Vin Scully's boycott of the NFL is stupid

In response to football players kneeling during the national anthem, Vin Scully has announced tat he will not watch the NFL ever again. 

His comments:

"I have only one personal thought, really. And I am so disappointed. And I used to love, during the fall and winter, to watch the NFL on Sunday. And it's not that I'm some great patriot. I was in the Navy for a year -- didn't go anywhere, didn't do anything. But I have overwhelming respect and admiration for anyone who puts on a uniform and goes to war. So the only thing I can do in my little way is not to preach. I will never watch another NFL game."

Questions:

Does Scully not know that the players who are kneeling are protesting police brutality and racism in the criminal justice system and not the flag or our servicemen and women?

Has he not heard that thousands of military veterans have openly supported the players' First Amendment right to kneel, arguing that this is exactly what they fought and risked their lives for? Some have even taken a knee in solidarity with the players. 

Has no one told Scully that at least one Major League Baseball player also kneeled in protest this past season? Is he done with baseball, too? 

Has he forgotten that he is a wealthy, white man who grew up in a segregated America, attended a prep school, and has no clue about what it's like to be an African American in America today? He can't begin to imagine what it's like to be an African American man during a routine traffic stop or what it's like to be locked up for a crime while your white counterpart goes free. 

Could someone please clue this old, white guy into the stupidity of his boycott, please? I've always liked and admired Scully, but this nonsense is seriously tarnishing his image.

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Unfair assumption #29: Football fans are more effective in emergencies

As we left the house last night, our 19 year-old babysitter was settling in to watch the end of the Atlanta Falcons - Seattle Seahawks playoff game.

She'd been watching the first half of the game at home before coming over.   

When I arrived home from the show five hours later, she was sitting in the living room, watching the Patriots - Texans playoff game. She was kind enough to turn the game off as I entered the house so I could watch it on tape delay (after ensuring that her father was recording it at home as well), but still, she was watching intently when I walked in the door.

Just so we are clear: She watched NFL football on her own for almost the entire time that I was gone.

I know it's entirely unfair to assume anything based upon her viewing preferences, but if the house suddenly caught fire, a bear clawed its way into our home, or the Russians invaded our town Red Dawn style, I can't help but think that this 19 year-old woman would handle the situation with ease.

Or at least more competently than the babysitter who spends the evening watching the Kardashians or The Family Feud.  

An unfair assumption to be sure, but it's a gut feeling that I can't help but think is at least a little bit true.  

When I explained my assumption to Elysha, she informed me that our babysitter is also attending Harvard University and is home on break.

Perhaps my gut instincts are more accurate than previously thought. 

Twenty-five years spent standing in a parking lot

I'll be tailgating in the parking lot at the Patriots game on Sunday. I have seen many things in the decades I have spent tailgating at Gillette Stadium.

Public intoxication. Nudity. Fist fights. Fender benders. Lobster shell distance throws. A Christmas tree labeled "Trebow" that was set afire and nearly burned several dummies to death in the process. 

I've bribed parking attendants. Trudged through snow up to my waist. Sent a soon-to-be-exgirlfriend back to the car at halftime when she could no longer endure the freezing rain and demanded to be brought home. Pushed my pregnant wife up the ramps to our seats with the help of my friend, Shep.   

Even after a quarter century of attending New England Patriots football games, I still see things while tailgating that surprise me.

Like this: 

A comfortable place to sit prior to the game and perhaps an efficient way to get rid of an old piece of furniture at the same time. 

Killing two birds and such.

My 13 New Year's resolutions for the NFL

On the heels of my own list of New Year's resolutions comes my proposed resolutions for the National Football League.

There are many serious issues that the NFL needs to address. This list does not touch upon the more complex and serious issues facing the NFL but seeks only to increase a fan's enjoyment of the game.

Most of these proposals are relatively simple to adopt and should be implemented immediately.   

  1. Digitize NFL tickets. The fact that NFL ticket holders must possess a physical ticket on game day in order to gain access to the stadium is ridiculous. 
  2. Play at least one NFL game on Christmas Day regardless of the day of the week. 
  3. Play at least one NFL game on New Year's Day regardless of the day of the week.
  4. Broadcast two 1:00 games and two 4:00 games every Sunday without exception. Why this isn't happening already is beyond me. 
  5. Increase the height of the goal post by at least 20 feet. Someday soon, an important playoff game will be decided by a questionable field goal that is kicked higher than the current goal posts and will be misjudged by the referees. Field goal kicks above the posts are also not reviewable. 
  6. Expand NFL rosters by at least 10 players. Injuries play too important a role in the fates of NFL teams. Mitigate this impact as much as possible with expanded rosters.  
  7. Build a tunnel under Route 1 or a foot bridge over Route 1 adjacent to Gillette Stadium in at least three locations so pedestrians from the parking lots can cross the road without having to stop traffic. (Apologies. I know this is very New England Patriots specific).
  8. Allow NFL fans to vote out one NFL commentator per year if he or she receives at least 25% of the vote.
  9. Cease all mention of the preempting of 60 Minutes during the 4:00 CBS telecast. NO ONE IS EVER WONDERING WHY 60 MINUTES HASN'T STARTED.
  10. Cease all commercial breaks immediately following a kickoff.  
  11. Cease all indoor football games. Football is meant to be played outdoors. If they can play football outdoors in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it can play it anywhere. 
  12. Modify the pass interference penalty. Pass interference penalties shall no longer be spot fouls. The subjective nature of this penalty too often flips the field and completely changes the game based upon the opinion of a referee. Pass interference should be penalized as half the distance of the intended pass with a minimum of 10 yards and an automatic first down.
  13. Offer Super Bowl tickets to the fans of the Super Bowl teams first.

My wife’s text message in the closing seconds of the Super Bowl said it all.

My wife and I watched the Super Bowl in separate locations last night.

One of my favorite moments of the night was the text that she sent after Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass to secure the Patriots’ victory.

I’m confused by what just happened but I know it was good.

Yes, honey. It was good indeed.

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Who ever said that domestic violence and sexual assault are hard subjects to talk about? What’s the deal, NFL?

I applaud the NFL for their recent “No More” campaign, targeting domestic violence and sexual assault. I hope they continue to raise awareness and assist victims in every possible way.

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But their recent series of television ads baffle me. The ads, which feature prominent football players staring in silence at the camera, end with the message:

Domestic violence and sexual assault are hard subjects for everyone to talk about. Help us start the conversation.

I don’t think that domestic violence and sexual assault are hard to talk about at all.

Does anyone?

Perhaps it would be difficult to talk about these subjects with my children or my fifth graders. Maybe it would be difficult to discuss if I were the perpetrator of these crimes. But what is so hard about discussing these topics with law-abiding adults?

I honestly don’t get it. I can’t think of a single person in my life with whom I couldn't talk about sexual assault and domestic violence.

What am I missing?

The St. Louis Police Officers Association have demanded an apology, which unfortunately has made them look like middle school brats.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association is upset with the St. Louis Rams  football players who entered the field displaying the "hands up don't shoot" pose.

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This seems like a perfectly reasonable response. The “hands up don’t shoot” pose has been adopted by protestors who accused Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson of murdering Michael Brown. The gesture has become synonymous with assertions that Michael Brown was innocent of any wrongdoing and attempting to surrender peacefully when Wilson gunned him down in cold blood.

If I was a police officer, I might be upset, too.

However, the St. Louis Police Officers Association demand that the players apologize and be disciplined strikes me as petty, purposeless, and ridiculous and only serves to cast the police officers in fragile, vindictive light.    

"The SLPOA is calling for the players involved to be disciplined and for the Rams and the NFL to deliver a very public apology. Roorda said he planned to speak to the NFL and the Rams to voice his organization's displeasure tomorrow. He also plans to reach out to other police organizations in St. Louis and around the country to enlist their input on what the appropriate response from law enforcement should be.”

I recently listed the eight lowest forms of human communication. The demanded apology is first on this list.  

When you demand an apology, you are asking to person you have offended you to utter a set of words that may express regret but with no guarantee of sincerity. There is no way of knowing whether or not the apology was heart-felt, since you never allowed the offender the opportunity to apologize without prompting.

Besides, what is the value of a demanded apology? Will an expression of forced regret make the police feel better?

I hope not. It’s pretty pathetic if that’s the case.

A demanded apology is nothing more than an adult version of “Take it back!” It’s a form of passive-aggressive punishment that typically results in the petty, meaningless satisfaction in knowing that you made someone say something that they would rather not have said.

When I revise my list of the eight lowest forms of communication, I’ll have to add the cliché demand that an employee to be disciplined or terminated, because this is just as bad if not worse.

Will the punishing of these five football players made the police officers feel better?

Do they think that the punishing of these players for exercising their First Amendment right will somehow deter demonstrations by other football players or other groups in the future?

If anything, a punishment would only serve to incite additional demonstrations. It’s been a source of ridicule on social media and by people like Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. 

 

The St. Louis Police Officers Association go on to threaten the players and anyone who thinks that this form of protest represents freedom of speech under the First Amendment:

Roorda warned, "I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights. Well I've got news for people who think that way, cops have first amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours.

Not only is there a veiled threat contained within the statement, but it’s not logically sound. The first half of the statement:

“I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights. Well, I’ve got news for people who think this way…”

… seems to indicate that the police reject the notion that this demonstration is protected speech. The use of the word “simply” as a modifier implies that the players actions went beyond First Amendment rights, and the use of the phrase “people who think this way” implies that this belief is not universally acknowledged. It seems to express a belief that “people who think this way” are separate from what is right and just.

Yet the second half of the statement:

“… cops have first amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours.”

… seems to express a belief that what the players did was right and just under the First Amendment and the police plan on engaging in similar, legally justified actions.

You can’t have it both ways, St. Louis Police Officers Association.

There’s also no way in hell that the police will ever follow through on this threat. What do they plan on doing? Protest the NFL? Draw even more attention to their pettiness?

I doubt it.

The police are in a tough spot. They should not make it worse with ridiculous, illogical statements like this one.

ESPN makes the same stupid mistake that they criticized NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for two months ago.

Bill Simmons is suspended by ESPN for three weeks after calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “a liar” after the commissioner claimed that he never saw the Ray Rice video in which the running back punches his then fiancée on a Las Vegas elevator and knocks her out.

Police report that the video of the incident was handed over to the NFL in April. 

Back in July, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith implies that Ray Rice’s fiancée had some culpability in her beating and advises women to be wary about provoking their spouses into domestic violence.

He is suspended for two weeks.

Are companies like the NFL and ESPN trying to make us hate them?

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The NFL draft is kind of dumb. But this story is AWESOME.

I do not enjoy the NFL draft. Even though I’m an enormous fan of the Patriots and the National Football League, the endless predictions and prognostications leading up to the draft strike me as the biggest waste of time on the planet.

They serve no purpose.

The expert’s mock drafts are never correct. Even if they ranked the players in the correct order (which they never do), all it takes is one trade (which there always is) to render their already inaccurate mock drafts moot.

Even after the draft, there is no telling how these former college players will perform. First round players go bust all the time. Undrafted free agents become Hall of Famers.

There’s no telling until these players take the field. 

I just wait until these players take the field. Then I watch.

That said, this is my favorite NFL draft story of all time.

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If you’re critical of the National Football League, I understand completely. If you’re smug while doing so, you deserve to be kicked through a goal post.

Journalist Fuzz Hogan has decided to stop watching football this season. He cites head injuries, the the use of performance enhancing drugs and the way in which the NFL contributes to corruption in college football as his reasons for forgoing the game.

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I have no problem with someone deciding that football is too violent to continue watching. The data on head injuries alone makes the danger clear, and if a football fan decides to stop supporting that violence, I understand completely.

I also have no problem with anyone who decides to stop watching football because of the use of performance enhancing drugs. When the integrity of the game is questioned, then its appeal is understandably diminished.

I’m not sure if the corruption in college football would end if the NFL did not exist as Hogan suggests, but I have no problem with this reason, either. If this is what Hogan believes, his decision to stop watching professional football is admirable.

While I don’t plan to stop watching the National Football League anytime soon, I am more than willing to acknowledge that my continued interest contributes to a variety of serious health problems for the players, and that a boycott of the game would be a noble thing to do.

I just love the game too much to stop.

My dispute with Hogan is based solely in the astounding level of smugness that he exhibits when describing his football free Sundays.

He writes:  

News flash: Watching football is a time-suck. Studies have shown there’s 11 minutes of action in a game that takes three hours. So even though I’ve tried to convince myself that I can be productive during the game—checking e-mails, folding laundry, even working out—that’s still a lot of wasted time trying to not waste time.

This is not a news flash. Football fans have known this forever. Many sports, including baseball and golf, are no different. But the game’s appeal does not lie in the eleven minutes of real time play alone. It’s the moments of critical decision making, the euphoric celebrations, the instant replay, the analysis of each play, the gamesmanship, the strategy and the conversation and camaraderie that fans enjoy between the plays. While Hogan is correct about the eleven minutes of play, his use of the phrase “New flash” and the underlying implication that he is dispensing new information on football fans make him sound like a smug jackass.  

Hogan then goes on to describe his football-free Sunday: 

So instead, on the NFL’s opening Sunday afternoon I cooked dinner—a real dinner, with different dishes and a complicated recipe. I helped the kids with homework, with the attention span to actually help. I found out how the other third lives … the third that doesn’t watch the NFL. It was enjoyable.

What a smug jackass. A real dinner? My wife made grilled cheese sandwiches with apples and bacon last night. We actually picked the apples last week just prior to the Patriots-Saints game. It is one of my favorite dinners, and the whole family loved it. It took her about 15 minutes to make.

Was this not a real enough dinner for you, Mr. Hogan?

Was the lack of complicated recipes disappointing to you?

And what if we decide to order pizza for dinner on Sunday while I watch the Patriots play the Jets? Should I feel like a bad parent or an ineffective human being? 

Is that how you will think of me?

Knowing that you are making a real dinner, from a complicated recipe, while we eat pizza from a box, should I assume that the way that you are spending your time is better than mine?

And what if I choose to help my children with homework after the game? Is this not also acceptable? Is there some premium placed on homework completion during an NFL game?

Hogan then says that his football-free Sundays have allowed him to discover how the people who don’t watch the NFL live.

Has he been watching the NFL while stuffed inside a cardboard box? Did he retire to the basement and lock the door in order to watch the game? Does some moratorium exist that prevented him from asking his friends and family what they were doing while he was watching the game?    

What a stupid, ridiculous, self-serving, smug thing to say. 

I have no problem with the criticism that the National Football League receives. I have no problem with the decision to boycott the game or stop watching forever. I even have no problem with criticism directed at me for supporting this violent game.

But smugness? That’s the worse.