When I was a much younger man, the Dallas Cowboys were a very successful football team. They won 3 Super Bowls in 4 years, a then-record accomplishment. I thoroughly enjoyed living vicariously through their accomplishments. I was a BIG fan.
But then, in probably the first in a nearly endless series of asinine decisions, Jerry Jones, the owner of the team, decided, in a pride fit, that Jimmy Johnson, the coach who restored the Cowboys to greatness, was not being sufficiently deferential to him. So he fired Jimmy and hired Barry Switzer, a man no other team in the NFL would have hired and Barry went on to win a Super Bowl title. It wasn’t because Barry was a good coach. He just rode the team Jimmy put together. If Jerry Jones had not fired Jimmy Johnson, the Cowboys would have won more Super Bowls.
Jerry would go on to make countless idiotic personnel moves over the next two decades. It’s been over 22 years since the Cowboys won a championship.
As the years went by, I lost more and more enthusiasm for watching Cowboys games. There were a couple nice seasons here and there but they never won again in the playoffs to any significant degree. They might even have a nice future with Dak and Ezekiel. But honestly, I couldn’t care less anymore.
I’ve watched 3 NFL games in the last 4 years. All were Super Bowls. I didn’t even watch the last Super Bowl between the Eagles and the Patriots.
I haven’t missed football at all.
The things I remember most from the last two decades of declining interest in the NFL are Spygate, Bountygate, RGIII’s fall from grace, players killing themselves because their football-related brain injuries caused them so much pain they would rather be dead, and, most recently, the outrage from the majority of NFL fans and owners because some players dared to quietly protest police brutality. The fans and owners claimed the protesting players were disrespecting the memory of all the military personnel. That is utter horse shit. It’s all about racist motherfucking crackers getting furious because black people have the temerity to exercise their civil rights.
I thought it was really cool when Jerry and the entire Cowboys football team took a knee before the anthem. It made a really cool photo.
But it was just a photo op, mostly. It’s cool that Jerry took a knee in solidarity with the opinion that police brutality was a real and severe problem in the United States. It’s also cool that the entire team and all the coaching staff did as well. Those are good things.
What’s NOT good is that Jerry stated that he only supported protests as long as they weren’t done during the anthem. The entire point of protesting during the anthem is to bring attention to a very real evil that’s BEEN at epidemic proportions since police came to be in this country. I don’t have a problem with an owner or the NFL making a rule that its employees can’t protest during the national anthem. What I do have a problem with is that they try to claim the reason for this prohibition is because they are honoring fallen military personnel. Forcing respect for the anthem is pure jingoism. Especially when the protestors have EXPLICITLY stated they are not protesting the flag or its soundtrack.
Today the story broke that Jerry will not allow his players to protest during the anthem. And old, rich, white southern male forcing black people to do something they don’t want to do nor should have to do. Why does that seem so familiar?
I used to love watching Emmitt Smith run and Michael Irvin catch passes over the middle. I used to love watching the no-name defenses shut down offenses. I used to get so nervous over third-down conversions that I could not even watch because my vicarious experience was so full-fledged.
I don’t regret those hours spent watching my favorite team slay their enemies. It was a lot of fun. I was young and the world was black and white and simple. It really was pure joy for me. I didn’t think about it or analyze it. I just felt it.
But I was a child then. And now I’m an adult. And I’ve decided to give up this particular childish thing. Don’t worry, I’m still invested in several childish pursuits.
But I just can’t stomach some things anymore.
The NFL is an evil organization.
Censoring players’ ability (not ‘right’ since this is a private organization) is not an evil act on the same level as hiding information from players about the effects of football on life expectancy and health. But it’s just another shitty thing perpetrated by a shitty cabal.
This isn’t a big sacrifice for me. I haven’t really been an active fan for years.
I’ll probably still read the occasional player profile. I will still glance at ESPN on Monday to see if the Cowboys won.
But that’s all out of habit. And that habit will fade.
I’m just not down with the NFL anymore.
This is my last straw.
I am, very sad to say, that I am no longer a Dallas Cowboys fan.
Nor will I spend a minute or a dime on the NFL ever again.
To fill that gap, I am adding the Golden State Warriors to my sports fandom. I can’t root for another NFL team because that goes against every fiber of my being. And my first NBA love will always be the Mavs. And it’s because they have won 3 recent championships (I’ll be real, that doesn’t hurt). It’s mostly because Steve Kerr is 100% on point when he calls out the NFL for their jingoistic anthem policy:
“I think it’s just typical of the NFL,” Kerr said. “They’re just playing off their fan base, and they’re just basically trying to use the anthem as fake patriotism, nationalism, scaring people. It’s idiotic, but that’s how the NFL has handled their business.”
“I’m proud to be in a league that understands patriotism in America is about free speech,” Kerr said. “It’s about peacefully protesting. I think our leaders in the NBA understand that when an NFL player is kneeling, they were kneeling to protest police brutality, to protest racial inequality. They weren’t disrespecting the flag or the military, but our president decided to make it about that and the NFL followed suit and pandered to their fan base by creating this hysteria.”
“It’s kind of what’s wrong with our country. People in high places are trying to divide us, divide loyalties, make this about the flag as if the flag is something other than what it really is. It’s a representation of what we’re about, which is diversity, peaceful protest, the right to free speech. So, it’s really ironic, actually, what the NFL is doing.”