If this series revealed much about LeBron, it’s also taught me about my own relationship with basketball. Increasingly, I’m coming to realize that I don’t watch basketball, but instead watch people playing basketball.
Basketball is as much a drama as it is an athletic competition, we watch it for the individuals, the LeBrons and Kobes. But if we watch people playing basketball, when it comes to the NFL we are simply watching football.
Perhaps this has more to do with the emphasis on team play in the NFL or the helmets which hide players from us, but the NFL is missing out on something by its stubborn refusal to allow players to express their individuality. Whether it's through fining players for wearing different colored socks or penalizing them for celebrating after a touchdown, the NFL has continually attempted to supress free expression among its players lest one of them offend Joe Sixpack.
Take Chad Johnson, the best thing to happen to the NFL since Ickey Woods. Johnson made last season infinitely more enjoyable (and if you disagree on this we can't be friends) and how does the NFL respond? The same way Congress would, by implementing obscure regulations to limit freedom of expression. (If you don't think I'm rooting for C.J. this season simply to see his TD celebrations you're crazy.)
Maybe you feel differently, and don't think the NFL needs to change anything else other than a few minor rules. After all, there's got to be some reason the NFL is the king of the hill in America. But me, I look at the NFL and see all this unfulfilled potential, an ability to make the league more interesting than its current cookie cutter blandness.