What would it actually take to get the NFL to break its weekly PR disaster cycle? Seriously. What would it take.
Bad NFL news generally takes one of three shapes. The first is just the kind of shit that happens when you have competitive dudes competing in a competitive environment where there are people watching: Dez Bryant flipping out on a reporter, for example. We’ve seen NBA players get pissy with the media, and I’m sure it would happen in baseball if baseball players weren’t flesh-wrapped man-bots. Every sport is gonna have to deal with players getting into trouble off the field, which is why its important to build up enough credibility to ride these things out.
Then there’s the shit that the NFL just might not ever be able to avoid, because it’s a supremely violent sport played by hyper-competitive men: things like Aqib Talib gouging an opponent’s eye, which is just an out-in-the-open example of the kind of things we’ve heard about from the bottoms of dog-piles for decades. The scary hit taken by Teddy Bridgewater is the sort of thing the NFL wants to cut down or eliminate via the rulebook, but it’s hard to know whether rules about where and when to hit opposing players move the needle very much. And besides, rules have to be followed in order to work as a deterrent—otherwise they just function as taxes.
And, finally, it’s hard to know what the NFL can do about cases like Wes Welker’s, where a damaged player wants to prolong his career to the potential detriment of his wellbeing. Brain injuries are a reality of the sport—can the NFL draw a line and tell guys not to pursue their careers? Where?
The really perplexing stuff, in the end, is the dumb, needless shit the NFL does to annoy and frustrate its fans and antagonize its players, and its all the more perplexing precisely because the NFL has to deal with baked-in challenges. How easy would it be to get a firm, sensible grip on uniform rules, such that you’re not fining guys for making personal displays of patriotism on “Salute the Service Day,” for crying out loud. The NFL should want its players doing things like this, stuff that humanizes them and endears them to fans. It seems like it should be so easy for the NFL to take one look at the ridiculous, hideous pajama uniforms worn in the Bills/Jets game and say “nah, this is ugly and dumb, our fans will hate it.”
Worst of all, how is it possible the NFL learned so little in the Ray Rice scandal that they’d let a player’s defense against domestic violence allegations basically boil down to merciless slut-shaming and victim-blaming? God damn. You could build a coalition of any 15 Deadspin readers and they’d get the Greg Hardy situation closer to right than the NFL’s leadership has. It’s incredible.
Anyway, lots of other good things on TV today, if you’re not so into football.
Noon — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Pelicans @ Knicks
Unbelievably, the Knicks are better than the Pelicans right now. And, hey, the Anthony Davis/Kristaps Porzingis matchup will be interesting. The Knicks are still underpowered, but they know how to play and they’ve finally got some guys who can do some things. They’re good to watch!
1 p.m. — CBS Sports — NCAA Men’s Basketball: Wake Forest @ Bucknell
If you’re anything like me, college basketball isn’t even anywhere close to your radar in mid-November. Having said that, ESPN 3 has a full slate of match-ups today, including some ranked teams.
1 p.m. — NBC Golf — PGA Tour Golf: Final Round, OHL Classic
From El Cameleón Golf Club in Mayakoba, Mexico. Someone named Derek Fathauer is at the top of the leaderboard.
2:30 p.m. — ESPN — UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifiers: Hungary vs. Norway
This is a thing that is happening.
3 p.m. — ESPN 3 — ATP Tennis: Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (Round Robin): Roger Federer vs. Tomáš Berdych
This is also a thing that is happening.
3:30 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Grizzlies @ Timberwolves
This is alarming: the only team scoring fewer points per game than the Grizzlies is the goddamn 76ers. The only team with a worse point differential than Memphis’s is, yup, the goddamn 76ers. It’s jarring to see the Grizzlies at two game under .500 and below the Timberwolves in the standings, even this early in the season. You should definitely watch this game, though—the Wolves are fun as hell, and Karl-Anthony Towns is already a terrific NBA player. If he has a healthy career, he’s gonna be a monster.
5 p.m. — ESPN 3 — NASL Final: New York Cosmos vs. Ottawa Fury FC
This is the Final. Final!
6 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Jazz @ Hawks
It has taken the Jazz a little while, and they’re not all the way there, but they certainly seem to have discovered that terrifying defense from the second half of last season. It still feels like their offense will be stuck in neutral while they have only lukewarm bodies to throw out at point guard, and I’m still not convinced they’re a playoff team with Dante Exum on the shelf. But enough about them—even though Jeff Teague is an unlikable fake-tough-guy on the court, the Hawks play beautiful basketball and are terrific to watch, so long as they’re not wearing ghastly mismatched uniforms. This should be a good game.
7 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Celtics @ Thunder
When the Celtics knock down open shots, they’re ridiculously dangerous, because they generate a ton of open shots. The Thunder tower over the Celtics (and most other NBA teams) in talent, but they still revert to stupid, clunky, hero-ball garbage in late-game situations, and their bench production depends an awful lot on Dion Waiters knocking down bad shots. They’re great, though, and this could be a really fun game—a contrast of styles, and styles make fights (as they say).
9 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Raptors @ Kings
The Kings are such a mess. That, alone, can be fun to watch, but DeMarcus Cousins is also a real treat to watch. And the Raptors, God love ‘em, they still don’t play attractive basketball, but they’re really good at what they do. I predict this will be a fun game, in whatever shape it takes.
1 p.m. — We TV — Roseanne
The usual early games counterprogramming option.
1 p.m. — TV Land — Golden Girls
A Sunday staple, at this point.
3 p.m. — FXX — The Simpsons
Straight garbage, on through to 7 p.m. All episodes today are concerned with Lisa and her future, which would be great, except there’s not a single good one in the bunch.
4 p.m. — Spike —Bar Rescue
All afternoon and evening, if this is your thing.
6:30 p.m. — AMC — The Walking Dead
Reruns, and then the premier. Good old AMC.
Noon — ION Television — Point Break
I am prepared to hate every solitary second of the remake of Point Break.
Noon — CMT — Sleepless in Seattle
The kid in this movie is a dingus. The dad should leave him on the docks and move to Portugal.
1 p.m. — AMC — Kill Bill: Vol. 1
AMC has a good lineup today. The Kill Bill movies back-to-back, and then straight into The Walking Dead. Good shit.
2 p.m. — TBS — Happy Gilmore
Weirdly, this movie’s getting a lot of run this NFL season. Not sure what that’s about.
2 p.m. — BBC America — Constantine
I dunno. Constantine never really sinks into awfulness, to me, but it also never rises to the point of being good. It just kinda exists. There are worse things! Break in case of emergency, is what I’m saying.
2:45 p.m. — IFC — Goodfellas
You can also catch it on IFC at 10 p.m. tonight if you miss it here.
3:30 p.m. — AMC — Kill Bill: Vol. 2
Daryl Hannah makes a surprisingly terrific villain. Maybe this was her calling all along.
4 p.m. — Syfy — King Kong (2005)
Yeah, this is the annoying-as-hell Peter Jackson remake. It has its moments, I guess. I can’t think of a modern movie with worse green-screen action, though.
4 p.m. — Sundance — Good Will Hunting
Sundance and IFC have emerged as possibly the two best counterprogramming options this season.
5 p.m. — Reelz — Bloodsport
Dumb, but fun. And on TV an awful lot for a dumb Jean-Claude Van Damme movie.
5:30 p.m. — VH-1 Classic — Back to the Future II
It’s weird to show the sequel without showing the original, but this happens a lot on football Sundays. Probably the sequels are cheaper than the originals. Anyway, Back to the Future III is on immediately after this. You could do worse.
6 p.m. — abc Family — The Hunger Games
Apparently they’re building a Hunger Games themed park in Atlanta? Hard to imagine how they can pull this off without mentioning the whole kids-slaughtering-kids thing.
I’m looking out my window at a perfect fall day. If you’ve got one of these wherever you are, get out in it!
Screenshot via YouTube