The extent of the NFL’s failure to learn any meaningful lessons from the several years’ worth of ass-kickings it’s absorbed over its handling of domestic violence is really something.
Think of all that the rest of us have learned. We’ve learned that domestic violence probably cannot be eradicated via punishment, and in many cases, punishing the perpetrator may indirectly punish the victim. We’ve learned that the NFL is probably ill-equipped to “be a leader in the domestic-violence space,” if for no other reason than because its default heavy-handedness is, at best, all tangled up with its ongoing, cynically-motivated authoritarian power grab. We’ve learned that if the NFL is going to take action against abusive players, those actions need to be thorough, serious, and transparent. And we’ve learned that this is so because, by and large, people care at least as much about the NFL’s PR hot-footing as they do about domestic violence perpetrated by players—a light suspension for a player accused of domestic violence doesn’t reverberate nearly as much as news that the NFL half-assed their investigation and is using whatever tattered cheesecloth they can get their hands on to cover their sorry asses in the aftermath. This isn’t the broad indictment it might seem: the NFL’s brand-focused efforts in “the domestic-violence space” are, after all, pretty fucking appalling. Domestic violence is terrible, and perpetrators should be punished, but that is not at all why the NFL is operating in that area, and with each glaring misstep the public becomes wiser to the act.
The NFL has to stop trying to advance its brand at the expense of its players. That’s what this is, this and the beyond-ridiculous penalties for showing human emotion on a football field: the NFL ingratiating itself to a public that is increasingly queasy about the sport’s violence, via some obvious posturing as Great Moral Men. This is a stupid and doomed exercise, in no small part because its mastermind, Roger Goodell, is too stupid and doomed for any exercise more complex than the pushup.
Stopping the exercise would mean extracting itself from the business of running private investigations into the off-field behavior of the players, and limiting its punishment of players for off-field transgressions to cases that lead to convictions in actual courts. And having the guts and wisdom and respect for its audience to knock off all the cheap pandering and gross manipulating of public sentiment for negotiating leverage, and trusting that NFL fans don’t need the GOP’s playbook run on them annually by a fucking sports league.
Don’t hold your breath on any of that.
The non-NFL sports calendar is very light this weekend, but there’s still plenty of other shit to watch, if you feel like further shoving the NFL’s ratings into the toilet:
Noon — beIN SPORTS Connect — Serie A Soccer: Bologna vs. Sassuolo
The usual throwaway mid-table European soccer that shows up on Sunday afternoons.
12:30 p.m. — beIN SPORTS Español — La Liga Soccer: Villarreal vs. Las Palmas
Villarreal have an impressive plus-10 goal differential, aided by a defense that has only surrendered four goals through eight games. Las Palmas is no upper-echelon side, but they’ve scored as many goals as anyone outside the league’s big three. This could be an interesting match.
12:30 p.m. — beIN SPORTS Connect — La Liga Soccer: Malaga vs. Leganes
Break in case of emergency.
2 p.m. — FOX Sports 1 — Women’s Soccer Friendly: USWNT vs. Switzerland
I dunno, friendlies can be fun.
2:45 p.m. — beIN SPORTS — La Liga Soccer: Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao
Full points here will push Madrid back on top of La Liga. Bilbao are solidly a top-six side at the moment, so maybe they’ll make it close?
2:45 p.m. — beIN SPORTS Connect — Serie A Soccer: Roma vs. Palermo
Roma should pound the absolute hell out of Palermo, but it might be an entertaining thrashing—Roma’s attack is formidable and Palermo can’t stop anybody.
4 p.m. — ABC — MLS Soccer: DC United vs. Orlando City
United can secure the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and home field advantage in the knockout stages with a win today, in the last regular season game.
4 p.m. — ESPN — MLS Soccer: Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders
This should be a fun match. A couple of aggressive sides that play America’s version of exciting soccer. And both teams are hunting playoff positions, although neither is necessarily eliminated in a loss.
4 p.m. — FOX Sports 1 — MLS Soccer: FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy
Dallas can secure the best regular season record in MLS with a win or draw today. These are two good sides playing with stuff on the line.
12:30 p.m. — AMC — The Walking Dead
AMC brings back the day-long Sunday marathon leading into the premiere of a new episode at 9 p.m. The 9 p.m. episode tonight is the premiere of Season 7, by the way.
1 p.m. — USA — Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
You know the deal.
1 p.m. — Logo — The Golden Girls
The usual Sunday dilemma: which early-afternoon Golden Girls mini-marathon to watch?
1 p.m. — TV Land — The Golden Girls
I feel like you’ve gotta give the nod to TV Land, for getting there first. Usurping their Golden Girls prerogative is a heel move, Logo.
2 p.m. — ESPN — 30 for 30: Phi Slama Jama
Fun as hell.
3:30 p.m. — Logo — Roseanne
Whoa, wait, this is getting spooky. Logo is moving in on the counterprogramming favorites! WeTV gave up their Sunday Roseanne marathon, and here comes Logo, who have already made a move on TV Land for Golden Girls. Crazy stuff, guys.
4 p.m. — NBA TV — The Starters
NBA TV appears to be running a mini-marathon of the season preview episodes, which eventually answer 72 “burning” questions about the upcoming season. If you’re as completely pumped about this NBA season as I am, this makes for fine television.
4 p.m. — FXX — The Simpsons
Episodes today include nothing good, and you should stay far away and forget that you ever watched any of The Simpsons past season four.
7 p.m. — ABC — America’s Funniest Home Videos
Sure to soak up some number of viewers who happen across it while flipping channels during commercial breaks.
Noon — BBC America — Goldfinger
Apparently BBC America is just turning into the Sunday 007 network, now. They’ve got another James Bond marathon queued up today.
12:30 p.m. — Golf Channel — Caddyshack
Love it when sports or music channels get into movie programming on football Sundays. I don’t know if it’s capitulation or savvy counterprogramming, but I dig it.
12:30 p.m. — TBS — Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
1 p.m. — FX — Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
The last two Mission Impossible movies have been really fun. Pretty cool turnaround for a series that had to survive John Woo’s incredibly terrible sequel.
1:30 p.m. — FXX — Deliver Us From Evil
Woof. This is one of the dumbest, shoddiest horror flicks you’ll ever see. Sean Harris makes a scary-looking villain, but Joel McHale has perhaps the saddest fucking incomprehensible buddy-cop role in movie history.
1:30 p.m. — CMT — Mrs. Doubtfire
Still racking up the Sunday appearances.
2 p.m. — The CW — Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
This is a credible, if limited, way to get in on the Halloween programming scene: kids movies!
2 p.m. — Comedy Central — Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Nice to see Comedy Central get back in the game.
2:30 p.m. — BBC America — Thunderball
Keep on rollin’, BBC America.
3 p.m. — TNT — Ocean’s Eleven
A really disappointing number of networks elected to ride today out with garbage programming. SYFY, again, went with a slate of miserable horror remakes for their afternoon, and TNT follows Ocean’s Eleven with Bad Boys II and Olympus Has Fallen. IFC is showing The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It, and I swear I’m not making that up. Sad!
3 p.m. — Ovation — The Professional
Ovation swings wildly between solid movies and utter throwaway trash from Sunday to Sunday. They’ve got a good lineup today.
5:30 p.m. — BBC America — From Russia With Love
With Robert Shaw as the scary-ass SPECTRE assassin Red Grant. Goldfinger swings back around for another viewing after this, if you missed it the first time.
5:30 p.m. — Ovation — Lethal Weapon
Ovation’s lineup gets even better after this. Where has all this inspired counterprogramming been?
6:20 p.m. — Comedy Central — Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Comedy Central is also showing this earlier, before football starts, if you want to watch it twice?
7 p.m. — FX — Jack Reacher
It’s interesting to see so much hype for the sequel (now in theaters)—I didn’t think this was a bad movie, just a completely forgettable one.
7 p.m. — Logo — The Silence of the Lambs
All in all, a pretty great Sunday slate for Logo: mini-marathons of compulsively watchable syndicated classics, and then an all-time great movie to wrap up the night. Hell yeah.
8 p.m. — Ovation — Unforgiven
A close-to-perfect counterprogramming move, except that there will be a lot of very distracting censoring of language.
Very fall-like outside today. Maybe go wander around a pumpkin patch and enjoy the crisp air.