I promise I won’t make this a regular occurrence, but after reading a few interesting political articles surrounding the Super Bowl today, I felt compelled to say something. I know this may rub some people the wrong way as any political commentary does, but I hope it just sparks some thought. I also think that as football fans we have a duty to knowledgeably defend the sport we love.
First, there is something sickening about how our society reacted to DeflateGate and how most people react to anything political and most actual news. I myself even overreacted to the DeflateGate scandal, mostly for laughs and to poke friends at friends who are Patriots fans as this is not the first Belichick scandal, but I still spent quite a bit of time on such a trivial topic.
Personally, I used to spend far too much time reading up on politics because I feel it’s important to create your own unique perspective on news and politics, so you can be an informed citizen. What’s sad to me having educated myself on these things is how uninformed we are as a society and how quick we are to focus on the trivial things that don’t affect us, but are so quick to avoid things that could.
What was shocking to me watching the controversy surrounding DeflateGate was that our sports media and the cast of ESPN’s NFL Live did a better job asking skeptical questions regarding deflated footballs than the incestuous national media has done for the last six years especially. For me, it’s very scary to see how much more worried we are as a society of athletes potentially cheating than we are of politicians DEFINITELY cheating and doing things that can actually affect our lives.
Think of how stupid it was for us to have a Congressional hearing on steroids in baseball. Just this last fall, Congress had a hearing on domestic violence in response to the scandals involving Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and other NFL players in 2014. What is so bothersome is the political posturing by a Congress that is supposed to be doing things on behalf of the American people. A Congressional hearing regarding domestic violence does nothing for the actual victims of domestic violence, it doesn’t create a better atmosphere at the homes of these women, that is something that can only be solved at the individual level.
Last May, Representative Henry Waxman, the same guy who called for the MLB steroid hearings, the same guy who got undressed as the know-nothing that he is in Bigger, Stronger, Faster, called for a Congressional hearing regarding the Washington Redskins’ nickname. Also, this is the same government that took the Redskins trademark away because they disagreed with the name. It wasn’t the result of any actually legal, legal action; it was a tyrannical action against a private business that our government disagreed with. A shocking overreach of the federal government and something that should scare all Americans.
Don’t forget Republicans like Andy Harris adding language to a federal government spending bill that was intended to block Washington DC from legalizing marijuana even though 71% of DC residents voted to legalize it. One of his biggest donors is a company called Emergent BioSolutions which produces a product named episil, which can help people undergoing chemotherapy. Marijuana is a huge threat to episil because it basically does the same thing as the drug, thus why a guy like Harris is against marijuana.
Oh and Andy Harris should get together with those people concerned with domestic abuse. While the NFL is profiting off its deals with Anheuser-Busch and DC is fighting marijuana, the real fact is that alcohol is 100 times more harmful than marijuana and alcohol is much more likely to be the drug of choice of wife beaters than marijuana.
Please tell me where any of these actions by our elected representatives REPRESENT us as the American people? Tell me how the actions of DeflateGate are a bigger deal than any of the political nonsense I listen above. Our society’s priorities are screwed up and as much as we love football, we need to be aware of these other issues, so we can defend football and have the intellectual ammunition to defend all things that matter to us.
You see, every day as football fans, we vote with our dollars, we vote with the games we watch, the things we buy, the radio stations we listen to and the sources we read on the Internet. We LOVE football, but there’s a growing political class that is intent on destroying the sport we love and it’s up to us as fans to understand the entirety of the political climate within which football resides.
I have created a habit of reading things that are completely outlandish and incomprehensible to me because they come from a political point of view that is less based in the current reality than an acid trip in January of 1981 with John Lennon.
I go to Think Progress and see them attacking the money being spent on the Super Bowl like it’s taking away from permanent housing and services for the 125 homeless people of Glendale, I’m just shocked that anyone could think that actions and economics live in this vacuum. It’s frustrating to me how EVERYTHING certain groups of people disagree with is somehow taking away from their cosmic ability to do-good. The same people who champion their failed War on Poverty, think that the Super Bowl is just one more thing that’s taking away from their chance victory.
The author also misinforms the reader as to how much money the city of Glendale loses on Super Bowls. It’s not about the financial impact on the entire community and the people in it, it’s more important to them that the city itself lost money, rather than the benefit to the real drivers of the economy: the American people.
Personally, I made a bit of money last year on the Super Bowl in NYC. I don’t really care what the economic impact to the area’s government is because they’re going to assault my future earnings anyway in the form of taxes regardless on if there’s a Super Bowl or not.
I go to the New York Times and find an opinion piece titled “Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?” I’m still waiting on their piece on “Is It Immoral to Cover for Politicians Whose Ideology I Agree With?” If they had the courage to ask themselves the pseudo-intellectual “tough” questions they send our way, then maybe more and more people wouldn’t be leaving their dying form of old, establishment media in search of unbiased news and information.
This NFL hit-piece by Steve Almond cites the amount of money that the NFL will make off of television revenue without any grasp that the NFL players get about half of the NFL’s television revenue. He also points out that the NFL’s TV revenues are almost three times as much as Major League Baseball’s like it’s a bad thing. The pure contempt for capitalistic success is vomit inducing.
Then I go over the New Republic, you know, the same rag that had a “movie review” of American Sniper where the person reviewing the movie admitted he had never seen more than the trailer. They have an article that starts as some cute destruction of the Puppy Bowl as a means to eventually attack football. At one point they discuss how the Super Bowl is some interesting example of everything that’s wrong with America. They have a valid point regarding the NFL’s cover up of the impact of concussions, but that’s an entirely different, complex and nuanced debate that shouldn’t be on the pages of the New Republic.
You see, these sites are all a part of this new wave of the modern American liberal thought that the NFL needs to be stopped. There are things they disagree with and where there is disagreement, there is something that should be stopped for “the greater good.” These sites consistently blast the NFL without knowing much about the NFL, all while giving politicians whose ideology they agree with a free pass, especially these last six years. The same people writing about the scandals of the NFL haven’t written anything even bordering skepticism towards the Affordable Care Act’s many issues, the Fast & the Furious, Benghazi, the VA scandal, the IRS targeting conservatives, the Justice Department targeting the AP and James Rosen from Fox News, and many others.
I hate hypocrisy, it makes me cringe because it’s so based in lies and misinformation that have so often these last few years gone unchecked. And for many of us who love football, it’s up to us to attack the NFL for it’s own hypocrisy like guys like Richard Sherman have. Many of the people that read this site are involved in sports media and it’s up to us to understand and attack things that are done the wrong way in the NFL.
As an agent, I don’t want the players I represent to live with debilitating injuries, but I understand that is one of the worst parts of the business of football. It is up to all of us who are involved in the game to figure out how to make the game safer for it’s participants, how the NFL should take care of it’s players once they’re done playing, how to ensure that injured players are always financially taken care of, we don’t want our athletes to retire addicted to pain pills, among many other issues.
It’s also up to us to speak of the great things that come out of the game of football. Thomas Davis had a beautiful speech last night after receiving the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his service to his community through the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation. He spoke of being a village of guys who make a difference in the world and giving the media something positive to talk about instead of “always bashing our league.”
The stories of men like Thomas Davis and the many other men who come up from nothing to create lives of purpose and positive change are what we need to glorify in this league. The NFL has almost 1800 different stories to tell every season, one for every player in the NFL, it’s up to all of us to tell these stories. Josh Gordon just got suspended for the year last week and even he has a powerful story to share as he showed us in the letter he posted on Medium.com. Every player in the NFL has something we all can learn from because to play the game of football at the level these men play at requires you to overcome some form of adversity that makes you a better person for it.
Without the NFL, all those sick children at the Seattle Children’s Hospital wouldn’t get to feel the impact of seeing a real life hero like Russell Wilson come in to speak to them and give them some time and love. Thomas Davis wouldn’t be able to give back to his hometown in the form of playgrounds and education. Josh Gordon wouldn’t get to be where he is today simply to play the game at 23 and learn the lessons he’s learning.
Those kids at that hospital wouldn’t be able to receive the inspiration they get from their favorite Seahawks. Thomas Davis’ life would be a whole lot different and for all the mistakes Josh Gordon has made, where would he be without football? Where would Marshawn Lynch be? I’m sure he wouldn’t be holding yearly FREE football camps for the kids of Oakland and making a positive impact in that way.
And since we spoke about the horrible incident created by Ray Rice, why not also speak of the truly wonderful things he did as well? The football camps, the charity work, the public relations campaigns for the NFL.
For all the people rallying against football and the NFL, all the people who say that kids shouldn’t play I have my story to tell. For those of us who played the game, nothing can replace the lessons learned. There were 100 times I wanted to quit because it’s the hardest team sport you can play. It taught me adversity because unlike players like Josh Gordon or Thomas Davis I grew up in a home where I never had to worry about where the next meal was coming from and I had a loving family with two great parents. I had very little adversity in my life outside of sports and that’s all well and good, but football was a source of great education for me personally.
Without football, I never would have met all the wonderful people that populate my life and made me who I am today. I would have never experienced the various personalities and unique people that populated out locker rooms in college and at DeFranco’s Gym during my summers and winters of training there. I never would have gotten the education that I received in school and in the real world because I never would have been motivated to learn the things I’ve learned through football.
This defense of the NFL is all coming from someone who got two herniated disks that went completely unchecked by the training staff at the University of Rhode Island, an injury that without treatment led to my own issues with painkillers for a little while until I received the proper medical treatment for my back injury. I don’t fault football for those things, I think the trainers at URI are complete idiots, but I have no one to blame, but myself. That’s life in a free society: personal responsibility and sometimes the fact that you were an idiot is your responsibility.
The NFL has a lot of problems that need to be worked out, like all big businesses do. We need to be the people who discuss these issues, we need to take a nuanced and unbiased perspective and work to improve the game we love. Watching football isn’t immoral, it never will be, as long as we fight to do the right thing. And doing the right thing is not a choice, it’s our responsibility, we have to do it, so that the American class of professional protestors don’t.
Is the amount of time we dedicate to a watching and reading about the NFL a little outrageous in the grand scheme of things on the planet? Sure, but for so many of us, football is life. Football is what shapes us, what shapes our society and what gives such a wonderful opportunity to so many people who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance.
Football is awesome. America is awesome. Buffalo wings are from Buffalo, New York, USA and they’re AWESOME! Sorry if that offends you!
(I’m also sorry that your campaign on how we need to be more like Europe every time the World Cup comes around doesn’t work either. We’re America, founded by people who left Europe for a reason.)