Within hours on Wednesday afternoon, news came out that the elevator footage of Ray Rice punching his fiancé had been sent to NFL offices and that Atlanta Falcons LB John Abraham had played 16 games in 2013 despite suffering from memory loss due to concussions.
Both of these revelations are horrifying. It's why I will not watch NFL's Thursday Night Football package. At some point, we have to let the NFL know that, as fans, we're not going to take this anymore.
Since the Ray Rice footage was first released – the footage that captured Rice dragging his unconscious fiancé from a casino elevator – the NFL and Roger Goodell have messed up in every way possible. The Ravens live tweeted Janay Rice apologizing for getting punched. Ray Rice used inexplicable metaphors. Goodell handed out a mere two game suspension.
This week, with the TMZ release of the entire incident, everything has been taken to another level and still, the NFL continues to screw up. The Ravens and the NFL finally take action, but far too late to matter. Roger Goodell has the gall to tell the nation his league couldn't possibly get their hands on a tape that we all saw and knew existed. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti inexplicably admitted that he “wanted to believe” the Ray Rice used an open-hand during the incident, which is acceptable how?
At the same time, the NFL's concussion epidemic shows absolutely no sign of subsiding, as evident by Wednesday's news about Abraham. As a Jets fan, Abraham was one of my favorite players a decade ago. Now, I fear his fate has been sealed.
Ever since reading League of Denial in March, I have been conflicted with my love of the NFL. While the college game through its targeting rule has made significant efforts to literally change how the sport is played, Roger Goodell has paid nothing more than lip service.
The news about Abraham follows a scarily similar pattern to what was revealed in League of Denial, particularly the part where Abraham received a DUI over the summer when he passed out at the wheel. How this man could play an entire NFL season with memory loss is beyond comprehension.
In League of Denial, the stories of post-concussion syndrome end the same way – the player killing themselves. I will say a prayer for John Abraham that he does not suffer the same.
Earlier this week, Katie Nolan made waves by calling for greater representation of female in the sports media while saying that she loves football too much to give it up. While her motives were strong, her execution was worse than poor. The amount of love it received made you think she had taken a giant leap for woman’s rights. Instead, she was saying, "I will continue to do exactly the same thing, but I expect change."
This is a problem. Change does not come from doing nothing. Change comes from showing people that you're upset and you're willing to walk away.
If I said we should boycott the NFL completely, you'd laugh. And that wouldn't hurt anyone except the players and rank and file workers, not the billionaire owners.
So here's my solution: I will boycott the NFL Thursday Night Football package. It is the epitome of what is wrong with the NFL. It is a pure, unadulterated money grab without the slightest regard for the player's health. It is not healthy or safe or advisable to play two NFL football games in five days. It's absurd.
There is so much talk constantly on social media and in the traditional media about the ills of the NFL, yet ratings remain high because we don't change our habits. We simply shrug our shoulders and sigh, chalking it up to our love of the sport (and gambling).
Well, the NFL is putting its players at risk on Thursday nights to make more money. I don't like that. I don't like how Roger Goodell and the NFL have turned a blind eye to domestic violence for years, while cracking down on pot smokers and uniform offenders. Enough is enough at some point, right?
Maybe if we stop watching one night a week, they will get the message. There are plenty of other things to watch on Thursday, including college football.
We can escape the pull of football for one night a week. I will miss my Jets play the Patriots. I will miss fantasy football action. I will survive.
Will John Abraham? Did Junior Seau?
Giving up one night of football seems like a fair trade-off to keep my favorite players alive and healthy, as well as the league's significant others.
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