NFL enablers

FI-EditorialThese days it seems all the pundits can talk about is what’s wrong with the National Football League, and for good reason. But what exactly can be done about it? Nothing unless people are willing to take dramatic action.

There have been tons of words spilled about the conduct of superstars like Ray Rice and his vicious attack on his then girlfriend and now wife, and the alleged beating of a defenseless child by Adrian Peterson all in the name of “discipline.” Then there are the lesser known players like Jonathan Dwyer and Greg Hardy arrested this year for domestic abuse. This all comes in the still looming shadow of Michael Vick and his dog fighting, Aaron Hernandez and his alleged multiple homicides, and the horrific incident involving Jovan Belcher, who murdered his girlfriend and then killed himself in front of his coaches.

But this is not all about just issues with the players, not when there are such shining paragons of virtue like Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf with his real estate fraud issues in New Jersey and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and his arrest last year for driving while out of his mind on hydrocodone and oxycodone. The league continues to roll like a multi-billion dollar behemoth, crushing all in its path and making sure no one looks too deeply into the issues with concussions and what the NFL covered up and when.

At the center of it all is Roger Goodell, the commissioner no fan seems to like or respect but still has the iron-clad support of all the owners. He pulls down more than $20 million a year and yet when confronted with the Ray Rice videotape he turns into the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys and acts like he hadn’t seen it before issuing the initial two-game suspension. That of course insults our intelligence. Goodell either had seen it and ignored it, or purposely went out of his way to ignore it, which is even worse.

This is hardly the first example of Goodell ignoring the common good to keep the money train rolling. From concussion coverups to bringing in awful Thursday games just to get more money, Goodell has done nothing for the good of the players or the fans and everything for the good of lining his pockets and those of his owners’.

So what does all of this have to do with Greenwich? It actually has a lot because this town is filled with football fans and nothing is going to change unless all fans do, because it is now at a point where NFL fans are enablers of bad behavior. People shake their heads at one scandal after another and feel bad about the most recent tragedy and then go right back to watching the NFL Red Zone channel on Sunday to make sure they don’t miss a single touchdown.

Want change in football? Want things to get better? Then it’s time to take a hard stance. Stop watching the games on Sunday and Monday (and, most of all, Thursday). Stop buying the Red Zone channel. Stop paying for overpriced jerseys. Force change by hitting the owners in their wallets.

Zygi Wilf was all set to play Adrian Peterson last week until sponsors started leaving. That got him to wise up pretty quickly. Now it is incumbent on all fans to apply the same kind of pressure. Make sponsorship of the NFL so toxic that Goodell and his lackeys must go. A perfect replacement is waiting in former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a noted football expert who, as an African American woman, would make history in the league.

This is not a problem for fans in other cities. This is something every football fan in Baltimore and Minnesota and Arizona and Carolina and, yes, Greenwich, must face. Force the NFL’s hand. Create change.

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