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The Mating Call of Roger Goodell — Or, What’s Really Happening to Sports Journalism Today

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That sports journalism is changing seems a fairly universally agreed upon maxim by both those who produce and consume it. What’s not always so agreed upon is exactly what it is about sports journalism that is changing.

Over at Grantland, Bryan Curtis puts rather succinctly and bluntly a theory I have heard sports writers, analysts, and talk show hosts nudge up against rather continuously the past few years. In an article discussing the media’s coverage of Roger Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal, Curtis laments,

During the Donald Sterling fiasco, I argued that the sportswriting class had gone from holding a range of political opinions to fusing into a single, united liberal bloc. You can see that in the coverage of Goodell, too. Reading sports this week is like being on a Nation magazine cruise.

Of course, no one expects a sportswriter to stick up for domestic abuse. But it’s striking that there’s a near consensus not just that Goodell’s two-game suspension of Ray Rice was too lenient, but that Goodell ought to resign. You’d expect such a call from the National Organization for Women. Now it’s shared by ESPNers… What happened to the sports press? Two things. The lethal snipers at Deadspin and other sites give covering fire to lefty sportswriters who might leave behind the old nonpartisan tone…. Moreover, writers who don’t toe the line know they’ll be punished for speaking up…

More on this story, comrade, as it becomes available.

As I said, this is a sentiment I have heard repeated again and again over the past several years throughout the world of sports journalism. Sidestepping for the moment the question of how it is that a subject that sports writers, analysts and talk shows talk about incessantly can be tagged by those very same people as verboten, it’s worth taking a closer look at this line of reasoning. Because Curtis is entirely wrong about how sports journalism is changing, and as consumers of his craft it’s important to understand why.

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lollar-and-bakerIn January of 2000, Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar were on their way home from a Superbowl Party in Atlanta when they encountered another group of men and got into a scuffle. Baker and Lollar were each stabbed, beaten and left to die. Eleven days later, three men were indicted. One of them was a then three-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, Ray Lewis; the other two were members of Lewis’s entourage.

Traces of Baker’s blood were found in Lewis’s limousine. Lewis was been seen throughout the evening wearing an expensive white linen suit, and witnesses claimed it had been covered in the victims’ blood. The police were never able to find the suit, and it was subsequently assumed destroyed by Lewis. Lewis would eventually roll over and testify against his friends in exchange for having the murder and aggravated assault charges against him reduced to a misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge. He was given a year’s probation.

One year later he would win the first of his two Super Bowls, and was declared that year’s Super Bowl MVP by the designated 16-member panel of sports writers and broadcasters. He was subsequently featured in countless television ads, multiple music videos, and as a guest star in television series such as The Wire; in 2006 he was chosen to be the NFL’s emblematic figure on the coveted cover of Madden NFL. Two weeks ago, a statue of Lewis was erected outside the Raven’s M&T Bank Stadium. He retired a champion whose “storied and heroic career” was the focal point of almost every sports journalist’s coverage of Super Bowl XLVII in 2013.

As no less a source that ESPN glowingly noted at the time,

On the Mount Rushmore of the NFL, it could be argued that three of the faces should be Manning, Tom Brady and Ray Lewis. The fact Lewis, a defensive player, is in the conversation is a testament to his physical dominance, longevity and personality. But most of all, it’s proof of his resiliency. Consider where he was 13 years ago: in an orange jumpsuit and facing prison time as one of three men charged in connection with a double murder during Super Bowl week in Atlanta in January 2000. Today, Lewis dresses impeccably in three-piece pinstripe suits, mentors younger players and is considered sort of the godfather of the NFL.

In the NFL, his credibility is undisputed.

If you’re not a follower of professional sports — or if you’re under a certain age — you would be forgiven for wondering what steps, exactly, Lewis had undertaken to go from being a murderer-turned-stoolie to the “storied and heroic” good-guy face of the NFL. Anger management courses, perhaps? A religious conversion? Years of therapy? A bonding with the families of Baker and Lollar? Fine guesses all, but in fact none is correct. The truth is that Lewis, the Ravens, and the NFL simply used an exceptional public relations team to remake his image into something that could continue to be bankable. And their biggest ally in this cynical PR whitewash? Sports journalists.

The common image of sports journalism is that it is a force somewhat in opposition to professional sports leagues, and indeed sports journalists themselves love to foster this image. The image however, is a false one. True, sports journalists do often criticize players, coaches, teams,  and even leagues. But all of this is done with a fairly barker-esque quality. Villains sell tickets just as well as heroes, and sports journalism’s primary job is to create a mythic feel to their subjects in a way that gets you excited about watching. Grantland’s founder Bill Simmons might generate a lot of pixels of snark making fun of various facets of the NFL, NBA and MLBA, but he does so in a way designed to get you very pumped about the next televised product coming down the chute.

While covering the Ray Rice spousal abuse scandal, ESPN anchor Hannah Storm asked this week, “What exactly does the NFL stand for?”  Were you to go back and listen to ESPN television and radio broadcasts over the past twenty years, you might think the answer to her question was Competition, Diversity, the Human Spirit, Excellence, and Patriotism. In fact, however, the NFL stands for the same thing ESPN does: Making lots of money. It’s just as much in ESPN’s interest — or Hannah Storm’s — that you be a rabid NFL fan as it is in the NFL’s. Which is why in a few weeks when this story is yesterday’s news, Hannah will be back leading the cheers for professional football as if Ray Ray’s wife had never been knocked out in an elevator on video and the commissioner had not lied about it to keep him on the field as a ratings draw.

Or if Rice’s situation carries too much baggage, consider Michael Jordan’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

For the previous quarter century Jordan had been portrayed by sports journalism as the epitome of a “class act.” Not only was he the consummate winner, he was also charismatic, jovial, friendly, great with kids, generous, and in every single way imaginable the kind of human being each and every one of us should strive to be. His Hall of Fame acceptance speech came as something of a shock to many of us, therefore, when Jordan revealed that without a pre-written script and orchestrated cover from the press, he was a bitter, vindictive, and terrible person whose drive to a very real and unparalleled excellence might have actually been fueled by something approaching mental illness. I remember watching the speech live, my jaw on the floor.

More than his speech, however, I remember the commentary from beat writers, sportscasters, and ESPN anchors in the days to come. Jordan had always been that way, they all agreed; they had seen it time and time again over the years. Every sports journalist and reporting agency that covered the NBA had known that his public persona never matched the real man. They all said this casually, matter-of-factly, and none seemed to understand as they were saying it that the reason the public bought it hook, line, and sinker is because they themselves had conspired with other business interests to hide it from us.

The real purpose of sports journalism over my adult life hasn’t been to perform journalism. It’s been to act as the PR arm of businesses sports journalism needed to succeed in order to make money for sports journalism.

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Over the past few years, it might seem to the casual fan that the world of professional sports is somehow suddenly rotting from within. FavreMSNBCTwo NFL players have been put in the public spotlight for domestic violence. Football’s greatest running back has been indicted for child abuse with at least one child. The owner of an NBA team was caught on tape making the kinds of racial slurs most of us would have associated with David Duke. Case after case of testofuel Reviews being brought to light. Last year, a white player making homophobic and racial slurs drove an NFL player away from his team — and then was largely defended by NFL players and coaches. A legendary quarterback who was still being talked about on ESPN nightly and who could presumably have had any one of a thousand single women in any city to which he travelled was caught sexually harassing a lower-ranking and unwilling employee just for the fun of it.

But while the degree of rot is arguable, the fact is that while today’s degree of heavy coverage of scandals related to domestic violence, abuse, racism, and sexual harassment are somewhat new, the actual behaviors by professional athletes are not. If you have any doubt, witness how whenever one of these scandals comes to light those within the inner circle caution those on the outside that we simply “don’t understand” the special rules professional athletes have always had (read: been allowed) to play by.

Grantland’s Bryan Curtis believes that this new non-glorifying coverage is a sign that sports journalism is now suddenly “liberal,” as if my father — a life-long Republican, NRA member, and Limbaugh-letter subscriber — was somehow pro-wife beating, or oft lamenting how they didn’t have the kind of phones that could send dick-pics to female staff members who worked for you back in the day. By blaming liberalism, Curtis misses the mark here rather badly.

The biggest difference in the scandals of today that Curtis focuses on is how technology separates the question of a sports professional’s guilt from our tribal desire to believe in his or her innocence. Previous generations’ athletes and sports executives were often every bit as loathsome as Rice, Sterling, Incognito and Farve. But their accusers lacked proof of their claims, and so sports journalists would go through their cynical routine: play the scandal out for a while, then go back to venerating those at the scandal’s heart — even in cases such as Michael Jordan and Ray Lewis, where they knew they were helping to erect public statues of terrible human beings.

In fact, the very nomenclature of Curtis’s industry obscures the real truth about the phenomena he himself is describing:

Technology is forcing today’s sports journalism into doing actual journalism.

Follow Tod on Twitter, view his archive, or email him. Visit him at TodKelly.com

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86 thoughts on “The Mating Call of Roger Goodell — Or, What’s Really Happening to Sports Journalism Today

  1. Sports journo’s especially SI and ESPN are solidly in bed with the leagues they cover especially the NFL. They depend on access from the league and have repeatedly pushed league talking points. I guess Grantland dude missed the guys from ESPN who were wondering if Rice’s 2 game suspension was to much. Peter King and the big ESPN NFL guys all parroted the league message that if we knew what was in the second video, before it came out, we would view Rice differently. It is easier to make a point if you ignore all the evidence that doesn’t fit.

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  2. Roman sportswriters and fans didn’t get too worked up about an athlete who’d committed violence, even multiple murders, in public. That was kind of the point of being an athlete, unless you’re one of those people who consider chariot racing a “real” sport (those folks evolved into NASCAR fans).

    The sportswriters could easily swing the other way on a player and portray him as a villain without doing much to hurt his marketability, because people love watching villains, too. Just look a professional wrestling.

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    • Justinian I was almost overthrown by a mob of enraged chariot-racing fans. He’d have fled the city rather than face them. Took his wife to order the top general and about a thousand soldiers into the stadium to kill 30,000 of them, and then to later crucify the guy who they acclaimed their new Emperor despite the fact that he seemed to have nothing to do with it. Point is, it was sports fans — followers of the Blues and the Greens — who did it. Think soccer hooliganism meets Kent State meets Srebrenica.

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      • It seemed to me as though Jordan was saying it motivated him, that he wanted to prove to the coach that it was a mistake.

        Maybe I’m somehow unable to recognize bitterness and vindictiveness, but I’ve been hearing for years about this speech, and it’s the first time I’ve listened to it, and my response was like Nob’s. To me the whole speech sounded like “I was driven because every time someone go the better of me or said they were going to get the better of me I had to meet that challenge.” And it sounded like it was meant to be a little more funny than it was, but I attributed it to poor delivery– not everyone’s a comedian.

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      • I didn’t watch the speech, but I skimmed a text version I found online, and I didn’t notice anything that struck me as particularly vindictive, either.

        Now, I only skimmed the speech. So maybe I skipped over something. I didn’t spend 23 minutes listening to something, maybe there’s a bit in his tone of voice that suggests the vindictive attitude. Finally, I’m not into sports and I don’t understand the sub-cultures and I don’t even know much about Jordan’s public image. So maybe there’s something shockingly arrogant I just don’t understand.

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      • It’s one thing to bring it up, it’s another thing to fly the guy that made the team ahead of you to your NBA HOF induction just to rub it in his face that you were the better player. It would be like a Nobel Prize in Physics winner flying out his high school valedictorian to the award ceremony and taunting him with, “Who is smarter now?”

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      • Is that what Jordan was doing?

        Maybe?

        I think it could be read as “my success all started with this guy, because he was the first challenge I had to overcome,” and as giving that guy some recognition by inviting him to be one of the select at the induction of perhaps the greatest player ever, so we could look at that guy and know, “once he was better than Jordan, and we, never in our lives, were ever, ever, better than Jordan.”

        he started the whole process with me, because when he made the team and I didn’t, I wanted to prove not just to Leroy Smith, not just to myself, but to the coach that picked Leroy over me, I wanted to make sure you understood – you made a mistake dude.

        I read that as Jordan saying he had the responsibility to demonstrate to his coach that he should have kept him (MJ)–not, “the coach made a dumb mistake,” but “I had to get better and then let the coach see that.”

        I don’t know–do we know if Leroy Smith felt honored to be there, or whether he felt humiliated? Trying to dig around online, I can’t find a direct answer to that, but what I do find is that Leroy Smith seems to be a guy with a great sense of humor who had some fun with his 15 minutes of fame. So, how much are either of us sure we’re reading Jordan’s speech right vs. how much we’re determining Leroy Smith’s feelings without having any idea what he actually thought about it?

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      • I had never heard of the speech except for the paragraph that Tod Kelly wrote before it. It didn’t strike me as vindictive either. I mean, competitiveness is kind of a jerk trait, and there was plenty of it, but I didn’t feel like he was any worse than that.

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      • And not that I have any particular devotion to Jordan, but this article, from when he tried minor league ball, presents a different side of him.

        One day at his house I saw him studying a booklet put out by the White Sox, containing pictures of all the players and staff members. He was looking at it for 20 minutes, and finally I figured out what he was doing. He was learning the names-matching the names with the faces. When he went into the clubhouse, he wanted to make sure that no one-ballplayer, locker attendant, equipment man-felt awkward about saying hello to him. He wanted to be able to say their names first. …

        Major league baseball is a sport in which many players are casually rude to fans, refusing to stop to sign autographs or even wave hello. Jordan, at the end of his hitless days, almost always worked his way down the stands, meeting the customers and signing whatever they handed to him. Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the White Sox, stood in right field of Ed Smith Stadium after one game, observing Jordan with the fans, and said, “I hope the other players are watching him. They might finally learn something.”

        I’m not suggesting he’s a saint, mind you. But I wonder if he’s not just fallibly human, and the reaction to an acceptance speech that wasn’t entirely gracious might be overdone precisely because we had–consciously or not, with intent or not–had a vision of him as superhuman.

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  3. This might seem like needlessly splitting hairs, but Jordan’s off-the-court/off-camera terribleness was well known to fans and sports writers alike. If all you consumed was PR, yea, I guess you wanted to “Be like Mike” but anyone who paid any real attention to the sport knew the guy was a dick through and through.

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  4. I dunno, have you looked at the things Rush Limbaugh is saying lately? Subscribing to his newsletters and supporting him seem pretty objectively pro-rape, pro-objectification, and pro-domestic violence. (Not to mention all the lamenting about the “pussification” of men on FNC)

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      • I don’t disagree but Rush Limbaugh is not sports media. His stint as an announcer not withstanding.

        That being said, I don’t know if Tod is completely right. I think the Internet is allowing for sports journalism to exhibit more than one variety of storytelling and this includes allowing liberals to become sports journalists. I don’t think a place like Grantland could exist as a non-internet operation. Or Slate’s sports coverage. Before then, sports coverage was largely about the play by play and what happened on field. An organization like Slate or Grantland can’t do stuff like that and has no need to. They can get behind the scenes though and like a social and cultural issues.

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      • The fact that Grantland can exist and allow horrible idiots like Bryan Curtis to write horrendous columns like the one he wrote, and the fact that ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is still employed (not to mention for that matter his frequent sparring pattern and contender for “Most Wrong Person in the World” Skip Bayless) probably goes against the theory that sports journalism is somehow a big PC leftist conspiracy.

        Hell, Bill Simmons wrote some of the most blatantly sexist crap one will read outside of Maxim commenting threads in his Big Book of Basketball and ESPN gave him an autonomous website as a reward. I mean he’s been on the right side of this Ray Rice thing, but the man’s hardly a paragon of even moderately feminist virtue.

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      • I disagree. A lot of the more in depth stuff existed long before the web. SI used to be quite good at it. They’ve since devolved in the web era as they tried to catch up with the ESPN and Deadspins of the world and even in newspapers, you had guys like Jim Murray who were writing about much more than just play by play.

        My opinion of Grantland is that, while it tosses bones to fans, it is far more targeted to people who don’t care about sports per se, but like talking about the things around sports.

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      • K, that’s definitely what they were best known for, but they always had a few excellent, in depth investigative reports a year (most of higher quality than their recent OSU clusterfish) and the long in depth articles about more than just a game or a seeason preview. I will grant that they probably wouldn’t be able to achieve the level of class to have a weekly “Don Draper Fingerbang Threat Level*” that you could find in Grantland.

        * No I did not make that up

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  5. I imagine that the NFL will weather the storm as best it can and then, somehow, start giving the best access to the best players and best coaches to the “reporters” who do the best job of forgetting to mention certain things.

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      • Indeed.

        But that eats itself after a while. People realize that they hated the end of Mass Effect 3 (or whatever example you think is a better one) and they read about “75 PERFECT SCORES!” (or what have you) and they realize “holy crap, I can’t trust these guys…”

        That feeling passes and evolves of course into something like “I can only trust these guys to *BE* these guys” and that evolves into “there is no News in Izvestia, there is no Truth in Pravda” and *THAT* evolves into “Well, I like the op-ed pages and especially this one really cynical guy…” and, when you started going for the news journalism, you end up staying for the opinion journalism.

        And thus games journalism (or sports journalism (or whatever)) eventually becomes an issue of Fox News vs. MSNBC. What things do you have the strongest opinions on? We’ll stroke ’em!

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      • I was, indeed, bashing most games journalism which seems uninfected by even the specter of ethics. :)

        ME3’s ending was just dumb, although I do love the theory that Shepard was indoctrinated — which would explain the color reversals (‘Destroy’ was red, yet represented by Anderson — whereas ‘Control’ was blue and represented by the Illusive Man. A reversal of the Paragon/Renegade colors.)

        I sorta get where they were going, but it was implemented badly — especially in conjunction with the other possibilities. (Like if you did EVERYTHING right you could get the Geth and the Quarians — but then you were faced with genociding the Geth anyways?). The ending would have worked had “Control/Destroy” been the options for a bare-bones play — barely enough forces to win, having sacrificed everything along the way (heavy Renegade play, skipping loyalty missions and extras, going for victory at any costs) but for the Paragon plot? It just..didn’t fit. Synthesis was added as a patch to that, but not a good one —- Hero’s journeys that end in crap don’t make good stories, even if real life often works that way. :)

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      • Say what you will about sports journalism: if you want to know who won the game, a sports journalist will, in fact, tell you.
        To be fair, “who won” is a fact. Games journalists are closer to movie or restaurant critics in terms of what they do.

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  6. Let me get this straight. Sports “journalists” are shills for the industry? You mean like regular news “journalists” are? I am SHOCKED SHOCKED that such a thing exists!

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    • Not only that, but it turns out that when you take the jockiest jocks in a whole nation, put them all in one place and throw buckets of money and approval at them, they don’t magically stop being the godawful dudebros you remember from high school.

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      • To be fair, autoindustry journalism also has (or at least used to have) an enormous amount of client denialism (with the senior editor of Edmunds.com being the most guilty), combined with weird right wing talking points about how evil Obama is for demanding better emissions standards…and then at the same time waxing poetic about how great GM’s latest revivalist muscle car is (and glossing over the fact that such car would not exist absent an auto-industry bailout)….

        That is, auto-journalism is, REALLY REALLY bad.

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      • Tod,

        Absolutely. There are quite a number of car mags out there, and the annual auto shows get quite a crowd of journalists, many of whom specialize in the automotive world.

        It’s particularly pronounced in the Detroit papers, of course. Oddly, though, it’s declined in prominence since the recession and near-collapse of the Big 3 (or at least 2 of them). Until a few years ago, it was a rare day that both the News and the Free Press didn’t have an auto industry article above the fold on the first page, where you could see it in the newspaper boxes. It astounded me when I first moved here.

        Some of it was, as Nob says, astoundingly bad. For me the high point of badness was when the Free Press reporter was regularly bemoaning the fact that GM was losing its position as the world’s leading seller of automobiles, bemoaning it despite the fact that GM was losing money on every single passenger car it sold.* It was making whatever profit it managed to make on its pickups, but still had to sell the passenger cars to meet CAFE standards. It was a business that actually needed to sell less, so it would lose less, but the reporter couldn’t seem to recognize that profitability mattered considerably more than size.

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        *The old joke of course is, how do you make it up when you lose money on each unit? Volume!

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      • And by “client denialism” I mean “climate denialism”. It’s somewhat strange, too, because the mags know that they need to keep up with EV and Plug-In hybrid news to keep abreast of industry trends, but at the same time there’s a large number of editors who simply want to believe that burning carbon fuels has no impact on the environment and write snarky references to how climate scientists are ignoring the sun.

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  7. Okay, I haven’t read all the way through (yet), but this:

    “Of course, no one expects a sportswriter to stick up for domestic abuse. But it’s striking that there’s a near consensus not just that Goodell’s two-game suspension of Ray Rice was too lenient, but that Goodell ought to resign.”

    It’s “striking”? Really, he uses that word? C’mon, man.

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  8. Tod presents and alternative theory to Curtis’s, and I think he does a good job of it. But I don’t think he disproves Curtis. In my experience, sports journalism has always emphasized civil rights. One could argue that (1) sports have played an important role in civil rights, and (2) sports have never played an important role in anything meaningful except for civil rights. I think that sets up sports journalists to be sympathetic to anything that’s presented as a civil rights issue, and these days, the political liberal is more likely to make and sell that appeal than the political conservative.

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      • That’s where it’s muddier for me. With Nike, he obviously could no longer do the job that he was being paid by them to do.

        With the NFL it seems more about keeping up appearance. Quite possibly further hurtingthe victims this istheoretically being done on behalf of.

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      • I don’t think there is much difference between Nike’s and the NFL’s reasons. The NFL wants its stars to be marketable and be exemplars of the NFL brand. The NFL is fiercely protective of its image. Granted they care a lot more about image than substance but they do want to at least appear to give a crap about head injuries and its players being good citizens. They leave marketable villains to pro wrestling; it is Hero Athletes that move merch.

        In the case of AP, unless he has been truly unwise with his money and really what are the chances of a pro athlete being that way, he is set for life. He should be a rich man. He may end up out for this season but some team will pick him up next year if the Vikings don’t want him. Same thing witih Rice.

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      • The role of a football player is ambiguous in the way that the role of a spokesman is not. That makes the two situations different, in my view.

        I mean, I know that the NFL doesn’t really care about anything but appearances and that this was purely a business decision. But absent some other information – like the mother(s) demanding it, or financial compensation to the families – this seems like making a bad situation worse in the name of a news cycle. How is this the right thing to do?

        I don’t care whether we point to the NFL in particular or the people demanding this. But have I missed the part where people have demanded not just the cry for blood, but that the kids are taken care of? If so, and the kids are taken care of, then I’m cool with all of this. Is this the case?

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      • Quite possibly further hurtingthe victims this istheoretically being done on behalf of.

        If I suspect a shopkeeper down the street is abusing his children and stop patronizing his shop, I also may be “further hurting the victims” by the loss in revenue – but what’s the alternative (assuming I’ve already reported what I suspect, if I have anything to go on)?

        If I am abusing my kids, and I get fired because of it, the harm to my kids (in all senses) came from my hand, not the hand of my employer.

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      • I don’t really care where we assign the responsibility for the bad here. I am mostly looking forward and wondering… is this the best outcome?

        The solution to this is pretty straightforward: Make sure the kids are taken care of. If the NFL wants to pretend it cares about this, take care of the kids. If the public demanding this of the NFL wants to argue that this is about the victims, make sure that the NFL doesn’t get to just wash their hands of it at the expense of the kids.

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      • Regarding the welfare of the children at issue there are a couple of problems. One they are young and with the moms, so it is pretty much up to the moms where the kids live to speak. If they don’t’ want to then we aren’t really going to know anything about them. CPS investigations are confidential so we actually shouldn’t be finding out what is going on with that part. AP will still have to pay child support so the kids shouldn’t be going hungry.

        I don’t’ really see the suspensions as making the situation worse. It is certainly a punishment for the athlete but that is sort of the point. The families aren’t going to starve and the dudes will play again. That said the NFL and various teams are handling this like morons, they are solely in protect the brand mode. They need to set up a standard list of suspensions instead of pulling it out of their butts when a star gets caught. If they really gave a hoot they could even link the abusers and victims with whatever help they need. All the athletes are rich enough to afford teh best therapist, classes, etc.

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      • …but that the kids are taken care of? If so, and the kids are taken care of, then I’m cool with all of this. Is this the case?

        Reports indicate that AP will continue to get his base salary, roughly $10.4M for the remainder of the year. Shouldn’t the expectation be, particularly in the case of athletes who are being paid or have been paid from millions to tens of millions in recent years, that their children are going to have a much more lavish lifestyle than you or I could provide our children?

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      • It seems to me that there needs to be a procedural method to perhaps setup a trust fund that disperses only to the spouse and/or child in these cases rather than the player. Something the NFLPA or the owners could probably come up with relatively easily, but they haven’t yet bothered, because, frankly, concern trolling about the abuse victims is just a way to try to weasel their constituencies out of having to pay any consequences.

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      • “It seems to me that there needs to be a procedural method to perhaps setup a trust fund that disperses only to the spouse and/or child in these cases rather than the player.”

        Is this method something specific to athletes with multi-million-dollar sports contracts, or should every employment contract contain a clause that the employer will continue to pay out – for labor that they are not receiving, though they ARE getting plenty of bad publicity and possible legal headaches, in lieu of what they actually hired the guy for – to the family members of abusers, or addicts, or people who just sucked at their jobs, so they got fired?

        Maybe the EPA should get rid of this guy, who watches two to six hours of porn per work shift, but continue to pay his salary to his family. After all, it’s not the kids’ fault that dad’s a porn hound. Anything less would indicate a callous lack of empathy and blatant money-hungriness on the EPA’s part.

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/09/16/epa_porn_addict_not_fired_employee_with_two_to_six_hour_per_day_habit_still.html

        I’m being snarky, and there are real children here that we are asking “but what about…?”, but how do you draw the line?

        If I do something that gets me suspended/fired etc., the responsibility for the consequences and lost income to my family is on me; expecting my employer to bear the costs of that seems strange, no matter how deep-pocketed and otherwise unsympathetic they may be.

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      • – while I potentially don’t disagree in theory (everyone wants the money to go to the kid that got hit, not the guy that hit him), isn’t that what divorce/child support etc. is for? If the paycheck continues to go to married dad, the law assumes it’s being used in part for the support of his kids/spouse (of course, this may be untrue, whether he’s a childbeater or not, and no matter how much he makes; and conversely, we have no way of knowing that he’s not putting 100% of it in trust for his kids right now). If mom wants to divorce him, the law can garnish his wages for child support and probably alimony.

        Otherwise, it seems to me that his employment contract is with him, and I am not sure why it’s incumbent on the employer to work out various alternate contractual fallback arrangements if he turns out to be unsavory in one aspect or another. Honestly, that seems like a legal nightmare. You and I have a contract, and under its terms and our business needs you either pay me or not. If that money needs to go to someone else, the government needs to get involved. If he’s convicted of child abuse, an appropriate punishment might be some sort of mandatory trust fund for his kids or something, though honestly even that seems sort of perversely psychologically messed up (“Nice Ferrari, where’d you get it?” “Funny story, dad used to hit me with a stick…”)

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