The Super Bowl is on tonight. Shall I make a prediction? How about this one: due to the NFL's attempts over the past decade to cover up the brain injuries of its players, more ex-players will die from suicide this coming year.
Don't get me wrong: I love American football. I even think that qualifies me to critique it, as a fan. But if the NFL's belated report – produced after much pressure – is correct in saying that approximately 28% of its players will suffer from degenerative brain disease from the repetitive concussions, then they need to reform the game.
Here are my suggestions: change the padding. Instead of those biker helmets and military shoulder pads that encourage the players to turn themselves into missiles, why don't they switch to the protective caps and minor shoulder pads that rugby players sometimes use? You'll still get big hits, like in rugby, but nothing like the force you see in the NFL.
I know what some will say: it will remove a vital element of hitting from the sport. But there are positives too, apart from the obvious one concerning the players' health:
The reduction in padding will make American football less expensive to play properly. The game will therefore become more accessible. More people in more countries will take it up. American football may then replace rugby and will certainly become a global sport, as well as an Olympic sport. We can have a World Cup for American football, and/or a global NFL. America's best players will get global recognition in the way America's basketball players benefited from the Dream Team in the Olympics. And in the meantime, more rugby players will be able to cross over into American football because the nature of the contact will be similar.
Okay, that's enough seriousness. In the meantime, tonight, the New England Patriots will play the Philadelphia Eagles for the Super Bowl championship. I have increasingly become a fan of Philadelphia. Perhaps tangential, but my favourite comedy is It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and one of my favourite directors, David Lynch, spent a key part of his life there. Also, my former MSc tutor – whom I admire – comes from there. I could happily live in Philadelphia, and the Patriots always win these days anyway(s). Go Eagles!Final prediction: whoever wins, Tom Brady will still be a smug wanker at the end of the game.