It’s Getting Harder to Watch the NFL

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When Jay Cutler signed his multimillion dollar contract, I laughed. Watching the Bears saddle themselves to such an underwhelming player amused me.

It’s not funny anymore.

I mean, the Jay Cutler signing, that’s still hilarious. Sort of. But watching teams throw millions upon millions of dollars at sub-par quarterbacks has grown disgusting. Bradford. Kaepernick. Osweiler. Even highly paid benchwarmer Matt Flynn was shocked by the amount the Texans were willing to flush down the toilet for Osweiler.

(Even more pathetic: according to Texans owner Bob McNair, Osweiler wanted to escape the shadow of Elway and Manning in Denver. Hence the move. Right, that’s a player I want on my team; someone afraid of taking on a challenge. Is that what Steve Young did following the Montana years in San Francisco? How about Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay? Did he duck out for fear of living in the legacy of Favre?)

In Philadelphia, after re-signing Sam “Oops, I’m injured again” Bradford, the Eagles bought Chase Daniels. Word on the street is the quarterbacks will compete for the starting position. Which means they paid for a dubious “name” quarterback and immediately followed it up with competition. They’re literally throwing money away.

Unfortunately, the Eagles, Texans, and basically every team in the league know they can burn money without care, because teams know they’ll make it back through the fans. We pay the outrageous ticket prices, the stupid parking fees ($40 last time I checked Soldier Field, but it could be higher now), and we’ll watch the games on TV, where the real revenue is. In an age of Netflix and streaming, live sports is one of the few places advertisers can still get eyeballs. The NFL is all too aware of the power they hold in this regard.

(They also like to end-around it with their own pay service, RedZone. “Don’t like commercials? Buy our service!”)

It’s a big sport, with big money. But when does it become too much?

Commissioner Roger Goodell earns more than any player, making it even harder to tune in. The man has botched every disciplinarian case he’s gotten involved with. From giving Ray Rice an initial slap on the wrist to throwing the book at Tom Brady, Goodell acts with a capricious, arbitrary nature. Why would I ever want to support any system with a leader like that? How can I in good conscience support a business that did all it could to silence those speaking the truth involving concussions and CTE?

By ignoring reason, that’s how.

Every season I shove everything I’m complaining about into a tiny box and crush it. I turn it off in a manner that would make Elder Price proud.

Unfortunately, when you ignore nagging truths, they build up and become monsters.

Several years ago, Malcolm Gladwell said he believes football cannot sustain its current trajectory of popularity. I’m not sure I’m ready to agree with him… yet. The sad truth, however, is that every season I find myself less and less interested in a sport that seems to define itself by greed and corruption.

Making teams travel to London to boost international popularity shows little respect for the home markets who support them. Now all eyes are on China, because if the NFL can get even a fraction of the one billion people in that country to buy an official $200 jersey…

(It’s not about the sport, it’s about the merchandise.)

Letting teams jump from city to city unless taxpayers fund new stadiums–and even when one spends $16 million to try and keep the team, like St. Louis did, the owner is still allowed to pull the plug–spits in the face of the fans they need to whole up their house of cards.

Teams deserve decent stadiums, yes. But putting the public on the hook for them? It’s outrageous. America literally exists because of “Taxation without representation.” Yet whenever a new stadium is erected, taxpayers are hit up to fund it. Money that should be going towards education, health care, or any other life-improving cause that benefits all gets funneled into football, which is decidedly not a public good. Using taxpayers to fund stadiums just allows obscenely wealthy owners to rub our collective noses in their crap. Loving the NFL is like being in a one-sided relationship. Sure, their promos say all the right things, but their actions are completely off.

As already admitted, these the angry ramblings of a hypocrite.

Come autumn, I’ll be excited to see players on the gridiron. But this year, I’ll probably be a little less enthused than I was last year, because I was slightly less interested last year than the year before.

I don’t regret much in life, but if I could go back in time I would tell my younger self to become a marginally-talented quarterback.

I’d be a millionaire many times over if I had.

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