for their ferocity. The Bears Wilber Marshall delivered one of the most vicious hits in the history of professional football.

If Ferguson had actually died from the hit—as some Bears initially feared—then perhaps we would remember the clip differently. He lived.

Because Joe Ferguson lived, the Marshall tackle became mythology and lives today in the memory of fans who would struggle to recall anything as visceral ever again. It was spliced into Bears highlight reels for decades.

Ferguson just struggles to recall. Period. He hates being asked about the play because he has no memory of it happening at all.

Darwinism is physically how the game unfolds: it chews up the timid and spits out the broken.

Timeouts are allotted to remove the bodies from battlefield, but play is always paused: never halted—which makes the postponing of Bills-Bengals unprecedented and historic. Some have suggested that the mortal peril audiences saw Damar Hamlin in last night finally crossed the threshold of immodesty that the sport has ground against for a century.

Injuries are as inherent to the game as any sport that doesn't involve single combat.

Anyone who follows football knows the risks involved. Players are handsomely paid for the precious few seasons of their lives in which they are healthy enough—whole enough— to play this "child's game." This had always mitigated the hazards. At least they thought they did.

If Joe Ferguson had actually died on live television that day in 1985 playing America's most popular game, would we still be talking about backside digs, simulated pressures, Tom Brady's hairline, or Aaron Rodgers' immunization theories?


Junior Seau did not die on the field. He took his own life shortly after retiring a third time from the New England Patriots. Seau's death was the loudest alarm on the mental health crisis threatening the sport. He was not the first former player to die young, nor would he be the last, but Seau was the highest profile athlete to add his name to the list of players suffering from the degenerative brain disease stalking the collision sport.

It was not that long ago that the league employed its own dispatchable corps of science deniers; always ready to go in front of cameras to cast aspersions on the latest studies to threaten the sport.

But then something happened. Mike Webster. Dave Duerson. Andre Waters. Justin Strzelczyk. Junior Seau. The National Football League felt the ground shifting underneath them as more and more dead football player's brains were examined.

Well-rehearsed PR tactics like denial, disinformation, and obstruction could no longer stiff arm the science. By 2012 Medical research had established mounting evidence linking brain injuries to football. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or C.T.E., became a national talking point.

Former players began to ask the same questions we were: Who has it? What are the symptoms? How is it diagnosed? Is it treatable? The answers were equally alarming.

Memory loss, personality shifts, aggression, and suicidal tendencies were all symptomatic in former boxers. New research focusing on the brain tissue of deceased football players illuminated how inadequately their helmets had protected their minds.

As more former player's brains were donated for study the NFL's dirty little secret was seeing daylight.


Symptoms of C.T.E. may arrive long after the subject sustained the impact to the head and, as of now, C.T.E. is only diagnosed posthumously. The New York Times reported in November that researchers are getting closer to developing a C.T.E. test for the living that uses blood-based biomarkers and does not require a brain tissue sample.

Positron emission tomography (PET scans) utilize a radioactive compound that is injected into a subject for the purpose of observing abnormal protein filaments within the cells. Researchers are hopeful that the radio tracers will help study sufferers from head trauma simply from looking at samples of blood, saliva, or spinal fluid.

"We are getting very close to advancing new radio tracers in humans to image the tau that is more prevalent in C.T.E.," Neil Vasdev, a radiochemist at the University of Toronto and the director of the Brain Health Imaging Centre (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) told the Times. "I'd like to think that we're within two to five years, not 10 years" of developing a C.T.E. test for the living.

Whenever that day is, you can bet that the NFL will have an army of public relations directors lined up to cast aspersions on it. Tackle football lines the pockets of far too many people for them to give up without a fight.

Whenever that day is, you can't help but wonder if the Shield will finally face the reckoning that has proven more elusive than Gale Sayers in the open field.

Who knows? The day of reckoning has always been just over the horizon, hasn't it? For every crisis that has threatened the game, whether it is: steroids, gambling, free agency (pearl clutching over this one hasn't aged well), Astroturf, kneeling during the national anthem, group celebrations in the end zone, or simply games being broadcast on television*, football endures. It is still our most popular distraction.

Did they make the game any safer? Did they legislate the concussive hits out of it with penalties?

Did they put flags on the players as the hand-wringing critics of player safety so often parrot? Did demand for its abolition die out with the editorial pages of the print newspapers?

Not exactly. How could football possibly try to regulate violence out of the game when that violence is what brought us to it in the first place?

I am not ashamed to admit that I love that violence. I'd wager that you do too, if we are being honest.

We love football. We live for Sundays in autumn. But should men have to die for them? How then do we reconcile that zeal with the human cost?

Junior Seau has had me mulling that paradox for a while.


Seau, electricity personified in a 6'3" 250 pound Polynesian body, seemed born to play for the Chargers. His family relocated to Oceanside, a small neighboring beachside community north of San Diego when Junior was a toddler. The modest Seau home was shared by four siblings; the brothers slept in a converted garage.

The youngest of the five, Junior won favor from his father, Tiana, through sports. Earning extra money for clothes and food by ingratiating himself in three sports, Seau eventually parlayed that success at Oceanside High School into a football scholarship at USC.

When the opportunity to play significant snaps finally came in his junior year, Seau went from an unknown to a first round prospect, recording 19 sacks while leading the Trojans to a Rose Bowl win. The PAC-10 named him Defensive Player of the Year.

Declaring early for the NFL Draft assured his family an incomprehensible financial uptick, one that Seau would immediately use to buy his parents a bigger house.

Growing up in San Diego, celebrating Seau was a gateway drug into the larger world of pro football. He injected color into the mechanical battering of prop soldiers that my father skipped church to watch on Sundays. He played the game with a flair reserved for professional wrestlers or pop stars. See Seau lifting both arms above his helmet jubilantly celebrating his interception—before he has been tackled to end the play!

Watch him grab the jersey from Commissioner Tagliabue on draft day and tell me that he didn't relish the kismet as well. "You can't write a better script than Junior coming home and playing in front of his third grade teacher; his high school teachers and all his peers that he grew up with. And it was a dream come true to me," Seau told NFL Films in 2006.

Seau notoriously gambled on plays based on a keen strategic feel informed by meticulous film study. The Chargers and their fans could live with that knowing that he was more likely to guess right and destroy an offensive design in its infancy as he was to guess wrong and get taken out of the play.

One such educated gamble has stuck with me for decades. The greatest defensive play I have ever seen is not even a footnote in NFL mythology.

It will never be featured on a highlight package, or a commemorative reel celebrating the decade— or the century, or whatever else the League is commemorating this month. Odds are you have never seen it at all.

The 1995 Chargers were the defending AFC champs but the serendipity of the prior season was drying up. In that regard the Chargers were no novelty. Injuries, free agency, complacency, and bad bounces have a corrosive effect on teams that lose the Super Bowl. Sometimes even the team that won the Super Bowl is washed away by the erosion. Ask Sean McVay.

The bridesmaid Chargers were 3-2 going into Arrowhead and battled all night in the loudest stadium in the NFL. They took a lead in the fourth quarter and kicked off to Kansas City, setting the stage for the most sensational short yardage denial I have ever seen.

On that night Junior Seau met Marcus Allen on a third down collision in midair.

The game is remembered by Chiefs fans for its dramatic conclusion and not for the play that preceded it 15 minutes earlier: Five minutes remaining. Chiefs possession on the KC 25 yard line. Third and inches. Chargers lead 20-16.

Marcus Allen was arguably the greatest short yardage runner in NFL history. That is not hyperbole; even in owner Al Davis's doghouse the Raiders would summon Allen onto the field because he was automatic in short yardage situations.

Davis tried to replace Allen with other running backs; Bo Jackson, Eric Dickerson, Greg Bell, Roger Craig to name a few, but somehow his utility made benching him a sophism. Why Marcus Allen was ever in the doghouse to begin with is a subject that mystifies Raiders fans to this day.

When the rubber hit the road and the team needed the toughest yard they would still turn to Allen. Apparently winning took precedence over grudges.

NFL Films recorded a candid scene on the Chiefs sideline between coach Marty Schottenheimer and defensive end Neil Smith* during that particular stretch of Martyball.

"What's the call?" Smith asks Schottenhiemer from a seat on the bench. "What do you think the call is?" Marty answers. "Everyone in this place knows what the call is." He pointed to the other sideline. "They know."

That terribly kept secret was what Seau was counting on.

Needing inches to convert, Steve Bono took the snap under center and handed it to Allen on a dive play. Allen plunged headfirst over a mountain range of men and plastic, thousands of pounds of muscle wrestling in a trench without rifles or spears, an image right out of a Guilio Romano painting.

Allen had converted similar leaps over the pile hundreds of times in a Hall of Fame career that began in San Diego at Lincoln High.* Even when defenders hit Allen, he had an incorporeal ability to contort his frame at angles that mitigated the impact into glancing blows that never deterred his momentum. You never saw Marcus Allen get obliterated in the A Gap.

This was supposed to be as dramatic as Beyoncé being nominated for a Grammy. Seventy-nine thousand fans in red had no reason to expect anything less. Marcus Allen and Marty's power run game were a fait acclompli.

Seau met Allen at the apex of his vault; devastating the back with his colossal forearm and the bridge of his face mask. Mass times speed equals kinetic energy.

The ferocity of the tackle reverberated through our television set in San Diego. Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf and Frank Gifford transformed into fanboys in the booth trying to make sense of what their eyes had seen.

A local hero, Junior Seau; already a god in cleats to Chargers fans, was authoring another legendary feat in prime time. He pumped a fist into the air before uncorking a trademark punch that would spasm down his body and into his leg.

The surge of unseen electricity kicked free in a wiggle of the lightning bolt on his hip; the feigned punch so powerful that it would knock a less gifted athlete off his feet. Seau described it in an interview*:

...It takes you back to the off-season workouts of trying to build yourself to a point where you can perform on Sunday. And its hard to bottle it up. Wherever the chills go- I shake. I try to shake it off. It just happens that it runs through my spine and to my right leg. There are a lot of people, who aren't my fans, that would love to dislike or critique that...Its not meant to be any harm to anybody. Its a person that loves the game.

Notoriety ensued. A fan's comprehension of the rule book was never conditional to appreciate the ebb and flow of a Charger game during the Seau era. Even casual viewers knew the score by tracking his body language. If he wasn't tiptoeing into the gap to blitz the quarterback, he was chasing down the ball from sideline to sideline with his 4.6 speed.

Critics who saw Seau's punctuation mark as an unnecessary indignity typically wore the other team's colors. In San Diego, when Junior threw that thunderbolt punch it signified success. It validated everything you believed in as a fan; Beach Bums can play football.

No flash in the pan, Seau's career defied time. As a rookie he played against Bo Jackson. In his final season he played against Ryan Fitzpatrick. He might have faced Matthew Stafford had their teams been scheduled that season.

He chased down stalwarts from Christian Okoye all the way to Marshawn Lynch. From Ickey Woods to Ray Rice, Seau lowered his shoulder to tap out a Morse code message across ball carriers exposed limbs: N-o-t t-o-d-a-y.

His 250 pound frame stood in the doorway and often sent opponents backwards for their troubles. As fans, we were assured that hitting people felt good as long as you were delivering the impact.

In his book, Calling The Shots, Bears linebacker Mike Singletary shared a peek into what crumpling a running back feels like*:

The resultant feeling has always been almost indescribable to me, akin to being struck, I suppose, by a bolt of lighting—a blast that, for one brief second, shines through your mind and body like a flash of brilliant white heat.

Singletary was unaware that he could shake the lightning off his leg like Junior did.

But that is naïve. More than likely he felt the white heat as intensely as anyone. Marcus Allen felt it that night. A bolt of lightning struck the red sea. Arrowhead Stadium shuddered. Schottenheimer punted and quarterback Stan Humphries led the Chargers on a long drive to extend their lead. The Monday Night Football graphic was manifested in vivid relief—except the bone and flesh didn't go up in a plume of sparks.

It is tragic irony that the dynamic collisions we exalted Seau for undoubtedly played a role in his death by his own hand ten years ago. He was 43.

The invisible damage done to his mind would be irreversible and fatal. He was superhuman, but he was also fracturing in front of us every Sunday afternoon doing the very thing that we loved him for. We could not have known that Seau, who was never diagnosed with a concussion, was sustaining thousands of sub-concussive blows to the head just like the one that brought the Monday Night Football booth to their feet. Remember that jolt of lightning that Mike Singletary described?

Seau, who played through injuries that would have incapacitated mortal men, was an example to teammates and coaches of the physical sacrifice football demands; the ideals that are preached about in locker rooms (and living rooms) across the country to this day.

In football, pride, toughness, heart, discipline, and masculinity are defined by a player's willingness to subjugate his body for the success of the team.

"It's pain, and it's there, but there comes a time when you have to play through it," Seau said.

In football, pain is the cipher from which we measure glory.

For some men this is the only expression of their identity they have ever known. Others who never play in the games must learn about those intangibles from talk show pundits and sportswriters. It's not like we are going to read Kipling. Loser doesn't even have a podcast.

That nexus is where I find myself trying to thread the needle between moral consciousness and the human compulsion towards destruction.


When Junior Seau took his life ten years ago it broke something inside of me. He was not human— until he was. And then he was gone. What role had I played in this tragedy, which struck me as moral allegory as much as historical record?

How many times had I sat in the stands hoping to see someone try Seau over the middle? The explosion of savagery as he erased them—and the reactionary jolt from my seat as the mob rose as one to exalt in it?

Writer Joyce Carol Oates, reflecting on the revelry audiences took in watching Mike Tyson fight, once said:

...the boxer (Tyson) is acting out suppressed, or denied aggressions of the civilization, so he sort of rises to this peak of adrenaline... But not that he is alone in doing that because the crowd is urging him on. The whole thing is a strange act of complicity. Which people don't like to talk about.*

Generations of fans hardened by the brutality that the league was all-too willing to highlight and sell, still need their fix. Does any other sport rival the football in its emulsion of grace, synchronization, beauty and violence?

You know what I am talking about. You are no apostate. We are the true believers: dyed in the wool.

This season the NFL promised to improve the regimentation of it's concussion protocol after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was allowed back into a September game against the Buffalo Bills despite falling like a boxer as he tried to rejoin the huddle.

Tagovailoa's initial injury was reported as an injured back which allowed him to play four days later in Cincinnati where he was thrown on his head and went into a frightening convulsion in front of a national audience.

Tua's concussion prompted the league to make revisions to their protocol and led to the firing of at least one doctor. According to an ESPN report, the NFL Players Association opted to exercise its right to dismiss the doctor who had cleared Tagovailoa as part of an agreement with the league to fire an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant.

As a result of the joint investigation between the league and the Player's Association, an addendum was made to the league's concussion protocol to include the term "ataxia" which they defined as "abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue."

At the time of this writing Tagovailoa is in the concussion protocol again after self-reporting symptoms to the Dolphins after playing the entirety of the game Christmas day against the Packers. Replays showed that his helmet snapped into the turf after being pulled down upon releasing a pass. Hitting the grass was objectively inconspicuous and went unmentioned during the broadcast because Tagovailoa got up and kept playing.

On the one hand, Tua and the NFL should be commended for reaching this strata of transparency regarding measures of player safety. Self-reporting of symptoms was unheard of in Seau's era.

On the other hand, the prospect of Tagovailoa suffering a third diagnosed concussion in a matter of months despite only being removed from the one game in which he lay prone and disjointed; his fingers bent grotesquely in a fencing posture, remains indefensible.

The league braced itself for its latest public relations black eye.

The NFL is masterful at managing the perception that the perils of pro football are ascending on a progressive arc towards becoming 'less dangerous.' A hundred years ago the sport survived a similar crisis centering around the increased mortality rate of college age athletes getting walloped while playing by more primitive rules that hadn't figured out how to penalize murder yet.

At least 11 players died in 1905; the result of injuries ranging from collapsed lungs to brain hemorrhages. Players back then wore no helmets and what scant protective padding available was little avail against punches and stomps thrown in mosh pits.

Indignation aroused a call to abolish the game. President Teddy Roosevelt even got involved; convening with delegates from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton in an attempt to mitigate the maiming. A press release was constructed.

Rules had to be amended, or, in some cases, created to insure a passing concern towards player safety. The game began to spread out. Violent formations like the wedge were outlawed. The forward pass was conceived and less lethal tackling techniques developed.

The game would adapt, or die. Does any of this sound familiar?

Perhaps Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL owners he represents have already staved off the reckoning. Maybe million dollar grants to neurological research, Heads Up Youth Football initiatives and the implementation of a Concussion Protocol did enough to assuage the public outcry.

Even the vernacular we use has acclimated to the shifting tides: Terms like getting your bell rung, and suffering a mild concussion have yielded to at risk, disoriented and distressed. The league now employs independent sideline spotters who monitor game play for behavior they flag for cognitive impairment. Players are removed from games and cannot return without passing a neurological exam given by physicians unassociated with the clubs.

The crisis would seem to be averted. Or maybe the game has always existed in some state of crisis? Exigency tromped in a circle. As long as owners can claim that the game is safer than it was, then its fans are allowed to remain unburdened by the pestilent truth—it will never be safe.

We now know that those pulse-quickening hits hurt Seau as much as they did the ball carrier. In the ESPN documentary SEAU, former Major League Soccer star Taylor Twellman, a neighbor of Seau's, spoke about complaining to Seau about the headaches that he was dealing with after suffering a concussion playing soccer.

Junior made light of it. "Buddy, I've had a headache since I was 15." Seau said.

Seau was treating his brain trauma as if it were a strained hamstring. If he could manage the pain; compartmentalize it, soldier on, then he would. After all, playing through pain was another hallmark of his immaculate legacy.

Junior Seau got up. You never saw him carted off, a towel over his face to hide the shame of injury. Of disappointment. The guilt that you let your family down.

NFL Films asked him to wear a microphone in the Meadowlands against the Jets in 1991. The footage captures Seau talking to himself in the third person. "Run and hit Junior. Run and Hit." He says it over and over again like a mantra—or a prayer.

He raced into the next car crash. Run and hit. He collided with another brick wall. Upon impact, he might fall to the turf and collide a second time with the field. Run and hit. Then he would assemble the pieces, get up off the ground, collect himself and do it all over again.

"You can't coach courage. You can't. You give me a B, an A Gap, I'm going through there until I break glass. I will go through the A and B Gap until I break glass." Seau told a Patriots press conference near the end of his playing career.

He did that so well that the game kept him around for 20 years when the average career lasts under three. Seau was named to the Pro Bowl 12 times! That longevity at linebacker will never be eclipsed nor should it if you factor in the mental toll.

Knowing what we know now it's hard not to wonder when Seau should have quit the game. The Chargers infamously allowed Seau seek a trade in 2003 after concluding that he did not fit into their plans.

After three injury plagued seasons in Miami, the Chargers signed Seau to a one-day contract in 2006, where he gave an energetic retirement speech that you might have mistaken for a pregame pep talk: "I am NOT retiring. I'm graduating."

Four days later he signed with the New England Patriots where he played until 2009. If you're wondering, he is credited with 178 tackles and another 4.5 sacks after his graduation. How many more sub-concussive blows to the head he incurred we cannot know.

Poignant considering he told Sports Illustrated* in 1993:

Too many athletes are living in a tiny window. They have no vision for themselves—what they can be outside of football and what they can mean to a community. They just don't know any better. My hopes and dreams are unlimited.

Despite all the physical harm it had inflicted upon him, he wasn't ready for a life without the regimentation of professional football. Is anyone?


*As more and more Americans bought televisions in the Forties and Fifties, some owners worried that by broadcasting their games in the local market they would be hurting their ability to sell seats. ​

*NFL Films Greatest: Ever Running Backs (1996). 36:15

*When Allen left the Raiders to play in Kansas City the Chiefs they were pleasantly surprised to get the most complete back in football; an athlete preserved by years of reduced workload due to petty grievances. Ironically Marcus Allen shares a second place record for touchdowns scored against a single team. He scored 26 times against the San Diego Chargers in 27 career games played for the Chiefs and Raiders. The record is shared by LaDainian Tomlinson who scored 26 touchdowns against the Raiders in 19 opportunities. Jerry Rice holds the record with 29 trips to the end zone against the Falcons.

*One On One With Jane Mitchell. (2012). 17:49

*Singletary, Mike Calling The Shots. McGraw-Hill. (1986)

*Joyce Carol Oates in an interview from FALLEN CHAMP: THE UNTOLD STORY OF MIKE TYSON (1993)

*Essentially green concrete, AstroTurf was an unforgiving surface that didn't exit professional football until 2002. In the mid-nineties sixteen NFL venues featured AstroTurf. That's half the league.

*Lieber, Jill. "Hard Charger: San Diego's Junior Seau is at the crest of the new wave of NFL linebackers." Sports Illustrated September 6, 1993.


Dominic Mucciacito, a staff writer, has followed the Chargers franchise since moving to San Diego in 1989. Blending an eye for theater, cinema, style, and with a deep-seated affection for the collected works of Steve Sabol, he weaves contemporary subjects into an anecdotal tapestry of history. His pending work includes profiles of linebacker Junior Seau, quarterback Philip Rivers, and coach Don Coryell.

His cultural writing and reported features—which focus primarily on the intersections of myth-making, anthropology, football history and football philosophy—is currently writing a nonfiction book called “Salty Dogs” about the 2004-2005 San Diego Chargers who had a Hall Of Fame starting quarterback in Drew Brees, and another Hall Of Famer waiting behind him in Philip Rivers. He grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, before moving to San Diego and now resides in Culver City, California.

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Danik Thomas
Danik Thomas
Jan 05, 2023

Great article. He was a guy who gave it his all, that competitive fire burned even throughout every single practice. I remember first meeting him in person after he hung it up for good, at his restaurant in Mission Valley, he was the sweetest guy. We talked about surfing spots from Law Street to Trestles. He loved surfing close to hometown. They had a paddle out tribute at Oceanside pier. Huge turnout, at least a thousand just on shore. I'll never forget the rollercoaster of emotions I felt that day.


Dominic Mucciacito
Dominic Mucciacito
Jan 04, 2023

Does this comments section work?

Señor Snappy
Señor Snappy
Jan 04, 2023
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