American politics and the NFL have a lot in common. They both pit opposing teams against each other in the public arena and they both have their own inherent ideology used quite often to cover up one singular fact: that in the end – it’s always about the money.
Rich, old white guys control everything from behind the scenes while talk radio hosts entertain the masses with simple generalizations and polarizing view points. Conversations in sports, like politics, all boil down to “your teams sucks and so do you” with equal chance of violence.
Players and politicians tow the party line alike, speaking in simple clichés and scripted rhetoric revealing nothing of what’s actually happening. In fact, whenever a sport or political figure uses candor and honesty, they’re usually marginalized as “kooks” and “oddballs.” Basically, in the eyes of the media, Ron Paul is the Rex Ryan of the Presidential race – only the media respects Rex Ryan’s knowledge of defense.
Now, to be fair, politics has been a dirty game since well before the throwing and kicking of pigskin balls, but recently NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has proven that our government can still learn a thing or two when it comes to bullshitting the public. Not since Obama has someone so used the health of others as a shield to slip in their own agenda.
After an investigation into the New Orleans Saints showed the team had been using a ‘Bounty Program,’ the league heavy-handedly suspended coach Sean Payton a full season, a former assistant indefinitely, as well as a multitude more in fines and lost draft picks. A ‘Bounty Program,’ for the curious, is basically a tool used by coaches to motivate their players to knock out the opposing teams best players with the incentive of cash (also known as – Professional Football).
Since its inception, football has been a dangerous sport, so why is the NFL now pretending we’re watching it for the competition and intricacies of the West Coast offense? The violence IS the entertainment. When I say the name Joe Theismann what do you immediately think of? His two Super Bowl appearances? His over 160 touchdown completions? Or crying on the field with his leg contorted like a meaty movie theater Twizzler?
The reason the NFL is being so ‘compassionate’ has nothing to do with the health of their product (ie players), but everything to do with the money. For decades studies have shown the average lifetime of retired football players to be around 55. With the constant abuse to their bodies, overlooked concussions, and lack of quality medical treatment after their playing years consistently proven to be a major factor in their demise. However the NFL has always ignored these facts because it’s never affected their bottom line. Now after numerous lawsuits, medical studies, and publicized evidence of league negligence, the NFL head office is posturing more than ever over player safety.
Lawsuits include one from ex-Chicago Quarterback Jim McMahon and six others that accuse the NFL of "negligence and intentional misconduct in its response to the headaches, dizziness and dementia that former players have reported." McMahon himself is stating that his years in the league have greatly diminished his memory functions. (Though, tragically, he still can’t forget his rap in the Super Bowl Shuffle.
None of this is really the reason why the NFL is being so proactive about player safety. They’ve faced lawsuits before, brushed them off, and have been fine with the status quo. If you really want to know why Roger Goodell is being so matronly over his players then look no further than 2011’s lockout.
The biggest point of negotiations weren’t about the owner/player split as much as it was about pushing for an 18 game season. The extra 2 games would provide enormous amounts of revenue in not just attendance, but network time, advertising, and millions of other dollars the sport generates. The one hang up? Players have a tough time making it past just one game much less a full season.
Eventually the matter was dropped, but now not one year later, using extra cash to motivate your players is considered “inexcusable.” The Saints are being punished to set an example to all the other teams who have the exact same bounty programs themselves. The NFL wants all to know “Kill that Motherfucker!” is acceptable motivation, while “Kill that Motherfucker, here’s ten grand!” is not. Like the government, the league demands their cut.
Football is an excellent mirror of this nation’s politics, but our government could learn a lot from the NFL too. Unlike America, the NFL actually turns a profit. How great could this country be if we adopted their business plan? Our politicians are already owned by corporations, having logos prominently displayed showing just which ones would be way more honest and refreshing.
Beer and hot dogs would make congressional votes at least as interesting as baseball and the revenue from Mitt Romney Finger Foams and Obama Rally Towel sales could go a long way in bringing down that pesky national debt.
Not to mention the mascots! How fun are they?! Who wants to see George Clooney at a voting rally overemoting with each twinge of his furrowed eyebrows? Fuck that – I want to see George Clooney in a donkey suit shooting 100% cotton wads from a T-Shirt gun, dammit! (At the very least an apology for Batman Forever.)
Give it a chance. What could it hurt? If we changed the name of the Capitol to the Visa Capital One Arena, would anybody really notice the difference?
Nothing would actually change. Progress would still be blocked for the profit of the rich old white men who own us, and leaders would still be posturing about how much they’re concerned with our health care.
But at least it be entertaining.
RA RA RA.
Swiss Army Robot is a satirical column written by Jay Whitecotton and is intended to be taken as seriously as possible. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.com/whitecotton. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org