Friday, May 23, 2014

Mouthing the corporate line

A couple of days ago a few former NFL players filed a lawsuit against the NFL alleging that team doctors illegally dispensed narcotics to players. The players allege that team doctors and trainers did not provide the players with enough information about the possible side effects of the drugs to obtain informed consent. The players also allege that teams failed to keep adequate records of narcotics that were prescribed and dispensed to players.

For the past two days ESPN Radio personalities have spent a good deal of time toeing the NFL's company line that nothing untoward happened. Hosts such as Colin Cowherd blamed the players for taking drugs without asking questions about the potential side effects. Morning host Mike Golic even went as far to say that he (and a good number of teammates) would do anything, and take anything, to get back out on the field for the team.

Each host repeated the corporate line that the players were looking to deny any personal responsibility for the problem. But what else should you expect from a media company that pays the NFL millions of dollars a year to broadcast its product? Never forget that the E in ESPN stands for entertainment.

Colin Cowherd even went so far as to blame the toothless NFL Players' Union for the problem. This is the same union that has stood by and allowed the NFL to sign players to one-sided contracts allowing the teams to cut players at will. The NFL Players' Union has never been much more than a wet blanket that puts up token opposition to what the league wants and that sells its own members down the river in exchange for a cut of the action.

An NFL team can cut a player and tear up the contract without good cause. Yet players are castigated in the media when they hold out and seek to renegotiate their deals after a good season. The average NFL career is less than four seasons and this keeps a steady supply of young talent available that drives down wages and encourages owners to cut higher priced veterans in order to get their hands on more of the filthy lucre the league rakes in every year.

It is the knowledge that any injury could spell the end of a career that drives players to take whatever measures are necessary to stay out on the field. The owners know this and fight tooth and nail to protect their plantation system.

Teams doctors and trainers work for the owner, not the players. There is an inherent conflict of interest that drives team doctors and trainers to do whatever it takes to get players out on the field - regardless of the consequences. Hence the giant jars of pain killers in the locker room before and after the game.

The NFL chews up and spits out player after player year after year without a second thought. Fans who are completely ignorant of what's going on buy into the NFL's propaganda that is spread by media companies who aren't "covering" the league as much as they are providing cover for the league.

Professional football is the most violent of our sports and yet the men who suit up and play the game are the most exploited of any professional athlete in this country. I for one am sick and tired of the deification of owners in professional sports. No one goes to a game to see the fucking owner of the team. Few people give a rat's ass about them. We go to see the athletes perform on the field.

The NFL is worried about its image. And it should be. The more the public finds out about how the game really operates, the more likely they are to question its very foundations.

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