MMQB Mailbag: Lockout testing limits of fans' tolerance, behavior

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Lot of reaction from all of you -- via e-mail, Twitter and from my hosting gig on SiriusXM NFL Radio this morning -- on the Ray Lewis comments to Sal Paolantonio Sunday. Lewis thinks the crime rate in America will rise if there is no football this fall. And in a dead NFL news period, the story got a lot of play. Here is some of your reaction:

Wrote Malcolm Williams of Los Angeles: "Ray Lewis is right. But, he'd also be right if he said there will be more lawns mowed, more groceries purchased, and more babies born nine months after each Sunday. You're adding 3-15 hours a week to former football watchers schedule. To the extent that those people are criminals, they now have more time to commit crimes.

I don't think it's something you have to believe, the stats will bear it out -- the only question is how much more, since criminals do other things. What doesn't make sense is the implication that football on TV is a crime-fighting tool. A better tool might be improving education and employment opportunities for poor folks, or even working with people that have already committed crimes to prevent them from committing new ones. Perhaps Ray could invest in that with his extra time.''

Wrote Kenneth Macias of Austin: "I have to take issues with your take on Ray Lewis' comments: "Burglars and thieves" are not what Lewis is talking about. You sound like a guy who lives in a nice upper middle class neighborhood who worries about burglars and thieves. Lewis is talking about those in an inner city who worry about gun fights, drug dealing, drug abuse, domestic abuse, and hopeless young kids who for one day, on Sunday, take their minds off the real life they live in, and sit around the TV to watch the NFL. Those people are going to have one more day (without school or work) to try to find a way to kill time, and without football, crime is the only thing they know how to do."

Wrote Grant Martsolf of State College, Pa.: "A recent study by David Card (a very highly respected labor economist at UC Berkeley) called Family Violence and Football: The Effect of Unexpected Emotional Cues on Violent Behavior demonstrates that NFL football may actually significantly contribute to male-on-female domestic violence. What was particularly compelling is that the results were most pronounced when the home team experienced an upset loss and the results were especially large when the game was really important (home team in playoff contention or playing a rival). Many academics find the paper pretty convincing and think it to be pretty well done. So Lewis' comments are not only bizarre but probably also just flat wrong.''

Wrote Michael Hardin of Lancaster, Pa.: "Lewis' remarks on football and crime actually echo the thesis of anthropologist Rene Girard that surrogate mechanisms or outlets for violence help to contain violence. Loss of these mechanisms ensures that mimetic (imitated) rivalry will find its outlet in social anarchy. Girard has been hailed as the Einstein of the human sciences and is a member of L'academie Francaise. As an academic (and NY Giants fan), I find Lewis' remarks spot on.''

Wrote Dan of New York City: "Ray Lewis is not only 100 percent correct. He is 200 percent correct when he says crime will increase without a full or abbreviated season. I maintain if it were not for any form of sport or recreational activity it would be unsafe to walk the streets, it would take us back to the wild west gun-carrying outlaw days. I have been saying this for years and I use this argument every time I hear anyone criticize or who don't get the social value of sports.''

Wrote Chuck Tabb of High Point, N.C.:"Yes, I believe Ray Lewis. As anyone has seen in the past 50 years, crime spikes every week we are without the NFL, such as during the spring and summer months, and it lowers significantly when games are played. Why, just last week I witnessed a dozen crimes on the street and asked the perpetrators why they were committing the crime. The answer was universally, 'Because we don't have any football to watch on Sundays.' Sorry, Ray, but if your theory were true, crime would spike during the offseason. It doesn't. Case closed.

Now for your non-Ray e-mail:

YOU ARE RIGHT, TOM. "I was just wondering: Baseball has the strike zone, defined by the whim of the umpire, despite what it says in the rule book. The NBA has the traveling penalty, also apparently defined by the whim of the refs. What rule does football have that is most like those? I can't actually think of one offhand. Maybe that is a contributor to football being more popular, the officials are less arbitrary.''-- Tom Horsley, Delray Beach, Fla.

I don't think there's a rule like that in football, because officials are graded by the book and downgraded if they don't call rules the way they're written. I tried to think of pass-interference in that way, and couldn't think of a particular kind of interference that's always called, regardless of the crew on the field. Interesting question, though.

UNDERSTOOD. "Absolutely no fault of yours, but it's almost impossible to read MMQB any longer. It's the lockout. I'm so fed up with this that I find it hard to pay any attention at all, despite the fact that I desperately want to pay attention. Just a strange feeling.

I'm usually good for four games a year but I can't see myself putting up any money this season. I'll watch, no doubt, but I think it will be important for fans to stay away from the stadiums when/if the season gets going. Both sides are putting the fans thru a lot, and if we don't hit them in the wallets, then we get what we deserve. We took the PSL farce on the chin, now play the damn game before we spend our money on new home theater systems.''-- Nick, New York City

Your warning shot is being heard, Nick.

HE DOESN'T LIKE DE SMITH. "DeMaurice Smith, the executive director for the NFL players, comes across as a tough guy, but is that attitude helpful? First he ridicules an offer made by the owners on March 11, which appeared to be a reasonable starting point, then he later says publicly that the owners are lying. Men like the Giants' John Mara and the Patriots' Robert Kraft must be offended by such callous statements. Is Smith advancing the ball or losing ground in representing the players?''-- Ed McKeown, Newport, R.I.

I still think, from players I speak with, that they're firmly behind Smith. He's been a burr in the saddle of NFL ownership, and that's exactly why he was hired in the first place. Players love when he stands up to the owners. I don't see that eroding anytime soon. But once the season starts, if the players are still out and there's no football and no paychecks, that's the time to wonder about player support for the executive director. History says that's when players waver.

AGREED, BUT EIGHT WEEKS OF CAMP DOESN'T EQUAL FOUR MONTHS OF OFFSEASON TRAINING. "Regarding limiting OTAs, I'm wondering if the extended length of training camps from the days of say, the '60s and '70s compensated for the amount of time players actually spend currently. That is, is the amount of time that the players spend doing football-related activities today equal to or even less than what players would be doing earlier in the NFL's golden years? While I do understand that there was actually a real offseason back then, with, for example, members of the Baltimore Colts having offseason jobs, wasn't training camp about three months long? Wasn't there also six preseason games? Is it really that much worse today for the players?''-- Ryan Fried, Baltimore:

Well, in a normal offseason today, players would have organized workouts from mid-March to mid- to late-June, and then have six weeks of camp and preseason games. In days of yore, you might have eight weeks of camp and very little in the offseason until early July. So it's not very comparable. Today, players are expected to be working on football four days a week throughout the spring. Yesterday, they did nothing organized for the entire spring.