Monday, May 12, 2014

Some NFL Thoughts

Some thoughts on the NFL draft.... The NFL just held its draft last weekend to MASSIVE ratings.

A Brilliant Event: The NFL draft is utterly brilliant. This one event allows fans of teams who have stunk since the Civil War to believe that their team finally has a chance to win the Super Bowl. Why do fans believe that? Because the NFL sells these college athletes as “the missing pieces.” They sell them as guys who can join a team of misfits and completely make that team into something they have never been. And to help sell this myth, they talk about guys like Tom Brady being found in the 6th round and how Brady lifted the sad-sack Patriots to Super Bowl glory.

Of course, this is all marketing. The vast majority of rookies wash out. Even with first round picks, many will never be more than a backup and more than half won’t make it to a second contract. Moreover, you’re really only talking about a couple guys being added to a roster of 53 players. As impactful as they might be, one or two rookies alone can’t improve an entire team.

Further, with regard to these late round gems, that’s a real myth. You can count on one hand the number of great players found in the later rounds in the last twenty drafts. Indeed, that’s why they always mention Brady, because he’s one of the few obvious examples. By the way, with regard to Brady, there is a bit of a myth to this. Brady didn’t life the Patriots to Super Bowl contenders, they already were when Bledsoe got hurt. So Tom took over an excellent team. Had he gone to Cleveland, he would be forgotten by now most likely.

Anyway, the draft is sold to fans on the same principle as the lottery: you could be the long shot, but they do just enough to hide this fact and to give everyone hope that this year will be different. And NFL fans buy into this BIG time! It really is brilliant.

The New Civil Rights Movement Cancelled: For months now, the sports journalism world has been obsessively pushing the idea of the NFL’s first gay athlete. The reason is actually quite simple. Most sports journalists got to where they are by writing books or papers on the integration of various sports, and these armchair civil rights warriors want to see themselves leading the charge, so they have been casting about for a long time now for anything they can latch onto as their Selma.

Well, they think they found it in gay athletes and for months now they’ve been pushing this idea that they were going to shine a light on these evil homophobic white, male owners and force them to finally breakdown the rainbow curtain that has kept gay athletes from joining the ranks in the NFL. Only it didn’t work that way.

See, it turns out that those evil white owners have no problems with hiring gays. And those evil white racist coaches apparently don’t have any problem with gay players either. And except for a few players (each of who has been black, mind you), the players have pretty said, “We don’t care.” The fans don’t seem to care either.

Indeed, it turns out that the only people who were sure that gays would never be accepted and that someone would need to send in the National Guard to integrate football were the journalists. So it’s been a real let down for them (almost a comic let down) to see them whine about equality only to learn that there have been gays in the NFL, to whine about homophobic owners only to learn that they have non-discrimination policies and have hired gay employees, to whine about players not accepting gays only to be met with a near universal “if he can play, then I don’t care what he does.” You can hear the air sputtering out of their self-righteous balloons.

Anyway, their last hope was that Michael Sam wouldn’t be drafted and they really played that up. They cautioned us not to expect too much, this is the homophobic NFL after all. They talked about needing to change the league, etc. etc.

Then he got drafted.

So much for their ability to re-enact the Civil Rights Movement and then write books about how THEY made it happen. I guess now they'll have to do their jobs instead.

As an aside, said player Michael Sam, is busy ruining the goodwill he developed by claiming he should have been drafted sooner. Given his limited skills, he should consider himself lucky he got drafted at all.


Kit said...

I remember on Downton Abbey when Thomas, the gay (and kinda jerkass) underbutler/footman, was somewhat outed when he was caught doing something suspect. Most of the employees at the Abbey were not really shocked and a number of them just shrugged because most of the employees already knew it or suspected it.

In the first series we had Mrs. Patmore trying to tell Daisy, who was smitten with him, that he is "not a ladies man." Hint, hint.

My point being, he is very likely by no means the first gay player in the NFL. There have been others before. He is the first openly gay player in the NFL. There have been others before him who were closeted gays before him, and the other football players probably knew about their orientation or at the very least suspected it. With these players it would have been an open secret on the team. You could call them "openly closeted".

Anthony said...

Interesting read. Haven't really followed this (I care little for pro football and less than that about college football) but I was under the impression that the guy was expected to go high.

Given that gays have already won acceptance, anyone expecting Michael Sam to be the gay equivalent of Jackie Robinson hasn't been paying attention to current events.

tryanmax said...

This makes me reflect on what talk radio and the early internet used to be: media that reported on the media. That area of journalism comes and goes, but at present we don't seem to have any, otherwise, the story there would be, "Why journalists don't think gays can make it"

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, In fact, one of the first things to happen was a flood of players saying they already had gay players in their locker rooms, that everyone knew who they were, and that no one cared. There have even been a couple who have come out after ending their careers. But Sam is the first to come out while still playing, so he is in somewhat of a different category. But he's definitely not the first.

This morning, by the way, places like The Today Show were talking about how the NFL is "finally" changing now that they drafted Sam. That's the narrative -- troglodytes finally change! And it's such crap. The NFL has had non-discrimination policies for as far back as I can remember. They've hired gay employees. They've never once gotten rid of a player or blackballed them for being gay. This is the faux tolerant trying to pretend that they have swayed the actually tolerant.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, Actually, I suspect that if wasn't gay and Jeff Fisher wasn't trying to make a point, he wouldn't have been drafted. There were journalists early on who claimed he should have been a 2-3 round talent, but that fell away pretty quickly when they couldn't find any scout who agreed with that. The scouts generally viewed him as too small, too slow, and lacking football instincts. I suspect he'll make the team (because I think Jeff Fisher wants that) as a special teams player and will be out of the league in three years.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Totally agree about the gay Jackie Robinson. But that's what these journalists wanted him to be and that's why they've been pushing this false narrative of everyone wanting to stop Sam when the reality is that almost no one really cares about his orientation. They just care if he can play.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, At the stupidest moment of this, the narrative became about the media. Get this...

After it became clear that no one was going to burn a pink triangle on Sam's lawn, the focus shifted to whether or not Sam would be "too big of a distraction for any NFL to want to draft him." ("distraction" was quickly labelled a code word for homophobia). And what was the distraction they were worried about? The distraction was that journalists would swamp the team and flood them with questions about whether or not Sam is accepted.

Translation: We think he won't get drafted by the mean old NFL because of a situation we will cause.

And the NFL would be to blame for this because somethingsomething homophobia.

How ridiculous is that?

tryanmax said...

BTW, there's a totally awesome meme on Twitter about Michael Sam that illustrates how absolutely ridiculous this is.

"What Michael Sam is doing is totally unnatural. I mean...having two first names? C'mon!"

"How am I supposed to explain Michael Sam to my kids? I don't want them confused by his two first names lifestyle."

"Michael Sam being drafted into the NFL is another triumph for people with two first names. Somewhere, George Michael is smiling."

Kit said...


Having two first names is unbiblical.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's pretty funny and I think it shows the public's attitude that they see this issue as settled and just want to move on... it's become dull to them.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, LOL! Indeed! It is a smoting offense.

BevfromNYC said...

I am not going to go so far as to say that the NFL and football players/fans are more enlightened, but this has been entertaining. The most entertaining part is what hit the papers this morning. Sunday it was the open kiss with his Olympic swimmer boyfriend. This morning it's whining that he didn't get picked soon enough...those homophobic teams just couldn't bring themselves to do it...only St. Louis. "kay, but it seemed the other teams were trying to find players for on the field...not off the field.

As far as I can see the only reason that Michael Sam even made it to the draft was because he admitted to be gay as a publicity stunt probably cooked up by his greedy new agents who couldn't get the top players in the draft (or because they didn't want to be thought of as homophobic for not picking up as a client...) Not that he shouldn't live openly as he chooses. But in professional football as in pretty much every other high-payer professional sport, it matters more what you do on the field, not in the bedroom. If prof althletes careers hinged on their private lives perhaps so many of them wouldn't be so openly and arrogantly rapacious...

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, The whole thing has struck me as a publicity stunt too. And you are right, from everything I've read about him, he wouldn't have been drafted without this, and he would be very, very unlikely to make a roster.

Yeah, the whining about "should have been taken earlier" is going to backfire. People don't like the idea that someone just got something they called a lifetime dream etc. etc. and then they turn around and claim it should have been better.

Koshcat said...

If I was a team owner, I would be worried about taking him. Not because he is gay but when you have to cut him, the screams of homophobia. Look how much grief would follow the Tebow issue. "You are cutting him just because of his religious leanings!" He still isn't playing. NFL teams don't care about a lot of press they care about making money. You can garner a lot of press as long as you play your position well and stay out of jail.

BevfromNYC said...

***News Flash****
If you have been following the recent primaries, you may have heard the former American Idol contestant/Congressperson wannabe Clay Aiken has been locked in too close to call contest with a 71 yr old NC entrepreneur Keith Crisco in North Carolina.

It has just been announced on the AP that Mr. Crisco died from a fall in his home today or this weekend.

***End news flash***

Rustbelt said...

Wait. The draft was last week? -and I missed it? NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!... So, who won?

Honestly, Andrew, I could care less. Still, it's astonishing how the world class con artists at the No Fun League manage to pull it off. In fact, I'd bet that the draft had better ratings than the lackluster product put on the field during fall Sundays. OK, I guess what I'm trying to say is, IMO, pro football today sucks.

And I'm not just building on our chat of a long while ago where we agreed that the product isn't as good as it was in the 70's. It's not even as good as it was when I was growing up in the 90's.

Hard-nosed defense? Gone.
Power rushing game? Gone.
The glory of the option? Gone.

Now, what we have is a pass-nine-out-of-every-ten-downs game where players are flagged for essentially playing touch football. (Hm, why do I suddenly feel a deep hatred for Bill Walsh?) And it's all topped with tons and tons of over-coverage telling us about scandals, detailing the latest horrible pressing issue facing the league bottomfeeder in the month of March, and following players on shopping trips as they select the best clothing for play-ahs. (Wherever did anyone get the idea that the NFL was anti-gay in the first place?) In other words, this isn't your dad or older brother's NFL: it's the outdoor version of the Arena League meets the XFL. (Don't believe me? Fascinating article HERE.)

I mean, think about this compared to college football. In college, you hear such a variety of strategy chat, including: Who can get past Alabama's defense? Can anyone keep up with Oregon's speed? How does Michigan State get a bunch of two-and-three-star recruits to play like five-star recruits? Is it humanly possible to fend off Navy's dreaded triple-option attack? You never hear anything like this in the NFL analyses. That's because, to quote my high school football coach, "they all run the same damn offense. And that's why Sundays are so damn boring." Well, that and the low number of over-santized games (in terms of presentation) on TV in comparison to college.

OK. You get the picture. I guess it just proves the old adage that the best way to sell a bland product is to focus on anything but the product.
That being said, how successful do you think the NFL marketing team would be if they got into the field of used cars?

Anthony said...

I think kind of like Jeremy Lin and Tebow, Sam being a big media sensation might have made him more appealing to some teams. Positive interest equals more money (more tv viewersl/ticket sales/jersey sales).

If the guy can't play well, they won't keep him, but the sort of people who turn their backs on a team because they drop the one guy were probably weren't fans before that guy came along.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, That's the other problem. He remains a lightening rod from the beginning until the end and no matter what, you end up being accused of wrongdoing.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I saw that. That's one of those strange coincidences.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, I can't argue with that. I still remember people talking about how Walsh's offense was "a symphony" and so great to watch. Only, it wasn't and it isn't, and now everyone runs it.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, That's true. They can probably drop him later without their fans getting upset -- even if the MSM turns against them for a while.

tryanmax said...

I enjoy being from a college ball state. And I've got no time for anyone who wants to tell me it ain't "real" football. (Love for Alabama, too, which incidentally, the media is now working to tear that institution down because historic racism.)

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