Football is my favorite sport, always has been, and for the majority of my life the NFL did it best. That began to change in the last decade — not coincidentally Roger Goodell assumed the position of NFL Commissioner on September 1, 2006. Under Goodell’s reign the NFL has gradually transformed into a prepackaged, corporate-driven, cavalcade of hypocrisy.
The players are still the best in the world at what they do, but the league’s agenda now gets in the way of everything that I fell in love with about the game. Somewhere along the line, the powers that be decided it would be beneficial for the “improvement” of the league to turn the NFL into a puritanical oasis, free from grotesque end zone celebrations and any modicum of individuality — a certain sign of criminal inclinations and antisocial behavior.
I grew up watching The Fun Bunch celebrate touchdowns with a jumping group high-five — that would be a 15-yard penalty today. I grew up idolizing Darrell Green. I put a go**amn Tootsie Roll in my sock playing peewee football because he said it made him faster. Wait. Darrell, did you get express written consent from the National Football League for that Tootsie Roll? Well, in Goodell’s league that is going to get you a fine, and if it is repeat behavior then you can expect a suspension to go along with it.
The Goodell-bot was installed as Commissioner of the NFL to cater its product to a conservative demographic with Midwestern values. Thusly, the league is boring as hell in every opportunity it could be creative. Living in an economically diverse, multicultural area like the DMV, it is easy to forget that a large portion of this country still lives in places where everyone looks the same, speaks the same, worships the same, and thinks the same. This is who the NFL cares about when they craft their policies.
We are only a few years away from league-mandated crew cuts because long hair is deemed “distracting.”
If this demographic cares about concussions, the NFL will do something about concussions, but not before. If they care about Randy Moss pretending to moon Packers fans, you best believe the ginger hammer is coming down.
This week in hypocrisy, the NFL fined DeAngelo Williams for helping to raise breast cancer awareness. He was honoring his late mother, who died of the disease in 2014, with a message on his eye black that said, “Find the cure.” That message was not pre-approved by the NFL. It is also worth noting that his teammate was fined for honoring his deceased father, and NFL-alum, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward. During the NFL’s entire breast cancer awareness campaign (dating back to 2009), it has raised $8 million for cancer research. During that same period of time they have collected nearly $77 million in fines.
Sometimes it is hard to believe more people aren’t angry at the NFL for what it has become. I’m only surprised until I remember who this league has catered to for the past decade. If you would like a dose of reality, please check out the comment section over at Pro Football Talk sometime. It’s equivalent to the worst things you have ever overheard in the parking lot and upper level at FedEx Field, put into a blender, and mixed in with some thinly-veiled racism and the anonymity the Internet provides. The end results are barely legible sentiments that will destroy your faith in humanity. In short, it’s a great place for the world’s worst takes on all things NFL. For instance, today a story broke about the Cowboys’ Joseph Randle walking away from the team facility early. The most popular response was, “Cut him…start making an example out of these clowns.”
I can’t hate on Pro Football Talk entirely because it did spawn one of the Internet’s greatest satirical pundits in recent memory, a persona known only as @PFTCommenter. He is described as “a stupid man for our stupid times” and, in more detail, “He overpraises moderately skilled white players for their blue-collar character attributes and slags black players for being selfish and overrated. He is willing to argue endlessly, truly endlessly, about such meaningless nontroversies as whether Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is an ‘elite’ quarterback. He can’t spell or punctuate. If he were real, he would currently be listening to his eighth straight hour of sports radio.”
PFTCommenter is a caricature of what NFL devotees have become during the Goodell era, created by a witty savant who somehow made a profession out of arguing with people from St. Louis who don’t realize they are the joke. Who could have mercy for the sheeple that blindly eat up whatever storyline the NFL spits out? For eight months, the number one story in this league was air pressure inflation.
The NFL plays to the Colin Cowherd crowd, the type of people who would blame Sean Taylor for his own murder. Maybe you are part of “The Herd,” but I’m guessing you aren’t because you’re still reading this and the people that I am referring to proceed directly from the title of an article to the comments section.
I watch sports as a break from reality, not to be force-fed drama, sold Viagra, and reminded of everything that is wrong with the world. In Roger Goodell’s NFL, that respite becomes more difficult each season. If it weren’t for gambling, fantasy football, the RedZone channel, and so many pizza options, more people might take notice of how insufferable the league has become.
Unfortunately, the NFL continues to shatter records for revenue and viewership, this assures that we won’t see the league change its course anytime in the near future. Goodell will continue to arbitrarily demonize whichever team, player, or cause he sees fit. Weed smokers, ball deflaters, and bounty gaters, BEWARE. Domestic violence? Goodell is more of a wait and see guy with that one. Wouldn’t want to rush to judgement, ya know.
If I could reprogram Goodell-bot tomorrow, here are the first few things I would do, in no particular order (Goodell’s favorite way of doing things):
-Eliminate fines for minor uniform violations — if it isn’t obscene and doesn’t create a competitive advantage, who cares? How dare you fine someone for looking this awesome.
-Allow touchdown celebrations that don’t instigate opponents or delay the game. I’m certain Ochocinco is available to teach a class if anyone has forgotten how to dance these past few years.
-Adopt a transparent violation policy for criminal charges. No more determining suspension length by asking Peter King how many freckles he counts on different parts of your body.
-End Thursday Night Football, other than Thanksgiving. The games stink and if you care at all about player health this is a no-brainer.
-The NFL Draft lasts approximately 15 days now. Don’t you understand that if you made it last the entire offseason we would still watch? Two days is perfectly sufficient.
-End the London experiment money grab – they don’t care about our sports, we don’t care about theirs. Of course you can get a hundred thousand of them to come out for a football game. You gave them booze and told them they could be on American TV. Until someone invents teleportation, let’s reserve international competition for the Olympics and a “friendly” here or there.
-Pay for research on safer equipment immediately.
-Figure out what a touchdown catch looks like.
-Create a system to assure all NFL retirees proper access to health care for life, regardless of how long they played in the league (that includes mental health, Roger).
-Stop crafting new defensive penalties each season. We get it — scoring sells, but you have now created a top-heavy league (e.g. NFL record set for undefeated teams this season) which puts defenses at a noticeable disadvantage.
-Invest significantly in long-term health studies related to CTE.
-Adopt college replay rules. The game will move along swimmingly rather than forcing us to suffer through additional commercials. Haven’t you had enough?! For God’s sake an average professional football game lasts 3 hours and 12 minutes, but if you tally up the time when the ball is actually in play, the action amounts to a mere 11 minutes. That leaves so much time for ChevyDraftKing$$PapaJohnCialisFordFanDuel$VerizonDoritosBudweiser commercials.
-Speaking of $$, the NFL made $7.24 billion in revenue during the 2014 season, enough for 10 trips to Pluto. After all the bad press these past few seasons, how about giving some money to cancer research, charity, wounded veterans, domestic violence victims, or anyone else in need? You might even try doing so in less self-serving ways. For example, if you sell something pink with the NFL logo on it, to raise money for cancer, try giving most of that money to cancer research for a change.
Do you have any other suggestions to fix Goodell’s NFL?
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