NFL: Was Lions-Chiefs Another Shady Ploy?
I usually steer away from anything that does not intersect with music on this blog...But football, and the NFL in specific, has been on my mind.
London and NFL Jerseys
I was watching this weekend's game between the Kansas City Chiefs (I used to live in KC) and my current home town team...The Detroit Lions...The game was played in London (UK).
I am not a fan of the Chiefs or the Lions (I grew up and remain a Dallas Cowboys fan in spite of Jerry Jones).
Many years ago, the NFL started to try to expand to Europe.
First they had a summer Euro League and then they started to have pre-season games abroad...and now, they have several regular season games in London every year.
Anyway, during the game, the announcers kept making explicit mention of the diversity of NFL jerseys in the crowd...The camera would pan to the crowd, and it did look strangely like every single person in the crowd was:
- Wearing an NFL Jersey
- Wearing a different NFL Jersey than anyone sitting next to them
I would have thought nothing of this except:
- The announcers kept making a big deal about it
- It didn't make any logical sense
Being mildly annoyed by it, I started thinking and I remembered something....
At the last game in London (between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills) the stadium was split almost equally between Jaguar and Bills jerseys.
The announcers mentioned this several times as well (now that I think about it).
So, the NFL wants me to believe that there are enough serious NFL fans in London England to both have half a stadium full of Jacksonville Jaguar fans (a feat that cannot even be replicated in the United States) and Buffalo Bills fans?
And they also want me to believe that beyond those 50,000 fans...There are another 50,000 fans in London that all support different NFL franchises.
Official NFL jerseys are expensive. And these all had player names, which means we have to believe that these fans, from London, actually follow American football teams enough to pick favorite players.
Sure, that is probably true sometimes, but hundreds of thousands of times in one European city. I call BS.
As Doctor Lechter mentioned in Silence of the Lambs..."Doesn't this <Array of Shirts> seem desperately random?"
What I am trying to say is that the NFL gave away a HUGE amount of jerseys....Probably for free.
- Lots of people think these games and the potential promised placement of a permanent team in London is stupid and kind of irresponsible (health risks from travel and compressed recovery)
- Nobody believes many people in London are more than fans of the "event" scheduling.
I don't know this is the case, but I would be willing to be bet there is something fishy going on here. I challenge any reporter to ask the NFL about the impossibly high amount of London jersey sales.
The funny thing here is that a good product sells itself. Why make up a story and tell your announcers to sell it?
Why do you have to intentionally mislead us with this kind of marketing?
The NFL Integrity Crisis
I love football, I have watched it all of my life..But, I am starting to experience cognitive dissonance on many levels as I am having an increasingly tough time reconciling my enjoyment with the problems that are becoming harder (and harder) to ignore.
I am anything but perfect, I have been to prison and I have done things in my life that I am not proud of. But, the way I have moved forward in my life is by embracing integrity.
I try, very hard, to live every day of my life with integrity. I take responsibility for the things I have done, I try to help other people struggling, I gauge my actions against my ethics and against a "do no harm" standard.
Every weekend during football season, across America, hundreds of people are injured (often seriously) playing football.
Even when people are not officially injured they are often concussed. The results of those concussions have been proven to cause a syndrome called CTE which can have serious and deleterious effects including depression, suicidal thoughts, and the inability to control anger and frustration.
There is copious evidence that the NFL did not just ignore CTE and concussions but also tried to suppress the evidence and isolate and discredit the scientists trying to share legitimate conclusions.
Not entirely unrelated is the many instances of violence against women committed by players, the response to which was often embarrassing, stilted, and tone-deaf.
There have been many other incidents and areas of concern.
I am increasingly uncertain that the NFL operates "with integrity" and that they have the best interest of anything but the bottom line in mind when they act.
I am having a hard time, after watching surreal press conference after surreal press conference, believing very much of what the NFL says.
Returning the Integrity to the Shield
Do you remember when Roger Goodell spent the last year pushing the "Deflategate" agenda against the New England Patriots and their Quarterback Tom Brady?
Supposedly, tampering with the footballs air pressure levels was an affront to the integrity of football.
That could be true? I don't know exactly...But I will take the commissioner at his word. Integrity apparently matters to the NFL (enough to prosecute a QB all the way to Federal Appeals Courts).
So, if integrity matters,
- What is the NFL doing about it's massive investment in Fantasy Sports gambling (so massive that NFL and the 2 major daily fantasy sites logos appear as almost inseparable these days) given that there are massive questions about the "integrity" of these sites. So far, Goodell seems unconcerned about this issue.
- What has happened since his promises to revamp everything the NFL does in regards to violence against women? Shouldn't an annual report detailing progress and ongoing plans be detailed?
- Why is the NFL using breast cancer awareness as a marketing ploy for profits? Donating less per team from the proceeds than they hand out in fines to single players?
- Aside from greed, why are you pushing more games every week (and international games) so players have less rest and recovery time between games. Don't throw anecdotal statistics at me, time between games is obviously important to recovery for players. You say you care about player health, stop acting like you don't.
I also would love to know if the efforts to increase player-safety are ongoing and continue to be driven by the science (not just financial interest and occasional press outrage).
Yes, most of the former players employed by all the networks constantly bemoan the softness of the game and how sad they are to see the safer state of the game. But, we still see people carted off fields at a rate that would make virtually any other activity subject to state censure and public backlash.
I, for one, would like people at all levels of football to be able to walk and talk without problems after retirement. I am very willing to accept a modified game if the result is the health and safety of its players.
I am 100% willing to accept a "softer" game if it means that the culture of football becomes one that is less about violence and more about sportspersonship and competition.
I hope that violence against women and the violent aspects of football can be examined and de-linked as much as is possible.
But, more than almost anything else, I just want the NFL to be honest...Stop trying to sell us BS like breast-cancer awareness campaigns designed mostly to increase your bottom-line, international expansion based on trumped-up fan support, and military exploitation.
The game sells itself, people love it, so stop lying and manipulating us.
Truly care about the fans, the players, and the communities you operate in.
I am writing this because I truly love football, and I would like to not be increasingly ashamed about loving it.
How do you feel about the NFL? About player safety? About games in London? Let me know, would love to hear from you!