The NFL has extended a peace pipe. It's full of pot. We all lose...
Commissioner Roger Goodell has modeled his reign after the common straw. He lives to bend to the public. Consider the disastrous double jeopardy of Ray Rice in 2014. After video was released of Ray Rice assaulting his now-wife in an elevator, Goodell gave a two- game suspension. He was aware of all relevant facts at that time. The public then cried out for a stricter punishment. Goodell bent. Rice was suspended indefinitely.
While the court overturned that second suspension, the intent behind it lingers. Goodell does not care for the public. He simply wants you to think he does.
Another example comes from this May when the NFL legalized celebrations. It was considered a victory for the players and fans. Goodell finally realized that the game should be fun...unless he didn't. The true intention was to boost sagging ratings, to trick fans and advertisers alike. Goodell needed good PR.
That brings us to the newest offering from the NFL: marijuana for players. After years of staunchly opposing players smoking pot, Goodell has extended an olive branch. Why? Has he read about the positive effects? Did he see the number of states that have legalized it? Maybe he rolled up and smoked a big fat doobie himself? Nah.
Just look back a week before the proposal. A study out of Boston University was released citing that 99% of the brains they examined from NFL players had CTE. It was terrible news for the league and they were ripped nationally as a result. To consider legalizing pot a week later is a classic Goodell counter punch--and particularly sickening.
Players need to be protected. This is not a one sided argument. The players, fans, and the NFL itself all benefit from the healthy lives of retired players. Think of the power that Junior Seau had in his community. The lives he touched as an ambassador to the game. His career and personality spanned generations of Chargers fans. They bought his jersey after he retired and wore it to games. Seau was 43 when he shot himself. We all lose.
If Goodell really wants to protect the shield he has to get serious about change. He needs pot legalized nationwide and should push for it--think Adam Silver with sports gambling and the bathroom laws. Doing so would have a positive domino effect.
Players would be healthier. They would play more games and be happier playing more games. that means longer careers and lives. Fans want that. The league wants that.
Suspensions would go down. With pot legal, there'd be far fewer suspensions. Fewer suspensions equals less gossip and drama. This also keeps players on the field. Fans want this. The league wants this.
All of this adds up to a cleaner, safer, and more PR friendly game that players fans and the NFL want. But will Goodell make a change?
For better or for worse, Goodell has the most power. Will he tip public opinion or bend to it?