New Orleans Around the globe, football means soccer, and the recently concluded quadrennial World Cup was its showcase. In America, football is a different thing altogether, especially when it comes to the endless draft-to-summer-to-exhibition-to-regular season-to-playoffs-to-Super Bowl, National Football League on the professional level. Once again, as exhibition games get ready to begin, we’re having to read about people like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the anthem singers as the controversy with the players continues. On the plane I was reading Sergio de la Pava’s Lost Empress and was constantly getting confused on whether fiction was stranger than truth or truth stranger than fiction.
In the novel, Nina, the daughter of the owner of the Dallas Cowboys whose health is failing in Tom Benson fashion, in a preview of his estate gives the Cowboys to his oldest son and bequeaths the football savant, Nina, with the Paterson Porkers of the International Football League. That’s Paterson, New Jersey, if you were unclear. The NFL owners in the book decide to lockout the players in order to take 60% of the revenue rather than 56%, and Nina senses the opportunity to grab the fans and players attention by having the IFL rise in the fall as the NFL cancels their season. I haven’t finished the book, but we’re all rooting for Nina and the little pigs over the greedy pig owners of the NFL.
In the daily papers we find that the saga of the players’ protest over police brutality and racial discrimination that the Twitterer-in-Chief made an issue of anthem and flag when the even richer owners cravenly caved before him like cheap suits. Now the issue is hot again. Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, two players leading the protest are still being blackballed and have both filed grievances with the union. The NFL had tried to defuse the issue for this year by saying no on-field protest, by which they mean on-camera really, but do your thing in the locker room, but anarchy would rule and teams could fill in the blanks with their own rules. The union objected since it was a unilateral change, and the league suspended the rule change to try to negotiate something with the union and the players.
Not good enough for the flaming Jerry Jones and the Cowboys who claim they will force players on the field. The Miami Dolphins want to give protesting players multi-game suspensions. Players are unhappy. It’s a hot mess.
All of which makes me wish that Nina was the commissioner of the NFL in reality rather than just a character in a novel. Believe me, having a sport that cared about the fans and players rather than a plaything of the superrich would guarantee a winner for all of us!