What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
by J-Dub and Ryan Meehan
Editor’s Note: This article is a collaborative effort between J-Dub and Ryan Meehan from First Order Historians. Ryan also has his own blog, East End Philadelphia, which is featured in the Dubsism BlogRoll and it is well worth the read.
Now that we are all indigesting a heaping helping of Uncle Ray’s Felonious Rice, we must remember that ever cloud, no matter how dark, has a silver lining.While this whole Ray rice/domestic violence cloud is pretty dark, it has done a wonderful job of removing the veneer of financial success with which Roger Goodell has been hiding his incompetency as NFL Commissioner.
All you had to do was flip on your television this morning to know the Kommissar is in deep on this one. While we aren’t going to “pile on” Goodell here for his ham-fisting of this matter; the calls for his head are coming from all corners. Seriously, a sports media which got it’s pounds of rice-fed flesh out of Ray now is another shark like feeding frenzy because the Kommissar’s blood is in the water. The calls range from wanting his resignation or flat-out firing, but they all want him gone.
While one can make arguments all day long for that outcome based on how the Kommissar fumbled-thumbed this entire affair, saying so misses a whole range of reason why the Goodell administration has been an exercise in abject failure. The purpose for which we intend to use this opportunity is to point out the eight years of the Kommissar’s reign has really been a period of huge monetary success which has obfuscated Goodell’s complete failure as a Commissioner.
Honestly, before today, there wasn’t really an ear willing to hear this argument, because a lot of NFL fans simply tolerated Goodell and his assholery. As long as the league was making money and games were on television, nobody really cared that much. And there no real way to argue against the success of the NFL. Do you remember what a big deal it was a few years back when Manchester United became the world’s first sports franchise to sell for over a billion dollars? Well, that was a top-tier franchise in the world’s most popular sports league. Now, an bottom-rung franchise in an out-of-the-way town like Buffalo in a league that wishes it could rival the English Premier League in terms of total revenue just sold for well over a billion. Any way you slice it…that’s success.
So, how can Goodell be judged a failure? Before this Rice mess, one must remember that Roger Goodell was made the Commissioner of the NFL with six specific goals in mind, and he fucked up every single one of them. As you peruse our Deep Six list, note that we won’t mention the Ray Rice issue because we have no need; the rest of the world is taking care of that.
1) He was supposed to break the player’s union.
The NFL had 17 years of labor peace under Paul Tagliabue. But the powers that be saw that was coming to an end, and Tagliabue really valued what the media had dubbed the “Pax Tagliabue.” That’s why Goodell was hand-picked for the gig. He was supposed to give it to the player’s union prison-style, thus clearing the way for all the shit the owners wanted. In the end, it backfired, and the unions now own him like a seasoned pegboy. All of this “I’m going to straighten them out” shit not only failed, but it failed to the level where they realize the Kommissar can’t even fake his way out of his own shitty bargaining skills.
2) He was supposed to get the owners an 18-game regular season schedule.
This didn’t happen because his fumble-fuck job of the collective bargaining agreement actually strengthened the union, which would rather take a collective porcupine enema than to approve lengthening the regular season. Now, the best that Goodell can hope for is an expanded play-off format, but his list of accomplishments stops right fucking there because any of the stuff he did do correctly was spoon-fed to him. Expanding the play-offs was the classic “paint-by-numbers” scheme.
Speaking of numbers, this is all about basic math. The owners want the 18-game schedule, the players don’t, and they have very different calculations as to why. Without out turning this into high-school algebra, the bottom line works like this. The average NFL player’s career last about four years. That breaks out to 48 games. Changing the season to 18-games means the average player now has a career spanning just a shade spanning 3.5 seasons.
So, why would owners want to get less seasons out of players? Because the vast majority of players are disposable, and the “meat and potatoes” of an NFL roster comes from rounds 2 through 5 in the draft. A great deal of contracts offered to those “meat and potato” guys are four years in length. Oddly enough, Ray Rice is a perfect example of this type player. Rice was a second-round pick who ended up getting fat money because he was nearing the end of his rookie deal and he was hot property at the time. Not only are the Ravens going to take a huge salary cap hit for releasing him, but every other owner in the league would rather have a roster filled with more rookie contracts that the high-dollar second contracts.
The problem is this is a tacit admission the owners view the majority of NFL players as disposable, and the Kommissar is the embodiment of that. This is probably one of the biggest reasons (amongst several) the players hate him.
3) $16 Billion.
One thing the NFL would really prefer you don’t remember is all the numbers which depend on $16 billion. In case you were wondering why $16 billion is important, that is the number the Kommisar and the owners gambled on as the NFL total operating revenues by the time we get to the end of the current collective bargaining agreement. That means it is the number upon which many other numbers are riding, such as:
It’s no accident two of the most powerful owners in the league are in a big-time need of the salary cap going up. Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones really need to be north of $170 million per year, if for no other reason both of them will be paying their current quarterbacks 10 years after they retire because of the back-loaded deals they gave them. In their defense though, both of those guys have tall orders. Kraft has to get guys in New England who want to be on a team that’s simply been incapable of finishing the job for the last ten years, and Jones has to pick four guys he looks over like slave stock before throwing unbelievably stupid money at them. In the early days it worked, but not so much lately.
How funny would it be if they end up forgetting the actual amount on the way to the podium at the “Victory/Suck It, Goodell” news conference ? If you don’t think that’s funny, then you have a soul. If you laughed at that, you’ve come to just the right soulless website.
We are right back to that basic math thing, because that is the reason why this fund is going to be more over-inflated than a breast implant at a Hooters pageant. Now that you have these “never-were” players whose careers are going to be shorter, that just means that the cycle replenishes itself more quickly. Higher turnover = more players to support…pretty simple stuff. We have issues with practice squad members of the 1999 Carolina Panthers who will say that everybody who played should get coverage, because that will just bankrupt the system. But once you start handing out free money, the upturned palms will come from everywhere.
The difference here is the Kommissar couldn’t explain that as well as we did. Where this is headed because Goodell essentially knuckled under to a bunch of guys who need the money to buy Tony Siragusa’s pee-pads is that nobody is going to be willing to draw the line at a point where the money will do anybody any good. This will become the NFL’s version of social security where because “everybody’s got a family to support/got more ‘baby mommas’ than Shawn Kemp,” you’ll have a bunch of guys who made $38 in their playing careers living off ramen and tuna fish. Our next point is one of the big reasons why this will happen.
It’s that whole “tip of the iceberg” shit. The NFL is a gargantuan lawsuit magnet made up entirely of smaller lawsuit magnets. We’re almost certain right now the guy who will be interim commissioner next week is biting through his own nutsack thinking about the infinite possible combinations which result in his being the next guy dunked into a Machiavellian level of NFL lawsuit hell.
Has anybody been brained with a four-slice with a toaster yet? Yep, add it to the email. Has anybody been slapped with Beyonce’s left ass-cheek and knocked off Jay-Z’s yacht? Some tabloid shithead’s probably got that article already written. Anything is possible when you are dealing with football players; it makes you want to stop believing in God and start main-lining Clorox when you realize these things ARE ALL going to happen.
Obviously, we a being a bit facetious here, because the reality is a fuck of a lot more disturbing. We’re not trying to be needlessly accusatory here, but we know there are vacation destinations in the world where there is a huge illicit sex trade, and it’s only a matter of time before somebody gets a picture of a major NFL figure doing something far more reprehensible than anything in today’s issue. If you think what is happening now is an unfathomable public relations nightmare, just wait…
The real point here is there are so many possibilities in which the NFL can get sued into the stone age. Anybody in the role of commissioner has to be aware of that, and must do nothing to exacerbate it. It’s pretty clear these are two things the current Kommissar doesn’t grasp. He doesn’t even have his legal team on top of any of this shit; in fact the team that is getting all the resources at NFL headquarters is Goodell’s “Not Lying” squad. How do you think they are performing right about now?
Let’s be honest, pretty much the entirety of NFL leadership are straight up out to lunch right now. “Vulnerability” is pretty close to being a good word to describe the NFL’s problem here, but there a certain kind of “super-vulnerability” when we have a league which has a long history of turning a blind eye to seriously bad shit. But what will really get you reaching for that syringe full of bleach is that even if you could completely clean-up the culture of the NFL, there going to be a time when you have a roster of star players volunteering at a farmer’s market to raise money for homeless kids, and some dickweed in a Ford F-350 who can’t read his Ambien instructions turns the event into a game of human snowplowing. Then he sues the NFL for having the kids there in the first place.
4) Getting Football in Los Angeles.
Don’t even try to tell us it isn’t a fucking embarrassment this league can’t get a team into the second largest market in the country. But Goodell does have some great seats at Reliant Stadium in Houston though. Seriously, when Rozelle was in charge the City of Angels had two franchises. Now the biggest spectator sport in Los Angeles is walking around filming everything in the hopes that they might be able to sell it to Harvey Levin.
Nobody wants to admit it, but Goodell is scared shitless of Los Angeles. Goodell has known all along that what we’ll call the “TMZ Factor” is huge. A lot of people are going to suffer over what Ray Rice fed to a set of cameras in some Atlantic city toilet, but that also isn’t what really scares Goodell.
Los Angeles is the one city that proves the NFL isn’t as universally popular in this country as the Kommissar and his ilk would like you to believe. It hasn’t had the NFL in over two decades and it really hasn’t really been missed. J-Dub pointed out the lack of popularity the NFL faces in southern California in another post about Goodell’s delusions, but even the Kommissar knows the Southland is a huge gamble. What happens if they build it, and no one comes?
Think about it…There’s a huge number of cities with NFL franchises that are both predictable and boring. While Los Angeles may be many things, predictable sure as shit isn’t one of them. Los Angeles may end up as a smoking hole in the ground which ends up sucking in the entire rest of the earth due to it’s sins of depravity before an NFL franchises succeeds there, and the Kommissar doesn’t want to take that gamble. The loss of that bet would be the one thing on this list that would completely strip the illusion of his success.
5) Global Expansion.
To be fair, Goodell never had a shot at this. But to be more fair, he doesn’t understand why.
First of all, the Kommissar thinks Toronto is “global,” which is piss-your-pants funny considering Toronto is more of an American city that three of the NFL’s favorite Super Bowl (Miami, Los Angeles, and New Orleans). Not to mention, despite the fact putting an NFL franchise in the gets about a “2” on the Breaking Barriers” meter, Canadians don’t give a shit if we cross their border unless we are smuggling drugs.
Also, Toronto is as much of a gamble as Los Angeles, if for no other reason the Canadians already have a league of their own, and they are quite fond of it.
But, the biggest problem is that everybody in the room except the Kommissar knows what the global market is really all about, and understands when it comes to expanding into it, the NFL has as much chance as the captain of the chess club getting a tag-team blow job from the homecoming queen and the lesbian Phys. Ed. teacher.
In other words, the idea the NFL can expand globally may very well be one of the stupidest fucking ideas that has ever been classified as a thought.
In Goodell’s head, “global expansion” is a term that conjures up one of those investment-firm TV commercials. It’s some asshole with a chart that’s never labeled on either axis, but it’s always headed up. The guy holding the chart has no idea what it means; his job is to convince you only good things can happen from buying into their fund. Nobody really wants to envision Goodell as the guy sitting on an old couch in his boxers eating macaroni and cheese watching day-time television who falls for this kind of shit, but alas there he is.
Is it really that hard to believe the Kommissar is that guy? Of course not. Nobody whose ever really paid attention to what an omni-directional sludge pump his mouth is could possibly be surprised. What we can’t figure out is what does the Kommissar see that makes him think global expansion of the NFL is a viable idea. NFL Europe existed for twenty years, and all they have to show for it is a “Dumb and Dumber”-sized briefcase of IOUs to prove that nobody in Europe cares enough about American football to make a league work, let alone a single franchise.
Just the thought of global expansion for American football is obscenely silly. Think about it. Where else do we need to market a product strictly with the word “American” tacked in front of it? If you were raised in southern Spain, would you give a shit about watching American football? No, and the converse is exactly why tons of Americans don’t give a shit about soccer. That’s where the growth potential runs into “Smokey and the Bandit” roadblock, except American football isn’t squealing the tires off a turbo-charged Trans Am. It’s driving a 1985 Yugo on the German autobahn, where it is getting the finger from retirees on Vespas.
If that weren’t enough, for every country that could conceivably latch on to American football, there are stadiums full of Ghanian soccer fans who would be ready to set them on fire for a ritual sacrifice.
But another problem with expansion is the war the NFL finds itself in with ESPN. It’s the weirdest kind of war; like Vietnam, there are no front lines, and it’s really hard to tell who the combatants are at any given moment. but today, there are two distinct facts in play. The NFL and its wholly-owned network is in direct competition with ESPN, and ESPN is leading the fanning of the flames currently scorching the Kommissar’s ginger ass-hair.
We are flat-out shocked nobody has mentioned this, because it should be pretty fucking obvious by now. The World Wide Bottom Feeder has been the network which has been crammed down your throat for decades, and it’s place in your basic cable package is all but cast in concrete. Meanwhile the NFL Network struggles to get into 50% of American cable households, because it is on channel 600 in of those stupidly-priced sports packages nobody buys. You don’t think ESPN hasn’t had their eye on that little fact since the inception of the NFL Network? ESPN knows the NFL Network is the kid in the hockey helmet in the seat in front of them on the bus, and despite how much they want to donkey-punch that kid, they know they can’t. But you know damn good and well they’ve given a ton of thought to how they could get away with it.
Meanwhile, it’s highly interesting that Goodell, while pioneering the launch of a direct competitor to ESPN, has simultaneously viewed the Four-Letter Network as his personal servant. Sure, they are flaming the Kommissar’s ass right now, but look at all the other shit to which they’ve turned a blind eye. ESPN has made sure the Kommissar’s rod got polished no matter what up to this point.
So, what the fuck does this have to do with global expansion? Easy. This is all about television, and if the parties involved had any brains, they’d quit fighting over who owns the pie, and start working together to make the pie so big that a single slice of it would be more than the entire original pie.
ESPN can get its programming on the one set at an Antarctic weather base, while the NFL Network has problems getting on screens in mid-town Manhattan. There’s also obviously a synergy between the two entities,; they’ve been working together to promote the NFL for a quarter-century now. But because the Kommissar is an egomaniac, and because Michael Eisner is a raging psychopath, the two sides don’t get that by collaborating on a global television package, they could do each other a world of good.
Instead, the NFL demands a network dedicated to nothing but the NFL, even if nobody watches it. Meanwhile, ESPN gets viewers by default but can never be “all-NFL. all-the-time.” A joint venture which would create a basic-cable “ESPNFL” would be nothing but a boon for both. It won’t help much for global expansion; it might get a few extra viewers here and there, and would making NFL viewership easier for Americans living abroad, but it certainly would get more of the programming currently running on the NFL into more American living rooms.
6) The “Thug” Life.
David Stern got all kinds of shit when he de-thugged the NBA. Goodell is afraid to do the same thing because if he is too soft, he gets exactly the kind of shit he’s getting now. If he goes too strong, then he’s a “racist” like Stern was.
Realistically, “de-thugging” is a compound word which happens when a league has two problems.
The problem in the case of the NFL is certainly not a mis-diagnosis as to whether a course of “de-thugging” was needed; let’s not forget the Kommissar has been rather heavy-handed in his punishments. Rather, the issue was the Kommissar really didn’t know which behaviors to include in “thuggery.” With Michael Vick, the public outrage made it obvious dog-fighting was in the “thug” bucket. In the Richie Incognito case, “bullying is such a hot term right now, it was clear the Kommissar need to act. But he never saw domestic violence as a “thug” issue, largely because it had never been one before. Face it, football players have been beating up their wives and girlfriends for decades, and nobody gave a shit until this case. Even before the TMZ video came out, the outrage wasn’t about the crime, it was about the disparity in punishment.
So, we should all know by now that video changes everything. Had their been actual footage of Michael Vick turning puppies into Puppy Chow, do you think he would have ever seen another NFL field? Where would Richie Incognito be right now if he had towel-snapped Jonathan Martin in the balls in front of a camera? Why that matters is because now we know the worst kind of commissioner there is to determine what is “thug” and what isn’t.
We’ll give you exactly zero fucking guesses which of those describes the Kommissar. We all know the correct answer is all of the above.
Now, thanks to a security camera in an Atlantic Casino elevator which probably smells like barf, you know all the shit J-Dub has been ranting about for years when it comes to Roger Goodell. The really sad part is the NFL owners already know all this shit, and they don’t care. Goodell keeps the NFL cash registers over-flowing, and he will stay in good standing with them as long as that is the case. The simple fact is the Kommissar failed at everything he was supposed to do, but the league made money anyway. Couple that with the fact that he’s probably a first-class schmoozer, and his complete dickishness doesn’t hurt him in a room full of NFL owners.
In fact, it probably helps him. The NFL is really run by dickish owners like Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft. Dicks attract other dicks, and that fact of human nature pretty much explains the power structure of the NFL as we know it. Even though right now we are nipples-deep in a media shitstorm over Ray Rice and domestic violence, the funny thing about media shitstorms that no matter how big, they eventually blow over.
Nobody really knows right now if this shitstorm will spell the end of the Kommissar’s reign; our best guess is that it won’t until the owners realize he’s killing the goose which lays the golden footballs, or until the owners realize that the Kommissar is too much of a political “hot potato” to hang onto. But there is one thing that is a pretty safe bet. Given Goodell’s talent for fumbling at the goal line, if this shitstorm doesn’t kill him, the one that will is coming.
Ultimately, the shitstorms shouldn’t matter; what should matter is someday Goodell’s shenanigans need to catch up to him. He’s led the NFL into a war against nothing; a war in which one of the casualties is entertaining football. The Kommissar saved us all from the horrors of Victor Cruz’s salsa dances, yet let the Ray Rice scandal go into eight overtimes until it became a monster in it’s own right that is threatening to devour the league’s credibility.
Boil it all down, and you are left with the fact there’s nothing tough about Goodell, despite the fact he is the commissioner of the toughest big-time sport on earth short of helmet-free competitive claw-hammer throwing. He’s pimped his own credibility, as well as that of some people who really didn’t deserve it. This is just one of many reasons why the players hate him; there’s going to be massive trust issues with people who don’t seem to have a soul, and the Kommissar has all the soul of a vacuum cleaner filter.
But the players’ don’t run the league; the owners do, and shitstorm or not, the Kommissar will continue to be the Kommissar as long as the money keeps coming in. He can fuck up everything else and survive; the minute the cash flow is threatened, he’s toast.