The Nation: NFL Part of Trump Re-election Campaign, Risking Players' Lives

May 9th, 2020 10:00 AM

It's "official" now: conscience-lacking NFL owners are part of President Donald Trump's re-election project, says Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation magazine. Unbelievably, so is ESPN! They're all willing to risk lives and support the president's re-election campaign by going ahead with the NFL season this fall. "He and his cronies want the games back, even if it means watching from hermetically sealed bunkers while the players risk their lives," writes Zirin.

"Culturally, there is no greater sign of normalcy than the NFL coming back into the routine of our lives," Zirin says. "It’s the country’s most widespread entertainment obsession. Its absence tells voters, particularly Trump’s base, that after all these months, we are still in an unconscionable and unnecessary death spiral."

In Zirin's jaded, leftist view, President Trump hasn’t done any hard work to make sure the NFL is a safe go for September, but he has to sell the illusion that things are returning back to something approaching normal.

Zirin (seen in above photo) detests billionaire NFL owners because several of them are financially supportive allies of the president. Politically incorrect, Trump’s “reopen sports” committee fails the politics-of-identity test, as it includes no union reps, no health authorities, no women and no people of color, Zirin complains.

The so-called committee does, however, include cronies like "the execrable Jerry Jones," owner of the Cowboys, and scandal-marred Bob Kraft of the Patriots. They want the games to go on, even if they watch them from those "hermetically sealed bunkers."

Commissioner Roger Goodell is part of the problem, too. Zirin says he cares little for the health of the players, 70 percent of them African American. Some anonymous players say the NFL stands for “N___ for Lease,” Zirin claims without listing names. NFL players are in a "terrible" situation because their careers are short and they have to perform to keep their jobs (just like people in the real world!). Furthermore:

"They only have a small window to earn a hefty NFL salary, and aren’t in a position to tell the franchise owners to take their celebrity death match and shove it. The NFL owners hold all the cards, so the only thing stopping them from opening prematurely would be their consciences. In other words: nothing."

By receiving huge sums from television networks, the owners that Zirin hates are going forward with the season even if the publicly funded stadiums are empty.

Trump and the owners trashed, Zirin takes aim at ESPN as well, because it won't cover the NFL with any critical pretension. It's part of a multibillion-dollar partnership with the NFL and its daily yak-fests are dependent on the NFL for fresh material. ESPN yakkers can only argue for so long about whether or not Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time. "ESPN will air a three-hour special where they go over the NFL’s release of the schedule with a Coke and a smile," Zirin writes.

NBC Pro Football Talk claims it has obtained a memo by Goodell that disallows team executives from discussing hypotheticals about the 2020 season. "No one can wonder what happens if players start to get infected," Zirin says:

"No one should opine about the motivations of the league. No one can say anything. Only Roger Goodell can speak on the reopening of the league, and Roger wants these games played by any means necessary. Their slogan should shift from 'NFL is family' to 'Bury your head in the sand and shut your mouths.' "

After reiterating that the NFL and ESPN "are now party to the Trump reelection strategy," Zirin just now discovers that any pretense of journalism is gone. The villains in his scheme are exploiting the desperation of the players to get on the field, and the urgency of fans seeking normalcy and entertainment.

That makes us complicit in this project. "It stinks to high heaven. The players, the fans, and the very game of football all deserve better than Roger Goodell and Donald Trump," Zirin concludes.