As an American father I'm required by law to nap on the couch on Sundays. I was complying when something woke me up that I couldn't believe.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon was on the ground, writhing in pain, when New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan took a flying leap onto Gannon's chest! And Gannon was out-of-bounds at the time! Then Strahan kicked him—and no flag!
Finally I realized it wasn't a live game on the TV. My 15-year-old son, Jake, was playing NFL Blitz 2003, a wildly popular video game with amazingly realistic graphics.
Now Gannon was being jumped on by five Giants. I winced.
"Jake," I scolded. "How can you do that?"
"You just press this little X button," he explained.
I picked up the game's box. It said this was an NFL approved and licensed product. The players are NFL stars, wear NFL uniforms and play in NFL stadiums. Jake said NFL Blitz 2003 is his favorite game, partly because you can spear Brian Griese, kick Jerry Rice in the jewels and body-slam Marshall Faulk. And without even pressing a button you can watch NFL players taunt one another, preen after a first down, and stand over a player writhing in pain and point. "It's so realistic," Jake said.
That's true. In fact, the biggest difference that I could see is that in a real game, when Denver Broncos safety Kenoy Kennedy lays out a guy over the middle, the NFL fines Kennedy $42,794. In NFL Blitz 2003 there's no flag, no fine, only more sales. Either way, the NFL gets the money!
When I explained to Jake that studies have shown that watching violence makes the viewer more violent, he said, "You mean like those?" and pointed to my shelf of videos. What, you don't have the three-volume set of The NFL's Greatest Decapitations'?