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Let me write something I haven’t written in almost a year.
OK. Here’s goes:
You see, since the Kansas City wide receiver was accused in the case of child abuse against his 3-year-old son, I’ve refused to use his name. Never thought I’d have to say it again. Thought I could simply let him fall into obscurity — an OJ-like figure whose evil spirit was sadly gifted physical ability to catch a ball and run with it better than nearly everyone on the planet.
I thought his story was written. I thought there was a natural ending.
Then the NFL … did … nothing. After months of investigation. It did. Fully. Fucking. Nothing.
So much about this upsets me, not the least of which is the acres and acres of prior circumstances that seem to implicate his character.
As you know, the Take The Field Podcast is committed to interrogating its own fan status. So, here I am, laying myself prostrate and letting you know that, as disgusted as I am — as fully nauseated by the latest example of the NFL throwing my own morals and values into my face — I will still be watching this season. In fact, as usual, I can’t wait for the season to begin.
Why the hell is this the truth for so many of us?
Honestly, it’s an issue I’ve been grappling with since the 2014 Adrian Peterson child-abuse case.
The answer, I’m afraid, is more simple than my five-year quest would indicate.
The NFL has been gaslighting an entire generation of fans, playing a moral shell game to hide the true toxicity contained in the roots of toxic masculine culture. Since Dr. Bennet Omalu put the league on full alert surrounding the plague of CTE and the results of chronic brain trauma, there has been an awful lot of work by those in power to redirect attention.
While the responsible reaction, of course, would be to create authentic programs for youth players to recognize and report warning signs of such behaviors in themselves and peers, the NFL appears to have latched onto the weed boogieman, creating pariahs and burning in effigy all those players caught using marijuana.
Don’t believe me? Ask your local NFL-bro his opinions of Ricky Williams. Ask about Josh Gordon.
Feels a little like the abusive dad from the block who terrorizes his own family in the name of protecting them from a “greater evil.”
In sharp contrast, following its late-20th century steroid epidemic, Major League Baseball adopted a far different approach — that of hyper-moralization. Honestly, nobody was shocked when the gauze of naivete was pulled back on the greatest stars of the era. Even still, 25 years later, the MLB has white-knuckled its pearls so hard that Cooperstown is starting to feel the effects. (Deepest apologies to Harold Baines.)
What’s the answer, then?
How are you dealing with your moral conflicts surrounding the current state of the NFL?
Is it as easy of disavowing the product and the league? Or is there more to it than that?
We’d love to hear from you.
In the meantime, peep the latest episode of the Take The Field Podcast (below), and subscribe to it using this link.