Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hall pass

When my wife was in high school, she was vice president of her senior class. One of the perks of the job was a hall pass that allowed her to go wherever she wanted, whenever she wanted, including trips off campus for lunch. She got out of class all of the time thanks to the power of the VP hall pass. I, on the other hand, had to go to all of my classes and had to eat all of my meals in the school cafeteria. Mmm, loved chicken fried steak day. Whatever. This is why I tell her that even though we went to school at the same building at the same address, we went to way different high schools.

The NFL also has a hall pass. As a league, they get away with everything.

While baseball gets raked over the coals for steroids, HGH, the cream and the clear or whatever BALCO is selling today, the NFL thrives on steroids. Canseco claims 85 percent of baseball players used steroids? Then everyone in the NFL is juiced except for maybe Martin Gramatica. Yeah, they test for it. But if Barry Bonds has taught us anything, it's that a test for the stuff is almost useless. And even if you do get caught like Shawne Merriman, you simply miss a few games and still go to the Pro Bowl and almost win Defensive Player of the Year thanks to your steroid-padded stats. You certainly don't face the wrath of the fans--you're a hero to them. You're a football player.

The NBA has taken a hit in the past couple of years for violence and thug behavior, but they've got nothing on the NFL. This season alone, Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson and the Cincinnati Bengals made ESPN's one-time controversial Playmakers seem quaint. And let's not forget Ray Lewis's homicide charge a few years back--he's now a league spokesman. The NFL literally gets away with murder.

Why has the general public issued a hall pass to the NFL on these issues? Steroids is a much bigger issue in the NFL than baseball, and if you don't believe that, you simply aren't paying attention. So why is baseball the one with the black eye? The NFL makes the NBA look like choirboys, so why does basketball take all the heat?

Is it about money? Or do we overlook football's warts because we like the game better? If you are waiting for me to wrap this up neatly with the answer, don't hold your breath--I've got no answers for this one. I'm glad to hear that the league is finally starting to look into thug behavior, but it isn't because of public pressure. The fans are more than happy to cheer for their users and criminals come Sunday.

Everything in the NFL is bigger and better. Bigger ratings, bigger TV contracts and bigger stars. But also bigger steroid addictions and violence issues.


heather said...

That hall pass was awesome. A teacher even laminated it for me.

rus said...

Another part of this is the DirecTV, NFL Sunday Ticket, and MLB Extra Innings. Since at least 2004, the only place you can get all the NFL games was through DirecTV. That is what you call a monopoly. No one says anything. Now baseball is doing the same thing (Big money paid by DirecTV) and now it's a big scandal with investigations and hearings from the federal government. It doesn't make any sense.
Remember the steriod hearings a couple of years ago? After raking baseball over the coals, the congressman practically begged for the chances to the feet NFL representatives. Now was baseball blameless in all this? Of course not, they burried their collectives heads in the sand while Sosa, McGwire, and Bonds became like East German athletes. But the steriod policy of the NFL is a toothless as an old dog.