Here’s a look at a (fictional) nationally-televised National Football League game in the coming years ...
“Good afternoon and welcome to the middle of a desert somewhere, where this afternoon the Buffalo Bills will take on the Miami Dolphins in one of 15 NFL games scheduled here today.
“Hello everyone. I’m Pasta Fasool, just another Bills’ home game network announcer that you’ve never heard of, and alongside of me ... well six feet away, actually ... is Thurman Tasker, the great-grandson of Bills and NFL Hall of Famer Steve Tasker.
“Steve Tasker, as we all know, was finally elected to the pro football Hall of Fame in 2022, right after that horrible time that the infamous coronavirus changed sports and the world forever. That was an awful time and we’ve never been the same since. Anyway, tell us Thurman, what’s the latest from the Dolphins’ locker room?”
“It’s not looking too good, Pasta. At least four players had their temperatures taken just a few hours ago and are now being taken to local hospitals for further evaluation.
“Miami’s All-Pro kicker Beef Donatello had been ruled eligible to play, but accidentally bumped into Dolphins’ head trainer Pedro Page in a hallway and must now be hosed down and sprayed repeatedly with DDT for at least 24 hours before he’ll be allowed to take the field. Back to you, Pasta.”
“Thank you, Thurman. And on the Bills’ side, they’ll be without their number one kicker as well, correct?”
“That’s right, Pasta, Anthony Haak sneezed while warming up and was immediately ruled a scratch for the game, as was back-up kicker Angel Hernandez, who forgot to wash his hands after dinner on Saturday night and was immediately executed by firing squad. Back to you, Pasta.”
“Thank you, Thurman. The Bills have won the virtual coin toss and have opted to go first.
“Now, as you all know by now, all tackling, blocking — touching of any kind — has been ruled a danger to one another so the game will be decided by field goals.
“Up first is the Bills’ new kicker, Keeta Gaygen out of Gasport University. There will be no holder, of course, as each ball kicked is delivered by armored personnel in separate boxes at midfield. They are individually wrapped in plastic containers and can only be opened on the field of play.
“Gaygen unwraps his first football and places it on the sanitized tee. He gets the signal from the lone referee, John Godfrey, standing underneath the goalposts and his 55-yard attempt is …. good, and the Bills lead the Fish, 3-0.
“Wait, there’s a late flag on the play. Illegal use of the hands has been called on Gaygen. The kick will count, but let’s go to the replay … yes, there he is now, walking off the field and yes, there it is, he’s reaching up and he touches his nose quickly with his right hand and then, as you can see, he then touches the football before placing it in the disposable metal container.
“That’s a no-no and that’s gonna cost the Bills, even though no points will come off the scoreboard. It’s also going to cost Gaygen, who should expect a sit-down with commissioner Patrick M. Sukdolak and a hefty fine.
“Gaygen is being escorted off the field now and into a police van, where he’ll be held in solitary confinement for about two weeks, just in time for the Bills’ next game.
“The Dolphins have yet to field a player and it looks like they’re going to forfeit the rest of this game. And there’s the whistle from Godfrey making it official in one of the best-played NFL games of the year so far. The final score from this secret desert location in the middle of nowhere is Buffalo 3 and Miami 0.
“Thanks for watching this presentation of the National Football League. Up next, it’s the Falcons against the Eagles. Real birds, too, because there are no medically eligible players suited for either team.”
Respond to sports reporter John D’Onofrio on Twitter at @JohnDOnofrio7 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.