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This will be the first full football weekend — high school Friday, college games Saturday and the NFL on Sunday and Monday — of the season.

And there are two undeniable truths.

First, the NFL is the most popular sport in America. Forget baseball, the national pastime is past its time. The NFL got an overnight TV rating of 15.3 for Thursday's Green Bay win over Chicago.

The NFL will dominate the top 20 of TV shows by viewers and ratings this year like it has in each year of the last decade-plus. (For comparison, Thursday night's game drew more than the average viewers of "The Big Bang Theory" or "Game of Thrones" in 2018-19.)

And those numbers will only go up with more and more states legalizing sports betting.

The second truth is that there is no way any story with Antonio Brown, the enigmatic Oakland Raiders wide receiver, should surprise any of us.

some text Jay Greeson

He missed the first part of preseason because his feet were frostbitten after he entered a cryogenic chamber with soggy socks. He also sued the NFL because he wanted to use a 10-year-old helmet that the NFL deemed unsafe. (And let's be real honest, the NFL deeming football unsafe is akin to the national tobacco lobby saying, "Yeah, those 1985 Pall Malls may not be good for your lungs.")

Brown even threatened to punch Oakland's GM — theoretically his boss's boss's boss on most teams — and called him a cracker. (There has been no word yet whether he used 'crack-ER' with the hard 'ER' which we all know is way, way, way worse than the sometimes congenial, sometimes controversial 'crack-a' that we white folks throw around all the time.)

How bad has Brown's last six weeks been? Know this: O.J. Simpson is sending Brown social media messages of encouragement and support.

Dear Lord, if you get to the place that O.J. is worried about your mental health, well, there you go.

 

What's in a name

We could get a real chance to see the impact of the R or the D on a ballot.

In a California congressional district, Raul Ruiz unseated the Republican incumbent a few years ago and was re-elected in the last cycle.

In 2020, Ruiz could very well face a Republican challenger named — Raul Ruiz.

Raul Ruiz (D) vs. Raul Ruiz (R). Who ya got?

 

Trafficking in traffic

The TFP had a great item about three public forums TDOT is hosting locally about the pending Interstate 75/I-24 interchange revamp.

We can all agree that the work needs to be done. The growing pains will be, well, painful.

But can you imagine the notecards for the speaker at those presentations?

Topic: cost; Your goal: Deflect and move to the next topic.

Topic: timetable; Your goal: Be vague and remember the phrase "our goal for completion" as a talking point.

Topic: inconvenience and traffic; Your goal: Survive the outrage. The best bet is to remind people of two things — first, how much better it will be when we finish and their kids' kids are driving hovercrafts and, second, at least we're not Atlanta.

 

Obit observation

Not sure how many of you would recognize the name Bob Bledsoe, who died Wednesday at the age of 89.

But know this: If a life's accomplishments are measured in smiles, Bob may have been the richest man in Chattanooga.

Consider the following from his obit in the TFP:

> Bob and Faye, his wife of 57 years, owned and operated Dreamworld, which specializes in weddings. How many of us quickly list the day we got married or the day our kids were born as the best days of lives?

> Bob spent almost half a century doing downtown Christmas displays at Miller Brothers Department Store and helped start the tradition that includes the impressive EPB awesomeness;

> He spent four decades as one of the main decorators for the renowned Cotton Ball.

Think of the smiles, friends, far and wide.

 

Saturday stars

The devastation from Hurricane Dorian has been overwhelming from the Bahamas to the Outer Banks.

In moments like this, the power of the human spirit continually amazes. From the local volunteers to those across the state to even the great tales from across the country.

From the last group, there was an unidentified farmer from Jacksonville, Florida, who bought 100 generators — to the tune of almost $50K — and arranged for them to be shipped to the Bahamas.

Cool part of a heartbreaking story.

Until next time, friends.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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