Incognito is the perfect keyword.
Incognito, lay low-incognito -- under cover, to camouflage, to keep a secret. It couldn't be more apropos that the major player in this NFL drama is Incognito.
And as more and more of the NFL's secrets are revealed, a tipping point begins to protrude from the oceanic depths of this men's only club -- even if ratings are up -- this league is not bulletproof, nor is it made of Teflon; on the contrary, the NFL is dysfunctional, archaic and borderline inhumane. The NFL is literally shooting itself in the foot (see Plaxico Burress).
It's too much.
The NFL is truly a league of its own, and as hard as these players and coaches work, as dedicated as they are, it's physically too much (see Houston's coach Gary Kubiak collapsing on the field with a stroke and Denver's John Fox having a semi-heart attack playing golf).
The NFL is of course violent but there will be a day when we look back at this sport and say what we're we thinking. This goes beyond concussions, players crumbling into old age: they accept the risk and would do it again but it's us that needs to wake up. Sometimes society needs artists to chime in on issues to facilitate change -- if we leave it up to our jocks and corporate media, the truth will only spin in circles and eventually bury itself in self-interest.
Let's look only at the offensive line of the Dolphins to illustrate how systemic this league's problems run. And, by the way, this is an O-Line that is leading the league in sacks allowed.
They're dysfunctional. What a drama!
Couldn't write a better screenplay. What characters!
1. Richie Incognito: the bad-boy bully, with a plaque above his locker that reads I Hate Rookies, a leader of the team, an animal in private and public, who's PSA promoting civil behavior played to a stadium crowd Halloween night, who's notation in the game magazine re-enforced the bully. It's beyond farce. Shakespeare couldn't write this deus ex machina.
2. Jonathan Martin: a gentle-giant, schooled at Stanford, forced to retreat from a violent league that wants its giants monstrous not gentle, a victim depicted as being wrong because he couldn't take the heat, didn't fight back, quit his team and snitched. When you're mentally abused for two years and leave: you're strong -- you're not a snitch, victim or quitter.
3. Mike Pouncey: the ex-Florida Gator and friend of alleged murderer Aaron Hernandez, who made headlines for wearing a hat saying "Free Hernandez!" Only a week ago he was subpoenaed at Dolphins stadium to appear in front of a grand jury in Massachusetts.
4. Bryant McKinnie, the ex-Hurrucane, acquired in a trade two weeks ago, who made headlines for throwing drug fueled parties and orgies in Minnesota.
This is just the O-Line.
On the other side of the ball, the star free-agent receiver made headlines this summer for making homophobic remarks. This is just one team in a league that accepts violence, homophobia, misogyny, unaccountability, immaturity and gangsterdom in its system.
This isn't about hazing, or changing locker room traditions, this is bigger: this is a boys-only club that is so out-of-tune with the progressive movement our country has accepted, it's like their mentality is stuck in the '50s. These men think they're bigger than they are.
Yes, we created these monsters by cheering at every big hit, buying jerseys, betting on games, turning the other cheek every time a player endures an injury. It's just a television timeout for us until the next play as they cart the fallen gladiator off the field.
Then back to the action. We turn the other cheek every time a football monster says or does something criminal or ignorant. How much negativity must a league endure and exhibit before it reaches its grand tipping point?
The NFL is in serious jeopardy of becoming irrelevant within 15-20 years.
As more and more of the NFL's secrets are revealed, it will not bode well for the league.
When Drew Brees says he wouldn't let his sons play the sport -- that says something.
When you hear stories of ex-players killing themselves, it doesn't feel right.
The ratings may be up for the NFL but the writing is on the wall, this league is not bullet-proof -- its ignorance and violent nature will only continue to expose the league's secrets, and like picking at scabs, or getting shot by a gun, they will bleed out and die, unless the NFL systemically changes organically from its top to its bottom.
In conclusion, as the NBA season starts, with its fast pace and growing superstars, it seems pretty obvious what sport stands to gain from the NFL's self-destruction.
Follow J.J. Colagrande on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jjcolagrande