Friday, November 08, 2013

Has the NFL Jumped the Shark?

This post will go over like a Led Balloon; skip it if you don't want to read anything negative about the NFL.

First, let's be clear: Joey Porter's Pit Bulls remain passionate and emotionally invested in football generally and the NFL in particular.

We love the game of football that appeals to the kid in all of us who played ball in the backyard, in the street, on oil-slicked rock-hard fields, in high school, in college, in highly competitive venues, in crazy situations of all kinds. Intensely. We love football.

But ... this latest bullshit with the oafish, reptilian Richie Incognito and his ignorant apologists is yet another major turnoff in a series of diminishing returns.

The NFL is perilously close to jumping the shark.

As heretical as it sounds, the NFL has lost some of its patina that appeals to the kid in all of us.

The NFL is a multi-billion dollar business. During Roger Goodell's tenure as commissioner, it feels like the NFL sold it soul somewhere along the way.

It's increasingly tough to overlook ... 
the golden goose that is television, with its ceaseless fawning, incessant babble, over-saturation of coverage, Thursday night games, Sunday night games, late-season Saturday games, Monday night double-headers -- oh, and, of course, the all-too-frequent and lengthy commercial breaks during games -- the NFL doesn't seem so special and fun anymore.

It's increasingly tough to overlook ...
performance-enhancing drugs, steroids and human growth hormone; absurd rules changes; rampant bounties; institutionalized extortion, thuggery, hazing, browbeating as "initiation" rites; concussions, CET, brain damage and early-onset dementia; designated "strike zones;" deliberately targeted knee hits prompted by the new rules governing upper-body hits; constant and eternal roster attrition from injuries, injuries and more injuries; the continuous legal squabbling; the ridiculous regular-season games in London and Roger Goodell's continuing threat to move franchises to London (from Jacksonville and maybe other cities) and Toronto (from Buffalo).

It's increasingly tough to overlook ... 
the many, many player arrests (from the seriously disturbing Aaron Hernandez  murder case to the insanely absurd Alameda Ta'amu incident on Pittsburgh's South Side); cretins like Michael Vick; blockheads like Riley Cooper; jerk owners like Jerry Jones, Zygi Wolf and Dan Snyder; asshole coaches like Rex Ryan, Joe Philbin, Greg Schiano, Gregg Williams, Bill Bellichick, et al; Todd Haley and his wife; the selfies; the constant Tweets by clueless self-absorbed idiotic athletes, self-imporant talking heads and former-player blowhard "analysts" like Ray Lewis, Michael Irvin and Warren Sapp; the breathless bloggers, the uber-analytical Pro Football Focus Sabremetric-type "experts" who are about as fun as actuaries ... and so on, and on, and on.

It all detracts, takes its toll, from what used to be a more enjoyable, fun diversion and, yes, a passion that still means a lot to us.

Football is supposed to be a game, but it's got "business" written all over it.

It's as if Roger Goodell and his minions never heard of the adage,"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Joey Porter's Pit Bulls remain deeply invested in the whole scrambling omelette, but ... there is something to be said for perspective and balance, if you will, if not wisdom.

We still watch the Steelers closely, with passion and intensity, but ... we're also watching the Aaron Hernandez and Richie Incognito situations, along with all the other crap, almost as much as we're watching the games.  The bad with the good; you don't get one without the other.