One more sports-themed post.
The NFL, based on this past season, needs to rename itself to the WTFFL (What The Fuck? Football League), because it's actions have ranged from arrogant to insipid to unintentionally funny.
1. Ray Rice/Domestic Violence. Goodell's mishandling of this has been detailed extensively, so I won't dwell on it too much. What is galling is that the league now pretends to care about domestic violence, paying for a PSA by nomore.org to be shown during the Super Bowl. As My girl lissa pointed out, the NFL only cares about domestic violence to the extent that it harms the NFL's brand and/or revenues.
The unintentionally funny part of this is the NFL's internal investigation into the handling of the Ray Rice case. No one who doesn't work for the NFL believes that the NFL didn't have the elevator video before they say they did. But did anyone expect the league's internal investigation to find anything other than what it found, namely, Roger and everyone else in the NFL did no wrong?
2. On the field issues.
A. Officiating. Even with replay reviews, calls were blown at an alarming rate this past season. The system is flawed to start with -- take the referee out of the review process . . . put the overturn or not call in the hands of the official in the booth. It can't be any worse than what we're seeing now.
B. What is a catch? The NFL has made this so ridiculously complex that even the officials have trouble with it. Supposedly this is going to be looked at this off season . . . what are the chances the "fix" isn't worse than the problem? But I keep hoping.
C. Rules. Expanding on the above, the game is way too difficult to officiate. Goodell should create one of these Committees he loves so much to really study shredding the rule book and starting over.
D. More officiating. The time for full time referees is long past. Hire younger guys/women who can keep up with the speed of the game. Ex-players, perhaps?
E. Personal Fouls. Personal Fouls need to be added to the mandatory review category. Too many games turn on bogus personal foul calls.
3. The Commissioner. Roger had a terrible year.
He mishandled the Ray Rice thing, and looked horrendous in the process, treating us to a press conference that not only provided no real content but made him look confused and incompetent.
He got his hand slapped by arbitrators and had to cede some of this godlike authority of being judge, jury, and executioner.
His handling of the Deflategate scandal is laughable. The NFL, supposedly is still investigating. They talked to forty people from the Patriots without speaking to Tom Brady! Forty! Goodell went so far as to say that they are not yet even sure that any infraction was committed. Huh? Add to that the fact that he comes off like Robert Kraft's butt-boy.
He uses internal investigations as a way of getting everyone to shut up about issues he wants to avoid until the league thinks it's a good time. The investigation of the Rice Rice matter took until last week, supposedly. The investigation of the deflated footballs will conclude . . . sometime after the draft and before the start of preseason?
He showed that several months' time did nothing to improve his press conference skills. The Q & A after the "state of the league" speech (itself an orgy of self-congratulation) was just as content-free and uncomfy as the Ray Rice press conference.
He showed his toughness in dealing with a lawsuit by mostly destitute ex-players with extensive long term injuries sustained in the process of building the game into what it has become. So cowed were the former players that the judge thankfully intervened and stopped a clearly inadequate settlement.
He has a perverse insistence on taking the game international. I can only assume that these marching orders come from the owners. So expect a franchise in London before long, and in more places after that in the future. Again, this is something no fan wants. But let's not pretend the owners and Goodell take that into account. Goodell's plan is to reach $25 billion in revenues by the year 2027. That's not happening just by selling a few more jerseys; it will require teams in London, France, and Putin's underpants. Who is that good for, other than the owners?
Of course, none of the above matters to the only people Goodell really cares about -- the thirty-two owners whose bidding he does. And judging by the $40 million salary Goodell gets, the owners love the job he's doing. And, one story that is so outrageous that if offered as fiction wouldn't be believable -- the $40 million man berating various NFL employees for being "overpaid."
4. The normal owner doucheiness.
The owner of the Texans actually said that the rash of concussions "occurred outside of football" and that the owners "just gave in because they didn't feel like fighting it." This is the mentality that the players are up against.
Of the thirty-two teams, one (Green Bay) is publicly owned. Among the remaining thirty-one owners, the lowest net worth is $500 million, going all the way up to Seahawks' owner Paul Allen at about $15-16 billion. Given these numbers, is it really necessary for the NFL to squeeze every nickel until it screams? I don't begrudge anyone's wish to make a lot of money -- this is America, after all. But other than some charitable contributions, when's the last time the owners did something that wasn't motivated by greed? The next time will be the first time.
5. The players suck too.
No one has clean hands in the NFL. The Players' Association, like all unions, defends the scum with equal fervor that it does the good guys. Fans are fucking sick of it. I want badly to sign with the players in all things NFL-related, as opposed to the owners, but the union and the players themselves often make it difficult.
Additionally, the union's stance on former players now suffering from their playing days, while technically accurate, is despicable. I don't like to speak ill of the dead but Gene Upshaw's remark that "I don't represent former players" spoke volumes about the union, none of it good. The current leadership doesn't talk about it but apparently holds a similar position, based on their lack of any concrete action.
Marshawn Lynch. It was funny the first couple of times. But now it's just a disingenuous act . . . based on his "lecture" to reporters the other day, Lynch has no problem speaking in front of crowds, as some apologists have contended. The one good thing Goodell has done is to fine this clown six ways from Sunday. Keep up the good work, Roger.
Player conduct. It's difficult to be a young man with a lot of money, and a lot of people telling you how great you are all the time, but here's a quick guide for NFL players:
--Nothing good happens after 2 AM. Really, midnight, but I'll try to be somewhat realistic.
--Try to keep it to a maximum of three different women you father children with.
--Rape isn't your right. It's a crime.
--Don't hit anyone smaller than you, of either sex.
--The NFL provides all sorts of driving and security services for players when out on the town. Use them.
6. All done.
This went way longer than I'd planned, and I didn't even hit every point. But the important thing is this:
Football is amazingly popular, and it's in America's DNA. The NFL knows this, and thus do whatever they want, however they want, knowing that the fans will keep watching, keep buying jerseys and tickets and PSLs and pay $50 for parking, keep playing fantasy football, keep packing sports bars every Sunday and subscribing to Direct TV for the Sunday Ticket package, and stay glued to the Red Zone channel. Everybody "wins."
And I'm no better. I love football, and I can't imagine not watching the Giants every Sunday. But the owners, the Commissioner, the players, and their union, are doing their best to make Me feel bad about loving football so much.
Apparently no matter what it does, the NFL can't kill the goose that laid the golden egg. But since there's seemingly no end to what the NFL will do in pursuit of more billions, they may find that there is a point to which they might overreach.