Big O Tires

NFL disregards domestic violence, as Giants extend its tolerance scale


NFL disregards domestic violence, as Giants extend its tolerance scale

The National Football League has been reminded yet again that it neither understands nor cares to understand about domestic violence.

But it will do better, you may rest assured. They’ll have a week where all the on-field personnel wear purple to commemorate the bruises.

That’s what the NFL does when it can no longer ignore its own tone-deafness – they turn their stupidity into a marketing opportunity. After all, every social problem can be solved in the league’s eyes by figuring out a way for the league to monetize it.

The latest example of the NFL’s slack-jawed world view comes from New York, where the Giants could not and still cannot figure out what to do about kicker/serial domestic abuser Josh Brown except not let him go to London for the weekend.

This means the league has learned nothing from the Ray Rice incident, even as Rice of all people is showing on a regular basis how to learn from it. More than that, it means it has no interest in learning anything about it, and will never prioritize it beyond crisis-management level – “Uh-oh, something bad just happened. Quick, put it behind us.”

Then again, the league has been so relentlessly ham-handed on so many things that, as convenient as this may be for it, we should stop expecting it to do so, to the point that when someone from the league wants to explain some social issue to us we should simply say with one voice, “Oh, shut up, you yammering frauds.”

It is difficult to prioritize the number of ways the Giants failed to comprehend the problem currently smacking them between the numbers, although owner John Mara’s “He admitted to us he'd abused his wife in the past. What’s a little unclear is the extent of that” may summarize it nicely.

Put another way, one could make a case that the Giants extended the universal talent-tolerance scale (if you have the talent, anything can be tolerated until it can’t) to include placekickers.

That seems less likely, though, than the more obvious point that the league doesn’t regard domestic violence as something worth concerning itself with, while bloviating all the time about all the things with which it is concerned. The league is the beat cop who never gets out of his car to see what is happening on his beat, and is shocked when something does.

And while it will be handy to pile this atop the list of reasons why Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t get it, the truth is he is merely the painful rash that reveals the league’s case of shingles. The league’s 32 constituent elements are culpable here because ignorance in the face of so much evidence becomes willful, and Goodell’s skill is not in guiding the league but in figuring out where his 32 bosses want him to go, and avoiding all the places they don’t.

Hence, domestic violence. This is not an easy problem to solve, as any expert will say, but Mara trying to decide how many punches are enough isn’t it. The league’s six-game suspension guideline that is now four years old has never been imposed on any player. It wants the power to use the talent-tolerance scale at whim to do what it wishes when it wishes to do it.

Or in this case, not do anything at all until it has to, and then in as minimal a fashion as it can manage.

So, Josh Brown loses a week in a foreign country on the company dime as a trade-off for continually terrorizing his wife. The league says it punished him for a game but was powerless to do anything else while knowing all along how severe the problem had become.

In short, it did the minimum. Now that everyone knows the fullest extent of Brown’s abuse, and how much the league knew without doing anything, it will now extend the minimum out to what it thinks is a new minimum.

So we now know that the NFL is looking for some metric that will determine the transactional “extent of that,” as John Mara so eloquently put it for us. When it comes up with that formula, it will surely ignore that standard, because the real standard is still “talent-tolerance,” and the world is made up of concentric circles surrounding the people who make the league and its members a dollar more tomorrow than it made today.

And spouses are a long way from the center.

House of York vs House of DeBartolo: Shakespeare without rooting interest

House of York vs House of DeBartolo: Shakespeare without rooting interest

In defense of chaos as we are, the news that Lady Lisa DeBartolo, cousin of Prince Jed of York and daughter of the abdicated King Edward, decided to retweet and endorse a column by Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat urging (well, stamping his feet and demanding, really) that Prince Jed renounce the throne of Ninervania for having driven it into its current Ottoman Empire-level status.

Under normal circumstances, such an odd demand would fall on deaf ears, as not even the dimmest of dairy farmers would willingly walk on a multi-million-dollar cash cow. In fact, the idea would be derided as ridiculous.

But in this case, Cohn’s piece smoked out Princess Lisa’s dissatisfaction with the prince and even the line of succession, thus revealing a long-rumored rift in the House Of DeBartolo (which is Italian for DeBartolo). Evidently Prince Jed has been a bit imperious with the outer edges of the palace court, and as this is a totally modern-day royal house, conscientious objectors start a revolution with Twitter.

In other words, it’s cheap Shakespeare without a rooting interest, or fun-filled blood splash. And all it really does is tell us that the family is no longer capable of keeping its business from leaking into the street.

None of which puts Prince Jed’s crown, or the head beneath it, in jeopardy, as he won the crown from his father King John, who had won it from Queen Denise, who had won it from King Edward after he lost the famous War Of Louisiana despite an alliance with the former Duke Edward of Edwards.

But it does mean that we now can see that the royal house is showing its tatters, and the queen’s discomfort is as profound as that of Helen Mirren’s in the underrated movie “The Queen.”

And who doesn’t love a bit of messy and even degrading palace intrigue?

See? The beauty of chaos.

The problem, of course, is that the rivals to the throne really aren’t rivals at all. Queen Denise ousted King Edward in a bloodless yet delightfully vindictive coup more than 20 years ago, and maintains a stranglehold on Ninervania and the shiny new palace that is its nerve center. Neither Princess Lisa nor King Edward has the army to muster to take the palace, and in all likelihood has only seen to it that their likenesses will be removed from the great hall and family photos will be dramatically redone by Michael Zagaris, the Hans Holbein The Younger of the Yorks.

But the nation shall not have new leaders (nor is there any guarantee that Princess Lisa is any better positioned to fix the problems than Prince Jed), as old King Edward is still mostly a very interested outsider at best. Queen Denise, whose pathological need for privacy has been blown to Smithereens (one of the smaller duchies of Ninervania), will defend her son’s lands and properties with an increased fierceness, and she is considered a most implacable enemy.

In other words, you throw shade on the boy, and she’ll show you your spleen on Christmas morning and sleep the sleep of the joyful that very night.

But it is fun to speculate on how dirty this fight could get in the interim. The National Football League is an alliance of royal houses, and though there has been no evidence of treaties through marriage, there is a growing trend toward direct inheritance as the way to power.

The last really good in-house coup before Ninervania was in Ramistan, when Prince Steve Rosenbloom lost a power struggle to Queen Georgia of Frontiere, who had risen to the throne by surviving King Carroll of Rosenbloom, her husband in a morganatic marriage. A similar scenario has played in New Orleans, the place where King Edward lost his power base, where King Thomas of Benson undermined his children and left the kingdom in the hands of his third royal consort, Queen Gayle.

In short, Princess Lisa shot her Internetic yap off to no useful end, but Christmas will now include a battery of royal food testers, because you never know when a malicious gnocchi will turn up on someone’s plate.

And we have embellished that last vision for purposes of plot development.

But there is this much good news: Colin Kaepernick is no longer the biggest spike in Prince Jed’s leathern hide. In other words, “Party Down, Yorks. It’s On Now.”

And no cheerier words for a fan of chaos can be uttered.

Belichick's rant against communication systems proves chaos always wins

Belichick's rant against communication systems proves chaos always wins

Bill Belichick is, in his own weird way, becoming my new favorite sports figure because he is such a royal butt spur.

That doesn’t make him separate from other coaches; most of them are mutants of one sort or other, and not in the cool X-Men way where at least there’s a superpower attached. They are mostly unpleasant, guarded, distracted or locked into the competing voices in their own heads – or all at once.

But Belichick rages against power in the same way that Gregg Popovich does in San Antonio, and the way Al Davis did when he was at the top of his game three decades ago, and many of those rages are on point, rational and absolutely deserved, thus disqualifying him from national office.

Anyway, he angrily hurled one of those Microsoft tablets that are supposed to help coaches, well, coach, to smithereens Sunday in an otherwise routine win over Cincinnati, and decided when asked about it by Comrade Perry at to go on a magnificent soliloquy that would do a Trotskyite and a Luddite simultaneously proud (highlights follow):

“There are multiple communication systems on the sideline. As you probably noticed, I’m done with the tablets. I’ve given them as much time as I can give them. They’re just too undependable for me. I’m going to stick with pictures as several of our other coaches do as well because there just isn’t enough consistency in the performance of the tablets, so I just can’t take it anymore.”


“The other communication systems involve the press box to the coaches on the field, and then the coach on the field, the signal caller, or the coach-to-quarterback, coach-to-signal caller system. Those fail on a regular basis. There are very few games that we play, home or away, day, night, cold, hot, preseason, regular season, postseason, it doesn’t make any difference; there are very few games where there aren’t issues in some form or fashion with that equipment.”

Not to mention:

“I would say weekly we have to deal with something. This is all league equipment so we don’t have it. I mean we use it but it isn’t like we have the equipment during the week and we can work with it and ‘OK, this is a problem. Let’s fix this.’ That’s not how it works. We get the equipment the day of the game, or I’d say not the day of the game but a few hours before the game and we test it and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Usually by game time it is working but I would say not always. And then during the game sometimes something happens and it has to be fixed, and first of all, you have to figure out what the problem is. Is it a battery? Is it the helmet? Is it the coaches’ pack? Is it the battery on the coaches’ pack? I mean you know, again, it could be one of 15 different things.”

And in summary:

“It’s basically a problem every week. The degrees aren’t always the same but we’re usually dealing with something. For me personally, it’s a personal decision, I’m done with the tablets. I’ll use the paper pictures from here on because I’ve given it my best shot. I’ve tried to work through the process but it just doesn’t work for me and that’s because there’s no consistency to it.”

He even apologized to Perry for the length of his answer, which is a sign that he is at his human best when separating from the Borg collective.

Now this is not a rant against technology, or technocrats (although I have rarely met one that didn’t deserved to be drowned in a puddle at a picnic). But we should appreciate when technology fails in sports, and we should revel in those moments when a user snaps and smashes a machine to the ground in righteous indignation. It just looks and feels so cathartic even when it’s someone else doing it, and since we can imagine Belichick seeing Roger Goodell’s smug mush as he’s doing it, well, who can’t object to that? Any blow against graceless bullnecked authority is a triumph for the species as a whole.

Plus, chaos is a much better milieu for sports in general, which is why the new rantings about robot umpires vs. pulling back replay because of the baseball playoffs are so delightful. It’s like we are as a group just noticing that no matter what system is imposed atop all the other systems to try and impose infallibility, chaos always wins. Chaos wins more than Bill Belichick, that’s how good chaos is.

Chaos rewards the creative, and the improvisational, and the quick-witted. Chaos reminds us that an overly regulated sport eventually collapses under the weight of its own rigidity. Plus it reduces smug, self-important gasbags to spasms of impotent frustration the way nature intended.

So yes, we must endorse Belichick smashing the machinery of the state, even if it is only the size of a placemat and is in any event totally symbolic. We must also also endorse honestly blown calls (as opposed to what we like to call Donaghy Moments) because they make people who fixate on the “getting it right” thing turn apoplectically purple.

And here, as if to prove the point on cue, an NFL statement, sent to ESPN’s Darren Rovell on the subject:

“Since Microsoft has been a partner of the NFL and implemented their (sic) technology on our sidelines, the efficiency and speed of communication between coaches has been greatly increased. As with any technology there are multiple factors that can cause issues within our sideline communications system either related to our outside Microsoft’s technology. We continue to work with all our partners to insure the best systems are in place to give our clubs the greatest chance for success on a weekly basis.”

As you notice the temperature in your soul rapidly dropping as you read that load of bleargh, I triumphantly rest my case.