by Aitch Cee
So, right now it’s week 8 in the NFL and I am able to say, that thus far, I have been able to stay true to my boycott. NFL is about as pop culture to America as…apple pie, sorry that’s the best i can think of. So for many, it’s hard to believe someone who swore by the NFL a year ago even in one of the worst seasons for his team, to drop it cold turkey now. Yes, I have boycotted the NFL since before the season started and to put it in perspective, I am a Baltimore native. Grew up on the Colts until they snuck out of town in the 80s, tried to follow the Stallions and even though they had a winning record while here, the CFL just isn’t the NFL. Also been a fan of the Ravens since its inception. We are talking about Vinnie T., Bam Morris, Priest Holmes, Michael Jackson (yes, we had a WR by that same name), Peter Boulware, Tony Siragusa, a merry-go round of QBs and 2 Super Bowls. I remember before the re-alignment how our biggest rivals along with the Steelers were the Titans. But along with being a fan of the Ravens and the NFL and sports in general, there will always be issues. Within the last 15 years there have been many including Rae Carruth, Ray Lewis, The Saints Bounty hunting scandal, Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger’s rape allegations and Bellichick’s Spygate. With all that are listed and those that are not, my biggest problem has been how they have been handled as I felt that in many cases the punishment never really fit the crime and especially within the last year when you had Riley Cooper use a racial slur and there was proof of it, not only did he keep his job but got a pay raise, you had Mike Tomlin impede play during a nationally televised Thanksgiving game and get a slap on the wrist, of course they Ray Rice incident, Adrian Peterson’s issues, the concussions, other domestic violence issues which goes back for many years and bullying issues. Along with this, the prices keep going up, the rules keep changing, and fans are almost treated like criminals coming to a game by what is and isn’t allowed inside the stadiums. In my opinion, so much has happened within the last season, I decided to stop being a fan because right now, the NFL has a bad product that is not fan friendly. Roger Goodell in my opinion has handled a lot of what’s been happening poorly as far as accountability from players, staff and owners and until he is gone and positive changes occur I won’t support the product.
Going into this, I thought it would have been hard. There has always been the ritual of getting up on Sundays, making a final check of my fantasy league and sometimes hoping I made it home before kick-off. But after eight weeks, it’s not as difficult as I thought. It’s been kind of hard not being able to talk with some of my co-workers about the games but then I discovered something. For many people here, it’s all I had in common! Some I have even tried to talk about other things with but I have come to the realization that the NFL was all that we had in common.
The one thing I do miss however is not wearing my gear, win or lose. It’s always ‘fun’ to rattle the cage of bandwagon and fair-weather fans when the team is doing well and get on them and showing them how its done when you lose. I supported my team rain or shine but with what’s happening with the NFL overall, it was time to let it.
There is a lot that I don’t miss. I don’t miss the trash talking (well I miss it some but I DON’T miss people whose feelings get hurt over it), I don’t miss dealing with sore losers and sore winners, I don’t miss trying to get people to get into the games for fantasy leagues and I don’t miss Madden football. One of my first acts, upon boycotting the NFL was that I traded Madden in and it hurt somewhat because it was the first Madden I had bought since maybe 2008 or 2009 and I really liked this version but it would be hypocritical to hold on to the game.
I still do find it fun from time to time just observing people in the DC area (and today especially since the Washington team played the Cowboys) interact with each other during the season but as of now, it’s a little better that I can just sit back and watch and not be so involved. A lot of people I know think that I gave it up because of Ray Rice and to those I say again, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When the NFL has taken many of these issues on and off the field and have treated these issues dissimilar to how regular joes would have had these issues handled in real life, it tells me that the NFL has no clue on how to hold people accountable. To me as a fan, that’s what counts. As much as I love watching my team win, it would be very hard to do knowing that the reason why is that one of the players has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to have committed what can be considered a criminal act (especially when it’s on video) and it goes unpunished. Worse is when the very employers they play for can’t seem to figure out how to do it. Let’s look at another example of a better attempt at getting things mostly right. Some of you know that I am a soccer fan as well. During the World Cup, Luis Suarez, bit another player during a game in which BILLIONS were watching. He got suspended for FOUR months and a hefty fine. Now in my mind, because he has had similar incidents, I think he should have been banned from the game altogether but, well FIFA has its own issues, BUT, they made his suspension, which included not playing any games with his team, not practicing with his team, hell, not even being in attendance to ANY FIFA sanctioned games, STICK. Even when it was appealed, it was declined. It was one of the few times I was happy to see any sports entity stick to a punishment that was properly given to a player especially during the course of play.
So, in my opinion, the NFL has to do some things to win me back. Sadly a lot of those things won’t happen anytime soon because of course money dictates what they will do and not human decency. While I won’t hold my breath, I would like to see Roger Goodell resign, I would like the NFL to attempt to crack down harder on bad behavior from ALL staff and hold them accountable, INCLUDING OWNERS, figure out what to do with treating their players because this concussion controversy is out of hand, and yes, more minorities in key positions on and off the field. No reason that in 2014 there are still only a handful of minority head coaches in the league. If there is anything that I LOVE about soccer is that anyone from anywhere in the world can coach and own a team and not to say that soccer is perfect, because it surely isn’t, it doesn’t have some of the same issues with accountability that the NFL does. Also, many of my friends who are fans of the NFL are disgruntled as well and not all of us for the same reasons but we all have agreed more or less that the NFL right now is a less attractive sport than it has been in years and some are making the same decision I have to not watch. If more people did the same and stopped supporting with our dollars, the NFL would have to make some changes. Fan attendance has been dropping as ticket costs have been rising since 2007 and that should be one thing the NFL should be concerned about but they know SOMEBODY is willing to pay to come out and watch. I just know for right now, it won’t be me. My Sundays have been more relaxed than they have been in years and I have no qualms about that.
So enjoy your season and even if the Ravens so happen to make the playoffs and Super Bowl, if the NFL isn’t trying to change for the positive, I can find other stuff to do in February and it really isn’t that hard.