Here's your guide to watching the NFL guilt-free for the 2015-16 season

Friday September 11th, 2015

Pull that Steve Largent jersey out of the mothballs and get ready to pretend you’re not engaged in cosplay, because the NFL is back, baby! Sundays are returning to their holiest form, obscuring the fact that yet another soul-crushing week of work is always lurking. Our beautiful ballet-meets-monster truck rally is resurrected. All is good and right again.

You have every right and reason to ignore those Bobby Buzzkills aiming their stodgy moral compasses at the supposed warts of our beloved NFL. Screw ‘em!  The wincing hits, physics-defying catches—these are the blood-flecked badges of sacrifice to our almighty shield. Football is all I have to validate myself (and my daytime drinking), and I’m not about to let a PowerPoint lecture from some bleeding-heart Oberlin grad get in the way of my worship.

If one of those nabobs does try to interfere with your enjoyment of football’s crippling cacophony? Just wrap yourself in willful ignorance and logical fallacies so thick that not even a hobbled former player wheeled up next to your recliner can shake you from wishing ill upon some poor WR3 so you can win your fantasy matchup. Here’s how to defuse some of the biggest potential line-of-questioning headaches…


Problem: How many NFL-sanctioned networks will decide to air spots for Concussion (Will Smith!) right around its Christmas release is difficult to say, but anything starring the Fresh Prince is bound to get plenty of attention. That the movie details the discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in players, while trumpeting the assertion that football is really bad for those who play it professionally, is particularly problematic. Maybe it’s all true. That would be pretty sad.

Willfully Ignorant Response: Screw that. I don’t want to know about it. The film is “based on a true story.” Like “inspired by true events,” this is little more than Hollywood elitist-speak for “stuff actually happened that we’ll exaggerate for the sake of cinematography and traditional five-act structure.” Just like how they sexed up The Insider with Russell Crowe to tell an apparently true story about the tobacco industry. The Gladiator as needle-nosed whistleblower? Has Netflix uploaded it to their Science Fiction bin yet?

Check out the trailer. Doesn’t this film look like it sucks? This film totally sucks. I mean, trailers are supposed to make turds look like polished amethyst, but this one’s got PC-stank all over it. You can keep your “facts,” American medical establishment. I’ll keep the sacks.


Problem: The NFL is Mafioso in myriad ways, but none more so than how it pimps out cities for stadium funding. Not only are you shelling outrageous cable fees to watch a game on TV (or, if you’re actually dumb enough to attend one, outrageous fees for literally everything); you’re probably paying Uncle Sam by virtue of nothing more than living where you do.

In pointing out that constructing stadiums serves no positive fiscal purpose for the public, Yahoo! Sports’ Frank Schwab elucidated the following:

"The NFL is an incredibly smart business that makes a ton of money; if it thought having a team in Los Angeles would be a boon financially it would have happened long ago. The league figured out that not having a team in Los Angeles, and blackmailing taxpayers through threats of relocating their team to L.A., can pay off tremendously. And most logical people know and understand this concept, yet taxes are still allocated to new palaces for sports teams (or tax breaks or other favors are given to them)."

A St. Louis judge recently threw out a rule decreeing the public couldn’t be put on the hook for a new stadium. The decision may well keep the Rams from moving to Los Angeles (as the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have continually threatened to do). What remains unclear is how much this hypothetical new stadium would make the team in actual money—and at what cost to the city itself. This type of swindle is by no means an isolated incident, especially when ongoing operating costs for stadiums are included.

Willfully Ignorant Response: Simple: I would rather have my tax dollars go to improving the pee-trough wait line than wasted on poor people who don’t pay taxes anyway. NFL teams are people, too!

Problem: A coach of two NCAA national champions and one Super Bowl winner is a 9/11 truther.

Willfully Ignorant Response: So is the one rapper I like who also is from Seattle.

Problem: Women, am I right!? Can’t live with them, can’t stop yourself from being violent towards them if your life intersects with pro football. The NFL can’t make its personnel not be awful toward women, but its \_(ツ)_/ attitude towards retribution is the height of cynicism. Ray Rice may have cast the crisis into higher relief (for a few months), but we didn’t quite summon that same outrage when Jameis Winston went No. 1 in the draft … or when the Chicago Bears did everything but point and laugh at Ray McDonald’s victim … or when Greg Hardy got the good ol’ boy treatment in print (and a whopping four-game suspension).

Couple all that with the NFL’s nauseating breast cancer swag profits ruse, saying the league has itself a lady problem could be the sports understatement of the year.

Willfully Ignorant Response: Chicks are invading the game by the threes, man! Sarah Thomas is poised to become the first full-time female referee in league history this season. Beth Mowins is calling Raiders preseason games on TV. Dr. Jen Welter stood on the Arizona Cardinals sidelines as a preseason coaching intern, and damn it if she hasn’t been invited back to further emasculate the game. What is our recourse for this estrogen onslaught? That’s what football is supposed to be!

Roethlisberger was never arrested, by the way. Not like Michael Vick. He served time in federal prison, went bankrupt, and—because he up and became an advocate against cruelty to animals —is suddenly a paragon of criminal rehabilitation. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. He’s still a monster.

Also: Chicks in pink jerseys are hot.


Problem: Speaking of monetizing pathos, the NFL sure loves patriotism. Nothing helps us perpetuate the fantasy that our country is a bastion of freedom and beauty than an American flag literally draped across an entire football field. And honoring the troops—can’t forget that. And tearful military family reunions. And jets. Lots of jets.

Our cultural calculus is a complicated one. But some formulas are so simple as to be Platonic truisms. Among them: Football is good, and jingoism is good. Which is why they make for such the perfect marriage (a totally heterosexual one, in case you’re wondering).

It sure is an expensive wedding: The Defense Department has shelled out at least $6 million to 16 NFL teams for slightly more colorful versions of the yellow ribbon on the back of your SUV. Those surprise reunions, their luster lost a thousand times ago? Even they aren’t even on the up-and-up.

Willfully Ignorant Response: “If the flyovers were discontinued, I would not be at the games,” one die-hard Jaguars fan and dyed-in-the-wool patriot wrote in an email to back in 2011. “The fact is, without the flyover, Jaxson de Ville [that’s the mascot] and a halftime show, the games today would be a bore.”

Don’t you dare criticize a Jags fan’s expressions of subjective national superiority. And that goes for me, too! You can’t put a price on freedom, especially if it’s in Bortles-camo-jersey form. Sure, we don’t pay particular attention to where and for what the troops are being deployed, and if they want health care when they return, they should get in the Obamacare lines just like everyone else. Just don’t take away those teary-eyed halftime sneakups. That’s what they fought for.

Plus, a stars and stripes-covered football field is the sports-pageantry equivalent of adding bacon and a fried egg to a double cheeseburger.

Love it or leave it.


Problem: The most popular league in the country still—still—includes a team named with a racial epithet. In 2015. This league has the gall to penalize black players for using the n-word on the field, but is perfectly fine with supporting a team of 53 players wearing actual slurs on their heads and bodies—and selling them! Nobody who isn’t in a position to profit from the name is in favor of keeping the now-untrademarked name. Except, you know, the guys who profit from it.

*cough Goodell, Snyder cough*

Change. The. Name. What is so hard about this?

Willfully Ignorant Response: Christ, it’s just a name. To me, a 44-year-old white man whose skin burns under a dentist’s lamp, Redskins represents things like heritage and honor and not letting smart and oppressed people tell me what’s insensitive or how there’s an inherent privilege and power in controlling language. The First Amendment is more important than anything else in this country, even to marginalized descendants of genocide. Check that, especially to marginalized descendants of genocide! You can let yourself be brainwashed by those countless organizations, media members and publications, Native Americans tribes, and coalitions actively and passively protesting the name. Give me this discredited poll and Bill O’Reilly.

Advantage, this guy.


Problem: Deflategate and the fallout from the recent Outside The Lines report suggesting the Patriots are even more dastardly than we originally believed, and that Roger Goodell and Co.—despite the handy ability to print money—have somehow come off as even dumber than before. If you’re not a Patriots fan or some other kind of sociopath, this should do nothing if not shake your faith in the game you love.

Setting aside the inherent hypocrisy of feigning rage over alleged nefarious edge-gaining in a sport made up of artificially-enhanced gladiators with antisocial issues who deteriorate their own bodies for our amusement … isn’t this just tiresome? Is anyone else just really tired? You are? Great! So just drop it. The Patriots are crooked, just like the league that whelped them. It’s like buying every album from a rock band full of meth addicts and arsonists, then getting all pissed off when you find out the bassist brings his own sleeve of chips to a $10 poker game. You’re mad at the wrong things, bro. It’s time for a serious moral inventory.

Willfully Ignorant Response: Can we please just sell the Patriots to the National American Football Championship of Romania, and call it a day? Terrific.  

Whew! Now that we solved all those pesky little problems, go rev up those soul-nourishing pregame shows, strike up that "Star Spangled Banner," and revel in the five-month-long lizard-brain consumption orgy that is America’s once and future pastime.

Happy guilt-free football, everyone!

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