Football sure is an ugly sport

Such a reckoning would pose “an existential problem,” Steve Fainaru told me last week, saying that if there’s a definitive determination that “the game itself can cause this devastating disease in a huge number of players, it can’t help but cause you to think: What exactly am I rooting for?”

He and I were talking as two people struggling with our love of the sport. He said: “Who wants to believe that all the joy that Junior Seau gave us led him to become completely unrecognizable to his family? How do we reconcile that as football fans? Some people have suggested, jokingly, that the book should have been called ‘Nation of Denial.’ ”

He mentioned a visit that he’d made to the Colosseum in Rome, where gladiators once fought. At least in pro football, he observed, “They’re not sacrificing people at the end of the game.”

I thought of Seau and of Dorsett, and said: “No, not at the end of the game. They’re just delaying it.”

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