Yes sir! Here I am! You invited me because I make a pretty solid chicken chili and I always show up with more than enough adult beverages. But then I drink too many of the adult beverages and don’t eat anything, and now I’m spouting off relentlessly by face hole, words shooting like fiery arrows into the heart and soul of America’s favorite game. You can’t stop me now. I’ve run out of factual material and have dipped below the radar to deliver esoteric essays you’d expect from David Icke, my horse rasp voice cracking in excitement as a standing glistening sweat appears on my woebegone brow. “The NFL is FIXED!” I demand to no one, spittle ejaculating onto a nearby football enthusiast.
I certainly could have turned into that guy. That is absolutely for sure, without a doubt, one hundred percent what could have happened to me. But instead, I turned football off a few years ago and never went back. I never thought the game was fixed, but rather started to believe that it may need a bit of fixing. Not in any rules sense, such as the catch rule or whether or not a quarterback has been hit legally or illegally. I watch all sports as what they are to me, which is strictly entertainment. What happens on the ice, field, or court is all for fun. I would hope that the rules keep it as fair as possible and I would expect that not everyone is downing HGH, cocaine and testosterone just to lace up, but I also am realistic and know that everyone is different and some guys look for a few shortcuts. I’m not writing this article to infer moral standards in the actual game itself. What I am for is more moral standards outside the game. And I’m looking directly at the face of football. And more importantly, the people who own the teams.
In America, now more than ever, 99% of the wealth is in the control by only 1% of the the population. Every Sunday your staring at 32 of the wealthiest people’s toys. The folk who own theses NFL teams are the Lords of the feudalistic society that we watch from the comfort of our sofa’s every Sunday, and now Thursday, some Saturdays, and of course, sacred Monday, too. We sit stunned, gape mouthed, and shackled in the bondage of our Lords as they make us pay for bigger stadiums and force the fiefs to believe whole-heartedly in their colors, the teams, and the demigod status of the men behind the face shields.
A few years ago I became acutely aware of my strange conundrum. I watched in the news as some NFL team built a brand new stadium, next to the old one, and had the fans and the tax payers around the area put up half the money. I thought, “What about the folks who don’t like football, do their taxes go up too?” And also, why should we be the ones to put up half the money for a billionaire? He could afford to build 5 stadiums! I thought for sure there was going to be a public uprising. I could just imagine the fans standing around wearing their teams colors with protest signs telling the owner he couldn’t take money from their wallets. He already had enough of their money! They buy the jackets, the jerseys, cable, and tickets to all the home games. Now they have to build their own stadium? The news came and went and construction was completed on time, people gathering to watch the trucks going in and out of the lot, dressed in their home team colors, their own last names adorned on replica jerseys.
Right around the same time there was a dispute between the players and the association. I thought for sure the players would strike, sick of letting the mere millions trickle down while the owners collected the billions. For Christ sake, they were the ones doing all the battle. They were the ones taking the hits. They are the ones who get held too high in the public eye, and when they slip they are chastised and nailed to a cross for the whole world to see, to bleed out on news media outlets, while their bones get picked cleaned by the frenzied social media vultures. I thought for sure the Vassals wanted more. Finally an uprising! This is the revolution I had seen coming. But there was no strike and no uprising and there would be no revolution. The Lords had won again.
My acute awareness turned into a burning fiery hole of lava. I felt as though I had reached some deeper moral conundrum, and one that I had to make a serious decision on. I wasn’t sure if I could sit every Sunday and watch the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and young men get injured. I think what bothers me the most is the non guaranteed contracts of NFL players. With injuries as rampant as they are I’m not sure how the players agreed to this. There is also no medical coverage for life. I found it increasingly hard to believe that your career in the NFL could be over before you’re 30 and then have to spend the money you made out of pocket for medical benefits until you’re an old man, your gnarled fingers clutching your pen and check book, trying desperately to sign your name, not for an adoring fan, but for pain medication. It seems a steep price to pay, ten years of fandom for a lifetime of pain. Couldn’t the billionaires fork over a few extra thousand per year per player, a mere pittance in the 12.5 billion the NFL made in 2015 to cover the medical needs of the men who help them maintain their billionaire status?
I blamed the owners at first for their arrogance and greed. The fact that more isn’t enough pestered me. Then I started blaming the players for having such a weak union. They hold all the power yet they don’t use it properly. They seem beholden to the owners and I’ve even heard some players during interviews calling the owners, “my owner”. I’m not going to get into race here, but it seems like an odd thing to say, for anyone.
The commissioner, Roger Goodell, during a recent interview with the New York Times, stated that the NFL’s ambition is to increase profits from 12.5 billion to 25 billion during the next decade. That’s quite a jump in revenue for any business. But I really believe that it’s possible. Through all the CTE and concussion talk, through the Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, and Ray Rice scandals, through the Johnny Manziel’s and the Tim Tebow’s and the terrible Thursday night games, and through the same teams seemingly at the top of the heap year after year, through every boring press conference, viewership is up. In fact, according to a recent study, more women are watching now more than ever. I would have thought that figure to go the other way, in light of recent events.
One day I came to a realization. I finally realized, I was the problem. I was watching every Sunday, religiously. And I made the same cowardly apathetic excuses every one else makes; “these guys makes so much money” and “they knew what they were getting into when they signed that contract.” I’m not making those excuses anymore. I’m blaming myself for creating the Adrian Peterson’s and Ray Rice’s. I’m blaming myself for another young man like Tyler Sash to die with CTE. I’m blaming myself for lining the pockets of these rich, arrogant men who think that bad press is good press. The NFL news is 365 days a year now. And ratings keep going up. Deflate-gate? Great ratings. Johnny Football displaying obvious signs of an addict? Ratings. Instead of the league being on ESPN and ESPN 2, it’s on every channel. The weather channel runs segments all weekend long about the weather at football stadiums around the country.
The NFL is a glutinous league of servitude. We are the serfs, the fiefs, the lowest of the lowly, feeding the monolithic beast with our very being, all our money, our souls, and our ignorance and arrogance. We as Americans just like our Sundays to be relaxing, to watch some competitive sports, talk fondly of playing the game when we were younger, and have a debate on who should win MVP. But the NFL turned it into something angrier, something devious, something that I feel ashamed about watching. They turned it into a horned beast that is never satisfied, gulping furiously at the blood and guts of players, the wallets of fans, the airwaves and every channel, tugging relentlessly on the strings of the fabric of American culture. We have become a nation of football addicts, willing to give up our time, freedom, Sunday’s, and paychecks for everything football.
The NFL greed machine is not sustainable. You cannot grow exponentially. The fiefdoms of 9th century Europe lasted a few hundred years before consciousness grew and revolution occurred. I don’t think the NFL can boast their billion dollar contracts with Busch beer while preventing athletes from doing alcohol ads forever. Eventually the athletes will ask for more power, ask for more money, ask for more benefits. I don’t think the NFL can continue to take money from the government for things they should do for free or confuse you about where money goes for charity without people getting angry. It might take a long time, but this behemoth will fall and fall by the dirty sword of greed.
Don’t let a guy like me ruin your super bowl party. Please.