Zeb beat me to the punch earlier this evening, but I sent him the link to this Sports Illustrated article via Twitter because this has been weighing on my mind for quite some time. Like the ex-NFL fan who penned that article, I'm feeling anything but love for a league I grew up following. The difference in my case is I'm mad at the league in general.
I'm tired of NFL teams extorting cash-strapped cities for public funding for new stadiums that do not provide a good return for the city's investment in the project over its lifetime. The San Diego Chargers have been doing this since 2002, and it's amazing how they want a stadium that will cost nearly a half billion more than the one Jerry Jones had built for his Dallas Cowboys. I don't know where the money is going to come from when the city doesn't have the money to pay their police officers a decent wage or maintain its infrastructure.
I'm tired of the NFL having a set of rules for one team, and another set for the other thirty-one. The fact Commissioner Roger Goodell is good friends with Robert Kraft is troublesome at best, and a conflict of interest in certain league matters at worst. I cannot trust him to deliver the same punishment to a Patriots player that he would to a player from another team when he's known to kick up his heels at Kraft's retreat in The Hamptons.
I'm tired of NFL players doing stupid things to get in trouble, and then having their attorney and/or sports agents offer the lamest excuses since the last time a kid told their teacher their dog ate their homework. You didn't mean to kill that Yorkie when you kicked it? You couldn't stay away for more than two days from the woman who had a restraining order put on you? You're full of it. Man up and take responsibility for your bad behavior.
I'm tired of players getting second, third and fourth chances after multiple accusations of domestic violence. I don't care if they're "innocent". Just because the woman decided not to press charges doesn't mean something didn't happen. Why as a society do we tolerate this behavior from athletes when in our everyday lives we report these incidents to the police?
I'm tired of players entering the NFL, sign their multi million dollar contracts and do not take their jobs seriously. You worked hard your entire teenage and college years to get the chance of a lifetime to fulfill your dream. Instead of doing what it takes to prepare yourself for a long career you're doing stupid things like getting caught leaving a Las Vegas bathroom with a rolled up dollar bill, testing positive for drugs at the NFL Combine when the NFL only tests you one time a year, or hold out into the regular season for a contract you'll never live up to. I don't care if this is how things work. I'm tired of NFL rookies trying to be celebrities first and football players second.
Last year, I nearly stopped participating in this blog's annual football picks for these very same reasons. This time around, I'm going to do it. I'm fed up with how the NFL does business, how they treat their fans, and how they don't have the integrity they used to when Pete Rozelle was the Commissioner. Paul Tagliabue was a downgrade, but Goodell is a disaster unless you're one of 32 billionaires that have profited greatly at the league's expense.
I know there are people out there who will say I'll be back, but don't be too sure about that. I walked away from auto racing for a year and a half in the mid-90s after too many drivers were getting killed or severely injured from head and neck injuries. I only returned after NASCAR and F1 made satisfactory changes that helped save the lives of many drivers going forward.
I walked away from the WWE when too many wrestlers were paying the ultimate price by abusing their bodies with drugs and alcohol to numb the pain from abusing their bodies in the ring. I have not watched a WWE program since Chris Benoit's death, and I have no future plans to do so. Too many wrestlers died young for my entertainment, and things have not changed since I did my own "heel turn" many years ago.