Opinion: Why the NFL is broken

Lucas Misera is a sophomore economics major and columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

Lucas Misera

As it grows closer to fall, cooler temperatures and a plethora of schoolwork, the season will bring along one of America’s favorite pastimes: football. The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots will kick off the NFL season Thursday in a highly anticipated matchup.

For most of my life, the summer months were spent yearning for football. This year, however, my attitude toward the league has shifted. Excitement has been overtaken by sheer indifference. I no longer call myself a dedicated fan. Honestly, I’m embarrassed by the league that I once loved.

Sure, it’s easy for children and adults alike to fall for the NFL as they idolize the highly-skilled athletes and clamor for a championship-winning team. Unfortunately, the NFL is no longer about celebrating the game that has turned into a multibillion dollar business. The league is ridden with cheating, violence and drug abuse, tarnishing the game’s majestic simplicity.

At some point, fans of any team are disillusioned to the fact that these athletes are fallible, despite how the public may perceive them. In 2009, I distinctly remember reading Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had been accused of sexual assault. The details of the case were concerning, and listening to fans defend him solely because of his athletic prowess was mortifying.

In 2010, Roethlisberger was accused once more of sexual assault, and this incident landed him a four-game suspension. As a Steeler fan, I found Roethlisberger’s alleged crimes deplorable.

Fast-forward to 2015. The league is still cluttered with a variety of illegal behavior: rape cases, animal cruelty and marijuana possession, to name a few. Nearly any crime that somebody can think of appears on the NFL’s rap sheet, but the truly disturbing aspect of such reckless behavior is both the league and its teams’ responses to such cases.  

In 2014, star running back Adrian Peterson faced felony charges for using excessive force on his son. After being suspended for the remainder of the 2014-2015 season, he will play in the league this season. Greg Hardy, a defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys, was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend in 2014. He too, will play for his team at some point this season.

Even outside of such serious cases, the NFL has become a laughingstock in terms of maintaining its authority. After news that the New England Patriots and Tom Brady intentionally deflated balls in order to gain a competitive advantage, the league lost an appeal in court concerning his potential four-game suspension. This means he will be eligible to play in the opener Thursday. Undoubtedly, Brady’s presence on the field will shake the credibility of the league.

The most frustrating aspect of this situation is that as new criminal cases and scandals surface, the league’s most morally grounded players struggle to find jobs. Tim Tebow, known for charity work and his ties to Christianity, was recently released from the Philadelphia Eagles. Devon Still, whose daughter’s battle with cancer is well-documented, was cut from the Cincinnati Bengals roster this preseason.

Maybe football just isn’t the same. Perhaps the extracurricular antics are interwoven into the fabrics of the game, but by no means should fans accept this. If the league wants to maintain its loyal fan base, it must emphasize that playing football is a privilege. After all, it’s the least the NFL can do for its fans.

Lucas Misera is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].