Sunday, February 20, 2011

Falling Out Of Love With The NFL

In the wake of former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson's suicide at age 50 comes word that Duerson himself was convinced he was suffering from premature cognitive degeneration as a result of his time playing football. Consider this along with the sad fates of other former players like Andre Waters and Mike Webster, and tell me again why the NFL should be playing eighteen brain-destroying regular season games instead of the current sixteen, as commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners want?

It's true that the NFL's current labor dispute is an argument between billionaires and millionaires, and that there's no reason for the average work-a-day fan to be particularly sympathetic to one side or the other. But I'm in agreement with Phil Sheridan that the owners are the bad guys here, for all the reasons he cites. They're a bunch of greedy, rent-seeking pigs who, having gotten obscenely rich partially by sucking off the government teat, are now upset that the agreement they've negotiated with their labor force won't allow them to get as even more obscenely rich as they'd like in the future. Goodell, the empty suit they've chosen as their spokesman, is a smarmy, glad-handing piece of shit, the embodiment of every negative stereotype about lawyers and politicians you've ever heard. He continues to insist that the league is really, deeply concerned about the safety of the players, and in particular their susceptibility to head injuries, while simultaneously loudly cheerleading the idea of an expanded regular season, a stance he claims was prompted by fans overwhelmingly clamoring for more regular season football even though there's little evidence that such demand actually exists. The eighteen game season is all about Benjamins and anybody with half a brain realizes it. For Goodell to insist that no, it's really a question of pleasing the fans, only makes his glaring hypocrisy on the issue of player safety harder to stomach.

Fuck you, Roger Goodell. And fuck you, Jerry Jones. And you, Jeff Lurie. And every other NFL owner as well. If you force a work stoppage by locking out the players, and come back with an eighteen game season, I am done with your league, as a paying customer and otherwise. My fondness for the game of football is not so great as to overcome my disgust at overweening greed, selfishness, and hypocrisy, nor my distaste for being unwillingly sold a product I have made clear I don't want, and while I have no illusions that one guy cutting off his streaming video package is going to make a difference in the financial calculations of your operation, it will allow me to retain my dignity as at least one person you can't take for a chump.

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