Although I do not spend my weekends viewing NFL games, if I had any inclination to do so this season, then the recent release of Tim Tebow by the Philadelphia Eagles organization has cemented my decision not to consider the idea. I understand that Tebow is not a top tier NFL QB; however, he’s a play maker-someone with the “it” factor-a great teammate and positive presence, and those variables are undeniable.
The fact that NFL teams continue to sign and resign and give second and third chances to (alleged and convicted) rapists, women beaters, drug addicts, and other felons is utterly reprehensible. What message is the NFL communicating to aspiring players-young men who choose to live and do right? What subliminal social and financial incentives are erected as the ideal – the norm?
What sort of culture is the NFL perpetuating? Accountability, responsibility, and civility? No. The NFL protects its brand at all cost, even if this means leading and living at the intersection of all that’s amoral, flagitious, and gray. It would seem that once the league continues to draw millions of viewers and rake in billions, all is fair game.
If the NFL is a microcosm of society, then what do the NFL actions say as it relates to valuing miscreants over model citizens? Also, what is the role of ticket holders? The owners? (Well, we know their motivation – drawing the biggest crowds and the biggest ticket sales). Speaking of owners, one day soon I will be an owner of a sports franchise, and I’ll certainly want the best players on my roster. This is not to say however, that I’ll choose the five-star “bad boy” over a two or three-star conformist, the good boy-the likeable role model.
But… what if I choose to go with the bad boys who can help my team win championships? Does this mean that I’ve compromised accepted social maxims? Or am I really compromising societal norms when the very members of society are the ones who endorse my brand and what I stand for on account of their financial support.
It could be that I’m on the wrong side of history, so to speak. Perhaps the zeitgeist will eventually catch up with me or vice versa. In a perfect world, all professional athletes would be perfect gentleman and ladies. Only model fans – you know, people who adhere to the highest standard of ethical behavior would be in attendance. Those reporting on the games – the reporters, the journalists, and the bloggers would all be outstanding citizens.
The TV networks would also have to be paragons of virtue, which means no broadcasting of salacious content. And commercials would have to exceed the values of an Andy Griffith Show episode. Sports Programming Networks along with sports anchors and personalities would have to live within the bounds of traditional and acceptable rules and standards.
The reality is, in an imperfect world, there will always be questionable but great athletes on every sports team. Many good guys who are great at their positions will be a part of those teams as well. In all fairness, NFL teams are drawing from the same applicant pool; however, some teams are more creative with their roster designation than others.
As it relates to Tim Tebow’s latest hurdle, that’s his challenge to deal with. Perhaps, I pushed the panic button prematurely. And maybe the NFL is not a hodgepodge of criminality. It could be that good guys with average skills deserve to be cut, and the antiheroes who are great at their positions are the ones really deserving of the final roster spot.