Three stories to share with you this Monday autumn day that all, technically, involve football, but don’t go away if you hate the sport, because really, two of them have very little to do with America’s fall sports obsession.
Stick with me, you’ll see what I mean.
First up, you may be familiar with the despicable human being called Greg Hardy of the Dallas Cowboys, who despite being convicted on domestic violence charges last year, has returned from suspension, showed absolutely zero remorse toward his victim, and is being celebrated by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and many others for his skill at sacking the quarterback.
Friday the website Deadspin.com published exclusive photos of the violence inflicted upon Hardy’s ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder (one of the pics is above), and suddenly there was outrage on the Internet. Because, you know, what, before this people had no idea what domestic violence looked like?
Anyway, blowhard Jones rejected calls from media and fans that Hardy be cut or suspended, spewing some bullshit spiel about “second chances.”
Jennifer Floyd Engel, writing for The Sporting News, wrote a column on Hardy that is the most powerful, and maybe best thing I’ve ever read about the NFL and domestic violence. Engel argues that Hardy should be forced to remain a Cowboy, and not be suspended, so everyone can see what the NFL is willing to tolerate.
They signed Hardy, let him play again, giggled at the tone-deaf and sexist idiocy he delivered at his first opportunity to address the domestic violence charges he bought his way out of, defended him after he physically went after a coach, called him a real leader and talked of re-signing him.
They did this because he is a defensive beast and because they did not care and because no pictures had surfaced to give them 457 public relations reasons to pretend to care.
No, the NFL should be forced to wear Hardy like Holder did her bruises and scars.
Until they fade but the memory remains.
The whole column is outstanding, please take a few minutes and read it (the ending just hit me like a punch in the face). Chilling, dead-on accurate, and forcefully told.
The NFL ought to be embarrassed a schmuck like Hardy is celebrated and embraced. As should we be as fans of this product.
**Next up, a potentially huge development in college sports, racial tolerance on college campus, and the NCAA having to deal with a large athletic labor force unwilling to just go along and get along occurred Saturday night.
After months of racial incidents and protests that have roiled the University of Missouri campus, the football team took an extraordinary step Saturday night: The African-Americans (2/3 of the team, as usual in college football) on the squad released a statement saying they will no longer take part in any football activities until school president Tim Wolfe resigns.
No games, no practices, nothing. They did this with the full support of their coaches. If they stay firm on this, this decision by the Tigers team will cost the school millions and millions in lost revenue.
Now, there is A LOT of backstory to this at Mizzou, and if you’re interested, I recommend reading this great timeline of events from Mizzou’s school newspaper, the Maneater, or this recap as well from the Columbia Missourian newspaper.
This goes well beyond football. At nearly every Division I school, football coaches and players have the most leverage and power. By choosing to use it this way to stand up to intolerance, the Missouri team may be setting a fantastic new precedent. This will be fascinating to watch; stay tuned.
The always-perceptive Dave Zirin has a terrific column on what this all means.
Monday afternoon UPDATE: Well, that was fast. President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation Monday morning, effective immediately. Anyone out there doubt football is king?
**And finally, to the action on the field I watched on Sunday. Ugly wins for my Jets and that “other” New York team, the Giants. My green and white men tried really hard to lose to lowly Jacksonville, but Ryan Fitzpatrick made enough plays, and the Jaguars committed enough turnovers, and somehow the Jets escaped with a win.
Next up? Old friend Rex Ryan and Buffalo come to town Thursday night, if the Jets have enough healthy bodies to play. Bears repeating, though I’ve said it before: It is beyond ridiculous that the NFL makes these players play Thursday night games, four days after playing another game. It is laughable that the NFL says it cares about player safety, yet makes these players smash into each other again 96 hours after a game, all in pursuit of more TV money.
— The hell happened to the Atlanta Falcons? Three weeks ago they were 6-0 and rolling. Now they just lost to the horrible 49ers and backup QB Blaine Gabbert.
— Watched some of that Raiders-Steelers classic Sunday; man, that was great back and forth action, like a matchup from those two teams when they were great in the ’70s.
— Finally, I threw this out on Twitter: Whatever happened to barefoot kickers? Used to be half the league had them, now I barely see any. Rich Karlis (above), I miss you so.