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15 Weeks for Personnel Foul – Boycotting the NFL

Back when I first wrote about my disappointment in the NFL late in July over the issuing of a paltry two-game suspension  for Ray Rice, their continued defense of the Redskins in keeping their offensive name, and their shameful apathy towards former players with lifelong injuries and illnesses, I thought for a hot second about stating that I would boycott the NFL for those reasons.

Because writing it would mean I would have to actually boycott the NFL – I may not be winning Pulitzers over here, but I don’t lie – I stopped short of doing so.  I was disappointed and frustrated, but not yet disgusted.

Well, now I’m disgusted.

For the rest of the season, I won’t be sending any money the NFL’s way, directly or indirectly.  No watching any games, buying any tickets, or buying pink Ray Rice jerseys.

Adrian Peterson beat the shit out of his 4-year old son.  He stuffed the child’s mouth with leaves from a tree branch, then proceeded to whip the boy with said branch on his bare buttocks, thighs, testicles, and hands, drawing blood.  If you want to see what it looked like, click here.

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Peterson was booked on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child, paid his bail, and is a free man while the legal system runs its course – a trial is likely several months away.  His team, the Minnesota Vikings, deactivated him for their game that Sunday, which seemed to be a glimmer of hope that common decency might make a return to the NFL.

Nope.  He’s going to play next Sunday.   Bonus douche points to the Vikings for not even having the balls to say he will play, only that he will likely play.  Way to own it.

I fully understand that from a strictly legal standpoint, he has every right to play.  I understand that both the Vikings and the NFL would likely have an uphill battle with the NFL Players Association if they didn’t allow him to play while due process was taking place – although I’d love to see the NFLPA have the balls to take that stance right now.

What I don’t understand, though, is how the NFL can not see how flawed their stance is – from a financial perspective, let alone a moral one.

Let’s say, for the sake of numerical convenience, that 1% of players in the NFL are “bad guys.”  Wherever that line would be drawn on what defines a “bad guy” [I would hope it is drawn well before knocking out women and beating children until they bleed, by the way], that would leave 99% of the players as “good guys.”

If the NFL were to actually hold their players and executives to a moral standard appropriate for being celebrities and millionaires, they would ban the Bad Guys from the NFL for life.  They could enact a Severance Policy that would require teams to still pay a portion of the banned player’s salary to ensure their families are not put in financial peril, and even include career training and placement resources.  Who would lose in this scenario?

Not the NFL – they come off looking like a shining beacon of goodness and civility in the sporting world, if not society as a whole.  They could point to the Severance Policy as proof that they still care for the men that played in the league, but they cannot allow them to still be a part of it after unacceptable actions.

Not the owners – by and large, NFL fans are cheering for uniforms, not necessarily the men in them.  Even if a Pro Bowler or two fell victim to the Bad Guy Purge, surely one of the 98% of college players who don’t make it to the ranks of the NFL could step in to his place without a drop in revenue for the teams.

Not the players – they will now benefit from a further improved public perception of not only being incredibly talented athletes on the fields, but now also certified Good Guys.

The only losers in this scenario are the Bad Guys – and aren’t they really the ones who deserve it anyway?   If the NFL continues to act indifferent to the character issues of its players, though, they could very well see declines in viewership and revenue as casual fans turn to other sports or other entertainment mediums entirely.  Why risk that to protect a tiny minority of players with criminal or questionable behavior?

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Regardless, until the league shows more than an ass-covering reactionary interest in putting decent human beings on the field every week, I just can’t bring myself to be a part of it.  At the end of the day, it is just entertainment – and for all the things in life we need to expand our comfort zone to accommodate, Sunday entertainment doesn’t have to be one of them.

One man turning off the games won’t make a noticeable mark on the NFL’s ledger at the end of the season.  But we all have a choice to make on what to support and what to ignore, and that’s all we can do.  Besides, I’m a Lions fan;  I probably should have done this 30 years ago.

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