The National Football league brings in roughly $10 billion in revenue per year. By 2027, it expects to up that to $25 billion. As USA today reported in February, that would put the NFL on track to haul in more money per year than the domestic gross product of “dozens of small countries.” At some point in time professional football became a weird religion for millions of Americans, and now the rest of us are forced to endure lectures by the High Priests of Sportscasting whenever the athlete-gods expose themselves as mere mortals.
If Americans didn’t idolize the men they watch each Sunday, then the world would not be forced to endure former Vikings receiver Cris Carter throwing his own mother under the bus on national television. In response to Adrian Peterson’s indictment on child abuse charges, Mr. Carter melted down on ESPN.
ABC News reported September 14 (while taking out the exclamation marks):
“My mom did the best job she could do raising seven kids by herself, but there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong,” he said. “It’s the 21st century — my mom was wrong. She did the best she could but she was wrong about some of that stuff she taught me and I promised my kids I won’t teach that mess to them.”
A healthy culture enjoys the on-field exploits of their favorite player and gleans important lessons from what they bring to the game. A healthy culture admires the drive and dedication it takes to become one of only a handful of individuals in the world who can perform a particular sport at an elite level. An unhealthy culture creates shrines to its teams, hangs on star players’ every word via countless social media accounts, and dedicates more time to fantasy football each fall than actually playing catch with children.
Having to watch Cris Carter cry on national television while Mike Ditka uncomfortably fidgets in his chair is a sign that American culture has derailed. When Keyshawn Johnson looks like Mike Meyers after Kanye West said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” during a live broadcast, then it is time for football fans to reevaluate the the importance leather balls and the men who carry them hold in their lives.
ESPN anchor Hannah Storm also gave a Cris Carter-esque sermon to viewers September 14, taking the NFL to task for the way it reacted to Ray Rice cold-cocking his wife in a hotel lobby. It was nice, and perhaps even appropriate, but a society with a working moral compass does not need to witness emotional testimonials from shaken sportscasters.
If things were as they should be, then individuals would realize that the NFL has a lower rate of domestic violence than the general population, silently reaffirm that they will always be their own harshest critic, and then vow not to put up with halftime lectures by guys like Bob Costas on the so-called need for strict gun-control legislation.
When I tune in to watch sports, I do not want to hear wide receivers lump in people who occasionally spank their kids with those who leave children black and blue and bloody with a switch. When I want to see how my local team did over the weekend, I do not want to hear announcers go into extended diatribes — no matter how heartfelt they may be — about domestic violence. When I’m watching Monday Night Football, I do not want to listen to a sports pundit imply that millions of Americans are rotten people because they advocate on behalf of rights codified into law by the U.S. Constitution.
If the American people want to do the NFL a long-term favor, then they should turn off the television more often on a Sunday, buy less merchandise, and take their favorite players off the moral pedestals.
The greater problem is NFL commissioner Roger Goodell being looked at to punish these guys and somehow set the national standard for society’s ills. They need to be punished if guilty, but I’m not sure this is the way to go about it. We have a system for justice in the courts; the nfl produces football, not society’s conscience.
Now we set up the league as judge, jury, and sentencer. Was Ben Roethlisberger’s “situation” with a drunk 17 year old worse than Josh Gordon possessing weed or Ray Rice’s actions? They all got varying punishments at the whim of Goidell. Initially, Gordon got the most severe…..curious.
Goodell brought much of this on himself saying he’d clean up the game when he took office. Now we have the teams/league changing their mind about punishments, procedures and how to investigate. This is a sports league, not the FBI, not experts in domestic violence, and not a judicial system. We have given this league to much importance.
If I owned a team I’d put the domestic abusers on the exempt list while legal proceedings go on. I’d make my decision on their future employment after that. For guys like Gordon I’d give him counseling with escalated benchings/salary forfeiture if the behavior continued.
Yes! I was hoping you would comment. If there’s anyone’s opinion on football I trust, it’s you.
Like you said, there is a criminal justice system that exists to hash all these things out. Michael Vick went to prison, did his time, got out … and came back to the league. I didn’t mind because he served his time in jail. He paid for his crimes. I’d much rather have upstanding citizens with a clean record in the league than guys who did time in prison, obviously, but I also think that if someone morally and legally pays for their sins, then they should have a shot at professional redemption.
I’m right on board with you on this. I really just think our national priorities are completely out of whack.
I think the individual teams passed off responsibility to the league for discipline. This should be handled locally. Look at when Aaron Hernandez got arrested for murder last year. Within days he was off the team and fans could exchange his jersey for another at no cost. The Patriots didn’t need to wait for Goodell, Robert Kraft the owner didn’t want his team represented in that fashion and took a stand. That’s why they are a great organization. Personally I would have suspended him until the trial completed (everyone deserves their day in court), but I respect Kraft for his actions.
I’m with you on Vick’s deal too. He paid his price, he should be allowed to make a living. I’d also point out Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, he too was arrested for domestic abuse. He was diagnosed with a treatable bipolar condition. He was sincerely apologetic, followed all judge’s orders and medical advice he could, has been very open about it, and has turned a rotten situation into one where he helps people with a disease many ignore.
Anyways, to one of the points of the post, I’d prefer sportscasters stick to sports too, but they are human. I think that was a heartfelt reaction by Carter. I saw that show and he was posed a question and reacted; as opposed to Costas who has preset diatribes he feels he must crowbar into a sports show.
I definitely don’t doubt that Carter was speaking from the heart, although is still thought the whole thing was weird. I’m sure he could have gotten his point across without throwing his own mother under the bus. How would you feel if you were his mom? I don’t know if she’s even alive, but if she is, then everywhere she goes in town people will say, “Wow, what are the ‘thousands’ of things that she did that were so ‘wrong’ that Chris Carter broke down into tears, slammed the desk and said he wouldn’t make the same mistakes with his kids?”
You also get into a situation where he blanketed a lot of people as, essentially, bad parents. Are Mike Ditka and Keyshawn just supposed to sit there awkwardly and take it, or do they fire back at him and turn the show into something you’d expect to see on prime time cable news? If that’s the kind of stuff that they want to put on before a game, then count me out of ever watching any pre-game show.
I’d say Carter’s awkwardness mirrors what we’ve been saying, this is a sports league, nothing more. They don’t know how to react to what’s going on. The league doesn’t either. You could almost see wheels turning in his head, like he was trying to say he believed old school discipline was wrong and express his sadness for what happened and say society needs to change….I think it just came out a jumbled mess. He was very thankful to his mom during his hall of fame speech if I recall. Awkward moment to be sure, and I agree not the reason I tune in.
And they should all look uneasy; espn has been a little hypocritical in its treatment of this. Critical of the NFL yet Carter, Ditka, and their colleague Ray Lewis all had off the field issues in their younger days.
I agree with your assessment of Carter; these domestic violence incidents (especially Adrian Peterson’s child abuse incident) have been used to try and equate spanking with child abuse, which is beyond ridiculous and bring up “studies” that show it “harms the kids.” What Peterson did was barbaric, sure, but there is no comparison to legitimate punishments like spanking.
I’ve also seen whacko feminists try and revive their “Yes All Men” meme that emerged around the time of Elliot Rodger’s rampage in California. I’ve seen self-righteous celebrities try and bring awareness to domestic violence through their “It’s On Us” campaign, even though in reality I think they just want attention. It all makes me shake my head.
That said, I do think Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and the others should serve the time for what they did. Not that I’d excuse dog fighting, but what Michael Vick did back in 2007 pales in comparison to all this. Plus Vick has redeemed himself, as did Brandon Marshall.
Plus there’s a bit of a double standard in that Hope Solo beat up her nephew and her sister, but she’s still playing soccer and still has all of her endorsement deals with Nike. So it’s okay when a woman abuses her relatives? It should be frowned upon, regardless of gender.
As a Vikings fan, I’m glad I never bought a Peterson jersey now. I have a Peyton Manning jersey from his days with the Colts, though I don’t think it fits me anymore.
And if anyone is hypocritical about this whole thing, it’s Ray Lewis. He recently talked about how you can’t cover things up… well, he and his buddies got rid of that blood-stained white suit that would’ve implicated him in the murders Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar.
Carl, excellent point on Hope Solo and ray Lewis!
Thanks! I just find it pathetic that Hope Solo is getting a pass and even a few media outlets have made that observation. I think if they were serious about taking a stand against domestic violence, she would be kicked out of soccer and companies like Nike would drop her. Like I said, it should be frowned upon period, regardless of gender.
As for Ray Lewis, I find it pathetic that he continues to be lionized when there is strong evidence that he was involved in the murders of Baker and Lollar back in 2000. The white suit that would’ve implicated him conveniently disappeared. I believe he was charged with obstruction of justice, but that was it. It makes me shake my head. I know that if I had some blemishes on my record, employers would balk at hiring me. Instead, Lewis continued to play and gets a job at ESPN.