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“Forgotten AFL Greats of the AFC West”

This article is for the fans of the AFL especially the AFC West.  If you are a fan of these great teams, some of these players may be household names to you.  It’s so important that the history of the game is respected, and these great players are not forgotten.  This article is in honor of them, and the fans that watched the AFL.

san diego chargers 1960

San Diego Chargers:

Many think the Chargers uniforms of the 1960’s and 70’s are the greatest ever made and it’s hard to argue with that.  I love the powder blue.  What also can’t be argued is their dominating win in the AFL Championship game in 1963 sealing their argument as one of the great teams of the AFL era.  Their innovative passing game was nixed for a power running game, and it worked to perfection as the Chargers beat the Boston Patriots 51-10.

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Sid Gillman:

Sid Gillman may be the greatest football coach of all time. He is the only coach in history that is in both the NFL and College football Hall of Fame. His coaching tree is the greatest of all time bar none. Bill Walsh, Al Davis, Chuck Knoll, Chuck Knox, Dick Vermeil, Don Coryell, Joe Gibbs, John Madden, Tom Flores, George Seifert, Dennis Green, Jon Gruden, Brian Billick and many others fall under his umbrella of greatness.

The vertical passing game of the Raiders was taken straight from him. Al Davis called him the Einstein of the NFL and he is the father of the modern passing game. There will never be another Sid Gillman. As John Madden recently said, “what some teams are just discovering, Sid Gillman was doing in the 60’s”.

Gary Garrison:

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San Diego’s version of Fred Biletnikoff was the great Gary Garrison. Lance Alworth gets all of the publicity but in reality the Chargers had another fine Wide Receiver. His nickname was the ghost. Sid Gillman literally called him an artist in regards to his amazing route running skills.   One sports writer said it was like watching a figure skater on a football field; his routes were so precise.

He is 5th and 4th all time on the Chargers reception and yards list respectively. He has more receiving yards than Kellen Winslow and Wes Chandler. He averaged an amazing 18.6 yards a catch which is second all time for San Diego pass catchers with over 120 catches.

Paul Lowe & Keith Lincoln:

With Paul Lowe and Keith Lincoln in the backfield, San Diego had one of the greatest 1-2 punches in pro football history. They helped lead the Chargers to their only championship in 1963. Lowe is the 2nd all time leader in rushing yards for the Chargers. He was the 1965 UPI AFL MVP, 2 times AFL All Star, and 2 times All AFL team. He was also voted onto the ALL time AFL team, 2 times comeback player of the year, and he’s the all-time AFL leader in average yards per carry at 4.9.   And he still holds the NFL record for 6 straight 100 yard games with 14 or fewer carries.

And oh by the way they had Keith Lincoln.  He went to high school in Monrovia California and went to Washington St. Originally he was a QB, and he was so good that he got two awesome nicknames; the Monrovia Meteor and the Moose of the Palouse.  He was a 5 time AFL All-Star, 2 time All AFL player, and is in the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.

Paul Lowe can still be seen today at the Chargers games. He is a season ticket holder and a fan favorite.

Kansas City Chiefs:

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The Chiefs have had an amazing history of talented teams with some of the greatest players to ever play football.  Buchanon, Dawson, Taylor, Lanier, Culp, Thomas, Holmes; the list goes on and on.  When eclectic head coach Hank Stram allowed NFL films to record him during the Super Bowl, he became the first NFL coach to wear a microphone. Stram was innovative and brought in the triple stack defense to hide his linebackers. When he had several WR’s injured against the Raiders powerful pass rush and great DB’s; he used the T formation and ran 60 times for over 300 yards leading KC to a stunning 24-10 victory over Oakland.   In that game, Len Dawson completed 3 passes for 16 yards.  In the AFL days they lead the AFL in playoff appearances tied with the Raiders.  Hank Stram was as great as the players he coached and boy was he fun.

Joe Delaney:

“I’ve played against the best–O.J. SimpsonGale SayersWalter Payton and (Delaney) ranks right up there with them…He is great with a capital G.”

Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea, Houston Oilers

He was just good people.

If you would allow me an exception, I wanted to add a player that didn’t play in the AFL days, but someone who isn’t remembered enough.  Just the mention of this players name can still bring a smile and a tear to some ex-players, coaches and fans eyes. He was headed for greatness.

His acts of generosity and kindness are still of legend. So are his acts on the football field. A Raider beat writer once said, “There is fast and then there is Joe Delaney fast”. He was a game breaking type of player who could catch the ball and run like the wind. With a strike shortened season and an eye injury, he only played 1 ½ years but he was amazing. He had 196 yards rushing against Houston and ran for 1121 yards his rookie year while getting the Rookie of the Year Award and making the Pro Bowl.

He once ran 75 yards for a touchdown but it was called back. Two plays later he ran for an 82 yard touchdown. Sadly, while trying to save 3 boys that were drowning, Delaney never got out of the water and died. He could not swim but he could not sit by and watch them die and do nothing. Only 1 of the boys made it. Joe received the US Presidential Citizens Medal from President Reagan and should always be remembered as being a real man, and a person that the NFL and their fans can be proud of.

Ed Podolak:

If you are a big fan of the AFL or a Chiefs fan, you are saying how come Ed’s on this list?  Well outside of KC many of today’s fans are clueless to how great of a player Podolak was. His occasional wildness off the field after his playing days gets some publicity at times but in reality Chiefs Running Back Ed Podolak was one heck of a football player. With his hooked bar helmet, he looked like a red bull chasing after people. He could catch, run, return kicks, and block. He was an all purpose back that could do it all.

He is the 5th all-time Chiefs RB in regards to rushing yards, and the 10th leading pass catcher of all time. He was also a quality return man that made many clutch kick returns. His wars against the Raiders and their bulldozer RB Marv Hubbard were must see tv and some of the most physical games ever played.

Jerrel Wilson:

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Nicknamed Thunderfoot, Jerrel Wilson was flat out one of the greatest punters of all time.  Often overshadowed in the all time punter conversation due to the greatness of Ray Guy, his booming and towering punts were a thing of beauty.  Ray Guy and Wilson transformed the punting game into an offensive weapon in regards to controlling field position.

He was a 3 time pro bowler and on the all AFL team, and in one year avg. 46.1 yards per punt.  He also did it in the clutch.  To punt when your team isn’t very good or if nothing is at stake is one thing but to do in when it counts is another.  His greatness should not be forgotten.

Oakland Raiders:

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For a 25 year period, the Raiders winning % was far and away better than any professional sports team in the U.S.  In their first 20 Monday night football games they were 18-1-1.  In the greatest decade of the NFL; the 1970’s; they had the most wins.  In the NFL.com fan poll of the greatest teams ever a few years ago, the 1976 Oakland Raiders were voted the greatest team of all time by over 5.5 million NFL fans.

In QB Daryle Lamonica’s first 45 games as a Raider (after a trade from Buffalo) the Raiders were an unreal 40-4-1.  His successor; Ken Stabler; was 56-13 in his first 69 games.

For 3 decades 2 teams were almost always on top of the television ratings charts in the NFL.  The Cowboys and the Raiders.  The 2 teams people loved to hate.  For a time the Cowboys were America’s team and the Raiders were the renegades of the NFL with talent to back it up.  Those days seem light years away.  They moved to Los Angeles which slowly eroded their tough blue collar Oakland persona, and the violence at games along with the small crowds, eroded their mystique.  Their style of play changed and they’ve never been the same.  It’s sad because few teams in the NFL boast a higher level of talent in their great history.  No team in history was more crazy, wild, talented, and colorful as the Oakland Raiders.

(below is the article on the 1976 Raiders chosen as the greatest NFL team of all time)

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/over-5-2-million-nfl-fans-vote-the-1976-oakland-raiders-the-best-team-of-all-time/

Warren Wells:

(please support and follow the AFL Godfather on twitter @NFLMAVERICK   I got this video from his public page but I’d really appreciate if you’d support him.  He has great stuff from the past!  Thank you!)

“The greatest player I ever coached was Warren Wells. I never saw anyone that gifted and that fast”.

Former Raiders Head Coach John Madden

On December 6, 1970, Warren Wells made an unreal catch on the last field play of the game to beat the Jets 14-13.  His catch against 2 Jet defenders would make Houdini applaud.  Wells was that good.

This is still one of Ronnie Lott’s favorite all-time players. If you talk to any player of the 1960’s, the one player that always amazed them was Warren Wells. For a 3 ½ year period, he struck terror in the eyes of all teams.  He unfortunately was one of only 2 NFL players who were drafted and made to go to the Vietnam war in 1965.

He was as fast as lightning and just as gifted. Before the NFL changed the statistic criteria, Warren Wells was the all time leader in yards per catch at an inhuman 23.3 yards a reception. In one year he caught 47 balls for an incredible 27 yards per reception.   He and Daryle Lamonica; The Mad Bomber; were the originators of Al Davis’ feared vertical game.

Due to off the field issues and an ankle injury, Wells career was cut short. He straightened up his life after doing prison time during his younger days, and last year was honored by lighting the Al Davis torch at one of the Raiders home games.

http://www.raiders.com/media-vault/videos/Warren-Wells-Lights-Torch-in-Honor-of-Al-Davis/ffd9a538-97ff-4c2a-8785-29e2e4c64820

Tom Keating:

keating tom

He was the anchor of the famous “11 Angry Men” Oakland Raiders defense and was a key player of the 1960’s and 1970’s.   Tom Keating was one of the best defensive linemen in AFL history. He was a 2 time AFL all star and on the all time AFL 2nd team member. He played so hard that a story was written about him when the Raiders played the Packers in Super Bowl II. He was a part of the famous 1967 Raiders defense that caused a record 667 yards in losses on 67 sacks. They remain one of the greatest and most unheralded defenses of all time.

He was talented and tough.   Off the field he was a fan favorite and very happy go lucky. He was a bay area guy and lived and died here. Many feel that if he didn’t have such bad knees that he was a hall of famer for sure.

Dave Grayson:

dave graysonryreyr

There are many that feel Dave Grayson is a Hall of Famer.  Dave played for Oakland between 1965-1970.  He played for the Dallas Texans/Chiefs before that, and was originally signed by the Dallas Cowboys.  Grayson was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Oregon.  Tom Landry felt he was too small and not physical enough so he was let got and Hank Stram gave him a shot and he stuck.

Al Davis Traded for CB Dave Grayson in 1965 (he traded him for future actor Fred “The Hammer” Williamson) from the Chiefs and then traded for Willie Brown from Denver in 1967.  This allowed the Raiders to play the physical bump and run style that has been a trademark of the team for years.

When NFL and former Cowboys personnel guru Gil Brandt was asked who were the 4 best cornerbacks in Dallas history his first 3 were not a shock.  Mel Renfro, Herb Adderly & Deion Sanders.  “I also include Dave Grayson.  He didn’t play with the Cowboys but he’s so good I’m including him.”

Denver Broncos:

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Houston Oilers v.s. Denver Broncos

 

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Boston Patriots v.s. Denver Broncos

A little known fact that may buy you a drink someday if you are a Denver fan is that many of the AFL teams didn’t have much money to start with. The Broncos first uniforms were actually mustard yellow and brown.  Why was that you say?  The reason they were that color is that the Broncos wanted to save money so they bought the used uniforms off of the University of Wyoming football team and used them for a year. It saved them thousands of dollars.  Wyoming were upgrading their uniforms so they were available. They then got a designer to make a new uniform the following season.

Frank Tribucka:

One of the many crazy and memorable stories of the AFL is the one about Bronco great Frank Tribucka.  Tribucka was the father of Notre Dame and NBA player Kelly Tribucka.  Frank was a Notre Dame legend.  At 33 years old he had played for several teams in the NFL, Canada, and AFL and he came to the expansion Broncos to be a coach after retiring.  During the last pre-season game they asked him to play to sell a few tickets.  He then started the next week as the Broncos QB and played for the next 3 years.

In his first year he threw for 34 interceptions (still a Denver Bronco’s record) but also became the first QB in NFL or AFL history to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season.  Against the Bills he threw for over 447 yards in a game; a Bronco record that stood for over 38 years.  Frank had a great personality and was very popular and will always be a part of the AFL lore.

Goose Gonsoulin:

Austin William Goose Gonsoulin

goose gonsoulin

Goose was as tough as nails. In a day and age where the game was so physical, he played in an amazing 61 straight games for the Broncos.  He is third all time in the AFL for interceptions with 43 and has the AFL record for most interceptions in a game with 4.  Gonsoulin is also still 2nd all time in Denver Broncos history in interceptions only 1 behind leader Steve Foley.  He was a 6 time AFL all star and was voted on the AFL’s all time 2nd team.

In his first 6 years with Denver, he had an amazing 43 interceptions, 542 return yards with 2 brought back for touchdowns.  A fun loving, true great of the AFL era.

Rich “Tombstone” Jackson:

Another guy that doesn’t get his due is Rich Tombstone Jackson. He was the first real great pass rusher in Denver history. He was very physical and Lyle Alzado of all people called him the toughest man he ever met.  Just another of the all time great players that never got his due.  He was way before his time and mastered the head slap and many other moves to the dismay of the NFL.

He was a 2x AFL All Star, 2x AFL All Pro and voted second team on the all time AFL team. As with many players of his day before modern knee surgeries, he tore his knee and had to retire early from football. Many believe he was the best pass rusher of that era and that without injury he was heading into the NFL Hall of Fame.  While Deacon Jones got all of the publicity, Jackson quietly tormented opponents.  It’s sad he’s never mentioned more.

Final Thoughts:

With so many people lacking any knowledge of the past in our social media mentality of today, it’s important for all of us to remember the great players of yesteryear. These are players from the AFC West but obviously the AFL had amazing teams and athletes from New York and Buffalo to San Diego.  My father talked to me often about the greatness of the AFL.  From the Titans and Texans, to the Bills and Raiders, AFL lore has so many amazing players and stories.  I hope that we never forget the greatness of the AFL and more and more groups are created to discuss such amazing memories that we enjoyed with our parents and grandparents.

 

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“FROM KEN STABLER TO CHARLIE SUMNER; A YEAR OF LOSS FOR THE OAKLAND RAIDERS & REMEMBERING THEM DURING THE HOLIDAYS”

 

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Gene Upshaw showing some love to Ken Stabler

Pastor: I promise James, in time the pain will lessen and it will get easier.

Me: With all due respect Pastor, that is crap. The pain never gets better. Time just makes it a little easier to deal with.

If you want to know how important history is, just look at the half time ceremony when the Packers put Brett Favre’s name in their ring of honor at Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night. An 81 year old 5 time Champion Bart Starr worked hard for 3 months during extremely poor health just to make the trip to welcome Brett Favre on his special night. There wasn’t a dry eye in the stadium; including Brett Favre’s; when Bart Starr walked up and hugged him. The emotions linked generations of fans who stood up proudly as one.  Brett Favre said, “No offense to anyone, but I was so happy to see Bart Starr and in a way the night was also for him. I was more excited seeing him smiling and happy than what I was there for”.

The Christmas holidays are my favorite time of year. People are nicer and there is much more of a kind spirit of good will floating around. Unfortunately all of us have lost people that we love and it can also be a time of great internal pain and longing. I get that because our family has known a lot of tragedy. This year has been grinding and hard. It’s also been that way for the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have lost many that were linked to their greatness.

I could see it in his eyes. Upon the passing of the great Ken Stabler, George Atkinson seemed inconsolable.   “It seems that every month we lose someone close to the Raiders. There are fewer of us and it’s very difficult to hear of the passing of Kenny.”

My dad once said that getting older isn’t the hard part. He said the hard part is watching family members that were once strong and vital getting old and passing away. It’s also hard to see athletes who you grew up watching, doing the same.

I think one of the nicest things ever said to me was after I wrote an article for a paid Philadelphia Eagles site. I wrote about a couple of the Eagles who had passed. One Philly fan thanked me for the article and said, “You are the keeper of their memory. You made me remember how great of players these were and how they touched the community. I’ll now never forget them and I was touched like they were my own. Thank you.”

History is a huge deal in our family. It’s always been instilled in us by my parents and relatives, to keep people’s memories alive. We should never forget people and appreciate their talents and their input in people’s lives. Our society has become much more shallow than in the past, with us being obsessed with youthful looks, being cool and in, and keeping in the know with the latest. We forget so easily. The word great is handed out like Halloween candy and our memory is short.   For me, I will never be that way and for those that read me, they will always see a sense of appreciation of those from the past along with their families.

The Raiders have lost some key people from their past this year. Let us remember them.

art powellOakland Raider great WR Art Powell

Art Powell:

Wide Receiver Art Powell was one of the first and great stars of the AFL.   He was big and fast and was known for some amazing catches. He was a 4 time AFL all star and was voted onto the all time AFL team. He amazingly had 81 touchdown passes during a time when defensive backs could do whatever they wanted to WR.

People forget that it was his character that shined the most. Powell, along with teammates Bo Roberson, Clem Daniels and Fred Williamson, refused to play in an exhibition game against his old team the New York Jets because of segregated seating in Mobile Alabama’s Ladd Stadium.

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Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis and Executive Assistant Al LoCasale

Al LoCasale:

“I first started working for the Raiders in 1985. I complained about a bad call in the press box and one of the NFL officials heard me. He angrily went up to Al LoCasale to complain about me. Mr. LoCasale got angry and ripped the stadium credentials from his shirt. It was then that I knew I was a Raider and what loyalty meant. He backed me just because I was a Raider.”

Former Raider Executive Amy Trask.

He was called a pitbull, a hitman, a thug, and many other things that I can’t write. For 3 decades Al LoCasale was the Executive Assistant and loyal heavy for Mr. Al Davis.   If Mr. Davis felt someone wronged the Raiders, LoCasale was the one you had to answer to. He was gruff and had a Napoleonic mentality about him. He demanded respect, loyalty and excellence.   He loved the Raiders and Al Davis.   He was the main figure that helped NFL films capture the Raiders great moments and he insisted on as many Raider players being mentioned as possible. He respected everyone; from the star players to the practice players.   You can’t say Oakland Raiders without saying Al LoCaSale.

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Oakland Raider equipment manager Dick Romanski

Dick Romanski, Equipment Manager:

The Raiders have only had 2 equipment managers in their history.   Dick Romanski and his son Bob.

Dick was an army buddy of Al Davis and a good athlete. He actually coached on Davis military teams. He had been with the Raiders for over 50 years until his son took over. There are stories that Dick was the one that came up with the shield logo of the Raiders.

Dick also was important because he was the one that introduced stickum to the Raiders. He said he got the idea from hitters in major league baseball.

Beloved by players and executives alike, even after retiring he would show up to help on Raider home games. One of the staples of the Raiders lore.

 

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Oakland Raiders Defensive Coordinator Charlie Sumner having a fun moment with Ken Stabler

Charlie Sumner:

“Charlie took me out of the game and I was pissed. I came off the field screaming at him. He put in backup Jack Squirek and told him to “not drop” the pass. I was out of my mind. Then I saw Squirek intercept Joe Theisman’s pass and score. I picked Charlie up and was going crazy. I had immense joy and almost killed him in the process. What a great coach.”

Raiders MLB Matt Millen

Some Raider players thanked him at their Hall of Fame speeches. Charlie Sumner was the greatest defensive coach in the history of the Oakland Raiders and it’s not close. He was the defensive coordinator for 2 Super Bowl wins. He was also a coach that helped create the famous Steel Curtain in Pittsburgh and he was the one that created the great defenses of the Patriots in the mid to late 70’s that almost lead them to a Super Bowl. The Raider offenses got all the credit but if you look at the Super Bowl wins, it was the defenses that dominated.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/the-passing-of-an-oakland-raiders-legend-defensive-icon-charlie-sumner-dies-tom-flores-comments/

 

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Oakland Raider great Fullback Marv Hubbard

Marv Hubbard:

“Some players like to be physical but no one was as tough as Marv.   I’ve never seen a player that would go out of their way to hit people. He also demanded to play special teams because he liked the collisions.”

John Madden

Take it to the cupboard Hubbard was one of the catch phrases of the 1970’s for the Oakland Raiders. In both end zones posters with that saying was the norm. He was all pro 3 times and helped lead the Raiders to 4 consecutive Western Division Championships. He ranks 4th all time in yards per carry as a fullback (4.8 yards) and is 13th overall in NFL history.

Hubbard was a fan favorite and lived in Northern California. He got into music and released 2 albums. He was a scratch golfer and was an entrepreneur and CEO of his own company and he was often seen around town driving his beloved muscle cars which he would restore. Like most Raiders, he lived life to the fullest.

Ken Stabler:

The death of Ken Stabler sent a shockwave around the country and to be honest the world. I remember writing about Ken’s passing and the article was read by people in over 26 countries. I received many messages from people who said they don’t really like the Raiders but that they loved Ken Stabler. I’ve written a lot about Ken and you can check it out here along with Ken’s family website where you can donate to his XOXO Foundation.

http://kenstabler.com/

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/the-passing-of-legendary-raider-ken-stabler-shocks-a-nation/#comments

How to Deal With Loss:

First off there is no formula. The key is to talk to people you respect and love and let the pain out.   Cry, scream or get mad. Pain like that is like poison and if you don’t get rid of it, it can eat you alive.

The holidays can be really hard so keep busy. Kid’s and young people always help when they are around due to their great personalities and wonder around the holidays. Remember that there will be times that the pain will come over you in waves and you just need to let yourself get rid of it. If you are a person of faith, rely on it often.   Personally, without my faith I would have not come through things very well.

The most important thing is to remember that the people that are gone would be heartbroken to see you in pain. This poem is a great one to remember that:

“Remember me with smiles and laughter because that’s how I will remember you. If you can only remember me with tears and sorrow, then don’t remember me at all.”

May all of the friends and families of these great people; as well as the fans of the Raiders; find a healing peace and joy this Christmas season.   I pray that they will never be lost in history and that their memories will be passed on to the children of NFL and Raider fans everywhere. And as long as I have breath, I will never let people forget them either.

The Roger Goodell, Ray Rice & NFL Mess and How to Fix It:

Roger Goodell NFL Ray Rice

In the Mount Rushmore of evil sports entities, you will find 4 sports organizations; FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the IOC (International Olympic Committee), the college sports titan NCAA, and the NFL.

For years the NFL has enjoyed cult status, always overcoming controversy due to fans loyalty to the sport.  Apple had nothing on the NFL.  Let’s look at just the short term history of the NFL and why Roger Goodell and the NFL needs to be taken to task by sponsors and fans.

The NFL is a Non-Profit; no Taxes.

I listened to Ann Killion during an interview on the radio the other day.  Ann is a local sports writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.  I like Ann a lot and I think she’s really good.  She said something though that bothered me.  She sheepishly said the NFL doesn’t pay taxes or they are exempt from it or something.  To this day it still blows me a away how many fans and sports writers still don’t know the status of the NFL.

Isn’t that important to know so you can understand some peoples outrage?  Yes, the NFL is a non-profit organization that is exempt from taxes.  On average they make 9-14 billion dollars a year.  They do not have to talk about their profits because they are not a public company and the only way most find out about their profits is that the Green Bay Packers are a public company.  People take the profits that are given to the Packers and times it by 32 to get the total.

The NFL ONLY reacts to Public Outcry & Loss of Corporate Sponsorship:

The NBA did the same thing with the Los Angeles Clippers ownership saga.  It didn’t matter that Donald Sterling had decades of racial remarks and slurs.  It didn’t matter that he was sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination and then had to pay the biggest housing discrimination fine in U.S. history.  What did him in?  It was a gold digging groupie who caught him on a cell phone during a jealous rant.

It would be funny to be honest if it wasn’t such a serious topic.  To watch the NFL now kissing the butt of the public as well as their sponsors makes a person laugh, or shake their head.  Now players that the NFL never dealt with like Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers (who severely beat his ex while putting a rifle to her head threatening to kill her) are now being suspended.

TMZ of all people made people realize that the NFL lied about not having the video and now Roger Goodell says they may have had it, but he didn’t see it.

That would be fine but people should also remember Roger Goodell’s words when he suspended Saints coach Sean Payton.  The Saints defense had put bounties out on opposing players.  Roger Goodell said that even though coach Payton didn’t know about the bounties, he was supposed to be in charge and should know everything that was going on in the organization.  He cited the year long suspension was a lack of organizational control.  It’s funny how Roger Goodell now wants a pass on his lack of control.  The Ray Rice case was the biggest story in the NFL in a long time so for him to say he did not see the video is shady at best.

The NFL’s treatment of Fan’s, Referee’s, Cheerleaders:

I always love to see the prices of the superbowl.  Parking this year was $150 per car!!!  Thanks NFL!!  That is comical.  What’s worse is that fans pay it just to be at the event.  If Roger Goodell told me that I was going to have to pay $150 to park, I’d slap him in the back of the head and say “hell to the no!”.  Many families have been out priced and can no longer afford to go to games.  It’s pure greed by the NFL.

Unfortunately though, some fan’s treatment of players, cheerleaders and referee’s mimic the NFL’s to be honest.  When a player is underpaid and wants to renegotiate a contract, fans lose their minds saying, “the player signed it so they need to honor it”.  Well that would be great, but 90% of contracts in the NFL are NOT honored by the owners or the teams!  When a player is cut or made to renegotiate their contracts or be let go, I’ve never once heard a fan say, “they signed the contract, and the owners now need to honor it!”.  Fans will turn on millionaires, but give passes to billionaires.

The NFL’s treatment of cheerleaders is ridiculous.  Teams make an average of 1 to 1.5 million a year off of the efforts of the cheerleaders.  Most NFL cheerleaders do not make minimum wage!  Many fans act like NFL cheerleaders are just airhead groupies but surprisingly many are much smarter than that.  Many are college students, looking for advanced degrees, and some are even mom’s!  Some are becoming doctors and one Eagles cheerleader is an officer in the National Guard.  They are made to go to fundraisers and PR events for free, and some get paid only when the season ends.  Many say they love going to children’s hospitals and do outreaches but the lack of pay makes it difficult.  The courts agreed.  The Oakland Raiders cheerleaders just won a 1.5 million dollar lawsuit due to their lack of pay and poor treatment.

The NFL and the owners said during the last referee’s strike that they could not afford to pay the ref’s full time.  Many of the NFL ref’s have secondary jobs such as selling insurance.  You can’t afford to pay them a six figure salary and train them year round so that there won’t be so many bad calls every year?  Even when the game is hurt by not having full time ref’s, the integrity of the game takes a back seat to NFL profits.

How the NFL has Handled Their Past Controversies:

The NFL congressional hearings on the investigation of how the NFL handled concussions is what changed my mind about the NFL.  I actually watched them so during that time no, I wasn’t a fun date.

Study after study was brought to the NFL from highly respected researchers showing the damage that prolonged concussions can have on the brain.  All the NFL did was say, “we don’t agree with those findings”.  The NFL brought out their own findings and they were contradicting, incomplete, and puzzling at best.

The NFL was ready to leave the hearings but Representative Maxine Waters finally had enough of their arrogant display.  She stated that if the NFL didn’t choose to act, that maybe the Anti Trust status that protected them wasn’t warranted.  She also stated that the issue may need to be criminally investigated.  Just like now, Roger Goodell and the NFL turned into Eddie Haskell and “saw the light”.  The NFL then accepted the findings and the head physician for the NFL, Dr. Ira Casson was paid off and took the sword for the NFL and resigned.  The NFL put their palms on their heads and claimed of being naive and unknowing and promised to implement concussion controls.

All of this domestic violence should have been dealt with over 10 years ago.  They had a problem with domestic violence but the worst case of all happened in 1999.  Rae Caruth was a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers.  He was casually hooking up with different women but he ended up getting Cherica Adams pregnant.  He wanted her to abort the baby but she wouldn’t.  While 8 months pregnant, Caruth was driving in front of her.  He stopped his car and 2 people that he hired pulled up beside her and shot into the car several times.  Before she passed out she called 911 and told the operator what happened.  Adams died, but an emergency c-section saved the child.  Caruth was amazingly given bail and told if one of the people died, he’d have to turn himself in.  Of course he fled.  He was finally caught and has been in prison ever since.  He is getting out in 2018.

I remember specifically because ESPN covered it some but eventually it went away quick.  It was bad publicity and they wanted it to just go away.  The NFL rarely if ever talked about the case.  HBO Real Sports did a story on him.

Isn’t a hit on a woman enough to get some sort of a statement and/or guidelines in regards to violence to women?

Two years ago Kansas City Chiefs Javon Belcher, shot his 22 year old girlfriend 9 times at their house.  When Belcher’s mom ran into the room he kissed his girlfriend on the head and told his mom he was sorry.  He then went to the Chiefs facility and shot himself in the head in front of Chiefs officials.  Again, nothing was done by the NFL to address this problem.  The only thing to come out of it was the controversy of Bob Costas anti gun stance.

There have been countless arrests for assaults and instances of domestic violence in the NFL but the answers are always the same.  “Don’t look at the NFL; this is a societal problem.  Domestic violence happens everywhere but people just look at the NFL because it makes the press.  Mom, Billy did the same thing……”  Alright I added the last one, but do you see how stupid those arguments are?  Give the NFL a pass because it’s also seen in society or other people do worse things?  It’s unacceptable.

Why is the NFL getting away with it?:

First of all when a beer company like Budweiser is threatening to pull some sponsorship because you lack character and morals, then you know you have issues.  What has partially saved the NFL is the shallow nature of the social media society we live in.  Sometimes it’s hard to get people to read more than 3 lines in an email, so expecting people to do research or read articles is naive at best.  We live in a shallow society that we want our stories in 2-3 minute intervals, and we want it in high definition video.  People can do horrendous things but it seems that it doesn’t count unless it’s on Youtube.

Let’s also be real.  Morals and character in the U.S. are very lacking.  Statistics show 50% of married people are cheating on their spouses; white collar crime is almost a part of our U.S. business structure.  Americans also make excuses for the behavior of groups, products, celebrities and athletes that they like.  When Justin Beiber had photos of him in strip clubs, his fans said they were photoshopped because he was too good a person to do those things.  Cults are a weird thing and the NFL for some has cult status.

Another thing that has saved the NFL is society does NOT protect or respect women.  All over the world the atrocities women go through is criminal and tragic.  Rape in the U.S. has one of the lowest conviction rates of any felony.  Women are usually murdered by men they’ve had past or present relationships with.  When football players; especially college players; get arrested for rape or sexual crimes, the first thing fans do is say the woman is a slut and there isn’t enough evidence.  Why?; Because in a sick way they just care about their team and that they win, and they don’t care about right or wrong.  And even if the woman is a slut; you can’t rape them.

What Needs to Be Done:   

Roger Goodell needs to resign.  He has enough money to retire for 3 lifetimes.  Using his own words, “he lacked organizational control”.

Upon entering the NFL, there needs to be ongoing meetings by teams and the NFL about conduct and consequences.  I know they meet with them now but it’s not nearly enough and it isn’t working.  If someone is having issues in a relationship, they need to get into counseling.  Every team should have a counseling team and should be hooked up to 24 hour on call telephone support.  Some do this already, some don’t.

Former broke NFL players who have tons of kids with several women need to be paid to come and talk to the players.  They need to see what will happen if they act irresponsibly.  People forget these players are still very young and some aren’t very educated (thank you NCAA).  Some also haven’t had good parental guidance so I would also do sex education classes to teach them about STD’s, groupies, and being trapped by having kids.  What is being done now isn’t enough and every stone needs to be turned.  Education is key.

If a player is arrested for felony domestic violence, you are suspended WITH pay immediately until the facts come out.  You cannot participate with the team in any way and you cannot go to the media or social media and speak for the team.  If you are found guilty of a felony, you are out of the league for 2 years.  If it’s a misdemeanor you are out one year.  This can be tweaked in the future to be more severe but I think it’s a good start.

Many times the people that are abused are financially stuck in the relationship.  If the player is found guilty, the team and the NFL MUST pay $100k/year in damages for 4 years.  This will allow the abused to not have to stay in the relationship and to either get an education or further their education or to get a trade.

Some will disagree, but you are taking entities that make billions per year and they need to be made accountable.  The NFL likes to talk about “organizational control” well then be in control of your organization during good and bad times.  If employees do damage, companies have to pay for it.  The NFL should show just how serious their stance is on domestic violence by putting their money where their mouth is.  If money is at stake; even only $100k; greedy owners and the NFL will take notice.  It’s called accountability.

Personally I think the same punishment should be done for assaults but let’s take it a step at a time.  Obviously these things are not written in stone but I think this is a good foundation to work on.

What Does it All Mean?:

Fans and sponsors have power.  The NFL’s manic reaction to the negative publicity shows the good of social media.  If sponsors don’t react, then they need to be boycotted.  If you as a fan don’t want to root for certain teams or players because of their off the field actions, then make your voice be heard by not giving them your money.

I don’t watch the NFL with the passion that I used to.  I am still going to watch the NFL but as I have for years, I don’t look up to players or celebrities.  I love the game and I used to go to many games but now I rarely go.  I’m talking with my dollars.  I appreciate their talents on the field but many have skeletons in their closet that are pretty deep.

My hopes are that people continue to wake up to the NFL and Roger Goodell.  Their past is so dirty that it would make Ebenezer Scrooge and Monte Burns of the Simpsons cringe.  It’s unacceptable and the only way they will change is if they are made to.  For them, it’s still all about the Benjamin’s.