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Monday 24th Apr 2017

I have written so often about how much I love watching Sunday football, it feels foolish to state it again.

But, I do. Since I live on the West Coast, the day starts early with the pre-game shows on the tube already in progress by the time I wake up, and by 10 am, my time, games are on full tilt boogie. Add in that the football season is through the generally colder weather, and a fire, and chowder and the coziness of being inside, like a bear hibernating, gets conjured within me on those days, making things just wonderful.

I did start questioning my viewing last year, after the ridiculous handling of the "Ray Rice incident", both by the Ravens, and more importantly by the NFL. So, since Roger Goodell is in charge of that industry, I place the responsibility on him for being a complete Human Resources idiot/meltdown in handling the problem. goodell

So, now, as we just have finished the NFL draft, there is yet another pair of nasty scandals on the doorstep of Goodell and his ilk.

There is Deflategate, which is stupid and funny and a pathetic basis for a scandal, but first, what about the implicit advocacy of #1 pick Jameis Winston by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

In case you did not know, in 2013--the year Winston won his Heisman--he was under investigation for rape in Tallahassee, although somehow the case sort of dissipated under an Everglades fog and by happy coincidence, Florida State just happened to win a National Title (for some better background, I highly recommend Charles P. Pierce's fantastic article from Grantland, The FSU Problem).

It is true that we are ostensibly innocent until proven guilty, and that there are two sides to every story, but check out this review of the recently released film, The Hunting Ground, and tell me if you don't think:

a) We have a bad problem.

b) Our college sports system has badly distorted perception of right and wrong.

c) Our college sports system, supported by the administrations, have let down our young victims in protecting them against predators.

d) Our collective sense as human beings is so twisted and distorted, that it is hard for me to sit here and type, peacefully.

Like I said, we have a bad problem.

My understanding (based on a clip from "The Hunting Ground"), is that one FSU administrator who coordinated the resources and support for victims of rape said that in her tenure at the university, there were a good 100 cases where the crime had been judiciously reported to her office. Yet, no one had ever been charged, or suspended. As in zero-for-100.

Now again, even after reading this, and the links, you can have your doubts about innocent till proven guilty, but this is Winston's own statement with respect to the charge:

"I did not rape or sexually assault…I did not create a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment in the short period of time that we were together. [The accuser] had the capacity to consent to having sex with me and she repeatedly did so by her conduct and her verbal expressions. I never used physical violence, threats, or other coercive means towards [the accuser]. Finally, I never endangered [the accuser’s] health, safety, or well-being."

Add in that apparently, there were such charges leveled against Winston not once, but twice, and well, maybe there could at least be a trial?

Instead, Winston is a #1 pick, ironically for a team whose mascots are known for their propensity toward pillaging. But, from the NFL office, or even the fans of the game, and even with a supposed push against domestic violence, what do we hear? Nothing.

Scandal II? Deflategate. 

Now, on a bunch of largely annecdotal information, there is a chance Tom Brady will be suspended. 

Huh? 

To be clear, I do believe that Brady could easily tell if the weight of one football varied from another of the same species. It's his job.

There is that apocryphal story about pitcher Jim Palmer, who was fussy about the baseballs he threw, and would often ask for an exchange, and that one ump returned the ball Palmer wanted to swap, and the pitcher could tell right away. Well, maybe Brady's touch is not quite that of Palmer, but this is like asking a surgeon to not be able to understand the feel of every tool of his trade.

In addition, whether or not there have been rules surrounding the management of the football, the fact that those rules have been haphazardly, if ever, enforced until the second half of the Colts/Pats game really does not ring of any kind of equal treatment.

Like the Ray Rice incident, Deflategate does beg for process and enforcement of the rules unilaterally, and then, if a violation is discovered, you have guidelines on which appropriate action can be taken.

The fact that Brady might be worthy of suspension while Winston is now a multi-millionaire just convinces me that I am an idiot and that indeed I don't know right from wrong.

OK, I can deal with being an idiot.

Adults get the luxury of being idiots, and most of the time we survive despite ourselves. But, why do we bother trying to get our youth--a lot of whom watch football--to recognize that domestic violence is bad, as is cheating, and worse, if you do wrong you will not only be caught, but get in trouble, while turning a blind eye when there is money to be made by exploiting the same kids a few years later?

Worse, why are we surprised when things seem to go awry, especially after the same privileged athletes are never held accountable? (There is a lot of information out there confirming both that Winston has been a fine athlete to this point, but that he is similarly hardly a choir boy.)

It isn't that I don't believe in forgiveness or redemption, and, I understand making mistakes, but I do wish, if nothing else, the NFL would be represented by someone who at least really did know the difference between right and wrong.

But, like it or not, Goodell is in charge of the adminstrative insane asylum that seems to be in charge of the morally defunct NFL, so he might either want to take charge and earnestly try to set the whole business on a steady and straighter path.

As for me, much more of this and my Sunday mornings in the fall will consist of TCM.

Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @lawrmichaels.

 

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