This is not just another day in the middle of football season. It may be the day the NFL jumped the shark. The simmering tension between the league and its players is coming to a head. Look at the headlines. Terrell Suggs is defending James Harrison. That's like South Koreans embracing Kim Jong Il. Players across the league, particularly the Steelers' star players, including Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, and, of course, James Harrison, are calling out Commissioner Roger Goodell for his blatant hypocrisy on issues ranging from discipline for off-field misconduct to in-game player safety. Ward really got to the heart of the matter on Wednesday.
"The league doesn't care about us anyway," said Ward, per ESPN. "They don't care about the safety of the game. If the league was so concerned about the safety, why are you adding two more games on? You talk about you don't want players to drink ... and all you see is beer commercials. You don't want us to gamble, but then there are [NFL-endorsed lottery scratch-off games]."
Well then. Goodell isn't fooling anybody, least of all plaintiffs' lawyers who are walking over to the courthouse steps with a stack of complaints from former players with post-concussion syndrome, oh, right about now. There's really only one way for the league to maintain any credibility on the safety issue, aside from developing some kind of consistency with its on and off-field rulings on illegal hits. Stick with the 16 game season. If owners think fans want more games at any cost, they're seriously miscalculating. No one is happy starting Maurice Morris in their fantasy league playoffs after drafting Frank Gore. Fantasy drafts are already verging on meaningless. If we move to an 18-game schedule? You can skip them entirely.
|Get Me Gary Bettman.|