Since I fashion myself as a sort of mongoloid version of Bill Simmons, you know, without the seven-figure salary, relative fame, and actual talent, I can’t help but share his open disdain for the NFL’s self-anointed Czar of Discipline, Roger Goodell.
This week, with the ridiculous NFL preseason set to kick off another year of exploitation, it’s difficult not to feel for the players serving under their loathsome commissioner. During the preseason, for instance, NFL rosters will balloon to almost twice their regular season size. The human tackling dummies that comprise the sure-to-be-cut portion of the team are chasing an elusive dream of financial security and gridiron glory, promulgated by stories of long-shot, undrafted “successes.”
In reality, what’s happening to the fringes of NFL rosters is essentially first world human cockfighting, with the odds of actually making the roster for most of the forty or so players “invited” to camp without a regular season contract similar to mine of winning a Pulitzer. Most teams have a handful of fringe players with an actual shot of making the roste, while the rest battle in futility to “impress another team” or sign on to the practice squad — perhaps an even worse outcome than being cut, with paltry salaries, high injury probability and little to no chance of an NFL future.
Look, football is a brutal sport, and you’re either naive or an idiot if you don’t think so. Giant men with exceptional speed and athleticism colliding with one another are bound to cause injury to one another. It’s an inevitable and unfortunate feature of America’s greatest game. And this is exactly why NFL players need to be compensated as such. A tyrannical league that unilaterally levies suspensions totalling seven figure losses of income over legalized drugs, GNC-purchased supplements, and supposedly deflated balls is not only over the top, but plainly idiotic.
The NFL, under Roger Goodell, offers the most worthless contracts in all of sports, with teams possessing the option to wipe their ass with massive financial obligations to essentially all players outside of franchise quarterbacks. Injured players, especially preseason roster additions that make less than 25k to risk their lives without any real hope of sustained financial gain, are essentially out of luck in the NFL, especially compared to the other major leagues.
Tell me: how the fuck does it make sense that the highest in revenue, most popular, and by far most dangerous sport pays its players by far the least, has the worst injury benefits, most non-guaranteed contracts, and the harshest player discipline? The reign of Roger Goodell and the senselessly exploitative NFL preseason must give way to an era of player respect, fairness, and security. Players make the NFL great, not the old men with private jets.
Now, with the league finding literally every way possible to monetize the NFL season — from Thursday night games, to massive preseason tv contracts, to matchups in London and Canada, to a strange monopoly on NFL League Pass with Directv — the only entity in the league that has not benefitted immensely? The most important aspect, the ones risking life and limb: the players.
Asked to play longer seasons than ever, with shorter turnarounds between games, more travel, and in the midst of the highest revenues in the history of any major sports league, still, the NFL average career length and salary beg the question: why the fuck let your kid play football? The average basketball player makes more than three times the annual salary, with not even a tenth the head injuries. This is not sustainable for the league.
It’s time to be fair, and for the “Czar” era to end.
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