Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/2/13
“Those that much covet are with gain so fond, For what they have not, that which they possess They scatter and unloose it from their bond, And so, by hoping more, they have but less; Or, gaining more, the profit of excess Is but to surfeit, and such griefs sustain, That they prove bankrupt in this poor-rich gain.” ― Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece“League revenues at $25 billion by 2027.” – Roger Goodell, NFL CEO                                    ________________ They’re going to destroy this game. I’m telling you. They being Roger Goodell and this current drove of NFL owners. The dollar sign boys. It’s dangerous dice they are tumbling.Pro football has no natural enemies in the marketplace. It travels wherever unimpeded. Some people talk about soccer eventually getting in the way but I’ve heard that hogwash for years and it’s an overtold myth.Nearly whatever NFL touches now turns to cash. Every road leads to a bank vault. Yet the league’s raging battle cry continues to be, louder and louder –“Grow or Die.” You wonder, in this current era of riches and saturation, if it’s actually doing both at the same time.I recently came across a link on the league website – Click Here for the Evolution of the NFL: Take a look at how the NFL has evolved from its humble roots, and the efforts being made to ensure it continues to grow. Humble. Good lord, if any word ever looked so out of place…The NFL has entered the greed stage of its corporate lifespan. Super-charged greed, the type of greed with cold yet blood-red eyes, the lustful type that never sleeps lest it might miss a shekel. The type of polluted, ancient Rome greed that could eventually destroy it.The current London obsession fits into this description, the undying urge to sell the Brits on NFL football and maybe one day, when they have NFL spaceships that can make the transatlantic flight in 30 minutes or so, anchor a team over there.But keep in mind, one thing the NFL does not do is discriminate. It will digest dollars or pounds or yuan or euros. It would take pesos, too, but Mexico City, with its 21 million residents, has a crime reputation that’s a bit too heavy for a league franchise. Nobody wants to see Goodell parading down the Paseo de la Reforma in an armored car, grinning and waving to his admirers through the bulletproof windows.The commissioner’s latest brainstorm toward $25 billion in revenues is the addition of two more playoff teams, upping the NFL postseason from 12 to 14 participants. 43.7% of the league would then qualify, just under half. Goodell explains to us dummies who care the soulless reasoning behind such a move:“A reasonable argument could be made that there are teams that should qualify for the playoffs and don’t and could win the Super Bowl,” Roger says on the league website. “I don’t think we want to expand just to have more teams. We want to create more excitement, more interest and give teams a chance to win the Super Bowl.”What a laugh. The NFL and its CEO don’t care about pumping up more fireworks and countrywide excitement. They aren’t looking to generate more interest.They do, however, care about giving more teams a chance to win the Super Bowl, because that means creating an even larger postseason contract with the networks. Which means more cash money. Which means getting one step closer to the $25 billion.Which also means –and here’s the self-destructive part – severely damaging its own product by dilution. This is quite a treacherous direction in which Goodell is heading.You can destroy the soul of the regular season in two ways – by adding more games or adding more playoff teams. One of the sacred aspects of NFL football that distinguishes it from other sports is that its entire regular season has meaning. September NFL games and 0-and-3 starts have consequence. 4-and-0 out the gate means something.But if you start letting your 7-9 drifters into the procession every year, officially because “there are teams that should qualify but don’t,” then tell me the regular season hasn’t been bastardized. Tell me that fans, after a few years of a watered-down system, will still care as much…knowing that even 3-9 clubs entering December still have a chance.But this is precisely what Goodell means by his phony embrace of the “hot team” theory…that teams that don’t qualify in the current setup could still win the Super Bowl. Rhetoric for the ignorant.I hate to see the NFL devolve into a piggish money grab operation. But it’s happening. Think of the PSL gouge. The NFL Network, a league covering itself in state-run media fashion. Goodell always blathering on about “the fans” in his discourse while ramming it up their backsides. Everything for sale.I remember when it was all…well mostly all… about football with these people. That seems like forever ago. I guess they aren’t the same people anymore.Meanwhile, Goodell doesn’t want to hear it but the quality of play we’re seeing stinks. The hallowed product is decomposing before us. I heard John Madden, the great man himself, say it himself on the radio the other day. But that topic is for another day.Instead here’s a quick story that parallels what’s happening now. A few months ago I was at a lake near my home, feeding the ducks that often hang around over there. A father and his two little girls came by and watched me.After a few minutes, I finally offered to let the kids feed the birdies too and opened up the bag. Four tiny arms plunged in and greedily began ripping out handfuls, wildly whipping the kernels on the ground. The father just stood by smirking, lovingly watched his imps go to work. The little girls with the curls. I finally yanked the bag away and closed it up. One of them started crying. Too bad, kiddies. Learn your manners.I see Goodell as the father here; the teams are his children. The fans are holding the bag. What’s that line from one of the old fables – Greed loses all by striving all to gain? How true. We’re seeing that grabbing and striving in pro football right now. The NFL had better be careful.
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