Deja vu… A few years ago I wrote a piece about being a Penn State and specifically a Joe Paterno fan. And how after years of being the “good guy” in college sports, Joe I could not longer support him and his looking away while his assistant coach was raping kids in the football showers.
And here I am again, with similar feelings about the same sport, with a few different circumstance.
This time, its the NFL.
Let me go on the record as saying I am, without question a huge fan of football. I have been an NFL fan since I was 8 years old. I remember being in the 3rd grade at good old Tully C Knoles Elementary school in Stockton California and getting my very first piece of official NFL licensed apparel, a beautifully knit black and silver (silverish aka grey since silver isn’t really a color that you can pull off in yarn) Oakland Raiders hat. A few years later I had an Oakland Raiders jacket, a few years after that I attended my very first NFL game with Dad. Seats were $7.00, that would be about $25 today. You couldn’t touch a ticket to Jerry’s Palace in Dallas for less than $150.00, not to mention the $100 in parking.
That day we saw Kenny Stabler and Oakland Raiders at the Oakland Coliseum, they were playing the Miami Dolphins. My heroes back then were Freddy Biletnikoff, The Snake, Pete Banaszak, Dave Casper and Ray Guy, arguably the best punter in the history of the game.
When the Raiders moved to LA I was heartbroken, thankfully the 49ers were there to take their place and keep the Super Bowl rings coming the Bay Area. In Minnesota I’ve watched the Vikings on and off over the years, although frankly they’re a little frustrating between the off field antics (boat ride anyone) and crappy play.
However as of this year, I’m done.
I’m going to make every attempt to not watch one minute of NFL football intentionally.
I was pissed when old Roger Goodell and the NFL Hype Machine rolled into Minnesota and leveraged to extort $500M from the taxpayers of Minnesota to pay for a new stadium. Threatned to leave town. Our politicians caved like kids, forget that we had no way to pay for it..
Then we learned that the $400M that Ziggy WIlf, Vikings owner was “investing” from his own personal wealth was in fact being entirely paid for and more in naming rights, seat licenses etc, to the tune of $477M. That’s why Ziggy’s rich and I’m not, he things strategically.
I just wish he would be honest and come clean about building a business on public subsidies and hometown fans pocketbooks.
Frankly it would have been more honest if the NFL and the WIlfs would have taken the entire stadium costs and made their fans and TV viewers pay for it instead of spreading the bill across the entire state.
I was even more pissed when the Star Tribute broke the story on the NFL’s deal with the Minneapolis, the deal that “won” us the Superbowl. In case you missed it:
- $10M in tax rebates
- Free police escorts for all NFL Owners and their entourages.
- Free presidential suites in local hotels, for the same bunch of poor owners who can’t afford their own hotel bills.
- A requirement for “NFL-preferred ATMs” throughout the venue and in a 1 mile radius. (with the NFL cashing in on transaction fees)
- Free billboards promoting the game around the Twin Cities.
- New Cell Phone towers incase signals are strong enough around the hotels and venues.
- 35,000 free parking spaces.. (holy shit the NFL has a lot of friends)
- Hotels that want to house the teams are required to televise the NFL Network for one year prior to the game at no cost to the League.
Blah blah blah….
I’m not sure how this is a win for the City of Minneapolis in anyway shape or form. More like a dry prison rape if you ask me.
Then I was furious when Roger Goodell and the NFL attempted to justify the NFL’s tax exemption status by claiming that they are a “non-profit”. Now we’re talking arrogance on par with medieval Popes and Kings.
At that point I was done with the NFL and started my one man boycott.
There were a few other things also-
And the substance abuse.
And the punks- who can forget when another Baltimore Ravens Ray, I’m referring to legend Ray Lewis, was charged with murder in the stabbing deaths of two people in Atlanta in 2007. Charges were dropped when he agreed to testify against this accomplices. Ray won SuperBowl MVP the next year bless his heart.
Or how about New England Patriots serial killer Aaron Hernandez.
Steroids fueled anger? Who knows.
The list goes on and on.
And then when the Ray Rice issue broke and Roger Goodell basically tried to ignore it until the release of a video forced him to change his tune.. Really Roger? Frankly it looked to me like he was more upset that the video came out than to be aghast at one of his players knocking a woman out cold… By then I had no more anger, I honest had to laugh, this league is one huge bad joke.
Just to put this in perspective, remember William Aramony, the disgraced chairman of the NFL’s biggest charity partner the United Way? He had some indiscretions with a 22 year old, misuse of funds etc. Small potatoes compared to the NFL issues. He was fired and he went to prison. As he should have.
If Target or Wells Fargo or any other company in the Twin Cities was accused of running a floating bordello on Lake Minnetonka, heads would roll and public outrage would be vitriolic.
But this is the NFL. This is football. We Americans are willing to look the other way when the occasional indiscretion is publicized or our hero’s behave badly. We like watching football, we’re passionate about our games. And for our loyalty and devotion how are rewarded?
With more indiscretions, more egregious violations of decency and good behavior, and we are asked to pay more and more of our own hard earned dollars to subsidize the massive billion dollar buildings these billionaire owners want to have so they can entertain their friends and associates.
And until we as a public, take a stand and stop supporting this league with our dollars, our eyeballs, and our attention nothing will change.
Fans are the only people who this league will listen too, and their the people the politicians will listen too. Make yourself heard folks.