It’s been years, but the NFL has finally done something right. The only question is whether Goodell’s crack team of brand burnishers did it on purpose.
According to Yahoo Sports, a Thursday NFL press release touted a slate of concessions the league is making to its malcontent millionaire players. Most of them are 2020 get-out-the-vote efforts, including “working with state officials to establish polling places at our stadiums.”
But the important item was this announcement:
We will devote the entirety of our one-hour program on NBC next Wednesday, Sept. 9, to providing a platform for our players and allies to discuss the work that we are doing together to advance social justice and equality. Additional details on this program to be announced at a later date.
This is a stroke of genius, since the actual season doesn’t begin until the following evening, with a Thursday night matchup between the Texans and the Chiefs. The NFL is already guaranteed to drive away lots of fans with the endless political posturing it’s been bullied into allowing -- social justice slogans painted on the endzones, “victims’” names on helmets and, of course, all that kneeling. Why subject the fans who’ll gut through all that to tapes of players grandstanding before or during actual game broadcasts?
Of course, that’s too optimistic. The league will probably lard up the games with preachy content anyway, and NBC will be happy to accommodate -- at least until the ratings come in. (Maybe NBC will bring back Bob Costas for some of those virtuous and thoughtful monologues that made NBC halftimes unwatchable.)
So far, at least, the league’s Great Leap Forward into social justice is scoring with Yahoo Sports:
The league’s reaction to social issues in 2020 is a stark difference from 2016, when it uncomfortably tried to figure out what to do about Colin Kaepernick and others kneeling during the national anthem, then never signed Kaepernick when he became a free agent the following offseason.
(If you didn’t realize the league could have signed Captain Pig Socks, it couldn’t. Individual teams sign players, but never mind.) But it remains to be seen how many football fans will sit through being maligned and insulted just for a glimpse of the gridiron.