Eber: Sputtering NFL needs to change

Vin Scully is too old to be subtle or politically correct.  He also knows the difference between a sport and a political rally.

“The soon to be  90 year old retired announcer last week surprised many folks when he promised “I will never watch another NFL game”  He has become disappointed by the protests of players kneeling when the National Anthem  is played prior to games. Scully explained having “Overwhelming respect and admiration for anyone who puts on a uniform and goes to war.”

His sentiments pretty much summarized the feelings of many older non millennial football fans, some of whom whose families proudly served in the military and defended the United States during armed conflicts.”

The NFL—the No Fun League—has killed professional football.  One of the great rivalries fo over 100 years was held Sunday in Chicago between the Bears and the Green Bay Packers—with the stadium less than half filled!  Looks like there are lots of Vin Scullys in America.

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NFL needs to change By Richard Eber

Richard Eber, California Political News and Views,  11/13/17

 

As a child I have fond memories huddled with my Dad around his transistor radio at night listening on clear channel KFI Vin Scully broadcasting Dodger baseball games.  From that time on, the iconic announcer has always held a special place in my heart.

During the recent World Series, my eyes watered a bit, when Scully was given the task of throwing out the first pitch prior to game four. Like many fans, I wished he were still working.  This year, the TV guys on the “Fall Classic” were overly technical, talked to much, and lacked the story telling ability that used to make Scully so special.

The soon to be  90 year old retired announcer last week surprised many folks when he promised “I will never watch another NFL game”  He has become disappointed by the protests of players kneeling when the National Anthem  is played prior to games. Scully explained having “Overwhelming respect and admiration for anyone who puts on a uniform and goes to war.”
His sentiments pretty much summarized the feelings of many older non millennial football fans, some of whom whose families proudly served in the military and defended the United States during armed conflicts.

A similar predicament exists in conventional politics where the division between Donald Trump and his advisories are comparable with the conflicts exhibited in the current NFL dispute.  It just so happens that the controversy recently exhibited on the gridiron is the flavor of the week in a changing American cultural milieu.

Regardless of the validity of alleged disrespect for the American Flag and the soldiers who fought to protect the freedom we enjoy today, many Americans don’t believe these demonstrations prior to NFL games are the appropriate venues to call for social change.

Apparently, this disgust with the antics of players has had a negative effect on the product being sold to fans by the NFL.  TV ratings are down in the neighborhood of 15%.  Less merchandise is being sold than in years past.  There is even talk of television networks lowering their royalty payments to teams next year to reflect the current eroding market.

Several financial analysts believe heavy NFL advertiser Papa John’s Pizza has lost business causing their stock price to drop.  This has impacted Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones, who has seen his investment in 100  Texas franchises suffer.

As might be expected, he is not very happy with the way the league is being run. Jones has even threatened a lawsuit if the other owners give a new contract to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who is said to be earning some 44 million dollars per year.

However, much like all complex problems that lead to economic turmoil, there is more wrong with the NFL than merely taking a knee prior to kick-off.  The league has been pushing a moralistic agenda on its fans for the last half century that has been exposed at times for being hypocritical and deceitful.

Examples of this include

  • Acting like they are the second coming of Mother Theresa pushing favored charities on fans. They are giving the impression the league is on a philanthropic mission to improve mankind. Some football enthusiasts have become weary of propaganda put out at  a time when several  players are involved with spousal abuse, rampant drug use, DUI’s, and other brushes with the law.
  • Roger Goodell’s dictatorial system for disciplining players who don’t comply with the league’s code of conduct.  The suspensions of popular Quarterback Tom Brady and Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliot  for offenses that did not involve charges from law enforcement, have gone against the American belief in reasonable doubt  that is considered  an important part of our legal system.
  • NFL teams, which are each currently be estimated to be worth approximately 2 billion dollars per franchise, have engaged in conduct consistent with racketeering, extortion, and black mail, to pressure regional government agencies to subsidize the construction of oppulant-ostentatious new stadiums for them to play in.

The success that NFL teams have enjoyed has ended up giving them a sense of entitlement and moral authority which has extended to the playing field.  The league acts like what they are offering the public is so important that they make their game mistake free.  This has manifested itself for the past several years with increased video reviews that stop play while officials at the league office break down film to make sure calls on the field are correct.

In reality, the NFL seems to be pandering to gamblers and fantasy football enthusiasts.  The average fans have to endure these frequent delays that can cause a football game to take up to four hours to play.  This combined with frequent penalties that often cannot be seen by the naked eye, have resulted in some fans losing interest in watching what has been called the “No Fun League” 3 days a week.

There seems to be no voice of reason.  Little nostalgia has been generated by playing games each year with throwback jerseys from teams of yesteryear.  If the NFL really wants to turn back the clock in a meaningful way, perhaps they could consider a Sunday of football where there would be no video replays.  In this scenario, calls made on the field by the referees would be final.

Don’t expect meaningful change to happen with NFL.  For them to make needed improvements in the game, they must first realize that a problem exists.  For the league to think that keeping a bunch of jocks upright when the National Anthem is played will make everything OK,is the height of folly.

Perhaps the present concussion protocol for players who have had “their bell rung”, should apply to team owners who seem to be in a daze of late.

Outside of determining if they want to offer their beleaguered commissioner a new contract, the NFL must bridge the gap between their long time fans and a younger generation that has different expectations of what they want to see. They must evaluate between the success of their past business model (which shares similarities to major league baseball and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) favored by many millennial sports buffs.

Meanwhile Vin Scully and many others have simply had enough of the hypocrisy exhibited by the NFL If football fans desire political discourse, CNN or Fox. can always be tuned in. They just don’t want a bunch of muscle bound jocks dispensing advice on what constitutes proper respect for the flag.

In time, it is certain the current controversy about professional football will subside.  I for one will not do, as Scully did, and vow to never watch another NFLbroadcast again. Being a bit younger than the retired Dodger announcer, not to mention the reluctance to pay for needed therapy to rid myself of this nasty habit, I will continue to view the games at least on a limited basis

Taking those 12 steps is a path too difficult for me to traverse.

 

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.