The Jay Cutler nonsense really put a spotlight on the worst aspects of the league. To wit:
* A culture of rugged machismo that requires players to sacrifice their health, short term and long alike
* A media and commentary culture that couldn’t be more uniform or lockstep
* A ubiquity unparalleled by any other sport in America
I’ve made no secret that I don’t care for the NFL – I really don’t care for it with the upcoming lockout looming. After all, we’ve just established that the players are expected to push themselves beyond the limits of health or sanity. Now consider that NFL contracts are non-guaranteed, which means that except for the signing bonus, a team can cut their $100M quarterback tomorrow and owe him not a penny. Now the ownership is pushing for an 18-game schedule, which can only make player health a bigger issue than ever. And this is a lockout. That’s the key thing: this is not a player strike, this is ownership shutting down the game until the players give in.
Everyone characterized labor disputes in pro sports as “millionaires fighting billionaires.” Nowhere is this less true than the NFL, where players can be ejected at the drop of a hat after an average career of 3 years and facing a slew of long-term health issues that are becoming too evident to ignore. And yet, the NFL is beyond question – it’s on every freakin’ channel (seriously, it’s on five different networks), it’s even got its own channel, it draws tens of millions of viewers for a championship game that is to football what St Patricks Day is to Irish drinking, and it is as staid and boring a league and sport as can be imagined. Seriously, when a direct snap to a running back makes everyone break out in cries of “WILDCAT!” and is treated as an innovation on par with the Manhattan Project, it’s apparent that professional football is dull AND predictable – everyone runs a Tampa Cover-2 defense, everybody runs some variant of the West Coast offense, fake kicks are rarer than a virgin at Auburn, and the quality of announcing is such that I would rather listen to local broadcasters on radio while riding around than actually endure a game watching the kind of borderline mental defectives that Fox uses for games – or worse yet, the moronical stylings of Monday Night Football and Jon Gruden. (I TELL YOU WHAT, JAWS, YOU NEED TO TAKE CHEAP SHOTS IF YOU’RE GOING TO RUN A BLOG, AND THIS BLOGGER RIGHT HERE CAN TAKE A CHEAP SHOT, I CALL HIM THE SHARPSHOOTER, BECAUSE THIS GUY CAN TAKE THE CHEAP SHOTS.)
The head of the NFLPA said that on a scale of 1-10, the probability of a lockout was a 14. It would be Armageddon for pro football in this country. And nothing in the world of sports would make me happier than to watch the biggest, fattest, smuggest sports league on Earth implode for an entire season.