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Why the New NFL is just the same Old Politics

March 26, 2012

American politics and the NFL have a lot in common. They both pit opposing teams against each other in the public arena and they both have their own inherent ideology used quite often to cover up one singular fact: that in the end – it’s always about the money.

Rich, old white guys control everything from behind the scenes while talk radio hosts entertain the masses with simple generalizations and polarizing view points. Conversations in sports, like politics, all boil down to “your teams sucks and so do you” with equal chance of violence.

Players and politicians tow the party line alike, speaking in simple clichés and scripted rhetoric revealing nothing of what’s actually happening. In fact, whenever a sport or political figure uses candor and honesty, they’re usually marginalized as “kooks” and “oddballs.” Basically, in the eyes of the media, Ron Paul is the Rex Ryan of the Presidential race – only the media respects Rex Ryan’s knowledge of defense.

Now, to be fair, politics has been a dirty game since well before the throwing and kicking of pigskin balls, but recently NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has proven that our government can still learn a thing or two when it comes to bullshitting the public. Not since Obama has someone so used the health of others as a shield to slip in their own agenda.

After an investigation into the New Orleans Saints showed the team had been using a ‘Bounty Program,’ the league heavy-handedly suspended coach Sean Payton a full season, a former assistant indefinitely, as well as a multitude more in fines and lost draft picks. A ‘Bounty Program,’ for the curious, is basically a tool used by coaches to motivate their players to knock out the opposing teams best players with the incentive of cash (also known as – Professional Football).

Since its inception, football has been a dangerous sport, so why is the NFL now pretending we’re watching it for the competition and intricacies of the West Coast offense? The violence IS the entertainment. When I say the name Joe Theismann what do you immediately think of? His two Super Bowl appearances?  His over 160 touchdown completions? Or crying on the field with his leg contorted like a meaty movie theater Twizzler?

The reason the NFL is being so ‘compassionate’ has nothing to do with the health of their product (ie players), but everything to do with the money. For decades studies have shown the average lifetime of retired football players to be around 55. With the constant abuse to their bodies, overlooked concussions, and lack of quality medical treatment after their playing years consistently proven to be a major factor in their demise. However the NFL has always ignored these facts because it’s never affected their bottom line. Now after numerous lawsuits, medical studies, and publicized evidence of league negligence, the NFL head office is posturing more than ever over player safety.

Lawsuits include one from ex-Chicago Quarterback Jim McMahon and six others that accuse the NFL of “negligence and intentional misconduct in its response to the headaches, dizziness and dementia that former players have reported.” McMahon himself is stating that his years in the league have greatly diminished his memory functions. (Though, tragically, he still can’t forget his rap in the Super Bowl Shuffle.)

None of this is really the reason why the NFL is being so proactive about player safety. They’ve faced lawsuits before, brushed them off, and have been fine with the status quo. If you really want to know why Roger Goodell is being so matronly over his players then look no further than 2011’s lockout.

The biggest point of negotiations weren’t about the owner/player split as much as it was about pushing for an 18 game season. The extra 2 games would provide enormous amounts of revenue in not just attendance, but network time, advertising, and millions of other dollars the sport generates. The one hang up? Players have a tough time making it past just one game much less a full season.

Eventually the matter was dropped, but now not one year later, using extra cash to motivate your players is considered “inexcusable.” The Saints are being punished to set an example to all the other teams who have the exact same bounty programs themselves. The NFL wants all to know “Kill that Motherfucker!” is acceptable motivation, while “Kill that Motherfucker, here’s ten grand!” is not. Like the government, the league demands their cut.

Football is an excellent mirror of this nation’s politics, but our government could learn a lot from the NFL too. Unlike America, the NFL actually turns a profit. How great could this country be if we adopted their business plan? Our politicians are already owned by corporations, having logos prominently displayed showing just which ones would be way more honest and refreshing.

Beer and hot dogs would make congressional votes at least as interesting as baseball and the revenue from Mitt Romney Finger Foams and Obama Rally Towel sales could go a long way in bringing down that pesky national debt.

Not to mention the mascots! How fun are they?! Who wants to see George Clooney at a voting rally overemoting with each twinge of his furrowed eyebrows? Fuck that – I want to see George Clooney in a donkey suit shooting 100% cotton wads from a T-Shirt gun, dammit! (At the very least an apology for Batman Forever.)

Give it a chance. What could it hurt? If we changed the name of the Capitol to the Visa Capital One Arena, would anybody really notice the difference?

Nothing would actually change. Progress would still be blocked for the profit of the rich old white men who own us, and leaders would still be posturing about how much they’re concerned with our health care.

But at least it be entertaining.



Swiss Army Robot is a satirical column written by Jay Whitecotton and is intended to be taken as seriously as possible. You can find him on Facebook and Write him at


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  • Guest

    So, Joe Blow, i don’t know. I am supposed to take your satire as seriously as possible? I don’t subscribe to your line of logic here. How can you honestly condone the fact that these ‘men’ are encouraging actual injury. I guess you feel like UFC is not violent enough for you now and liked it better when matches were not intervened at all even when men’s arms were broken even after they had submitted. Or cheered on enthusiastically when someone’s orbital socket was crushed. The time of the gladiator is over,  And lacing politics with NFL policies doesn’t seem to work. Next time, try to use more direct examples instead of cliche or analogies. I believe a more direct approach would be better.

  • Jaywhitecotton

    Joe Blow – nice – i actually agree with you about how the game should evolve to address safety – especially if you consider how many people died at its inception before the passing game became integral… and i don’t care much for Pitt Steeler James Harrison’s super aggressive hits. It seems like the art of tackling has been replaced with just mindless crushing… as far as UFC is concerned – i don’t watch it. I think if two men are gonna hold each other that long in their underwear they should at least be making out… the whole Tap Out thing and bedazzled skull shirts actually offends me more than the obvious brutality – that said – when it comes to these sports – the participants are well aware of the health risks and i have no problem with consenting adults choosing to destroy their bodies for sport… now – The blog itself isn’t about what i condone as much as a like minded hypocrocy between the corporation of the NFL and the corporation of American Government. For instance – The NFL has had decades to address the fact that their sport inherently breeds the culture of hurting opponants… and its that inherent culture that has greatly attributed to player lives being cut short…but they did nothing because they profitted from it… now that promoting player safety will increase their revenue – i find it BS that Roger Goodell is posturing like he has been of late. Especially when its really only to feed his lawyers defense against former players showing just how ‘proactive’ the league is in protecting their players. truth is – they don’t care about the players – hence why they can cut em’ in a heart beat… every contract negotiation or hold out proves that alone. the allegory makes my point dude, it doe not prove anything and im not arrogant enough to think it would…its a perception thing ya know? but based on my ‘percieved reality’ it perfectly demonstrates how the governments ‘care for health’ is a lot like the NFL’s – motivated by money not any real concern. — thanks for the feedback tho – it is very much appreciated (and if you can… where exactly is the cliche? is it George Clooney apologising for Batman Forever – i just cant see the cliche in this blog?)

  • Mehs

    If owners looking out for their pocketbooks has the positive externality of a better quality of life for the athletes, I see no problem with this crackdown.

    And I hate to be all “what about the children”, but behaviors like that in which the Saints participated trickles down to the college and highschool levels. Trying to hurt is the game. Trying to injure is wrong. Especially when we are talking about kids with inadequate health insuarnce. If mothers are going to pull kids out of football (and they are already to a tremendous extent) the talent level will diminish and the NFL product will suffer.

    What the league’s ruling should do, I hope, is bring the league back to taclking the correct way. Like your description of James Harrison, players too often are launching instead of tackling. While this has caused more injuries (on both sides of the ball), I would also like to point out that it has also led to more missed tackles and, as a result, more offense. In the beginning of football, when it was just starting to differentiate itself from rugby, wrap-up tackling was the standard method. It still works in rugby and those guys don’t wear pads. 

    Overall a great article about a subject I care about from an old friend. Good job.

    P.S. Sean Payton is an arrogant jerk and got his punishment more for his arrogance than the deed itself. Screw that guy. It is bad enough he is calling 40 bombs when his team is up 4 scores late in the 4th quarter (classless garbage) so he can set some offensive records, but he put other teams’ players AND his own players in a position to lose their livelihood by encouraging this program. Also he got caught lying right to the Ginger Hammer’s face and the Hammer don’t play that.

  • Guest

    I realized after I posted the reply that your name wasn’t Joe, honest mistake on my part. Thank you for your honest and thoughtful reply. I guess I missed your point on the article. Maybe it was too artsy (is that even a word?) for me.  I do agree that the ownership of the NFL, like most politicians, don’t care for the average person. Most politicians are only concerned with lining their own pockets by insider trading, bowing to special interest groups for kickbacks and their own reelection so they can reap in that fat retirement check for their ‘hard work’. So my question is; what is an average person to do? With all the noise from the spin in both directions, the true message of addressing the real issues with real solutions gets lost or forgotten. Take an issue such as immigration reform for instance; the corporations and unions have that issue in a stranglehold with all the lobbying going around. All the time, the issue keeps growing and getting more complex. There are pros and cons that are valid on both sides of the issue, but there is never going to be a fix that everyone will be able to enjoy completely. It’s what we call compromise, and that form of art died some time ago. (I think during the Clinton administration). Again thanks for your rebuttal; I will be looking for more of your articles to come. You can call me Joe Blow Don’t Know if you want.