Tag Archives: National Football League

We Are All Dan Snyder Now

Washington-Redskins

…and isn’t that a revolting development?

Few things infuriate me more than when unethical conduct by an individual or organization force me to side with the supporters of a position or a cause that I oppose myself. Last year, to cite the most egregious example, I found myself in the same camp with the National Rifle Association, Ted Nugent and worse when anti-gun zealots, uncritically backed by the news media, used dishonest, misleading, irrational and emotional appeals to try to pass more stringent gun ownership regulations on the wave of national horror over the Sandy Hook shooting. Indeed, the more fake statistics and shameless slippery slope arguments (“If we can save the life of only one child…”) that were aimed at guns and  law-abiding gun owners, the more I saw the wisdom of Second Amendment absolutism.

Thanks to the exorbitant and irresponsible rhetoric by the likes of Diane Feinstein, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo, Piers Morgan, Jim Carrey and others—Don’t tell ME what I “need” to protect my family and home; there’s a possible serial killer on the loose in my Alexandria, Virginia neighborhood at this very moment who has been randomly knocking on doors and shooting people—I no longer trust the government to make rational decisions that affect my options as a potential gun owner. Good work, guys. Before you started using kids as props, lying about the number of shootings, and sounding for all the world like a nation trying to make sure only the government could own legal weapons, I was a supporter of more stringent firearms regulations. You lost me. I am officially convinced that we may need  guns to protect ourselves against power-abusing people like you.

Now members of  Congress are trying to strong-arm Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder into changing the name of his football team, using the power of the government to pressure him, through the National Football League, into bending to their will on a matter that is absolutely none of their business. Great. Now I have to stand shoulder to shoulder with Snyder, whom we in the Washington area know as a spoiled rich kid, a bully, an egomaniac and a meddling fool who has progressively reduced the region’s beloved football team to tragic joke.

And you should stand with him too, if you think our Bill of Rights is worth preserving. Continue reading

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s Super Bowl Deception

"Well, I may not remember any of it, but the Commissioner says I'll life a long life..."

“Well, I may not remember any of it, but the Commissioner says I’ll live a long life…”

Today millions of Americans will gather around televisions, partying and cheering the spectacle of young men maiming and killing themselves for our entertainment pleasure during America’s most popular sporting event, the Super Bowl. An unknown but significant number of those athletes, we now know, are likely to be unable to recognize family members by the time they are 45, and several may take their own lives in despair.  Nonetheless, the official position of the National Football league is that all is well, and Commissioner Roger Goodell was touring the Sunday morning news shows to put out the propaganda claim that  pro football is good for everyone, even the players who accumulate concussions like the rest of us collect aggravation.

Presumably to appeal to the large proportion of the Super Bowl audience who know little about the sport, as well as the gullible fans who do, Goodell told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace (who, if he had the knowledge, wit and integrity,  should have stopped him and protested) in response to Wallace’s question about the NFL’s ongoing concussion scandal, that NFL players live longer and are on the whole healthier throughout their lives than the general population.

This is deception, and intentionally misleading.

Goodell is taking advantage of the fact that all the measures of the mortality of pro football players are flawed, which is why last year the NFL Players Union commissioned Harvard to do a 100 million dollar study of the health of ex-players and how to improve it.  The union claims that the average age of death of an ex-NFL player is 57 years, which would directly contradict Goodell’s claim.  This figure is supported by a 2011 study by the University of North Carolina, as well as insurance company actuarial statistics.

The figure, however, seems statistically unlikely.  Measuring the life expectancy of any group of adult men, even those engaged in risky behavior, will yield an average life expectancy that is better than the general population. Why? Because men in the general population die as infants, children, young adults, and before they would be old enough to play football. Thus the NFL and defenders of the brutal game continue to promote the 2012 study that found that NFL players outlive the general population. If accurate—and the players find the study difficult to believe, as do I—it can be argued that this study is also flawed. It compares apples—strong, affluent, college educated upper-middle class men—to oranges–everyone else, including the poor, unemployed, uneducated and poorly nourished. Attempting to get around this problem, one blogger compared the deaths of NFL players to other celebrities whose death notices were prominently published. His conclusion: there was no denying the fact that pro football players appeared to die sooner that non-football players from the same general class, but there was no justification to believethe mid-fifties mortality figure.

So do we know how much playing pro football lowers life expectancy, or even if it does? No….and neither does Roger Goodell. The studies are in conflict. However, we do know that a disproportionate number of the players who may live well into their golden years will do so unable to think clearly, remember their children’s names, or care for themselves, because they accepted big paychecks to allow their brains to be permanently bruised and catastrophically damaged. I don’t call that living or being healthy, and Goodell shouldn’t pretend that it is, or cite as fact what is a disputed contention at best.

Playing pro football isn’t good for you, and if the studies ultimately prove that ex-NFL players are really likely continue breathing as long as the rest of us despite their brain injuries, that just helps us understand why they have been killing themselves.

_________________________

Sources: CP24, Boston.com, Lotsa ‘Splaining, USA Today, Forbes

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The T-Rex Escapes: Lessons Of The Washington Redskins’ Nepotism

I can’t exactly say, like Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malacolm in “Jurassic Park,” that I hate being right all the time…in part because I’m not. It sure is frustrating, however, to see an ethics crisis looming, write about it once, then twice, and still see so many people surprised when it arrives like an angry T-Rex. Thus today, I began the morning by pounding my head against the wall to read in the Washington Post sports section a column by Jason Reid with the headline, “Mike Shanahan, by hiring his son Kyle, has created an untenable situation.” Wait, what year is this? Shanahan, the coach of the Washington Redskins, that team with the name that we’re not supposed to say, hired his son Kyle as the team’s offensive coordinator many moons ago, in 2010. It was a terrible idea at the time, an example of classic nepotism that created an immediate risk of exactly what is occurring now, and perhaps the certainty of it, if the situation endured long enough.

Last season, when the Redskins swept to the NFC East Championship behind thrilling rookie QB Robert Griffin III, the ethics-challenged sports fandom here (Washington, D.C., remember) cited the success as proof that nepotism is an ethics boogie man, nothing more. This was pure consequentialism. As I concluded my post on the topic last January,

“This is rank consequentialism in its worst form. Nepotism is an unethical way to run any staff, company, team, business or government, unfair, inherently conflicted, irresponsible, dangerous and corrupting. It should be recognized as such from the beginning, and rejected, not retroactively justified if it “works.”I’m sure there were and are non-relatives of the Redskins coach who could have devised a successful offense with RG3 taking the hikes. The ethical thing to do was to find them and give one of them the job. The Redskins coach’s nepotism is just as unethical in 2013 as it was in 2012, 2011, and 2010.”

In “Jurassic Park,” the same day that chaotician Malcolm warns that the dinosaur park is so complex that a fatal loss of control is inevitable, the systems break down and he gets nearly gets eaten. The same year I wrote those words, ten months later, it’s Mike Shanahan on the menu as Jason Reid wrote these: Continue reading

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Ethics Dunces: NFL Football Fans

FOOTBALL FANSIn response to a question in a newly released CNN poll, a majority of football fans responded that the fact that the NFL intentionally withheld from its players evidence that repeated  concussions were inevitable despite the supposed protection provided by equipment, and that this would lead in many cases to devastating premature cognitive damage to players which would leave them disabled, depressed, violent, demented and/or suicidal until their early deaths didn’t trouble them at all, as long as they got their weekly Sunday football fix.

All right, that’s unfair. The results actually just showed that only 36% of respondents think that the NFL’s handling of the concussion issue has caused them to view the pro football league less favorably. No, on second thought, it’s not unfair at all.

I’m sure the NFL honchos who are determined to keep their billion dollar profit machine purring away, powered by the game’s consumption of the minds and bodies of young men lured by a short-term bonanza of fame and bucks, are whooping it up in their park Avenue suites. Yup, they did it! They have successfully converted much of America into crass, blood-thirsty sadists who are only different in degree from the Romans who cheered on Nero’s various bloodsports. Continue reading

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Preliminary Ethics Observations On The NFL Bullying Scandal

The bully and the bullied.

The bully and the bullied.

If you are unfamiliar with this story, the details are here. There is much that remains in question, but the basic outline of the incident is this:

  • The Miami Dolphins, like most professional football teams and also most college teams, have a tradition of “hazing” rookies, humiliating and harassing them in various way, “all in good fun, of course.”
  • The ironically named Richie Incognito, a starting guard for the Dolphins, was known as an especially relentless and enthusiastic hazer.
  • Last weak, the team’s second-year tackle Jonathan Martin walked out on the squad and checked into to a hospital, saying he could  he could no longer deal with the continued harassment from his teammates.
  • Incognito was shown to have referred to Martin using abusive language and racial epithets in voice messages.
  • Based on the evidence of the voice mails, the Dolphins suspended Incognito, who is being defended by his team mates. Sources are saying that his career with the Dolphins, and perhaps the NFL, may be over.
  • It is likely that the Dolphin coaches were aware of Martin’s hazing.

This is the perfect ethics problem to approach with what I regard as the most important clarifying question in beginning any ethical analysis:  What’s going on here? Continue reading

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Don’t Blame The Lawyers: The Ethical, Unethical, NFL Settlement

Watch your heads!

Watch your heads!

When is a $765 million dollar law suit settlement “chump change”?  This is when, reading the reactions to the NFL’s announcement last week of its agreement with former players who sued the league over crippling  concussion injuries sustained while playing professional football:

  • It is inadequate when half of that will be ladled out over seventeen years, and all of it will be reduced by the lawyer’s fees, to be determined but unlikely to be less than a third.  That means that each former player (or his heirs and family) will get, at most, $114, 000 or so.
  • It is inadequate when the league paying the damages will split the payment among its 32 franchises, making each responsible for paying $24 million over 20 years, which comes to about $1.2 million a year. Remember that projected NFL revenues this season are $10 billion, and the NFL gets more than $40 billion on top of that through 2022, thanks to media rights.

In other words, chump change.

Or, if you prefer, “I gave my brain, mind and health to the NFL, and all I got was this lousy settlement.” Continue reading

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Sending in the Kids To Swim With “Jaws”: Roger Goodell, Mayor of Amity

Jaws-boy

One of the most disturbing moments in “Jaws,” at least for me, is the scene where the mayor of Amity island, whom we know is  in possession of strong evidence that a Great White shark is cruising the waters of his town’s beaches looking for snacks, persuades an elderly couple to take their grandchildren into the surf to show everyone else on the beach that the water is safe. The scene leapt immediately to mind yesterday morning, when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a Super Bowl Sunday interview on “Face the Nation,” emphatically told CBS’s Bob Shieffer that unlike President Obama, he would unhesitatingly allow his son to play football. I’m sure he would, too. After all, Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) sent his own kids into the Amity surf.

Like his role model, Mayor Vaughn, Goodell has a terrible problem, as well as a conflict of interest. He is paid to do what is in the best interests of the National Football League, and admitting that the game the league plays and the way it play it kills or mains a significant number of its players would be seen by his employers as a breach of duty. So despite mounting evidence that every single NFL player is putting his brain, health, and life at grave risk by allowing the relentless head trauma that is an unavoidable part of the game, Goodell feels he must claim otherwise, which, assuming he is basically a good man (I was never sure about Larry Vaughn), means he must convince himself that what he says is true. This led Goodell to make a series of statements yesterday that will haunt him some day as much as Mayor Vaughn’s infamous interview quote on the day the little Kintner boy (above) became chum: “I’m pleased and happy to repeat the news that we have, in fact, caught and killed a large predator that supposedly injured some bathers. But, as you see, it’s a beautiful day, the beaches are open and people are having a wonderful time. Amity, as you know, means friendship.” Continue reading

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