Saturday, July 16, 2016

Head trauma karma

Concussions are bad. Everyone knows this now, even the NFL, which up until a couple of years ago barely admitted concussions existed, or at least that concussions were more serious than any other owie you can contract from simulating high-speed car crashes every Sunday afternoon.

("Got a concussion? Ehhh, rub some dirt on it, you'll be fine" -- the NFL until very, very recently).

Anyway ... concussions are bad. Except when they're good, sort of.

Here's the deal: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a concussion. He can't drive this weekend. And if the symptoms happen to linger, he won't be able to drive next weekend, either.

And next weekend is the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. Which plays these days before the equivalent of a Western ghost town, because NASCAR-at-Indy is no longer a draw and fans have figured out it's about as riveting as Competitive Tolstoy Reading.

It's the Tournament of Roses parade, in other words, only with louder, smaller floats. And if the most popular driver in NASCAR can't go, it becomes the Tournament of Roses parade led by disagreeable punks like Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. And who wants to watch that?

Unless, that is, you can trump it with The Return of Jeff Gordon.

See, if Junior can't race, Gordon has agreed to step into his ride. And what a piece of luck that is. Gordon, after all, is a five-time Brickyard winner and a hugely popular native son of Indiana. His re-appearance in a Brickyard one-off would be the storyline of the weekend, and NASCAR and IMS will market the bejeebers out of it.

You Thought He Was Gone, But, Look, Here He Is Again! The King! Mister Brickyard! The World's Fastest Retiree! Can He School The Whippersnappers One More Time?

And so on.

In any case, Gordon at Indy for an auld lang syne coda would be a hugely saleable narrative. And God knows the Brickyard (and NASCAR) needs saleable narratives these days.

All those empty seats agree.

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