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Football and bigotry on the brain this week


Boy, what a week it’s been. The back and forth, the rallying to the banners, the passionate opinions offered on both sides … THIS is what America is supposed to be. Or, well this is what American football inspires, anyway.

What? You thought I was talking about something else?

Finally, it would appear that we have some closure on the biggest debate in the Mile High City. I know this may be premature —I am writing this on Sunday, to be run in the papers on Thursday, so it’s possible that “The Decision” has not been announced or made official. But, to anybody who watched the football game on Saturday, I think it’s pretty obvious that Trevor Siemian has to be the Broncos starting quarterback this season. Paxton Lynch, despite the obvious physical skills, is just not ready for that big a job this year.

It’s interesting, listening to the pundits and the people who have been at all of the practices this offseason, and none of them sound like Siemian has been blowing them away. The word most of them use to describe his performance is “steady.” It’s just that Paxton has been, well, as bad on some days as he looked Saturday night, which, really, makes him the loser of the competition more than it makes Siemian the winner.

Not exactly inspiring.

I have a theory, which is based on nothing but an understanding of human nature: Siemian has spent the last nine months hearing that, for all intents and purposes, his job this summer was to win the competition with Lynch. My guess is, knowing that, and seeing the struggles of his competitor, Siemian started taking a safe approach to practices and games, just to do nothing to lose the job. Not inspiring … just doing his job.

The real trick now, I suppose, comes for the Broncos’ coaching staff: How do you re-calibrate Siemian to stop winning a job against inferior competition and start winning football games against superior N.F.L. teams?

It’s all well and good to do the thing you’re supposed to do, but it doesn’t mean a thing unless you can make the next thing happen, too.

Oh, yeah — I was talking about something else.

We fought a Civil War. Some 600,000 Americans lost their lives in that war, which was fought to decide whether one man had the right to own another. We had an Emancipation Proclamation, which decreed that all the black slaves in the South were free men and women. We even threw in a couple Constitutional Amendments. And then, because we still couldn’t get the next thing right, we had to go back and do the Civil Rights Act in 1963.

And yet, here we are again, seemingly still fighting the Civil War.

Apparently, what we are in need of is a really good coaching staff to try to get us to re-calibrate. We did the one thing: we put the legal stuff in place. Took a while, but we accomplished the first job.

But, clearly, there is still some room to go to get the next thing to happen. When a group of people who hold views as vile as the white supremacist group holds feels like it’s safe to go walking around in broad daylight, then we have a problem. When you have an entire population trapped in multi-generational poverty with little hope or opportunity, then we have a problem. When you have the police being frequent targets for assassination, then we have a problem.

And when you have two sides of every argument more likely to throw rocks at each other across the public square than to actually listen to each other, then we have a problem.

Everybody on every side needs coaching.

Now, if only we could find somebody in the front (oval) office with the temperament and wisdom to get us to stop looking at each other as enemies. Or … somewhere else. Whatever.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His novels are available at MichaelJAlcorn.com


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