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Pro football never seems to grow up  
by Jake Highton
Feb 20, 2014 | 644 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michael Sam, a gay All-American defensive end on the University of Missouri football team, is good enough to be a pro now rather than finish college next season as he plans.

But grossly ignorant NFL executives anonymously expressed fear that he would disrupt the “manly” NFL and cause a terrible “imbalance” if drafted.

Bruce Jenkins, sports columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, rightly asks: “Who will be the NFL’s Branch Rickey?”

Rickey courageously integrated professional baseball with Jackie Robinson in 1947. Leo Durocher, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, courageously told protesting players: “I’m managing this team and I say he plays.” And Pee Wee Reese, Dodger captain, courageously strode over to Robinson to hug him, quelling a booing crowd in Cincinnati.

Thoughtful people have long since abandoned their hangups about sexual orientation.

Devastating bullying report...

A 144-page report on NFL bullying is so sickening that it prompts even the most ardent fans to leave their TV off at game time. Locker room bullies wielded so much power that even some coaches allowed such school boy vileness.

Juliet Macur, New York Times columnist, summed up the abuse: “Gay jokes. Homophobic language. Slavery jokes. Racial insults directed at a player. Ethnic insults, some of them in a mocking Asian accent, aimed at an assistant trainer who was born in Japan. Persistent jokes about raping a player’s sister.”

Richie Incognito, offensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins, was the chief tormentor. Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin was the target.

Martin hated going to work every day because of the crudeness of his teammates. He twice contemplated suicide during the 2013 season. He was particularly upset that not a single teammate answered the nonstop verbal attacks on his mother and sister.

Times sports columnist William Rhoden wrote that the investigative report by lawyer Ted Wells revealed a “reign of terror,” painting “a graphic and vile portrait of an NFL locker room that may shock even those familiar with the often lowbrow culture of the sport.”

Commissioner Roger Goodell must do more than mutter tsk-tsk. He should ban Incognito for life. Miami’s other principal abusers, offensive linemen John Jerry and Mike Pouncey, ought to be suspended for a season.                                      

                                                              

Super Bowl...

A 30-second commercial on the Super Bowl, the nation’s most watched TV show, costs an average of $4 million.

“That’s serious marketing real estate,” Gary Younge, UK Guardian’s American correspondent, says.

It sure is. Nevertheless, advertisers with a conscience should withhold ads if the NFL doesn’t allow gays to play and continues to tolerate bullying.

                                                                         

End extra point...

Commissioner Goodell offers a good suggestion: drop the automatic extra point. Instead, every team must try for a two-point conversion.

The two-point try would lend excitement to the game. As it stands now, the one-point kick is successful 99.99 percent of the time. A two-point run or pass would heighten the gamble and tension and alter scoring.

Still, that idea—not a proposal—hardly justifies Goodell’s obscene $44 million annual salary. That amount is peanuts to a league that generates $10 billion yearly.

As Ken Belson wrote in the Times: “It exceeds the amount paid at far larger businesses and highlights the tax-exempt status that the league’s head office—though not its teams—has had for decades.”

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