Rhetoric and Sports: The NFL and the Language of the Wild West

The Carolina Panther’s star quarterback Cam Newton is called a “gunslinger.”

gunslinger

The meeting between Patriots (Tom Brady) and Broncos (Peyton Manning) was a “showdown” or predicated to be a “shoot-out” (it wasn’t) between the two great athletes.

brady manning

Manning says his visit to the Superbowl might be his “last rodeo.”

manning rodeo

Reading the sports page these days under the lens of the #Western106 reminds us how the National Football League has co-opted the violent language of the Wild West for entertainment value. Just think of some of the team names: Cowboys, Broncos, and more.

Even when team owners meet, the media uses the Wild West as its central anchor point.

nfl west

I get why this language has seeped into the culture of the National Football League. It is a violent sport, and the violence is part of the entertainment value. By connecting the language and rhetoric of the Wild West to the NFL, the media and NFL support a narrative, particularly that of the Lone Quarterback who leads his team/town to Victory over the Enemy in a time of great need.

It’s Clint on the football field. Or Shane. Or ….(insert hero) The language creates a story that people can connect with, and that the NFL can “sell” as a brand to its audience and the world.

I get it, but I remain fascinated by it, and worried about the violent nature of the rhetoric, too, and I know I will be more attuned to it now.

Peace (on the field),
Kevin

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