Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Socialist NFL

I just want to take a moment to thank Troy Polamalu for finally coming out and saying something intelligent against Roger Goodell. See, we're now more than two years in the Goodell era and unlike most commentators out there, I've been extremely dissatisfied with it. Seems to me like Goodell has decided to become a footbal dictator instead of a football commissioner. Let's hear from Troy because he's one of the few NFLers out there willing to let his voice be heard against the commish:

"I think regarding the evolution of football, it's becoming more and more flag football, two-hand touch," Polamalu said. "We've really lost the essence of what real American football is about. I think it's probably all about money. They're not really concerned about safety.

When you see guys like Dick Butkus, the Ronnie Lotts, the Jack Tatums, these guys really went after people," Polamalu told reporters. "Now, they couldn't survive in this type of game. They wouldn't have enough money. They'd be paying fines all the time and they'd be suspended for a year after they do it two games in a row. It's kind of ridiculous."

Polamalu was referring to the ridiculous amounts of fines given to some of his Steelers teammates have incurred this season for what the league deems unnecessary roughness. Like Troy, I also understand the need for safety what with big hits becoming more and more of a regularity these days. But frankly, like Troy said, this is a contact sport. Legislating legal, big hits is way out of bounds in my book. Just like legislating non-obscene touchdown celebrations and punishing players for actions not involving a police report is out of line.

To me, what used to just be the No Fun League has turned into the "You can't do anything unless Roger Goodell deems it appropriate in his book" league. There's a reason these men are good at what they do (that being hitting people for a living) and it's not because they are public angels. Troy puts it best when he said that football's essence is being taken away with the NFL's heavy-handed penalties, saying football "just loses so much of its essence when it becomes like a pansy game."

The NFL is kind of like our economy right now. Unless Henry Paulson thinks it's right, don't plan on making any kind of financial maneuverings right now. The government, like Roger Goodell, controls everything and it's just not a natural marriage. See, the boom of capitalism is a great thing (look at how great the economy was up until a year or so ago), but sometimes you've got to take your lumps in the process. Same thing goes for the NFL. Yes, being a little more permissive gave us the Pacman Jones and Chris Henry's of the world.

But it has also produced great showmen like Deion Sanders, Palomalu, and well, the TD celebrations of Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson. Not to mention guys like Ray Lewis, Jamal Anderson (btw, have you noticed that the Falcons' version of the Wildcat formation is called "The Dirty Bird"), and Reggie Bush — all of whom are wildly entertaining in some form. And what about the Super Bowl Shuffle or the Icky Shuffle of the 1980s? Those certainly wouldn't be allowed nowadays.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't like the direction the league has taken since Goodell took over. Part of the allure of football is seeing these guy's personalities emerge on the field — whether that be as a hard-hitting safety or a prima donna wide receiver. The contrast is what makes me keep coming back for more. For some reason Goodell wants a league chock full of running backs jogging back to the sideline with an expressionless face after scoring a touchdown.

Frankly, if I wanted to go see someone unhappy, I'd go visit any Phillies fan after Game 6 of the World Series in a couple weeks.

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