Cost of a ticket to the AFC Championship game: $447.
Pounds of air pressure in an average NFL football: 13 psi.
Cost of underinflating your footballs in an AFC Championship game: $1,000,000.
Suspending a star football player for two games for beating his wife; another star player for four games for underinflating his footballs; then pandering to women with shameless "NFLPink" products and merchandise: PRICELESS!
By now, you've probably heard that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were slapped with fines and suspensions over the much-ballyhooed "DeflateGate" scandal. The NFL fined the Patriots $1,000,000 and docked the team two draft picks. Brady, the Patriots star quarterback who professed his innocence to the end, was suspended four games without pay.
As laughable as these sanctions are -- and they are laughable, considering even the NFL admits "DeflateGate" had no impact on the outcome of the AFC Championship game -- what's even more ridiculous is the clueless nature with which the NFL hands down these sanctions.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, in defending the sanctions, said in a statement that "protecting the integrity of the game" was a key factor in determining the Pats' punishment. Really, Roger Goodell? Do you really want to discuss the "integrity" of NFL football? Okay, let's discuss the integrity of NFL football.
Let's discuss the integrity of a league that has been rocked by more cheating scandals than Bill Cosby.
Let's discuss the integrity of a league where players get paid bounties to put career-ending hits on opposing players.
Let's discuss the integrity of a league that has seen nearly 800 players arrested in 15 years, on charges ranging from assault to DUI to dog fighting, murder, murder-suicide, manslaughter and child abuse.
Let's discuss the integrity of a league that has seen over 90 arrests for domestic assault.
Lastly, let's discuss the integrity of a league that puts a higher price on underinflated footballs than criminal behavior such as this.
Before we even do that, I know what you NFL fans are thinking: "But Brian, the NFL rule book doesn't HAVE a section on domestic violence. It doesn't have a section on dog fighting or DUI. As despicable as those acts are, they're not a violation of the rule book. Tom Brady deserves his suspension because he broke the rules!"
That might be true, but we're not talking about rules here, folks; we're talking about "integrity." As NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent stated in his letter to Brady, "The integrity of the game is of paramount importance to everyone in our league, and requires unshakable commitment."
Does that integrity extend beyond the field, Mr. Vincent? I ask because in February of 2014, one of your star running backs, Ray Rice, was caught on video knocking his wife unconscious. The NFL denied having any knowledge of the incident, even though it reportedly did, and when the NFL finally got around to suspending Ray Rice, he received a two-game suspension. Two games, for beating his wife.
So a star quarterback who "probably" knew his footballs were underinflated gets a four-game suspension, while a star running back who we all know beat his wife -- heck, it was caught on video! -- gets a two-game suspension?
Where, my friends, is the "integrity" in that?
Now to be clear, I wouldn't even have a problem with this -- well, I would have a problem with it, but for the sake of brevity, I'll continue. If it weren't for the fact that the NFL turns around and insults our collective intelligence every October with its self-serving and shamelessly transparent "NFLPink" campaign.
Every October, the NFL panders to female football fans by encouraging Americans to "make a difference" and support breast cancer awareness. The NFL rolls out pink wristbands, pink towels, pink penalty flags, pink jerseys, and pink pom-poms, all in the name of cash, all in the name of breast cancer awareness, and all in the name -- at least ostensibly -- of women.
Of course, we all know that very little of this money actually goes to breast cancer research, and very little of it ends up in the hands of the women it's supposed to support. In fact, less than 10 percent of "NFLPink" money goes to charity. The rest goes to retailers, manufacturers, administrative overhead, and of course, the NFL.
So if less than 10 percent of "NFLPink" proceeds goes to women, and Ray Rice only gets a two-game suspension compared to Tom Brady's four-game suspension, how much value does the NFL place on women? The answer, it appears, is less than the value it places on underinflated footballs. Two games less, to be exact.
Now just to be fair, I will accept Tom Brady's punishment (full disclosure: I'm a Patriots fan born and raised in Massachusetts!), if the NFL agrees to stop pandering to women and start putting its female fans ahead of profit.
I'll accept Brady's punishment if the NFL agrees to start putting the lives of its own players ahead of profit.
I'll accept Brady's punishment if the NFL agrees to put integrity ahead of profit.
But until that day comes, please, Roger Goodell, let's not talk about "integrity." The NFL has about as much integrity as Tom Brady's (allegedly) underinflated balls.
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