4th & 18: Jimmy Fallon’s “NFL Superlatives” Distract from the Current Issues in Football

Brian Heissenbuttel, Managing Editor

Over the last few months, the National Football League’s reputation has been soiled by players such as Ray Rice, Matt Prater, and Adrian Peterson making bad decisions that put them in the spotlight. The public’s opinion of Roger Goodell and NFL athletes in general has soured and created controversy in a sport that so many of us love.

These players are carrying labels such as Ray Rice being the one guilty of domestic violence and Matt Prater being the one guilty of substance abuse. I remember ten years ago when young lads like myself idolized Brett Favre and Ashley Lelie. I remember when the greatest injustice to football was the mere existence of the Oakland Raiders and only a few characters carried negative labels. The main one was Peyton Manning being guilty of a big forehead. It was as simple as that.

Where am I going with this? To put it simply, the easiest way to put all this adversity behind us is to embrace the satirical labels that we gave to players so long ago and not focus on the negative connotations that already exist. While his intent may be different, it is nice to see that comedian Jimmy Fallon is charging forward with a similar enterprise.

On “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” he does a weekly bit where he gives the NFL players from teams that will be playing on Sunday Night Football later that week satirical titles that satirically describe their photos in his weekly “NFL Superlatives.” Some of my favorites include New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan being “voted” as “Sexiest Tetris Piece” due to his odd haircut and New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork being “voted” as the “Most Likely to be the Love Child of Shaq and Cee-Lo.”

To the common eye, this can just be another funny bit in the arsenal of one of my personal favorite comedians. However, it also acts as a relief for fans who are tired of hearing their formerly adored players being talked about for domestic abuse or drug use. It is quite a relief to hear a player being called “Gold Rush Kanye” or “Most Likely to Make a Throat-Slicing Motion When You Beat Him at Scrabble.” These are real examples from Fallon’s show, and they are truly funny ways to describe players of a struggling athletic league.

My advice to readers is to take advantage of the times when we can appreciate football players’ strengths and imperfections. The football-loving population needs something else off the field to keep faith that their team’s players are not bad guys, and Fallon’s weekly bit does a fantastic job reinforcing that.

I salute you, Jimmy Fallon, for not only being a fantastic comic and a worthy successor to Jay Leno, but also for helping me keep my faith in the National Football League.