How many headlines does Tim Tebow need on SportsCenter for ESPN to effectively make their point? I realize that the Tebow angle fits one of those nice little storylines that the NFL and ESPN try to create each season, but come on. Before Demaryius Thomas even crossed the goal line last week you could already hear ESPN licking their lips.
I’m not sure if Roger Goodell is a puppet of ESPN/Disney’s empire of media domination, or just a willing accomplice. I do know that at his hands the NFL is slowly becoming a family friendly and watered down version of the world’s greatest sport, and this weekend couldn’t have gone any better for him.
In the buildup to the Steelers-Broncos Wild Card game the storyline of choice was the “good and evil dynamic,” so to speak. God’s Golden Boy defeats NFL Party Boy/Alleged Rapist. It has a nice ring to it. Roger Goodell is probably sexily pawing at his fire crotch just thinking about potential PR campaigns he can create around Tim Tebow. Goodell has devoted his time as commissioner to cleaning up the NFL’s image on and off the field and Roethlisberger’s loss to the squeaky clean Tim Tebow fits nicely into his agenda. If Tebow could win a Super Bowl someday, as unlikely as that is, it would be as convenient for the league as the Patriots post-9/11 dynasty, or the Saints post-Katrina miracle run. I’m not saying that the games are rigged, but the recent storylines have been pretty convenient.
Off the field Goodell has made it his mission to make examples of any players that draw negative attention to the league. Where are the legends who starred on the field and lived their off field lives as we all would in their shoes? Joe Namath existed solely on bourbon and blonde bombshells. John Riggins got drunk and hit on Sandra Day O’Connor at a press dinner (TFTC). Hell, the 90’s Cowboys won 3 Super Bowls fueled by pain killers and Michael Irvin’s coke habit.
Nowadays it’s completely different. Wreck your car? Suspension. DWI? Suspension. Involved in an incident but not arrested? Fuck it…you’re suspended. There is no innocent until proven guilty policy. Often times no legal action is taken and the comish still finds it necessary to dock the player “at fault” 100 grand and suspend them. If a player does something that could even remotely hurt the NFL’s image, Goodell will bend them over his desk (which is crafted from the skulls of his fallen enemies), and sodomize their wallets. Cleaning up the league is one thing, but there is no need to lobotomize it. Everyone understands that league is full of twenty-something year old millionaires. A little debauchery is to be expected, and a little glimpse of their REAL personalities would be appreciated.
The playing field is a completely different issue. In the name of player safety, quarterbacks have been elevated to god-like status. It takes more contact to get a foul in the NBA than it does to get called for roughing Tom Brady. They might as well put flags on their waists. James Harrison gets fined 50K for the same hits that used to make SportCenter Top 10 lists. Helmet to helmet hits? Okay, understandably dangerous, but now you can’t attempt a sack below the knees. Tom Brady gets injured and the NFL changes the rule book.
I understand that the wholesome image the NFL is trying to attain will probably mean bigger profits, but there’s no need to castrate the league and forsake the balls that made it great. It’s a violent sport whose participants have achieved a certain elevated status in our society. I’m completely okay with this. Baseball can claim whatever it wants but football is America’s new pastime, and has been for awhile. The league emerged from nothingness to become the king of American sports for a reason. There is no need to tinker with things to achieve some fairytale image in the age of mass media.
So Roger, for the sake of football fans everywhere. Go fuck yourself.