Tag Archives: football

The NFL is Out of Control and Football is Failing

New Orleans       There is no danger whatsoever that anyone will start calling American football the “beautiful game,” which is sometimes the expression used internationally for what the world sees as football, which we call soccer.  Football is earning the moniker of the “deadly” game for its institutionalized violence, mayhem, maiming, racism, and more.

I was bumped up to first-class flying home recently.  My seatmate on this leg was an orthopedic surgeon who over the last fifteen years had built the sports medicine center at a big local hospital chain that served all of the southern Louisiana sports world except for one university.  Would he let his son play football?  Heck, no!  He was going west next year on a soccer scholarship.  Did all of these helmet changes by the NFL make the game any safer for the players?  Heck, no, he answered!  What did he think about paying players?  The good doctor thought that universities and the pros should guarantee lifetime healthcare coverage to any athlete playing football at any level.  Why?  Because, all of them are going to need it.  He tells others his views on the sidelines.  I didn’t ask his name, and he didn’t ask mine, but we both knew we had played high school football, loved the game, and in my case, I had torn ligaments and cartilage in my left knee and a Vietnam war exemption to prove it.   Youth participation in football has now gone down an average of 10%, and sometimes more, even in Southern states where the sport has long been king.

If this wasn’t enough, the National Football League, despite being an economic powerhouse worth billions, continues to shoot itself in the foot and everywhere else.  A player for the Cleveland Browns has been indefinitely suspended for ripping a Steeler quarterback’s helmet off and hitting him in the head with it.  Assault with a deadly weapon and an arrest will not be forthcoming, because there is a legal assumption that when players take the field that they have agreed to an implicit sanctioning of violence.  Cam Newton, a former MVP in the league who led his team to the Super Bowl not so long ago and quarterbacked his college team to the national championship, has been out hurt for most of two years and could be gone.  Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts quit after eight years because he didn’t think he should continue dealing with injuries.  The list is endless, and no one seems to learn anything.

When the NFL takes its head out of the sand, it specializes in farce.  The Commissioner after two years of piddling and more recently being prodded by Jay-Z, who shamed himself by throwing Colin Kaepernick under the bus so that his company could make a marketing deal with the NFL, gave him four days’ notice for a special workout in Atlanta where all teams were invited.  The NFL’s hand seems to have been forced when two teams asked them whether or not it was OK to give him a workout, implicitly confirming the common knowledge that he has been blackballed for his on-field protests against racism and police violence.  The farce includes the fact that many teams wouldn’t be able to get their general managers or head coaches to Atlanta on such quick notice for the Saturday before their own game days.  Count on the hater-baiter Dallas owner, Jerry Jones, to pop off about not sending anyone, and then, obviously under pressure by the league, have to get somebody there with a Cowboys’ t-shirt to up the number of participating squads.  No one should be holding their breath waiting for a contract offer for Kaepernick, nor is there any indication that he would stop his protest.

Typical of everything about football’s leadership at the professional level or the semi-pro NCAA level, no problem is ever confronted and solved whether about health, violence, or certainly race.  The standard football playbook for dealing with all of this is just to push the problems further on down the field.  The final signal call will be when they also kill the sport.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Bet on the Players Not the President

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

New Orleans   President Trump could have, and in fact should have, just declared victory over the cowering and hapless National Football League billionaire owners and called it a day, case closed.  He had proven that a poorer man could successfully bully a whole gaggle of richer men.  For once in his life, he should have just shut his pie hole.

But, no, he couldn’t of course, so now the players are going to have to teach him a lesson.  Sports betting is now legal.  Soon it will be available in your town, too.  Delaware jumped off the line first.  If you are betting, I’d bet on the players this time.

There might be a dozen or so of you out there who don’t know what I’m talking about, so here’s the brief context.  Some NFL players, led initially by Colin Kaepernick and then Eric Reid and others, began protesting police brutality and racial discrimination during the anthem before the beginning of football games.  Some owners were fine with it, some weren’t.  The NFL brass was respectful in the beginning.  Before the protests could run their course or lead to some reforms, President Trump jumped into the fracas and tried to claim the protests were unpatriotic.  Then it was on!  Jerry Jones, the bully-boy owner of the Dallas Cowboys, threatened his players, and away we go.  There were stutter steps towards a resolution.  Players like Kaepernick filed grievances over collusion to prevent them from being able to work.  Secret recordings of the owners’ meetings became public proving how spineless many were.  Jones was fined and forced to pay the league’s legal costs for his mischief.  Finally, in a ham-handed move the league announced that their players would have to stand or stay in the locker room:  no more protests.

Trump of course declared victory, reminiscent of George W. Bush on the aircraft carrier, he mistook one successful skirmish for a bigger battle in the war.  Whoops!  The owners, the league, and Trump forgot about the players when they threw in the towel.  Furthermore, the players have a union so the owners can’t simply announce a unilateral change without negotiations, so there’s a problem there as well.

Trump then tries to have the standard White House celebration for the Philadelphia Eagles victory in the Super Bowl and suddenly finds out that he can hardly pull a van load of players and Eagles staff to drive the short trip to Washington.  The Eagles players had never even protested during the anthem, but now they are in it to win it on this front as well.

We all know what’s coming unless someone puts a sock in Trump’s mouth and the owners grow a backbone.  There are going to be whole teams that simply do NOT come out for the anthem and stay in the locker rooms unless this rule is changed. Constitutional lawyers are starting to weigh in now that the new NFL rule is a breach of freedom of speech and illegal.  Steph Currey and LeBron James in the midst of the NBA finals have already declined a visit to the White House and others are expressing solidarity with the Eagles and the NFL players.

We all know football.  When there’s a mess this big and the ball is bouncing all over the field, count on the players to pick it up and run with it.  That’s my bet, and I’m sticking to it.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail