I'm going to try not to belabor this point. Everyone who is a fan of the National Football League either witnessed last night's debacle in Seattle as it happened on live television or saw it afterwards in the copious coverage of the final play of the Green Bay-Seattle game. Right now, the National Football League is facing a crisis of leadership, all over a problem that does not even exist: As my colleague Arthur Delaney noted today, "The NFL doesn't even pretend it can't afford ref pensions." And the reporting of HuffPost's Dave Jamieson bears this out:
Indeed, when HuffPost asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to address the pension issue on Wednesday, he didn't argue that the league's retirement contributions to referees had grown too onerous. Instead, he simply noted the fact that American workers in general are losing their defined benefit pensions. Even Roger Goodell, Goodell noted, doesn’t enjoy such a pension plan.
"From the owners' standpoint, right now they're funding a pension program that is a defined benefit program," said Goodell, who was in Washington on Wednesday attending a luncheon hosted by Politico's Playbook. "About 10 percent of the country has that. Yours truly doesn't have that. It's something that doesn’t really exist anymore and that I think is going away steadily."
One can literally say that "greedership" has replaced leadership in this matter. And what has it led to? A substantially degraded product that is a farce for the players who participate in it and a source of frustration for fans. But it's not enough just to point this out and rage against it. To remedy this situation, everyone who is bitter about what they've seen over the past three weeks of the new NFL season must withdraw in disgust and revulsion.
You have to boycott the NFL, now.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend that this is anywhere near the list of "Top 100 Problems The Country Is Facing Right Now." It's not. It's not even on the "Top 100 Problems Green Bay, Wisconsin, Is Facing Right Now" list. The good news, though, is that this means it's eminently solvable. But to solve it, you've got to show some willpower. You need to demonstrate a bare minimum of steely resolve. Nothing too taxing, though who knows? If you really put your back into it, you might work out some of those steely-resolve, problem-crushing muscles and be better positioned to start on that Top 100 list. But in the meantime, you've got to bear down, suck it up and boycott the NFL.
That means don't go to the games. That means don't watch them on television. That means don't purchase or wear league swag, or check the scores online, or play fantasy football. You have to cut yourself off, because while this season has been an ongoing display of outright ruination, it remains a highly profitable display of ruination, and as long as it remains so, there is no end in sight to this absurdity.
And make no mistake: The problem here isn't that the Seattle Seahawks have won a game that will have an asterisk on it for the remainder of the season, though the absence of integrity is worth underscoring. The problem is that every single NFL game -- the ones I have watched, anyway -- now plays itself out amid a free-floating cloud of constant chaos and menace. Where this is going next is someone is going to get hurt extremely badly -- if this week's injury to Darrius Heyward-Bey doesn't already qualify.
Speaking of Heyward-Bey, if one searches for his name in Google News, the first entry to which one is directed is an article from The Bleacher Report titled "Why Fantasy Owners Should Keep Heyward-Bey." Roger Goodell -- the utter jackass currently presiding over this disgrace -- looks at that and smiles. That's as clear a sign as any that this eminently profitable travesty shall sustain itself, if the fans do not take it out at the knees right now.
Boycott the NFL. Frankly, the players and coaches should stop showing up for these games as well, because after last night, it should be glaringly apparent that these games no longer feature results that reflect the honest fruits of their labors, i.e. the actual on-field competition. But the point is that you shouldn't participate in this nonsense, either.
So boycott the NFL. Even if it's lonely. Even if it's futile. I watch the Sunday morning political shows every week, so I know what it's like to participate in a weekly exercise in futility. It's survivable. Just find some friends, and do anything else in the world on Sunday. But boycott the NFL.