Aug. 14, 2014

Open Letter to NFL PLayers

Dear NFL Players:

I love you.  I truly do.  The NFL has been the most influential cultural aspect of my life since I can remember.  As a child, my fondest memories are of sitting on the floor in the den with my father pretending I knew what was happening on the gridiron as he rode the wave of euphoria and agony watching his beloved Oakland Raiders. As time wore on, I did learn the game and I fell in love with it.  Now I sit with my nieces and nephews every Monday, Thursday and Sunday riding a wave of my own.

So, here is the thing.  I want this football season to be about football.  I know the media loves a good scandal and every time one of you gets arrested, bullies someone, or slaps your girlfriend it makes for great television.  Actually, it makes great television for them, not for me or other real football fans.  The past three seasons I have had the enjoyment of my fandom hi-jacked by sensational off the field stories.  Records were broken and amazing athletic feats went largely ignored because the major portion of every sportscast was spent covering the latest “outrage.”   Remember in 2013 when Drew Brees and Peyton Manning kept breaking each other’s records?  NO?  It’s probably because all anyone was talking about was the Miami Dolphins, bullying, and the locker room culture of the NFL.  I am sick of it.  There was a time when you could turn into the 24 hour sports station to escape the claptrap being covered on the network and cable news shows.  Now, the same immaterial stories are being covered by every media outlet ad nauseam.

I realize you are only human beings.  I realize human beings cannot be perfect.  But the football season is only 16 weeks long (excluding playoffs and Super Bowl) so I think if you put your hearts into it you can make it happen.  You can get through a season without saying something racist.  You can stop smoking pot…for 16 weeks…sure you can.   You can refrain from hitting anyone or driving drunk or making inappropriate sexual advances.  Yes you can.  Say it with me, “Yes I can.”

I realize Dan Fouts and Lester Hayes didn’t have TMZ and all of the other seemingly insatiable news seekers following them around 24 hours a day. In the 1980’s no one had a camera phone to document every social and legal blunder.  I am not saying it will be easy.  I am saying it can be done.  Please.  I love football so much, and I just want to enjoy my Sunday Ticket without the sideshow that has permeated the past several seasons. I am not asking you to do it for the kids.  I am selfishly asking you to do it for me, and for football fans everywhere.