RedState Sports Report: Lions, Chiefs, and the NFL — Oh My!

AP Photo/Rick Osentoski

Greetings from the sports desk located somewhere below decks of the Good Pirate Ship RedState. Sammy the Shark and Karl the Kraken are busy sharpening their skates in anticipation of training camp opening later this month, so I am doing all the work as usual. 

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Like it or not, the 2023 NFL season kicked off Thursday, September 7, with the Detroit Lions earning a 21-20 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were a bit hobbled due to the absence of Travis Kelce (injury) and Chris Jones (holdout), but let’s give credit where credit is due. The Lions played a bruising, hardnose game led by a superb offensive line that gave Jared Goff all the time he needed to pass and made the running game effective. This, plus some legitimate playmakers on both sides of the ball, has made the Lions a team to reckon with in the NFL. And no, I don’t recall the last time anyone could say that. 

Although the NFL still clings to certain remnants of its embrace of woke following the BLM riots, these are far less prevalent compared to previous years. Team names are now present on the back of all helmets instead of optional “inspirational“ messages. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was not performed live on the national TV game broadcast but appeared solely on the NFL Network’s extended pregame coverage. 

Back to what matters, namely, the football itself. This season promises to be most interesting. Of course, as has always been the case, any injury to any given team’s one or two key players will immediately drop them out of consideration for the championship. That said, there are several teams with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. Kansas City, despite tonight‘s loss, is certainly in the mix. Last year‘s NFC champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, are highly thought of. The San Francisco 49ers, much to my dismay (Vamos Carneros! ), have loads of talent. However, it is quite possible that this year may be one of their last years at a title shot, reasons being age and a lack of depth due to excessively high contracts to top players getting ready to hit the downslope of their careers plus multiple draft picks thrown away on Trey Lance. Speaking of Lance, his job now consists of holding a clipboard in Dallas while watching Dak Prescott play. 

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It will be most interesting to see how some teams do or do not live up to the preseason hype. The New York Jets, now with an aging but still capable Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, should be better, but will they be sufficiently better to dethrone the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East? Can Tua Tagovaiola stay healthy and lead the Miami Dolphins back into contention? How will some of the highly touted rookie quarterbacks, most noticeably Anthony Richardson in Indianapolis, fare? This season has more plot lines than an overwrought novela.

Finally, indulge my quoting myself:

Posts like this inevitably draw several “I won’t watch sports anymore because they’ve gone woke” comments. I get that. I respect that. I obviously disagree with that, as I still watch the games if for no other reason than love for the games themselves, the skills and strategies employed.

I also work in a sporting goods store. I frequently see the utter delight of a kid getting a new bat and glove. I see the ten-year-old girl’s eyes light up like a fully illuminated Christmas tree when she finally sweet-talks Mom into that Alex Morgan jersey. While sports are not a significant priority in the grand scheme of things, they can and should serve as a diversion from the daily, be it personal or political. I believe sports are worth fighting for. That is why I write these all-too-occasional scribbles, hoping to bring a few chuckles and facilitate the opportunity for conservative sports fans to come together in a place where their beliefs will not be insulted and they will not receive ridicule. We need that space and the refreshment provided by diversion.

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