Friday, January 30, 2015

Everything Stupid Is Alive, and Everything Stupid Can Kill You: Welcome to Goodell World

Note: This piece originally appeared somewhere that is not here. It was taken down for a project. (DO NOT ASK WHAT THE PROJECT IS.)

Here's a horrifying game you can play during this Sunday's Super Bowl and the nearly 12 hours of pre- and postgame content: count the number of times you hear some variation of "deflated balls" and compare that to the number of times during Super Bowls XLV or XLVII you heard the phrases "two-time accused rapist" or "accused co-conspirator in a double murder." Or just compare "deflated balls" to "brain damage." Then see if the first number dwarfs a combination of the last three by an order of magnitude. It will.

Naturally, this comparison isn't meant to equate accusations of equipment tampering with accusations of rape and murder or mental destruction. The latter three are so vastly more repugnant, which is why you will hear about them as little as possible. That silence ultimately stems from the NFL's inevitable trajectory toward a vertically integrated entertainment-capital complex that also happens to include football. It is a spectacle machine and an ATM that reflects, promotes and admires itself. For all the talk of harsh gridiron realities, the NFL hasn't been in the reality business for a while. Reality is its enemy, and the Super Bowl—the largest spectacle of the game—is paradoxically its most vulnerable creation. It is an event ballooned so large that the slightest puncture threatens to send it deflating into a long, suffocating series of fatal escaping farts.