The Mainstreaming of Problems in the NFL


This is the way it starts.

When they are discussing your major and minor controversies on entertainment shows, you're in trouble. And this year, the NFL borrowed more trouble than it knows what to do with.

It's not enough to name bullshit committees and dump a little money on research and give out pithy payouts. It's not enough to run a few Public Service Announcements. It might not be enough to simply break a player and drive them out of the league.

Marshawn Lynch is the number one problem in the NFL right now, if you're an owner trying to control the labor pool. Lynch is the one thing that the NFL won't tolerate, and that's a star who defies the League's inviolate rules on maximizing revenue streams and exposing the players to good publicity. So, of course they're going to do whatever they can to make him worse than Hitler and eliminate his defiant pronouncements from the public consciousness.

The problem is, Lynch is not being unreasonable enough and the popular culture has latched on to the excessive zeal that the NFL has used to break the man. This is the unexpected outcome that exposes the NFL for not only being unfair and ridiculous but overly punitive as well. The NFL is an owner's league and operates as if the rise of powerful stars is anathema to the business model. Stars are fine, so long as they do nothing to impact revenue streams.

I just can't figure out what Marshawn Lynch's refusal to mouth cliches is doing to hurt the league. If anything, congratulate him on being thoughtful enough to hold back, right? No, the NFL can't do that. Lynch is breaking through to the fans by refusing to play along with the need for sports writers to fill their columns and their wire stories with what amounts to little more than moral lessons and conformity. Lynch, being a Millennial, sees through the phony world of sports writers and their magnification of inane details (those gold shoes are a distraction! you can't be a cancer in the locker room! we have to establish the running game!) and he represents a modern threat to the outdated morals of the game.