A couple of years ago, my friend Jason and I got good and drunk and saw the movie Escape Plan. If you don’t remember it – and why would you? – the movie features Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger trying to break out of a prison built to be inescapable. Spoiler alert: It’s not, however, life inside is pretty grim as every aspect of the prisoners’ existence is carefully managed under heavy surveillance and autocratic and all-encompassing discipline. Guards wear masks and dress all the same to keep prisoners from differentiating them and preventing any chance of creating personal relationships with them. Prisoners have no idea where they are, get no access to natural light, and even minor transgressions result in being placed in “the hot box” a small all-metal cell that blasts hot lights at them for hours on end.
I believe there to be a certain subset of NFL fans who will not be satisfied until the NFL is run this way, or as close to this as is legally acceptable.
If you love to hate the NFL, as I do, watching everyone lose their minds over the New England Patriots’ underinflated footballs, or “deflategate” has been great fun. Drew Magary of Deadspin has helpfully collected a nice sample of the scorching hot takes on this subject right here.
My favorite theme running through several of these hot takes is the acknowledgement that, yeah, the Patriots still probably would have won, and won by a lot. But I still feel wronged, dammit! The righteous indignation from people is so thick and so pointless I want to spread it on toast, and then throw that toast in the garbage because that would be the only properly insane thing to do here.
Before work this morning, the “Today Show” put a poll to its viewers asking if the Patriots are found guilty, should they be banned from the Super Bowl?
First of all, LOL. Banned. Right. Ok.
By the time I left for work, 81% of the respondents had said yes, the Patriots should be banned from the Super Bowl.
That’s the good shit. Give me some more of that, America. Let’s throw away the Super Bowl. For this. For what amounts to 24 total psi in 12 footballs in a game that was decided by more than 5 touchdowns. Make ‘em pay! String ‘em up by the neck! Teach those dirty cheaters a lesson! WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?
I’m not going to pretend to know or care what the “appropriate” punishment here is, but whatever that punishment ends up being, I’m sure it’ll end up pissing basically everyone off. The NFL is delusional about its role in society, and believes its own bullshit hype to such an extent, it’s bound to implode at some point. Also, yes, I saw both Brady and Belichick’s press conferences. Yes, I think at least one of them is full of shit. No, it doesn’t change my opinion of this “scandal” one bit.
Digesting the results of the Mueller investigation into the Ray Rice quagmire has been perversely entertaining to me because the NFL’s conclusion after reading about its own incompetence and capriciousness was that it needed more unchecked authority and unchallenged power. That’s some seriously bugfuck craziness when slapped with the reality that the head goober in charge is basically a potted plant. The NFL believes it’s an arbiter of morality and an upholder of good. It’s not.
It’s a corrupt farce of a bloated, wildly self-important, corporate advertising platform that cares neither for its employees – on whose backs this entire house of cards is built – nor its fans given the urgency and nonchalance with which it will jam its cold metal deck up the asses of both, while reaching into their pockets. For players: Non-guaranteed contracts, lack of healthcare coverage, schedule creep into Thursday nights, possible expansion into an 18 game schedule, arbitrary and everchanging rules of conduct, and a whole bunch of other stuff not sitting on the top of my head. For fans: Personal seat licenses, publicly financed stadiums, broadcast blackouts, predatory season ticket policies, and any amount of personal disgust you’d like to register with the cost of stadium parking, refreshments, and merchandise.
This whole ridiculous, money-printing enterprise also gets to enjoy tax-free status as a non-profit, is granted an anti-trust exemption from the federal government, and concluded they’d be better off handing out discipline to those who run afoul of the law without involving the criminal justice system, let’s not forget.
It’s against this backdrop that makes the silliness surrounding whether footballs were properly inflated that much funnier to me. Throw the Patriots out of the Super Bowl! They cheated!
There’s plenty to get pissed off about regarding the NFL. Worrying about “Deflategate” seems like an exquisite waste of time. And if the NFL has its way, maybe the fans will finally get that Escape Plan style of league they think they want.