Think of all the illusions about the National Football League that the revelations of a bounty program in New Orleans shatter. Think of all the silly pretensions those revelations deflate. The preposterous prayer circles at midfield. The weepy tinpot patriotism of the flyovers and the martial music. The dime-store Americanism that's draped on anything that moves. The suffocating corporate miasma that attends everything the league does — from the groaning buffet tables at the Super Bowl to the Queegish fascination with headbands and sock lengths while teams are paying "bounties" to tee up the stars of your game so they don't get to play anymore. What we have here now is the face of organized savagery, plain and simple, and no amount of commercials showing happy kids cavorting with your dinged-up superstars can ameliorate any of that.Okay, should you say it, or should I? Charles Pierce, just shut the f*** up, already.
Which is why Roger Goodell is going to land on the Saints, and on their coaches, as hard as he possibly can. It's not so much that they allegedly paid players to injure other players. That's just the public-relations side of the punishment to come. Goodell can see the day when one of these idiotic bounty programs gets somebody horribly maimed or even killed, and he can see even more clearly the limitless vista of lawsuits that would proceed from such an event.
We may well be reaching something of a tipping point in our relationship with our true national pastime. Football was always a deal we made with ourselves. We adopted it for its brutality, which was embedded in a context that happened to be perfectly suited to television and to gambling, but which we could convince ourselves was only incidental to our enjoyment because it was only incidental to the game itself. But the players got bigger, and even the unsolicited hits got louder, and the damage to the athletes soon became too obvious to ignore.
Football players know their sport is full of risks. They get paid handsomely to participate. And they can goddamn QUIT any time they please and go work a nice safe desk job for the rest of their life.
The notion that we are somehow savagely running entire generations of our best and brightest minds into a meatgrinder of irreparable harm is just bullshit.
And since when did it become fashionable to start rooting like mad for bullshit lawsuits? I've never seen anything like it. "Ohhh, just wait until you see the lawsuits!" Screw the lawyers. Most of them are going to waste their clients money, and lose their ass in front of a jury.
Everyone brings up the unfortunate handful of guys like Conrad Dobler and his 11 knee surgeries. Hey, I got news for ya. Dobler was a malicious asshole himself on the field, who once BIT the finger of Vikings opponent Doug Sutherland.
So fuck Dobler and his knees. Nobody told him he had to play 10 fucking seasons in the NFL. HE CHOSE TO DO THAT! What a dick. What's next? A lawsuit saying the NFL didn't properly advise players about how utterly shitty knee operations were in the 1970's?
All this dribble from people saying how mommies and daddies aren't going to let their kids play football now, may be somewhat true at the comfortable suburban level. But who cares? Those kids generally suck. There's absolutely ZERO chance that an inner city kid who can run a 4-fucking-nothing 40, who loves the attention and hot chicks that playing football brings in high school, will allow his mommy or anybody take his football from him.
Ditto for the farm boy lineman in Iowa, who grew up running a tractor at dawn at 9 years old, for a dad who is 78 and still working from sun up to sun down. That kid might have had his head kicked in by an unruly horse. That kid is always going to play football.
If we need more legal documents and waivers of liability. Done and done.
If pro players want to sit themselves down for 4 games after every concussion, go ahead.
We're going to make much better helmets. All levels of football will crack down on intentional helmet shots. And there will be a concussion policy, and an understanding by everyone who plays: you can walk away any time. But you know the risks.
Everything else, we can stitch, tape, fuse, or re-attach.
And we are going to play awesome, hard nosed, smash mouth, blow-that-fucker-up football from now until we're over-run by Communist China.
That, or the singularity delivers us even better Robot Football.
Until then, Charles P. Pierce and his ilk, should be banned from ever watching another football game. Put your eyeballs and TV set, where your weepy heart is, pal.