The 2014 NFL regular season commenced last night in Seattle, a glittering affair that brought such A-list talents as Richard Sherman, Aaron Rodgers, Ariana Grande, Al Michaels, Clay Matthew and Marshawn Lynch into our living rooms. Like many of you, I observed the action slack-jawed, marveling at pro football’s intoxicating cocktail of skill, strategy and y’know, VIOLENCE. The physical toll taken on the participants ranks somewhere on a long list of offenses, including but not limited to
allowing Chris Cornell to sing on national TV racist nicknames, domestic abuse and asshole owners lining their pockets at the expense of struggling communities, and I’m often inclined to turn a blind eye to this shit because AT LEAST IT’S NOT AS FUCKING EXPLOITATIVE AS COLLEGE FOOTBALL.
Thankfully, former African dictator Mobuto Sese Seko aka Mr. Destructo aka journalist Jed Lund, still has something approaching a conscience. Writing in Friday’s Guardian, Lund argues “The NFL, as fun as it is, is the only major sport that has forced its fans, for two consecutive years, to spend their Sundays wondering: ‘Am I facilitating evil?”(“given its indifference toward women and racism, its eagerness to plunder public coffers and its outright economic and medical hostility toward its own labor force, it is flabbergasting that any of us remain fans of the NFL at all.”)
You don’t need to have a Dan Snyder or a Jimmy Haslam to have a creep for an owner. Almost every one of them is either plotting – or still celebrating – the fleecing of ladder-climbing, short-time stewards of local American governments for a publicly financed stadium. The NFL represents a collection of billionaires extorting towns into socializing debt and privatizing profit, despite consensus that publicly financed stadiums do not create revenue for local governments
It’s a game of on-the-field supermen managed and exploited with all the “superman” sociopathy of Wall Street-Silicon Valley vulture capital neofascism. The one thing the NFL hasn’t figured out how to do yet is compel fans to download a $159 app, the only purpose of which is to tell them they’re fungible, fired and that both their job and satellite feed has been outsourced to a bare wall in a 50,000-square-foot maquiladora in order to free job creators from their shackles.
If American football was a game played by 22 men in $5,000 bespoke suits passing a briefcase full of junk bonds to each other, we’d rightfully despise it. Instead, I will probably watch over 300 hours of this game before the postseason starts. Because I am stupid, and because I tell myself that the bargain I have struck where I am not a Nielsen household, and I buy no tickets or cable packages or merchandise is enough. And nothing will change, because NFL ownership and their hollow-hammered lickspittle Roger Goodell know that millions more will strike similar, smaller compromises.