There’s no football game on today — unless, of course, you consider the NFL’s Pro Bowl a football game.
And if you do, it’s time to reassess your life. The league itself isn’t quite sure what to make of its own all-star game. It’s undergone more alterations, cosmetic and otherwise, than Bruce Jenner’s unsightly mug over the past several years.
A glorified exhibition whose integrity and credibility was greatly flawed even in the best of times has devolved to what one can only hope is the depths of ridiculousness at this point.
Let’s face it: When you’re putting a sketchy character like Michael Irvin front and center as a captain of one of the squads, you’ve pretty much thrown up your hands like Bud Selig in extra innings at another MLB All-Star Game.
In fact, by comparison, Selig looks like a genius. At least he did something about the problems with his All-Star Game that didn’t make it look like more of a circus. It certainly wasn’t the stuff of genius, but it didn’t make things worse.
But it’s been that kind of year for the NFL from the very start, hasn’t it? Has there ever been a commissioner in the history of a major professional sport who commands less respect, who inspires the least confidence, who invites more mockery than Roger Goodell?
Henceforth, we should not call it the product of Murphy’s Law when anything that could possibly go wrong does. It has to be Goodell’s Law. It’s easy to point to the initial bungling of the Ray Rice situation as the beginning of the NFL’s nightmare. Too easy. That wasn’t the beginning, far from it. Aaron Hernandez. Poorly handled or ignored concussions.Unprescribed painkillers. Class-action lawsuits. All of that and more predated the Rice fiasco, and there’s been so much more crap running downhill since then. Relentlessly.
So it’s only fitting that as the league prepares for its showcase, a worldwide event, we have this little issue of illegally deflated footballs in New England. Perfect.
You can’t do much better (or is it worse) metaphorically speaking, can you? The brand that is the NFL has seemed illegal and deflating for a long time now.
And that it’s the Patriots? Good lord! What kind of hack is writing the script? With All-American boy Tom Brady about to lead his team into yet another Super Bowl, the focus should be on his squeaky clean image. His excellence. Maybe even his hot wife, if for no other reason than, hey, the football fan in all of us is a little bit of a pig.
But no. Nobody’s talking about Brady. Nor is anybody talking about the wonderful player and person who is Russell Wilson, who showed us that there is crying in football — totally acceptable crying, at that — when he humbly broke down after the NFC Championship Game, humbled by the incredible experience through which he’d just been.
Instead we’re talking about the same pathological team that gave us Spygate now giving us Deflategate.
It’s sad, by the way, that as a society we’re not clever enough to come up with a better nickname for controversies than something reminding us of our highest public office’s greatest embarrassment.
But maybe that’s apropos too. The NFL continues to make obscene amounts of money. The ratings continue to soar, as do the numbers associated with the myriad television contracts. Merchandise continues to fly off shelves and racks as well.
What does that say about us?
It says that perhaps, incomprehensibly, Goodell is actually earning that $37 million annual salary.
And that might be the saddest part of it all.