Straight No Chaser: The NFL Is The NFL

By Desi Cortez
Updated: April 4, 2009

Roger Goodell

Roger Goodell

DENVER — The NFL is, after all . . . a business. A business, busy in the business of . . . making money. My task is not to argue “X’s” n’ “O’s” – there’s enough jock clad wordsmith’s around trying to make a living doing that.

I’ve willingly accepted the burden of having to peel the skin off the pigskin, look a little deeper than the first layer or two, examine, dissect the broader social issues at-play behind the wide, wide, weird world of sports headlines.

And, with this noble notion tucked in my back pocket, I’ve got to believe there’s an aspect of “Cutler-gate” which is deliberately ignored; this country-boy had a problem with the way ‘business” is conducted in the NFL. He is after-all from Santa Clause, Indiana – maybe this kid has the morals and values of Main Street USA . . . not Wall Street.

There ain’t a damn thing “Main Street” about today’s NFL. A firm handshake and look into a man’s eyes has about as much value as Ryan Leaf.

Cutler, right or wrong believed Mike Shanahan was wronged by Pat Bowlen. He also felt that the NFL’s new “boy genius” Josh McDaniel had smiled in his face, and stabbed the young signal caller in the back.

Cutler saw these business transactions as betrayal, plain and simple. He decided he would take his All-Pro ass somewhere else, and for that, he is vilified. His negatives are maximized, his positives – minimized.

Granted, his negatives – he is aloof, does not mix n’ mingle well with the other players, and does not appear to be a natural born leader of the locker room, so . . . he’s a Prima-Donna, those charges are based in some truth, but, he is a premium talent.

If you look a little deeper; three year starter at safety in high school, played three sports, All State hoopster in Indiana – he’s more then a stature in a dress, he’s an athlete, who got his hands dirty . . . .

But, what actually may be at the core of Cutler’s conflict, the NFL, the commercial enterprise that it is – is a reflection of Wall Street. NFL business is handled in a Wall Street way, but guys and gals who fit in/blend right-in on Wall St.

What is being said of Cutler, he’s too much like “Opie”, when he’s emotionally betrayed, cut – he bleeds. The sports bar belief he needs to put on his big boy cup, man-up and accept the business side of the NFL.

Understand the making of big block buster deals is akin to watching sausage or hot dogs made — it’s not a pretty picture. Lying, cheating, deception and dishonesty are the four cornerstones of business — even business in the NFL. The fatcats whom own barbarians, operate like barbarians behind closed corporate doors.

Maybe, just maybe this kid is not a businessman, which may mean he has a problem with looking people in the eye . . . and lying to them. Maybe he has a few friends , and not an assortment of business associates . Maybe he does not walk into a packed room and start distributing business cards like a Sin City poker dealer. Networking, i.e. turning on the BS.

Here, let’s skip down this yellow brick road for a ways; directly, indirectly, knowingly, unknowingly, if Cutler has issues with the way business is conducted within the NFL, then he has a problem with arrogance, greed, and cutthroatness – the bloody staples of unbridled, reckless American capitalism, of which the NFL operates in, and is a direct product of.

So whether or not Cutler gets it . . . if he was appalled and offended by the way he’s been treated, then he agrees with President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, who said of the current economic conditions which plague the planet: “This was a crisis that was fostered and boosted by irrational behavior of people that are white, blue-eyed, that before the crisis looked like they knew everything about economics,’ he declared. ‘Now they have demonstrated that they don’t know anything about economics.’

President Lula, head of Brazil ‘s main left-wing party, went on to say “no black man or woman, no indigenous person, no poor person” had been in any way culpable for the global banking crisis.

In the same breath, the NFL is a meat-market, where men are treated as inter-changeable – merely “the player/the product.” And that business environment, the conditions, are the creation of . . . and the reflection of . . . rich white men.

It may be, as far-fetched as it sounds, Cutler concurs with the Brazilian President. Perhaps instinctively Cutler thinks the way business is conducted by large multi-national companies, of which the NFL and the Denver Broncos are apart of, is wrong. Could be he’s from a pro-labor family.

And for those who refuse to consider my hypothesis, I’d say there’s way too many sports fans who go along . . . to get along. Too many fanatics who can’t even pause for a moment to consider there’s no debate the league is a dog-eat-dog world.

Instead, that’s just the way it is.

The way the NFL conducts business today, despite the positives stemming from free agency, lacks any loyalty, any allegiance. Just as corporate America is lacking any.

Came in early, went home late, working for a US company, giving your blood, sweat and tears -21 years, and they downsize you, cut your bennys . . . Ask LT about that. The Chargers were on the verge of turning their back on the face of the franchise . . . and that’s just business?

There’s a way to conduct business, and the “end” may not always justify the “means.” Besides the obvious, there’s a huge difference between Disneyland and the traveling carnival in the mall parking lot this weekend.

I’m glad that’s not the wacky world of politics (real world). What if that’s the way Frederick Douglass thought, or WEB DuBois, or the everyday fans of politics . . . voters, who voted in change – FDR, JFK, LBJ, citizens who supported MLK and Mr. X, had these men had the mind-set of – “well, that’s just how the government/country works . . . .”

Had Ford been content riding a horse? Had we said “that’s just how Hitler does business. . . .” Had we accepted that’s just how the South, Mississippi or Alabama is, well, we did. Or, that’s just how South Africa is, keep-on trading with them. Well we would have had Cheney, Rush or Reagan had their way.

Hell, I’d be on my laptop in the cotton field, trying to send this column to Mr. Rodgers up in the “big house” whose vast talents would be wasted waiting, hand n’foot, on Master . . . .

Truthfully, if it weren’t for folks asking “why” and “Why not” there would be no Afro-Americans in collegiate nor professional sports. I’m damn glad the players of yesteryear, from Jackie Robinson and Curt Flood on, didn’t accept things as they were.

Now this time around, the financial rewards are so immense for guys that normally would make 42 grand a year . . . max, they ain’t gonna say nothing about nothing. Treat them like chattel, human holdings – expendable, dispensable, if not disposable.

“That’s just how the league is.”

Dante Culpepper didn’t accept the way he was being treated, he walked away for a while. Cutler’s demanding a trade . . . god bless these men, they don’t accept what ever comes down the pike. I hate conformist.

And today’s fan, today’s American citizen, whose sat quietly by and let the aristocrats and investors ship critically needed bread-winner gigs to India, China, and Mexico, I guess if you’ll disinterested, uniformed and economically ignorant enough to let the means required to obtain the American Dream be exported, and replaced with 8 bucks an hour “customer Service Rep. jobs”. . . then it is truly ridiculous for me to think anyone will have any qualms about “unbridled capitalism.”

Everybody just want’s to get theirs.

Hell, if you’ll not say anything as NFL ticket prices skyrocket like a Ray Guy Punt . . . . Prices so far out of range the average US family of four or five can’t attend a game, and if they do, they must have a telescope just to read the score. . . . If this is allowed, then nobody is going to say anything about a ruthless culture of deception and manipulation in NFL front offices.

And it’s so quiet right now, you could hear a rat piss on cotton.