Come one. Come all. It's time to dump on the NFL.
One local writer likened the league to the totalitarian government of North Korea, although last anyone heard, the NFL has no nukes, no army, no wacko dictator.
But OK. Dump away.
It's all about concussions and the class action lawsuit of former players, and how the players and the league just settled. The league pays former players — even ones not in the class action suit — 765 million bucks.
That's a lot of bucks by anyone's reckoning, but disgruntled sports writers who never suffered a concussion except falling down drunk in a bar say it's not enough because the league earns as much as some countries, and it got off cheap and the league is immoral and, well, dump on.
In my younger and more vulnerable years (thanks, F. Scott), I would have agreed with all that stuff. I went to college in the '60s, helped close down Stanford during student sit-ins, embraced the concept "pigs of the power structure," and lectured my poor, long-suffering parents that if they weren't part of the solution, they were part of the problem.
So, I can relate to younger writers who consider the NFL the evil empire. It's just that life has complexities, which I'm still learning about — thank God. It's just that the NFL could have held up this litigation with former players for years, maybe even decades. It's just that the NFL is willing to pay now while these poor men who suffered brain trauma are alive and can benefit from the dough.
Why is that so awful?
In my brain, admittedly addled from years of finding the right verb and avoiding adverbs, the NFL seems — dare I say? — humane.
I feel like I just sold out my entire generation.
Writers are peevish because the NFL admitted no liability, even though it's pretty clear the league knew for a long time about the inherent dangers of football. And writers are peevish because the league specifically is not liable for money damages resulting from lawsuits over brain injuries current and future players may suffer — will suffer.
This lack of liability in the future is supposed to make the league bad. Not to me it doesn't. For me this is the big issue. Please allow me to explain.
Football is a dangerous game, really dangerous. Every current player and every future player knows about the danger. If he doesn't, he's been living under a rock. When a player chooses to enter the NFL, he makes that choice with full knowledge of the risks.
We live in a world of free choice. This is my axiom. I am confident in my axiom.
If a current or future player freely chooses to enter the NFL, he has no right to sue for money when his career is over because he suffered brain injury. Sorry, he just doesn't.
I want to make a detour to boxing, my favorite sport, but this also could apply to mixed martial arts, so popular now.
In boxing and football, competitors suffer head trauma. Muhammad Ali has not been able to talk for years. By the time Rocky Graziano died, he didn't know who he was.