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Crusty Old Dean to become conscientious objector to NFL – “I’m breaking up with football”

Crusty Old Dean to become conscientious objector to NFL – “I’m breaking up with football”

Tom Ferguson, Dean of Bexley-Seabury seminary, is a leading voice in the Episcopal Church, especially through his blogging alter-ego Crusty Old Dean.  Yesterday, he departed from his usual fare of insightful analysis of church doings and posted a heartfelt piece on why he won’t be a fan of American football anymore.

Crusty is taking a break from his usual pedantic, insider-baseball, church-relations blog to give you an insight into other aspects of his life.  Crusty isn’t all about church and matters theological.  He enjoys music (Replacements are the greatest band ever), is a runner (at age 46 ran a 26:09 5k on the 4th of July), and an avid sports fan.  This blog post is all about my difficult decision to break up with professional football, and on the basis of how I understand myself as a Christian.

He lays out three basic reasons why he, as a Christian, just can’t support the NFL

  1. Economic fairness and justice
  2. The NFL does not deal fairly with its employees
  3. Professional football is killing its own players

The first two speak of an ethical perspective that runs counter to Jesus’ teachings on the value and dignity of an individual’s labor, but it is really the last reason that ‘Crusty’ is compelled to both come to this decision and to share it with the wider world.

They know that football causes chronic brain damage.  They forced ESPN to drop out of a PBS documentary on the subject (see here; conveniently, in the past year ESPN has dumped Bill Simmons, Gregg Easterbrook, and Keith Olbermann, the three biggest critics of the NFL).  Its proposed settlement to former players was thrown out of court as being too low.  The NFL’s product is killing its players, it knows it, and we all should know it.

Undoubtedly, many people will disagree and some even unwilling to examine their participation (and complicity) in an entertaining diversion that too often leads to irreparable brain damage and early death.  Please go read the whole thing (here) before making your judgment.  What do you think of becoming a conscientious objector to the NFL?

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Murdoch Matthew

The Dean of Bexley Hall dropped the "Crusty Old" conceit after the first couple of paragraphs of his football posting. I prefer the first person over the third.

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Professor Christopher Seitz

Why does someone who is so young call himself 'crusty' and 'old'?

My grandfather taught at Bexley Hall until retirement. He was crusty and old.

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Kay Collier McLaughlin

My father was a football coach - on the high school, college and NFL levels. In the last days of his life, he was aware of and concerned about some of the very issues we see today. In his name, and with thanks for all the world of football has meant to my life, I choose to work from the INSIDE , rather than being an adversary. I am a proud member of the Blanton Collier Sportsmanship Group for Ethics, Excellence and Education in football. And Vice- Chair of the Kentucky Pro a Football Hall of Fame which works to highlight and reward the " good side of football" and use the platform of professional football to raise funds for beneficiaries such as Kosair Children's Hospital. Come join us in our efforts for a win- win. As my father was famous for saying, " You can accomplish anything you want so long as you do not care who gets the credit."

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Jules Davis

I don't watch football anyway, so that is no hardship. But I agree that the NFL does not treat its players fairly.

My real beef is with college athletics. They recruit young men (usually from poor backgrounds) with scholarships and promises of going pro. But if the kid is injured, not only does he suffer physical pain, he frequently has no education, because all the teachers give him "pass" so he just scrapes by in school.

I know there are exceptions to my generalization, but it still makes me angry.

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JC Fisher

I broke up with the NFL last year, and feel so much better now. If I can't solve the USA's social problems, I won't be a conscience-numbed voyeur to this example, either.

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