Once mostly fun, games, and true love for a sports team associated with my city and culture, lately I mostly just hate the NFL and everything about it (except for the true love for New Orleans part, which is somehow something separate). I hate its hypocrisy and sliminess, its corporate neo-Orwellian Goodell bullcrap,and its hold over a cadre of writers and media personalities who recite the company lines of a hugely profitable entity that declares itself a nonprofit despite the fact it and everyone else knows this is a lie based on a backroom deal.
This feeling started in 2012, when the above hit close to home during the corporate public relations fest eye-rollingly known as Bountygate; lies repeated without question by sportswriters, fan-level conspiracy theorists who questioned those lies eventually proven mostly right, etc.
For me the whole 2012 thing is worse now that we’re supposed to be enjoying a Super Bowl team with a known liar and cheat for a head coach, one who allows a pay for performance system called the “Legion of Boom” that pools players’ money based on the on-field actions of said legion and yet is permissible under NFL rules because 1. the league, with Bountygate, has already made its PR point, and 2. the technicality of “the franchise” not being involved, and the way the money is disbursed (here’s more on the bounty program you didn’t know existed).
I’ve loved a team since birth that was attacked by a giant, overarching corporate entity, and nobody actually has a clear reason for why.
Check this out re Seattle:
The trip will wind up costing him $100 — the fine from his fellow ‘Legion of Boom’ members for failing to finish the pick-six.
Seahawks defenders pool money collected as a result of on-field actions. Just like Gregg Williams’ Saints.
Here’s my favorite part about the Seahawks’ bounty program–which I can call a bounty program as accurately as the NFL called the Saints’ similar system a bounty program:
Such monies may be donated to charities (other than those sponsored or established by individual players) or other institutions, or used for a postseason party.
In other words you can collect and disburse money for a pay for performance program, even if it’s called “Legion of Boom”–boom, aka hard hits–so long as you effectively launder the cash.
Seriously: read the language again. Players can fine one another for on-field performance, pool the money, and disburse the money. They just have to disburse it via a “team party.” I haven’t seen all of Breaking Bad, but I’m pretty sure Saul, the show’s crooked lawyer, would approve.
So let’s get this absolutely clear.
Bad, illegal, evil: A group of NFL defensive players fine one another for on-field actions and pool money and then give one another the money directly = suspend the head coach for a year, attempt to do the same to the players involved, and launch a massive, year-long smear campaign against the team.
Acceptable, sanctioned, fine, according to the commissioner: A group of NFL defensive players fine one another for on-field actions and pool the money and then use the money to hire a dozen strippers and a DJ = look at how hard those guys play! That defense is so tough!
This nonsense shouldn’t cut so deep or affect me so strongly. Before 2012 and Bountygate, it wouldn’t have. It could have been all just silly fun, heroes and villains in a TV story. That’s how the NFL, and its narc, Roger Goodell, wants it, along with a heaping dose of corporate-manufactured “tradition” and jingoism. But it does affect me now, because the NFL corporation’s actions directly impacted the one thing about it that I have always loved, for better or worse, like family.
So how do you love a sports franchise as a part of your family and as an expression of your culture even as you deeply despise and condemn the league to which it belongs? I have no idea.
But I’ll probably be seeing a lot of plays and movies, or doing a lot of dishes, during days, like yesterday, when the Saints aren’t playing.
Note to visiting Seahawks fans: Read carefully. I’m not accusing Seattle of maintaining a literal bounty program. I’m saying calling the “Legion of Boom” a bounty program is as accurate as using that language to describe Gregg Williams’ pay-for-performance program. The evidence doesn’t support either team’s program being characterized as an intent-to-injure scheme. The point is an illustration of NFL hypocrisy in condemning one team’s performance incentive program to an unprecedented extent while approving of a remarkably similar one in a different city.