Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been right about a lot of things in his lifetime. He’s made calculated guesses and taken calculated risks and as a result his bank accounts are fully loaded and he has an NBA playoff mainstay and championship ring to his name.
He’s also been wrong about a lot of things. And despite the claims of prescience-y being tossed about in the half-year afterlife of Cuban’s remarks about the NFL from last March, Mark Cuban is wrong about America’s love for this ridiculous sport, and this “we-don’t-give-a-rat’s-ass-about-you” league.
The NFL isn’t going anywhere. And, hell, Mark Cuban wasn’t even talking about that aspect of the NFL to begin with.
In March, Mark Cuban wasn’t talking about the month-old sight of Ray Rice dragging the woman he knocked unconscious out of an elevator. He wasn’t talking about a football team in Washington that uses a racial slur for its nickname. He wasn’t talking about the child abuse and domestic abuse claims lobbed at scores of NFL players. He wasn’t talking about the league’s attempt, with meek little ESPN in Stepford abeyance, to suppress a damning investigation about the brain trauma that playing this anachronistic sport creates.
He wasn’t talking about the assortment of head injuries, head injuries supported and cheered on by the NFL’s pathetic paying faithful, ones that might have encouraged both Dave Duerson and Junior Seau to put guns to their hearts prior to pulling a trigger.
He was talking about TV rights. Let’s not give the guy a medal for working ahead of the curve.
"I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion," Cuban said Sunday evening when his pregame conversation with reporters, which covered a broad range of topics, swayed toward football. "I'm just telling you: Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they're getting hoggy.
"Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way. I'm just telling you, when you've got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That's rule No. 1 of business."
"They're trying to take over every night of TV," Cuban said. "Initially, it'll be, 'Yeah, they're the biggest-rating thing that there is.' OK, Thursday, that's great, regardless of whether it impacts [the NBA] during that period when we cross over. Then if it gets Saturday, now you're impacting colleges. Now it's on four days a week.
"It's all football. At some point, the people get sick of it."
Upon further review, maybe Mark Cuban had it right. Not that the NFL is headed for implosion in another 10 years, or that oversaturating the game on TV will prove to be the league’s big misstep looming on the horizon. That kind of doomsday scenario is far from likely.
But as the worst month in NFL history continues to unravel more than unfold, perhaps hubris is the sin Cuban was really talking about, the one that could knock the too-big-to-fail league from its lofty perch. In a big-picture way, that is what the always outspoken owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks was riffing on back in March, when he gave us that colorful barnyard analogy that likened the all-powerful and ever-prosperous NFL to pigs getting fat and hogs getting slaughtered.
His larger point was that a league that gets too confident in its own sense of invincibility and too convinced of its own superiority tends to grow a bit fat and sassy, and could wind up being found guilty of overreaching in pursuit of profits and under-responding in terms of responsibility. It could easily slide toward arrogance and fail to see the potential for its own mistakes.
If Mark Cuban had a larger point, he would have made one by now. He would have discussed as much while on the treadmill with reporters surrounding him. This isn’t a shot at Cuban, but to put words in his mouth is pointless in this realm. Just 1/20th of his time span in, he’s off – the NFL is bigger than ever.
And, if we’re honest, had Cuban gone all out with a “the Beatles are more popular than Jesus, Christianity will go, it will vanish and shrink” moment regarding the NFL, he would still be wrong. Go ahead and put words in his mouth. That doesn’t make him right.
Twitter and website snarksters have been allowed to amp up their appreciation of their own moral standing this year by taking on the NFL’s hypocrisy, only to dutifully serve at the feet of their master on Sunday afternoon, responding only with frat-boy humor when faced with the question of why, exactly, they still support and encourage the league they dismiss on record. Look at this column, with its worries about people openly questioning whether people should play the violent sport of football – it’s less about getting rid of the NFL’s top empty suit, and more about protecting the product in the face of criticism.
Jon Stewart and his cadre of writers have gotten plenty of Act 1 segments while aligning their crosshairs with the NFL’s lifeless and bloated fish, but they’re still tuning in whenever the Giants take to the field. A legion of straight, white 20- and 30-somethings with Twitter accounts and columns to write are acting out in ways not unlike the stubborn, straight, white older conservative men they purport to despise, deathly afraid of anything that resembles change in their own lifestyle, listlessly and pathetically clinging to tradition, in spite of the victims their servitude enables. When it comes to hypocrisy, Roger Goodell has nothing on the common NFL fan.
So you took a potshot at a squirrelly peon. Proud of your contribution.
So you used someone else’s months-old words about TV rights to coast to an easy conclusion. The check is in the mail.
These things don’t count. Your support, however, does. It feeds the monster. The monster that creates battered brains schlepping around on unguaranteed contracts, the monster that has done way too little to stop the battering of defenseless women and children.
Why are you still watching?
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