Football, Ferguson and The Future

December04/ 2014

Unless you’ve been off-line and outta this world the past few weeks, you have been Ferguson-ized.   Here at BLSays we measure the saturation of any news event or pop culture blip thru the simple Does Albert Know Factor.

Our dear friend “Prince Albert” (…. in the can?  Better let him out.) is our go-to touchstone for how aware the American mainstream is about anything.  “If Albert knows” Everybody Knows.   Albert knows about “Ferguson”.

To absolutely no one’s surprise “Ferguson” has now invaded the NFL. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Roger Goodell fumbled Ferguson like he fumbled Domestic Violence……

Will “Ferguson” invade The NBA and likely college FB and Bkball too?   Yep.  Will their respective poobahs wet their pants and likely fumble Ferguson too.  Probably. ….. Spectators vs Gladiators!

Is “Ferguson” an official BFD?  You betcha.  It is a VBFD.  Is it “like breast cancer” or even “like domestic violence” which The NFL has also openly aggressively promoted?   Duh…. Not At All.   Ferguson is not a “simple black or white” issue because Ferguson IS “a black or white” issue.  Nothing involving “race” in America is simple.  More and more, everything in America involves “race”.

No one is an advocate “For” breast cancer or “For” domestic violence.   Some sickos actually were FOR The 9/11 Tragedy but lets not go there today.  However one can easily understand that other “disease eradication charities” and other “societal ills organizations” might be jealous that the NFL chose those particular two to champion, but that their problem.

If players wearing “pink stuff” for a few weeks results in a cure for breast cancer that is “a good thing”.    If The NFL develops its female fan base thru its breast cancer awareness promotion, that’s a good thing for The NFL.   I assume you have heard that the % of revenue generated by the sale of NFL “pink stuff” that actually goes to breast cancer research is quite small.   You hadn’t heard that?   Now you have.

The NFL got involved in Domestic Violence because it is the societal ill of choice of so many of its players.   Major League Baseball got involved in “don’t use smokeless tobacco” because so many ballplayers were getting cancer from it.

If the Ray Rices had chosen an elevator without a surveillance camera, The NFL would not have given a damn about domestic violence.   It managed to totally ignore it as well as concussions for over sixty years.

You have your opinion about “Ferguson”.   I have mine.  That opinion has been shaped by your choice of news media and the partisan “diversity”, or lack of, of that media.   Maybe you made a snap judgment about Ferguson on Day One and have stuck to it.   Maybe your opinion changed as Ferguson has evolved into such a VBFD.

Chances are you know someone who disagrees with your take on Ferguson.   Chances are you and them are both against breast cancer and domestic violence.   Chances are both of you watch The NFL.

I’m not sure Albert knows about The Rams’ Hands-Up Five.   Last Sunday five St Louis Rams players came out of the tunnel flashing the Ferguson “Hands Up” sign.  That means they think Officer Wilson killed “sweet cuddly teddy bear” Michael Brown simply because he was black…. and they believe that America has an epidemic of Officer Wilsons who kill young “innocent” black men simply because they are black.

The issue relative to The NFL is not whether Officer Wilson acted properly or improperly; but, whether The NFL will permit its players, in uniform, to aggressively express their personal opinion on very controversial issues.  Had these five players appeared out of uniform at a Ferguson demonstration or, as Charles Barkley has done, given interviews expressing their personal opinions, I would not be writing this column.

Yes…. there is also the issue of “WHAT IF NFL players, in uniform, had aggressively supported the Grand Jury verdict and supported the position of law enforcement officials” would the ensuing media hue and cry and outpouring of support for The Hands-Up Five be the same?   I’m sure we all know the answer to that last “what if”.

Alas…. “Freedom of Speech”, in the minds of some, is solely dependent upon the opinion being advocated.   This ain’t the first rodeo for this issue.  It won’t be the last.   We see “it” on college campuses every day.

Remember Jim McMahon’s sweatband?   Quirky Bears’ QB Jim McMahon liked to gig authority.   Back in January 1986 Jim wore a headband with a handwritten message “ROZELLE” (NFL Commish Pete Rozelle).   Jim was rebelling against something or the other.  Who knows, who cares.   The next day The NFL fined Jim $15,000 for an ununiform uniform.

Tim Tebow was not allowed to “take a knee” after a touchdown OR have Bible verses on his eye black patches.  Those actions apparently “offended” the NFL atheist and muslim fan factions.  Who knew?

To say The NFL is anal about “it’s brand” is to say NC State fans aren’t too keen about Johnny Swofford.   In every NFL locker room there is a poster illustrating how each piece of equipment can be / must be worn to conform to NFL strict standards.   Even the ballcaps and sideline jackets  that coaches wear are dictated by The NFL office. There are detailed rules on choreographed touchdown celebrations and dunking footballs over goalposts.

But what about players (in uniform and during an NFL televised game) in an NFL stadium aggressively promoting their personal opinions on a very controversial issue that has arguably further divided an ever-widening divide in America?

Spectators vs Gladiators….. Spectators vs Gladiators……

Yes, there ARE “white people” who support the “Michael Brown was gunned down in cold blood” theory.   Yes, there ARE “black people” who accept the Grand Jury verdict and who appreciate the presence of law enforcement in their neighborhoods.   But this IS “a black / white issue”.

IF The NFL had fined and/or taken any punitive actions against the Hands Up Five, they risked a wholesale protest reaction from 75% of their players…. and from an overtly partisan media sympathetic to the “Michael Brown was just a cuddly teddy bear” theory.

Spectators vs Gladiators

The NFL, and the St Louis Rams’ franchise, is betting that the ticket-buying fans who were offended by the Hands Up Five demonstration will forget this faster than “the other side” would have forgiven them if they (The NFL) had intervened to stop this (and further partisan demonstrations).   Are they correct?

A local St Louis sports bar has announced it will no longer support the Rams as a result of their stance on this.   “The other side” has of course, threatened the owner of that private business.  Duh!

Once a precedent is set…. we can expect more, LOTS more, similar overt expressions of controversial opinions by professional and college athletes.  Expect some “Hands-Up” in the high profile college games this weekend…. and in other NFL and NBA venues.

There will, of course, be other “Fergusons incidents” of one variety or another.  That is a given.   These overt expressions of controversial opinions will grow in size and intensity.

The NFL, The NBA, The NCAA will be betting that their “Spectators” will be more forgiving than their “Gladiators” will be in their Official Ostrich stance on this.

To paraphrase Michael Jordan on “tennis shoes” – “Law-abiding citizens are NFL fans too.”

Watch this one folks.   You know yours truly does so love to say:  “I told you so”.

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