An Open Letter to Roger Goodell – From the Bird’s Nest
Remember the movie Misery?
Yeah, me too.
Saw the movie and read the book. Frightening stuff.
Almost as scary as the nightmare you’ve made of the National Football League.
Just to refresh your memory, in the movie, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) learns that her favorite author and captive Paul Sheldon (James Caan) has been leaving his room and snooping around the house while she’s away. She decides to make sure he won’t be able to do it again by breaking both his ankles with a sledgehammer. (Hey, that’s kinder than Stephen King’s book, where she chops off his foot and cauterizes it with a blowtorch.) As she explained to Sheldon, the process was called “hobbling.”
Well, congratulations, Mr. Commissioner. You’ve succeeded in hobbling the National Football League.
Look, I gotta confess, I’m a Saints fan. So, you had already taken a sledgehammer to one of my ankles before last night. You used everything in your power (and we found out you have wayyyyyyy too much of that) to cripple the New Orleans Saints’ franchise. And, to this day, we’re still waiting to see the mountain of evidence that proves the Saints had a “bounty program,” which is now being called “pay for performance.” We, here in Louisiana, call it a sham.
No, until we see that evidence, we can only assume your motive was, well, the same as when a dog nuzzles himself.
You did it because you could.
So, as Saints fans, we’ve had to watch a rudderless ship get tossed about. No head coach. No interim head coach.
And, after three games, no wins.
Now, just when we thought it couldn’t get worse, last night you swung the sledgehammer a second time and in so doing, hobbled the National Football League.
You know what I’m talking about.
People who follow the NFL closely knew it would happen. We knew it would happen when the preseason started and we saw what your idea of a “replacement” official was. We knew it would happen when you said they’d be better once the season started (we actually chuckled at that one). We knew it would happen when the regular season started and we saw call after call get bungled by guys who just aren’t qualified to officiate football at its highest level.
Well, last night it happened.
Officiating incompetence cost a team a win in the NFL.
We could see it coming, certainly.
The officials called 24 penalties that were accepted for a total of 245 yards. And, some of the calls boggled the mind.
In the next to last drive of the game, there was a shaky roughing the passer call on third down that gave the Seahawks new life. Later in that drive, an obvious offensive pass interference call was called on the defense. Seattle didn’t score on that drive, but the change in field position set up the winning drive.
Ah, the winning drive.
We all saw the final play. We saw Golden Tate commit one of the most blatant offensive interference calls in NFL history. We saw Arkansas State’s M. D. Jennings get both hands on the football and possess it. We saw Tate’s arm trying to secure the ball. We saw one official about to signal touchback. We saw another signal touchdown. We don’t know how they decided what the ruling on the field would be, which, of course, was going to decide how this game ended.
I’m guessing Rock Paper Scissors.
And, there it was for all the world to see.
Despite all of your pontificating. Despite all of your spin. ..we found out last night what we’d been fearing ever since the preseason.
The emperor has no clothes.
And the NFL’s nakedness was exposed to everyone.
And to add to the farce, the teams were made to come back onto the field and try the extra point. Because, after all, we have to keep credibility for the bookies, er, fans.
(Oh, did you know that between $150 and $200 million dollars shifted because of that call last night? The 3.5 point favorite should have covered, winning by five. Oops.)
So, I’m writing to tell you I’m done. Last night was the final straw, the nail in the coffin, the whateverbadcliche you want to use.
For the foreseeable future, my Sundays will be different.
Maybe I’ll take a walk in the park. Maybe I’ll take the wife and twins and we’ll go for a Sunday drive. Both of my adult daughters are moving into new homes. Maybe I’ll help them hang pictures.
But here’s what I won’t do.
I won’t watch the NFL. Not Sunday afternoon, not Sunday night. Not Monday night, and not Thursday night.
I never thought I’d see the day when I would say this…..but you’ve made the NFL totally and completely unwatchable.
And, I’m not going to be subjected to it any more.
And you know the really sad part? The deal with the officials will get done. The Saints will eventually be at full strength, both in personnel and coaching. And you will beat your chest and announce that, once again, all is right with the NFL.
But Commish…..you can go ahead and perform surgery again and again on those ankles. I have news for you.
Forever, your league will walk with a limp.