Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Love Football But Sometimes I Kinda Hate The NFL

Damn, February is a brutal month for writing about football. I suppose I could just throw up another Willie Young tale, but the last one was so ridiculous that I think I need some time to recuperate. The good news is that I have been writing about football. A lot. You just haven’t seen it yet. You see, my colleague, the esteemed Raven Mack, and I have been working on an Armchair Linebacker All-Pro team, and so I’ve been writing a ton of wild shit for that. It will see the light of day sometime this century, but at this point it’s sort of like Axl Rose’s Chinese Democracy. There’s no release date and speculating about that shit is a fool’s errand. It’s a labor of insanity and love and it’ll be out when it’s out. Raven said elsewhere that it will be 40,000 words of insanity and he’s right. This shit is out of hand. Both of us like to, uh, let the words flow freely and so when you combine our powers you end up with something monstrous and beautiful, terrible and fierce. This is an epic on par with The Iliad, only with more dudes getting speared in the balls and slightly less homoeroticism. Or, as Raven put it, “it’s like football prospectus on angel dust.” Indeed.

Anyway, look for that at some point. I won’t tell you how far along we are exactly, but we are at a point of no return now. This thing is happening. We are so far inside the belly of the beast that the only way out is for us to hack our way through with machetes until we escape out of the beast’s ass, bloody and covered in shit. It won’t be pretty but it will be glorious and it’s just something we have to do because we are men of honor and we don’t want to die in the colon of some terrible shitbeast.

But in between crawling through the beast’s intestines, I suppose I should take the time to take a look at the world of the Detroit Lions, and . . . nothing much is happening.

Okay, I guess I could talk about the Lions getting busted for tampering by the NFL due to their pursuit of Chiefs safety Jarrod Page last year but really that is just a bunch of dumb noise about nothing. The Lions were robbed of a 7th round pick – and shit, those actually tend to mean something to Martin Mayhew since it was a stray 7th rounder that nabbed us Shaun Hill in a trade – and were forced to swap their 5th round pick with the Chiefs all because Gunther Cunningham is an old man and old men do whatever the fuck they want to do. Sometimes that means they whip it out in public or take a shit in the town fountain, but sometimes that means they just talk to old friends even when they’re not supposed to. That’s what happened in this case.

You see, Gun used to be the head coach and the defensive coordinator for the Chiefs and so he still sees a lot of their defensive players as his dudes. That’s how Turk McBride ended up in Detroit. Well, last year Jarrod Page seemed like he might be available and so Gun came out and was all fuck yeah, we’re interested, but since the NFL is a league run by uptight Nazis, the Gestapo swooped in and tossed Gun on a train to Poland.

That is all one wildly offensive way of saying that the Lions just got busted for . . . what? Who fucking knows? The Chiefs whined and bitched and moaned because they apparently thought Gun was throwing wild hooker parties for their players or something. Shit, maybe they thought that he had turned his basement into an opium den and after Jarrod Page showed up for practice all glassy eyed and stinking of sex, sweat on his brow, unable to work out because of all the cramping thanks to massive dehydration, they freaked the fuck out and told the league that Gun was in cahoots with the devil. I don’t know. It’s just a guess. Tampering. What the fuck? It’s football. Quit making it sound like Watergate, like the Lions sent a team of accountants to break into the Chiefs’ records and steal classified information about the size of Hank Stram’s prostate or the lurid details of Derrick Thomas’ autopsy. Oh no! The Kansas City Chiefs state secrets are in jeopardy!

Dudes talk. I’d rather they do that than creepy shit like showing up at midnight with a box of chocolates and a bouquet of roses on the first day of free agency. Sure, Jim Schwartz was forced to do that shit to get Kyle Vanden Bosch but I don’t blame him, I blame the stupid rules that make it a felony NFL offense to call up your boy on the phone and shoot the shit. Gun’s a grown ass man, an old man, and he doesn’t need to ask your permission Sheriff Goodell to talk to his friends. What’s next, are you going to start fining people for not cutting their hair? Maybe you should start tying guys to posts and whipping the shit out of them instead. After all, as a society there’s nothing we’re more comfortable with than the site of an arrogant rich white dude whipping a young black man for not doing as he’s told.

Shit, this kind of took a wild and unexpected turn, didn’t it? Jesus. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but when that starting gun goes off there’s no telling in which direction I’m going to run. There’s no saddle on my back and I haven’t been tamed and so I’m just going to run wherever the mood takes me. Yes, I just compared myself to a wild horse. Let’s just move on.

The point is that it’s become clear over the last season that the NFL is completely power mad. Actually, it’s been clear for a long, long time but the events of this past season have made it so blindingly obvious that even the dullards who jack off to the myth of the all-powerful NFL machine, pawing themselves to a soundtrack of Chris Berman braying while the music from those old NFL Films plays in their heads, have had no choice but to notice that shit has gotten out of hand.

If the NFL had its way, it would just be importing players straight off the boat from Africa. That’s right, I said it. They’d have Goodell standing at market waiting to inspect them while his lizard Pereira would stand by with a whip, ready for any “trouble”. The NFL doesn’t give a fuck about the players. I think that’s made clear by them trying to push an 18 game schedule on the players even while rummaging through their pockets for spare change every time somebody gets hit too hard. The NFL is all about the illusion of player safety and welfare. The ingenious thing about it, which is also the insidious thing, is that they convince the average Joe Dipshit that they care by attacking the players. They don’t try to find ways to improve equipment or look for ways to minimize the long term effects of an inherently violent game. No, instead they fine the players $100,000 dollars for smacking a guy in the head in a game that moves a million miles per hour, or $15,000 dollars for reaching out and grabbing a guy’s pad and, uh, tackling him because it looked a little too violent. Instead of dealing with reality, which is that football is an inherently violent and dangerous sport, they try to change the perception of reality and show people that football is a safe sport with no consequences and that the players are just idiot renegades who need to be tamed and broken via a steady stream of fines and debasement.

There is something heinous and dishonest about that, right? “Oh, no, we don’t have any problems at all. Football is perfectly safe. It’s just these asshole players who do it to themselves. They’ll be fine if they just play the game the right way. If they are retarded by the time they’re 50, well then that’s their own damn fault. Come, Pereira, let us steal some bread from some orphans and then twist our handlebar mustaches, ha ha ha!” It’s ridiculous. If the NFL gave a shit, they would funnel some of their many billions of dollars into long term health care for these players. They would do everything they possibly could to minimize the long term impacts that come from getting the shit beaten out of you for several years in order to make a living. They would do whatever it took to make sure that the players were financially secure and that there were people there to help them when they found themselves needing an hour to get out of bed every morning before they hit 40. Football is a violent game, brutal and fierce and we all must make our peace with that. We do every player a disservice when we try to pretend that it’s not and that there is some magical way we can change its very nature. It’s sickening to me that the NFL’s preferred way of attacking this issue is to attack the very players affected by it.

This post has gotten completely out of hand and has wandered far, far away from the original point. I didn’t mean to talk about this, but the opening was there and I took it. It’s something that I feel pretty strongly about and it’s been on my mind with all this labor strife and all that bullshit. I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m firmly on the players’ side. I know the general consensus is that it is just a bunch of rich dudes arguing and that everyone involved is a millionaire, but not really. That’s just simple and wrongheaded. The reality is that a lot of these dudes only play for a few years, get the shit beaten out of them and then have to spend the money they made on a ton of horrible medical bills because the NFL doesn’t give a fuck about them and Jerry Jones has to have eight bidets in his private luxury box inside of his very own Taj Mahal of a stadium.

I know a lot of you won’t agree with any of this and there will be people who call me irresponsible for going wild with slavery references and Nazi talk, but fuck all that, I’m not the one burying my head in the sand and pretending like these dudes are going to be driving Ferarris on some tropical beach snorting diamond dust and eating bald eagles when they are 70. I’m a fan of football, but goddamn, sometimes I really hate the NFL.

And those are just the issues involving the players. I won’t even get into all the absurd bullshit about the NFL conning people into paying for Super Bowl tickets that they knew they wouldn’t be able to honor. Greedy bastards. Again, I love football. It’s the national pastime because it best embodies who we are as a people. It’s violent, it’s angry and there are moments of sublime beauty and glory that manage to make us forget about all that. It’s passionate and every moment matters and it feels like it’s always moving forward. There are no languid lazy Sundays. There is just a death race to the finish line and that is exciting as all hell. It is uniquely American and it always will be. But people can’t pretend that it’s something that it’s not either. We have to accept the ugly side of it and try to come to terms with that. We have to do right by the people who get their brains kicked in by it. In that way I feel like it’s also representative of who we are as a people – or who we should be anyway.

Look, this could spin in yet another direction here, with me gibbering about football and America and all that shit and while I think there is something interesting to say about all that, it’s just too damn much right now and I have said too damn much about this issue already. I don’t really like talking about it. I just want to talk about the Lions and what happens on the field and what it’s like to be a fan. In that way, I suspect that I’m a lot like all of you. But something is out of whack here and I would feel shitty about myself if I didn’t at least acknowledge it. I love football. I also love the dudes who play it. I just wish the NFL felt the same way. I think that it did, once. Now, I think it is run by a collection of greedheads more interested in power and money (really, I suppose they’re kind of the same thing) than they are with the health of both the game and the people who play it. In the end it’s about money. It’s always about money. It’s just that one side is trying to get more money so that they can have a better quality of life while the other is trying to hoard money because it makes them feel like their dick is bigger. And really, that’s what it all comes down to.

What that has to do with Gunther Cunningham and the Lions getting busted for tampering is anyone’s guess. Like I said, I have wandered far and wide here, but I suppose the tampering thing kind of opened the door for me to talk about a subject I’ve been loath to talk about because I knew that when I did, I would end up unloading all of my guns. As it is, I feel like I actually held back a little believe it or not. I like to keep things good natured here and this is not a good natured subject, you know? It sucks that it’s out there and that I felt like I had to talk about it, but that’s on the NFL, which is just one reason that even though I love football, sometimes I kinda hate the NFL.


HSOMGF said...

I'm going to quote something of this on my blog, with a link back here. Amazing, honest post. You rule.

Neil said...

Why, thank you. The seed that was the inspiration for a big chunk of this post came from a random twitter comment I made a while back which was (almost) identical to the title of the post. You then said that it sounded like a good title for a post, it kicked around my head for a while and then while I was writing this, that seed finally flowered and well, here we are.

When I started writing I had no idea what I was going to write about, which you can probably tell, but this is why I like to have little seeds planted in my brain, because you never know when that thing is going to explode out of the dirt.

AERose said...

Point of information that Mike Periera is no longer Roger Goodell's stooge, but is now Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott's stooge.

Neil said...

He is everyone's stooge.

HSOMGF said...

"You then said that it sounded like a good title for a post, it kicked around my head for a while and then while I was writing this, that seed finally flowered and well, here we are."

LOL, I remember tweeting that. Didn't know it would have such an effect.