Monday, September 7, 2015

Football season is here, and none too soon

Football season is finally here, and thank God for that. Donald Trump and his moronic bombast can go sit on the bench where it belongs. While ESPN was finally forced to act against ex-baseball player and sometime analyst Curt Schilling and his “patriotic duty” to occasionally relieve the overflow in the cesspool of his mind (usually in regard to minorities), in the “real world” such antics only lead to higher poll ratings. If Trump was in the NFL, he wouldn’t last long on any team, since he doesn’t have sense enough to keep his ugly nativism and racism (he, the media and his supporters can call it something else, if they wish) to himself. 

As usual there are a few story lines of interest this season in the NFL. Much as it would have been desirable that Trump would have been at the receiving end of former Jet IK Enemkpali’s fist, the Jets’ incomprehensibly anointed starting quarterback, Geno Smith, was the “beneficiary” of that broken jaw. Of course, some will say that the real beneficiary of the incident are Jets’ fans, insofar as the Geno Show has been canceled for the first four weeks of the season. At the very least, it is an opportunity to see if someone can step up and end this poorly-rated show for good. Even one (unnamed) teammate suggested that Smith had not “earned respect” enough on the field to insolently jab his finger in another’s eye. 

Then will the Packers be a Super Bowl contender as many assumed, or a Super Bust? Will Jordy Nelson out for the season after a freak ACL tear, Randall Cobb hurt and the first-team defense playing like practice squad rejects this preseason spell postseason blues? Why has Aaron Rodgers played only two quarters out of 16 this preseason? Hasn’t he fully recovered from the injury that turned what should have been a 35-7 blowout win in the NFC Championship game last year into a 28-22 overtime loss? 

Meanwhile, will Jameis Winston be an Andrew Luck or a Russell Wilson, or another Robert Griffin III? Winston has received praise for shrugging off his mistakes and moving on—except that those mistakes have been frequent during the preseason. Does Peyton Manning have at least one more year in him? He didn’t play much during the preseason, which suggests concern about his health. Will the Seahawks experience a fourth season swoon as the 49ers did last season? The first-team offense certainly was “concerning” this preseason.

And then there is Roger Goodell’s credibility, which tanked still further when a judge threw out his four-game suspension of Tom Brady for illegal deflating of footballs. From all the “evidence,” one can perhaps say that the team employees who did the actually deflating were only guilty of responding to Brady’s frequent complaints of getting a “grip” on game balls by reducing pressure on the balls to the point where he was “satisfied”—without Brady actually being told that they were below the legal limit. But that is just conjecture; the balls were tampered with after they were checked by officials before the games, and that is clearly illegal. It comes down to who knew what, and the judge decided that since there was no direct evidence that Brady “authorized” illegally deflated balls, so there was “reasonable” doubt as to his culpability.

Of course, while players’ union reps considers this a “victory” for players’ “rights,” others may take exception. Take for example opposing players, who might feel that Brady was a “cheater” who is getting away with it; remember that it was an Indianapolis Colts player who intercepted a Brady pass who brought the issue to the attention of the league. Curiously, game officials who handled the football after every play never noticed it themselves; was the league thus a willing participant in the fraud—in a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” way as to not unbalance the “natural” order of the top of the NFL? 

Curiously, while Goodell is being attacked for “overreaching” his disciplinary authority, he has also been accused of not going “far enough” in other transgressions, at least insofar as his reaction speed to incidents outside of football, in which case he has ignored the due process rights of players and the judgment of civil courts, seeking to placate outside advocacy groups—and has used the fear of bad public relations to ignore court orders vacating his actions in those cases. The question then is will the NFL under Goodell continue to be a “social experiment” that mainly affects black players to the benefit of white advocacy groups who only wish to use them as “examples” to advance their own agendas without regard to context or facts (not the “facts” manipulated by the media).

At any rate, unlike college football, the NFL tends to have a few surprises up its sleeve every year, and this season ought to be no different. Let the games begin.

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