Tag Archives: Roger goodell

Not For Long: How the NFL pushed fans like me away from the game

3 Aug

This is a post that has been long overdue. And it should’ve been written years ago, but there were more pressing issues to think and write about. But now on the heels of the NFL trying to place a stranglehold mandatory vaccine initiative on its players, I figure its time to get it all out in the open.

There was a time when football was my favorite sport to play and watch. From 1989-1995, it was my sport. I remember when the NFC East was the the NFC “Beast” and anyone winning that conference was all assured of winning the Super Bowl. Sure I was a die hard Cowboys fan, but the Eagles had Randall Cunningham, and the New York Football Giants had legendary defensive players and had an epic Super Bowl run in 1990 that cemented my fandom. Throw in the big time, bone crushing hits that made the sport popular, and it was the perfect balance of brutality and ballet.

My fandom waned as the Cowboys star dimmed, and my interests in other things intensified (school, girls, drugs, music) but you could catch me watching some fool’s ball on the right Sunday if a matchup was intriguing enough. Even if I didn’t watch, I still kept up with who played for what team. But with each passing year, I noticed subtle changes the competition committee would employ to make the game more exciting for the casual fan. I would say by the mid 2000’s, the league was obviously trying to push the league in a direction that would benefit players like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady. Now, the NFL is glorified Arena League ball, or comparable to flag football on steroids. But there are a number of reasons why I don’t watch the NFL. Like to hear them? Here it go.

Reason #1: The Death of the Big Hit

I fell in love with football because it was a gladiator sport. If you were a receiver going across the middle, chances were you were going to get crushed into smithereens. Big hitters like Steve Atwater, Ronnie Lott, Chuck Cecil, Andre Waters, Thomas Everett would take a receivers had off. Yes it was violent, and it was dangerous, but that was the fun of it. The Ravens-Steelers rivalry from last decade was the last penchant of real football left. Now the league has legislated all the big hits out of the game. Defensive players can only hit the quarterbacks between the numbers on their uniforms. Hits above the shoulders or below the knees get flagged and they introduced a “defenseless receiver” rule where if a player isn’t looking, they can’t be hit. Whatever. I blame fantasy football. So much money and viewership is made from gambling and fantasy football participants–many of which never really cared for the game until they started playing–that the league has a vested interest in keeping the offensive players healthy; even at the expense of the defensive players (who still have to make their money somehow).

Reason # 2: Thursday Night Football

You can pinpoint both an uptick in injuries and a drop off in quality of games right around 2006, when the league introduced Thursday night games. The thinking was that Sundays and Mondays weren’t enough football for the week, the world needed more product which would equate to more money for owners and a crumb or two for the players. How the NFLPA agreed to this, I don’t know. But it has been proven time and time again that they have the weakest player union in all of sports (one could even argue that in a sport driven by Black athletes, it is a microcosm for the larger world, where Black faces like Gene Upshaw and DeMaurice Smith, serve as “representation” for the larger population, but only obtain benefits for a small minority). The Thursday night games as a whole have been mostly poor quality, filled with turnovers and injuries. Players often complained about the shortened week after a Monday night game, where there is a quick turnaround and less time to recover from the week’s previous game. Now a team can play on Sunday and then turn around and play four days later. Most players say that they are usually still bruised and aching up until Friday of a normal week of play. To add insult to injuries (pardon the pun), the NFLPA agreed to a 17th game; starting this upcoming season. All I can say is that we teach others how to treat us. The NFLPA is as fangless as the Congressional Black Caucus.

Reason #3 The Plantation Model

The NFL is just one big plantation. It really starts back when players are in college, playing for these huge programs that generate millions of dollars for universities (Football generally makes money for the rest of the sports at a school) and their coaches. Players have to keep in line and if they so much as speak up about an issue within the program or in society, they can get their scholarship revoked or playing time culled if they offend a coach or donor. This feeds into the mentality of the pro player who becomes conditioned to just shut up and play. The optics of this looks real bad when consider there are no Black owners in the NFL, and only one Black general manager–in a sport that is about 70% Black (especially at the skill positions). There are only a handful of Black NFL head coaches, and for a long time, you would be lucky to see two or three Black starting quarterbacks.

Then there are the uniforms. The league is extremely particular about how a player should look during the game. A player can get fined for having the wrong colored socks or cleats. Any messages written on their uniforms–no matter how well intentioned—can be garner a fine of tens of thousands of dollars.

To top it off, players couldn’t even openly celebrate without their team getting penalized on the field and garnering a fine later in the week. The NFL is the king of squeezing out the individuality of its players in favor of a “uniform” look.

Lastly, there is the issue of Colin Kaepernick. While I can agree that the NFL is a private industry (that somehow garnished non-profit status while raking in billions of dollars) and they have the right to give a job to whomever they want, as a consumer, I also have the right to support or not support that industry. There was a large contingent of fans (and let’s face it, most of the owners are huge GOP donors) offended by what Kaepernick was saying in the media, and by what he was protesting. Was there collusion to keep him from landing another job? Probably. Kaepernick didn’t have to opt of his contract with one year remaining, and he didn’t have to sign that settlement. But he is probably better off for doing so. He made millions in a sport where your livelihood can be taken away in one play–which reminds me– NFL players are the only sport without guaranteed contracts. They can rip a player’s contract up at any time and send them out in the street.

Reason #4 Roger Goodell

I could write a whole article about the buffoonery of Roger Goodell if it weren’t already well documented. Its no coincidence that the quality of play in the NFL dropped around the time Commissioner Paul Tagliabue stepped down in 2006. Goodell anointed himself the judge, jury, and executioner of “The Shield”. Players were now being fined and disciplined for off the field matters in addition to what they did on the field. Goodell bungled high profile scandals like “Spygate”, “Bountygate”, the referee lockout of 2012 (which was an embarrassment), (the alleged) CTE cover up by the NFL that resulted in Will Smith making a movie and using a bad accent in it, and also the Ray Rice fiasco. I couldn’t figure out how such a bumbling idiot was able to keep such a profile job until I read that the NFL had made the most money it had ever made with ole Roger Dodger manning the helm.

As it is, with a lot more adult responsibilities, I don’t even think about the NFL very often. Sundays are spent with family, or working on projects. I don’t miss it. In fact, I missed it more when I was watching it–pining for the good ole days of Ronnie Lott and Bo Jackson, and Mike Singletary. But it was a good run. I’d go as far as to say 2012-2013 was the last year I really had any vested interest in who won the Super Bowl. Every year thereafter, I just hoped it was anyone but the Patriots (which could be another post in itself). Who knows, maybe I would’ve outgrown it anyway. All that being said, I guess I’m happier without it. Even if it is America’s favorite sport.

Taking a Beating

18 Apr

As some of you already know, Adrian Peterson was reinstated by the NFL this week. I personally thought it was horseshit that he was suspended so long, when players can drive and kill a motorist can come back the same season.

The hypocrisy in the NFL has been so thick, that even the on the field product is not enough to mask it. Goodell is always screaming about player safety, but he is the main proponent for Thursday night games (and swears the NFL knew nothing about the effects of head trauma on players). The “headhunting” and qb safety rules put into effect are called arbitrarily, and the league has suddenly become a glorifed flag football league.
I’m not into it, and haven’t really been for a while.

Football is a dangerous game. You need to be a little unstable to play–some would argue that it is best if you are. The reason I grew up liking it was that it was a gladiator sport. I loved watching Ronnie Lott and Chuck Cecil take receiver’s heads off when they ventured across the middle. The danger element is what excited me. Now Goodell wants to soften up the game and the player’s images off the field, instead of calling a spade a “spade.”

You can’t have it both ways NFL. I could stomach it if the NFL just came clean and said “the game is really dangerous, but we don’t care about the players, and that is why we want Thursday night games. Play at your own risk.” I could respect that. But this lying doesn’t sit well with me. Don’t dressup a pig, put lipstick on it and call it Holly Rowe. That is insulting.

But it is this kind of hypocrisy that pushed Goodell to suspend Adrian Peterson for being an overly vigilant discliplinarian with his child. He didn’t knock his son out in an elevator. He didn’t tie his kid up in the basement and feed him dogfood. He was just overzealous with the belt.

Am I excusing this? Hell no. I can’t imagine being a 4 year old, about to get my nuts whipped by an angry Adrian Peterson. I wouldn’t want to take an ass beating by him now as an adult, so I cna imagine how terrifying that must have been.

But let’s be real for a minute. He was raised in a different era. I remember there was a time where you could get beat at school by your teacher. In third grade we’d sit in our class and silently laugh at the kid getting wailed on in the hallway, and stifle the laughter as best as we could when the teacher brought the unlucky kid back into the classroom.

Hell my Senior year in high school I defiantly chose to take 5 licks from a paddle from the vice principal, instead of going to after school detention (and that was just for too many tardies). Can you imagine how awkward it was for us when we’d see each other in the hallway later.

Principal: ” Hi Bobby, how’s it going?”

Me: “Fuck you!”

Nothing is the same after you spank someone. It is an intimate thing, and not in a good way.

But it was a different time. That generation got beat as kids and they thought it was best way to discipline our generation. My uncle had a huge paddle in the garage with the words “EQUALIZER” painted on it. The sight of it alone was enough not to get out of line on those visits.

The one and only time my mother ever whupped me was after I got into trouble with the police for breaking someone’s garage windows with my “friends.” My parents had to split the costs with the parents of the other hoodlums and it cost my family 100 bucks (we weren’t flush with cash back in those days). She wore my ass out, and maybe deservedly so.

Nothing compared to the shame and disappointment I felt in myself–even at the ripe young age of 8. I felt horrible. I didn’t even want to break those windows, but I myself get peer pressured into it. Sure I was mad at myself for putting myself in that situation, but I felt even worse when the man who owned the house turned out to be this old blind man.

No ass beating I ever took could possibly match what I felt internally. This would have been a great teaching lesson without the physical beatings. But things were different in the 80’s. Only rich white people went to therapy, and most black kids got beaten when they fucked up. I was a relatively good kid, and was lucky to have pretty laid back parents.

But not everyone was so lucky. Adrian Peterson hit his kid, to teach his kid that hitting was wrong. The NFL punished Adrian Peterson excessively to teach Adrian Peterson that excessive punishment is wrong. There was a teachable moment in this situation and the NFL screwed the pooch.

Peterson deserved suspension, but not for the entire season. He could have done counseling, and community service among other things. Things didn’t have to be this ugly, and Goodell missed a wonderful opportunity to do some things right in the PR department. As it is, there are a lot of bitter feelings between the Vikes and AP, and Goodell only reinforced the idea that he doesn’t deserve his 44 million dollar a year salary.

To be continued…………..