Some of it was nice to see. Some of these were noteworthy, as a small pocket of advertisers and experts desperately tried to hang on to “both sides” of the “problem”. Some of it was empowering, as we started having conversations about the black experience of black analysts on national television before the season opened. And, as we saw on the field in Kansas City, as players from both teams locked their arms ahead of the game, one game was flatly rejected by some of the league’s target audience.
It may be an outlier. Perhaps we are making the familiar mistake of placing too much attention on a small group of people determined to wander through life with their eyes closed. But maybe this thing is getting uglier than we expected. Perhaps the rhetoric of 2016, the portrayal of players as “sons of bitches,” the letter writing campaigns and the supposed drop in odds were just a snap. Perhaps the NFL continues to be the battleground it never wanted to be, especially as we move closer to November and the incumbent president, who has received abundant donations from much of the NFL owners in their first campaign, dig around the couch cushion for new (old) ammo.
Will Goodell and the NFL stick to their plan? Will they, like their players, refuse to bow in the midst of the storm? In week 11, can we still hear Rodney Harrison and Tony Dungy deliver a realistic slice of life that most of us are privileged to ignore?
We talk all the time about conserving energy after a seismic event. Continue to find stamina when the rest of the world has passed, back to their self-interest bunkers. Thursday night was the culmination of a muscle offseason from the NFL’s brightest stars. It was a massive apology billboard for all the waffles and hesitations of the past four years. It was an absent parent who ordered your birthday present five months after the fact, sprinkling it at home with a little card that said “We cool?” ”
But today is a different day; the morning after all the accumulated capital has been spent and used. It is today that the flashback begins. Today, owners tune into their morning opinion channel of choice and ingest the inevitable, ridiculous response to Thursday night and how it is somehow, unmistakably anti-American.
What is happening now? What if the boos persist? What happens if the polls change? What happens when the wind changes?