Wednesday, November 18, 2015

As if the NFL doesn’t have enough to worry about

I’m a sports fan, but as I have said in the past and will no doubt say again, watching professional football is like eating veal: if I thought about it, I wouldn’t do it.

But I occasionally do both, even though there are countless reasons why veal-eating is nasty and the National Football League is just plain god-awful.

Where to even begin with the god-awfulness of the NF?

Might as well start with the brain damage thang. For years, the NFL denied that its players experienced instances of substantial brain damage, and of both Alzheimer’s and ALS, that are well above the norm. Forget ALS as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS should be named after a footballer, not a baseballer.

Turns out that the souped up gear – supposedly designed to improve safety – actually makes players more likely to engage in dangerous maneuvers like spearing someone with your head. And we used to say that playing without a helmet was a bad thing…

So after years of denying there was a problem, the NFL kinda-sorta acknowledged it, and put a paltry amount of money aside to take care of retired players who were pretty much out of it.

One could, of course, argue that those playing professional football are grown men, making an informed decision to accept the trade off between getting paid a lot of money to play a violent sport in the now and going gaga in the then. But it would, nonetheless, be wise for the NFL to take better care of its own cadre of brain damaged former players than it’s been doing.

Then there are all those mamas who won’t let their babies grow up to be Cowboys. Or Seahawks. Or Packers. Or Patriots. Or even Pop Warner or high school footballers. Who wants to see her baby boy get his brains bashed in?

On top of the brain damage issues, there’s the inordinate number of players who’ve been involved in truly dreadful off the field behavior, generally (but not always) having to do with the abuse of women. And the fact that, despite an occasional slap-on-the-wrist suspension meted out, the NFL is cable of tolerating anything off the field as long as someone’s performing off the field. Admittedly, they do have modest standards. Once the Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez was arrested for killing the fiancé of his girlfriend’s sister – he’s now serving life, and early next year will be tried for an additional two murders (that of strangers who managed to somehow diss Hernandez in a nightclub) – the Patriots dumped him.

The NFL ends up with an oversupply of bad actors because, as long as they can run, block, tackle,and score, teams (and fans) are perfectly capable of overlooking college predictors of bad behavior and criminality. And once the players are in the NFL, well, they have to do something really egregious to get booted out. Like murder three people.

And don’t get me going on the “defend the integrity of the ‘shield’” brouhaha that is Deflategate.

So the NFL has plenty enough to worry about, without the add on of ColorBlindGate.

Here’s what happened with last week’s Thursday Night Football game between the NY Jets and the Buffalo Bills.

For some reason, no doubt to do with hawking even more merchandise to their fans (with the NFL, it’s almost always about the money), both teams wore monotone uniforms, something called “Color Rush,” in which both the pants and shirts were the same color. Matchy-tatchy, as my mother would say. So there were the Jets in solid green and the Bills in solid red. (Generally, the home team wears a colored shirt and contrasting pants, while the visiting team wears a white shirt and contrasting pants.)

Unfortunately, when they went monotone, the NFL neglected to factor in the 8 percent of the male population (and the 0.5 percent of women) who are colorblind.

So rather than see Christmas-y red and green on the field, colorblind fans saw this:


Forget ‘you can’t tell the players without a scorecard.’ If you’re colorblind, on long shots where you couldn’t see the logo on the helmet, you couldn’t tell the Bills from the Jets.

The NFL will be reconsidering its upcoming Color Rush shirt days.

Meanwhile, this little bit of silliness couldn’t happen to a more deserving sports league.

Source for Color Rush info: Huffington Post

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