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“The Suspension of Bill Simmons Shows That we Can’t Trust ESPN & the Media”

bill simmons

Jockocracy:  all announcers, analysts, and sports reporters will some day all be ex players and coaches and no one will be honest anymore.  They will say nothing controversial because they all will have connections and ties to the teams, players and leagues they report on. 

Howard Cosell

The suspension of Bill Simmons by ESPN for calling Roger Goodell a liar in the Ray Rice case, lets the cat out of the bag for the rest of America that doesn’t already know that we should never trust the media.

The tax free money machine called the NFL runs ESPN.  With the suspension of sports reporter Bill Simmons, THE sports leader made it clear to all of their reporters; whatever you think or whatever your opinion is, leave your brain at the door.  The shield of the NFL makes too much money for anyone to tell the truth.  Let’s face it, big business money runs everything including the media.

Yes it’s true; ESPN and sports television analyst Bill Simmons did the dirty.  He stated in a recording that he felt NFL commissioner Roger Goodell lied about not seeing the video in the Ray Rice saga.  It didn’t matter that the rest of the country pretty much thinks the same thing; Simmons was suspended.

When the video was first released on TMZ showing Ray Rice fighting with his present wife in the elevator, TMZ website founder Harvey Levin was angered when the NFL and Roger Goodell stated that they never had seen the video.  When asked by media outlets how TMZ got it, Levin said, “We asked for it”.

After the video was released to TMZ by the casino, the NFL stated that they were not allowed by police to see it.  Levin’s beady little eyes and smile looked like the Grinch getting ready to rip off the Who’s in Whoville.  He told media outlets that he was releasing a bombshell the next day on TMZ.

Sure enough, TMZ had proof that a video was sent to an NFL representative.  Roger Goodell and the NFL have been doing damage control ever since.

To all of you good people that aren’t as cynical as the rest of us; I hope you now get that you can’t trust ESPN or big time media.  Fox news caters to right wingers who see only good with Republicans and only bad with Democrats.  Other news outlets cater to liberals.  That isn’t news and information; that’s propaganda.

When it comes to sports, ESPN is the poster child for being biased and obsessed with certain players and teams.  For a while I thought ESPN was going to do stories on Lebron James views of the Ukraine or how many licks he thought it took to get to the center of a tootsie pop.  Johnny Manziel was the next love child with ESPN reporting on his eating and sleeping habits along with his view points on current events.  It got weird.

The NFL is the golden child for ESPN and it was greatly seen during the Ray Rice scandal.  All of the ex players and announcers said the same thing; “Roger Goodell is an honest person and I find it hard to believe he knew about or saw the elevator video”.

The problem is, ESPN’s bread is buttered by the hype of sports stars, and huge television contracts that are paid by the various sports, especially the cash cow NFL.  I remember the soft core reporting by ESPN during the NFL concussion hearings.

The NFL was so over the top arrogant about the whole proceedings that it was hard to watch.  Until Representative Maxine Waters threatened a criminal investigation into the NFL’s denial on the dangers of concussions, the NFL refuted every study.  After her threat, the NFL paid off the head NFL doctor and made him take the sword for the shield.  He was blamed for everything and he resigned.

When there are labor issues, rarely does an ex player or reporter on television side with a player trying to renegotiate a contract.  People love to say, “A player signed a contract so he should honor it”.  It’s funny though that 75% of the contracts in the NFL are NOT honored by the teams.  Many players are cut or told to take a pay cut or they will be let go.  I’ve yet to hear a fan, ex player or television analyst state that the team should honor that contract.

They can’t “afford” lifetime healthcare for their players, or minimum wage for cheerleaders or full time pay for referees but they can charge $150 to park a car at a Super Bowl.

I’m being honest when I don’t agree with Bill Simmons at times, and some times I think he’s out there.  But I also admit he makes you think and he’s entertaining.  He has a sort of a wiseguy quality at times.  He’s a smart guy and he has lots of opinions and that creates a following.  I love people that have opinions based on facts and I think he’s right on with the NFL story.

Howard Cosell years ago warned us.  He said that ex players would be the announcers and reporters and because of their ties to the networks, players and the NFL, rarely would real reporting ever be heard again.  He called it the “jockocracy” of sports.  Bill Simmons is a rare throwback that says what he feels and that is rare in today’s media.

The question unfortunately is, how can we find out the truth about sports stories and the people that are in them.  Many news outlets don’t rely on facts, they rely on being biased, or what side their bread is buttered on.  More than a few large news outlets don’t report anymore, but they are very good surfing TMZ, Deadspin, or BBC’s websites on the internet.

The answer to finding the truth unfortunately is not a pretty one.  With lawyers, money, political correctness and reaction to the public and social media being the main focus when a story is released, it’s impossible to really know what is actually happening or has actually happened.

As fan’s we must be responsible.  We must teach ourselves and the youth of America to respect and appreciate athletes talents on the field, but that’s mostly about it.  We still can love the game and the great things about sports that inspire us.  Fans need to be real though.  Many people in America sadly look up to people only because they are good looking, talented, or rich and famous.

In reality though we should not look up to them.  We need to look up to those that love us and who have good character that we know about and who touch our every day lives.  And sadly; when all else fails when searching for the truth about sports and news stories;  Deadspin or Harvey Levin at TMZ is just an internet search away.  Somewhere I hear Homer Simpson sadly saying doh.  Walter Cronkite and Howard Cosell where are you.

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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.