CBS Sports Radio host Amy Lawrence Explains Why She Loves The NFL

The NFL has been no stranger to controversy in recent years, but Amy Lawrence remains a viewer – and a passionate one, at that

After Hours with Amy Lawrence
October 30, 2018 - 8:00 am

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It's not easy being football fans. We invest heart and soul, only to have one broken and the other crushed time after time. Our teams disappoint us and leave us wondering "What if?" after painful losses, stunning upsets, or underwhelming performances. The officials are definitely out to make our lives miserable, and how we ever recover from fantasy flops and failures is one of life's greatest mysteries.

Yet we keep coming back for more. At least most of us do. In 2017, NFL revenues increased nearly 5% over the previous year. Despite a slight decline in viewership, the value of network TV contracts is still driving up the league's earning power. Throw in steady merchandise sales and licensing fees, and the NFL is more lucrative than ever.

Financially viable? Yes. Free from conflict? Absolutely not. Pro football is anything but a smooth business venture. With the highest profile in all of sports comes non-stop attention and controversy. The scrutinized national anthem policy, the wishy-washy domestic violence policy, the constant rule changes, and the advancing research into the effects of concussions and devastating injuries all threaten to derail the popularity of the sport. In this age of all access, we're bombarded with reasons NOT to watch. Yet most of us remain devoted. Why?

People ask me all the time whether I'm conflicted as a fan of the game or as a radio host who follows the NFL extensively. I consider the question carefully every time I see another negative headline that makes me cringe. But I always land in the same place with two major reasons why I still love the game and why I feel no conflict of interest as a member of the sports media.

As a society, especially in the social media realm, we gravitate toward the salacious, the shocking, the unseemly. We tend to overlook the normal, the positive, and the uplifting in favor of the dreadful, the appalling, and the controversial. The latter generate more "clicks." But the overwhelming majority of football players don't make headlines. Most of them don't get arrested, don't get accused of domestic abuse, don't make waves, and don't get into trouble off the field. Disproportionate to the amount of coverage they receive, most of them stand for the national anthem. No matter how we feel about the protests before games, it's only a handful of players who exercise that right. The majority of NFL athletes don't get noticed because they take care of their business without fanfare or controversy.

The issue of player safety is the one that gives me pause now and then. I hate seeing a guy's career derailed by a devastating injury. But it happens every week. In 2017, the NFL could have filled two Pro Bowl rosters with players lost for the season. When Aaron Rodgers suffered another broken collarbone in October, I was bitterly disappointed. Without a doubt, he's one of the league's biggest draws, and the Packers weren't a contender without him. Offensive line stalwart Joe Thomas was forced off the field and into retirement by a torn triceps after more than 10,000 consecutive snaps, a devastating loss for the Browns and an injury that filled me with angst. The torn ACLs, the ruptured Achilles, the concussion protocols, the steady stream of players to IR – it’s the aspect of football that I hate. Watching Ryan Shazier get carted off the field with a paralyzing spinal cord injury moved me to tears.

Football is a vicious, violent game. Is the excitement and the drama worth the physical cost? With the emerging science about the long-term effects of repeated hits to the head, how can I continue to support a sport with the potential for grueling side effects down the road?? Ultimately, it's because football is a choice...THEIR choice. Just like race car drivers, football players understand the risks and choose the game anyway. They've worked tirelessly and sacrificed for years to achieve their dream of reaching the NFL, and most of them wouldn't trade the opportunity for any other career path. It's one of the things I love most about the United States of America: we have the freedom to pursue our passions and turn them into professions. Even more than I hate the injuries, I celebrate the breakthroughs, the triumphs, the milestones, and the historical moments.

I would have a much harder time supporting the league if I didn't believe the NFL is committed to making the game safer. Fans will keep railing against rules changes and complaining about a "watered down" product, and officials will remain in a harsh spotlight. But I'd rather wait out the turbulence as the sport adjusts to new rules than hear another retired player share his struggles after years of undiagnosed concussions and brain trauma. Serious injuries are unavoidable; the possibility exists every time the athletes step on the field. Because of that, the quest to make the game safer should be unending. As a fan, I can still revel in the sport WITHOUT a guy lying unconscious on the field after a bone-rattling hit by a defender who led with the crown of his helmet.

Honestly, I can't stay away from football. The game sucks me in. It's exciting, entertaining, and compelling week to week. As we prepare for another brand new season, I can't wait to see how it plays out and which teams take us on a wild ride. Sure, being a fan requires heart and soul and some minor conflict resolution, but ultimately, it's worth it!

 

A well-traveled veteran of sports radio and television, Amy is the passionate host of CBS Sports Radio’s late-night program, After Hours with Amy Lawrence, from 2-6am ET on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. Listeners can tune in from Canada and overseas, thanks to SiriusXM, cbssportsradio.com and the CBS Sports app. Amy has also handled basketball play-by-play and color duties for various radio and TV outlets over the past 15 years. Amy graduated from Messiah College with bachelor’s degrees in Communications & Accounting before earning her master’s in TV & Radio from Syracuse University. She is a native of Concord, NH.

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