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NFL Unfiltered (Preseason): Fans care more about stat sheets than rap sheets

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It seems every other day another NFL player appears on a police blotter.

 

And instead of letting the courts properly adjudicate each arrest, the media, and its self-righteous indignation, storm in like paratroopers to tell owners what to do and fans how to feel.


San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald is the latest to allegedly treat a loved one like a tackling dummy. And his case is especially interesting because it comes on the heels of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s most recent edict on player infractions, particularly domestic violence.


Yet, despite the efforts by many columnists and talk-show hosts, NFL fans care little about the off the field activities of players on their favorite teams, nor should they.


In nearly every instance, fans find a way to forgive good players for all but the most heinous transgressions.


To wit, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice publicly abused his then fiancée and ultimately received a standing ovation from Ravens fans, many of whom were women.


If a player registers three sacks then fails a field sobriety test, so be it. If the star quarterback dates a 17-year old after throwing for 300 yards and 3 scores, no problem. It is the normal with which all entertainment is enjoyed, and it is nothing new. The fact that people continue to pay good money to see Woody Allen’s films proves this.


The point here is not to make light of violence of any kind, particularly when it involves women. It is an awful situation and is an epidemic worldwide.


It is merely to suggest fans are well within their rights as consumers to focus more on athletic records than arrest records. It is intrinsic to fandom to ignore abuse, animal cruelty, drunk driving and sex with girls younger than the legal age of consent, as long as the offender in question produces when it counts.


Let the media stand on ceremony while pretending not to enjoy the perks of covering the offenders they believe deserve harsher punishments from the NFL “it” teams. Let them hypocritically throw stones at the Ravens and 49ers’ ownership, while scarfing down another free meal, compliments of those they view as purveyors of Gomorrah.

 

Real football is back and it is okay to enjoy it, while simultaneously condemning the off-field exploits of its players.


It’s what makes you a fan.


THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Exhibition Season


-Exhibition football is still the greatest scam in all of sports. But that never slows the media’s hyperbole or prevents fans from becoming enamored with players because of plays made versus guys who didn’t make NFL rosters.


-Chip Kelly is an excellent offensive coach and got a career year out of quarterback Nick Foles, but he failed to select any impact defenders in his first two NFL drafts. No style of offense or coaching ability is enough to overcome that kind of ineptitude at the professional level. Considering their defense and their schedule, if the Eagles win 10 games plus a playoff game, Kelly becomes the second best coach in franchise history. Maybe even the best.Photo: washingtonpost.com


-Unfortunately, former St. Louis Rams linebacker Michael Sam isn’t quite good enough to move the gay athlete conversation further. Jason Collins couldn’t do it in the NBA, either. Once a male superstar or two alters his closeted lifestyle, this becomes a non-story. Always remember, Jackie Robinson is not in baseball’s Hall of Fame simply because of his skin color.

 

-Speaking of the Rams, head coach Jeff Fisher is an elder statesmen in the NFL and likely has many friendships within the media. Shame on them for giving him a pass on quarterback Shaun Hill. When healthy, Sam Bradford is slightly better than average, but the sheer frailty of his

career warranted more than Hill as this season’s backup. That decision cost his team any chance at the playoffs.


-The most interesting thing about Washington rookie head coach Jay Gruden is the fact he had a hand in the Bengals selecting Andy Dalton instead of Colin Kaepernick. Based on Gruden’s track record on accessing quarterback talent and Robert Griffin III’s shaky confidence, RG3’s career in Washington has about a month left.

 

-Add the Miami Dolphins to the list of teams who set themselves back even further because they didn’t address their need at quarterback.


-Like Ryan Tannehill, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is another example of the national media’s struggle to criticize good-looking, big-armed white quarterbacks. Certainly, his talent amazes and his numbers are a fantasy team owner’s dream, but he is 24-37 as a starter and has only one playoff appearance.


-The Patriots traded away their best offensive lineman as quarterback Tom Brady’s Hall of Fame career winds down. One of many ways head coach Bill Belichick failed Brady. Can’t wait to read Brady’s memoirs someday.   

 

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area.  He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention.  His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

Contact Earl at emyersiii@hotmail.com

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 Nick Foles photo: washingtonpost.com