America is extraordinarily tolerant of the NFL. “Pro football, it seems, can do anything but drive us away,” wrote the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal in August. He described moves the NFL has made that would ruin another business: undercut your partners, maintain a nonprofit status while paying huge executive salaries, accept unnecessary public subsidies, stay out of Los Angeles so your teams can use the prospect of moving there as leverage to keep demanding those subsidies.
And this: alienate women, who make up 45 percent of the NFL’s viewership.
Arthur Remillard sees the best of football’s warrior culture as a man training his body into subjection for the protection of the weak and the advancement of all righteous causes. And maybe it’s because I know so little about football, but I don’t see it. How does throwing a ball around a field protect the weak? How does sucking all the money from educational institutions advance righteous causes? How does making a touchdown make a man more righteous?
Undefeated is a solid piece of filmmaking that is also too little
too late. The Oscar-winning documentary by Daniel Lindsay and T. J.
Martin concerns the travails of a high school football team in a poor
black neighborhood of North Memphis that overcomes years of futility
thanks in large part to a white volunteer coach who inspires them to
believe in themselves both on and off the field.
In April the NFL will bless about 250 draftees with a professional contract; the rest will be cleaning out their identities along with their lockers as they make a sharp turn out of football into new lives.