There are moments every few months where you can tell what a complete stooge Roger Goodell is. This is not a man who’s a leader. You can tell by the look on his face whenever he’s not reading something prepared. He always looks like his parents found his porn. He varies between a mouthpiece, a puppet, and a shield for whatever the owners want. They’re his bosses after all, and they like him just enough because he keeps the money avalanches raining down upon them. But they’ll certainly never listen to him, and that’s if he ever tries to tell them what to do. Which he almost certainly never does, and if he does I would pay decent money for a recording of the laughter that would follow. And he makes far too much money himself to ever locate his own dignity.
Which is how you get a day like yesterday. In the afternoon, it was announced that Brian Flores is suing the NFL and three of its teams – Dolphins, Broncos, and Giants – for discrimination in their hiring practices and his firing by the Dolphins. Now, I have no idea where this lawsuit will go. It doesn’t sound like Flores is after a settlement, but some sort of structural damage to the backstage of the NFL, the part we don’t see on the field (though hey, we see racism on it plenty). Clearly, part of what Flores wants is to completely blow up “The Rooney Rule,” which has always been something of a joke.
Now, whatever the merit of this suit, whatever its future, it was enough to cause headlines across the sports media world and social media, especially the details that came in the filing. So you’d think, if nothing else, Goodell would get a message out to the 32 teams telling them just to chill out for a couple days. If only for optics, but mostly so there wouldn’t be any missteps that might even bolster Flores’ case. “Can you assholes keep quiet for a day or two?” would have been the gist.
So…what were the headlines making the rounds on Twitter last night, mere hours after Flores’s lawsuit hit the wires?
They couldn’t even stay under the radar for six hours.
Now, you couldn’t argue that Harbaugh isn’t qualified for the job. He’s done it before, and done it well. McCown? Well…yeah. They symbolism on that lands like the Monty Python foot.
I don’t know what the interview process looks like. Maybe Flores doesn’t interview well and McCown somehow blew everyone away. But that would be an awfully big stretch.
It certainly gives the NFL even more of an appearance to being a very closed shop if you’re Black and wanting to be a coach. And Flores’ claims of the Dolphins sandbagging him to the press and owners because he wouldn’t play dirty in the way they wanted, certainly have a new shine when McCown might be getting hired having never even coached in the NFL in any role.
But the thing is, what is it going to matter to any of the 32 owners? What is the amount of money that Flores could win that would make these guys say, “Boy, we’d better change things otherwise the next time we might go bust!” The Broncos are about to sell for $4 billion. They’re not even the most valuable franchise in the league. What could possibly touch them? A lawsuit isn’t going to cause government intervention. And even if Congress wanted to do anything, you better believe this cabal of 32 have enough friends on the Hill to ever keep that from happening.
Oh, they might get lambasted in the press? Maybe a week. Maybe a month. But there are too many Pavlovian dogs in the NFL press who will come running the next time they’re dangled some rumor that will lead to them being retweeted thousands of times. They’ll heel eventually. There is no watchdog.
So the NFL can be as dumb, hateful, and arrogant as it likes. It’s reached a plane that no one can get to, no one can bring down. I’d like to believe that the hubris of MLB owners at the moment could actually bring that league down. There’s a small chance, depending on where this lockout goes. But only a small chance, and that collapse would probably still be years off. But the NFL is on another planet from MLB. They laugh at all of us, all of this, if they can even see it.
That’s the ugly side of sports. So let’s try and balance it out with the pretty side. The Calgary Flames were down two goals heading into the third period last night in Dallas, but roared back with three goals in the last six minutes to author a 4-3 comeback win. And they capped it off with this absolutely gorgeous winner, the kind of thing that used to only exist on a whiteboard:
If you’re interested, that’s five one-time passes in a row to completely befuddle the Stars, who made their own mess by not accounting for Oliver Kylington coming out of the box after a penalty. It almost creates a symphonic sound. Kind of thing that just brings you right off the couch.