John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


On the Troubles With the NFL

Posted on September 19, 2014
Ray Rice running 100817-F-8678H-022.JPG

"Ray Rice running 100817-F-8678H-022" by U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Hughes/Released - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I am not really an NFL guy.

When I was a kid, I was a Bear fan, but they are far down my list of favorite teams to follow.

In my family, it was Notre Dame first and then the White Sox.

When I went to Marquette, I ditched Notre Dame basketball for Marquette basketball, but I stuck with Notre Dame football.

When I moved to Washington, I had nothing but disgust for the Redskins (and it had nothing to do with the logo).   I tried to continue my allegiance to the Bears, but it’s hard to keep track from 700 miles away.

So, I would root for the Bears when they came to town, but largely I would play golf on Sunday.

For a while, I joined a football pool and nothing makes you shift your allegiances faster than having money on the line.

If I thought the Bears would lose, I would pick against them in a heartbeat.

Sadly, the football pool ended and now I am largely disinterested in the NFL.

I am all about college football and now, since the Nationals came to town, I am all about the Nationals.

I know.  I know.  How can you be a Nationals fan and a White Sox fan.

Well, it’s pretty easy.  They are in different leagues.  If they play in the World Series, well, I will worry about that when and if it happens.

The scandals that have hit the National Football League are unsurprising.

It’s a violent game played by violent men.

They get paid ridiculous sums of money to beat each other up.  Many of them use drugs just to deal with the intense pain.  Their brains turn to mush from the constant pounding that is a regular feature of the game.

It’s our version of the Roman gladiators.

The crowd at an NFL game is even worse.

I have yet to go to an NFL game where I am not amazed how completely drunk, profane, nasty and idiotic the crowd is.

I would never bring my son to an NFL game, unless we had access to a box where I can shield him from all of the profanity.

It’s worse if you are a Redskins fan, because you have to travel out to Landover and get stuck in traffic both coming in and out of the stadium.

And you know that a pretty high percentage of the folks driving home after the game have been tail-gating hard before, during and after the game.

The NFL seems to have far more knuckleheads than say, Major League Baseball.

Baseball is a game of endurance.  You have 162 games, you have the minor leagues, you have much longer careers.  The knuckleheads getting weaned out well before they become an embarrassment to the league.

When college football is done right, the University takes steps to police its own players.  Notre Dame, for example, routinely kicks players (even star players) off the team for all kinds of infractions.

Some schools don’t do it right and when they don’t, it hurts the reputation of the whole University.  Florida State comes to mind, early and often.

It seems like a lot of stuff is sticking to the NFL.  Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and host of other examples of misconduct is starting to get reported and people, especially sponsors, are starting to get nervous.

The NFL is not just a game for men, and the female fans are starting to notice that the game is populated with a bunch of guys who might not be model citizens.

Of course, that all starts in college.  If kids don’t learn values in college – or worse, if they learn the wrong values – then that lack of values becomes even more noticeable at the professional level.

If kids learns that they can get away with date rape, or using drugs or ripping off the system or getting money under the table or not having to study or worse not learning anything at the college level, that makes it all the more likely that the professional athletes will keep acting poorly when they are making a lot more money and have a lot more pressure on them.

Garbage in, garbage out.

The idea that this is a new development is hilarious.

Ray Lewis murdered somebody and he ended up becoming an NFL legend.

Maybe these crises will inspire the NFL and the college game to change its ways.  More likely, they will hire an expert crisis communications firm, fire their commissioner and find a way to change the subject without really changing the way their athletes act.

Hope I am wrong.  In the meantime, I am looking forward to watching the World Series this Fall.  And of course, the Fighting Irish.

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