Golf Invisibly Crowns $10m Champ While NFL Mayhem Dominates

Hidden by the hullabaloo that was week 3 of the NFL was the fact that golf crowned a champion.  Brandt Snedeker’s name might not be as familiar as Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Luke Donald but his $10 million payday deserves a lot more attention than it got.  While most of the planet was glued to the debacle that was poorly-reffed, too-long, mayhem football games, Snedeker quietly walked away with two large trophies, a playoff championship, a check for $10 million, and endorsement deals that will surely accompany his win. Why was his incredible accomplishment so thoroughly ignored? After all, the event was televised on NBC, all the biggest names in golf were in the field of play, and the outcome was hotly contested down to the wire.  Unfortunately for golf, however, the calamity that is the NFL took center stage. The zebra’s had a third week to inflict their incompetence on the sport while Roger Goddell seems to be laughing straight to the bank, flipping off the American public, and dragging the good name and brand of NFL football through the mud.

What happened yesterday?  How did so many people ignore Snedeker’s come-from-nowhere championship run enroute to a…and pause for a moment to take this in…a $10 MILLION payday?  Yesterday the NFL  fully morphed into a joke; no one needs to know anything about football to realize how bad the product has become.  Just listen to the commentators and, more importantly, the crowd. Last night in Baltimore there was a deafening, unified BS chant that overwhelmed even the television commentary. The crowd was so up in arms about the officiating that they joined together in a chant serenading the refs’ poor performance. This reaction was not limited to Baltimore – it was league-wide. There were more cut-aways going on during the 1 o’clock games than the first 2 days of March Madness. There were more overtime games than I can remember. Nobody believed it was compelling football or even particularly competitive football; it was a devolved kind of street game because the replacement refs, while certainly well-intentioned, can’t call or control the game.  Commentators, pundits and fans can hoot and holler about how bad the games are being officiating but nobody is turning away. The ratings might even be up as non-football fans are attracted to the sudden anarchy and discombobulation of the quintessential American game.  So Goddell isn’t particularly motivated to construct a solution when people are still watching and the money’s still rolling in.  I mean, who cares that a guy who was reffing a Division III game last year is butchering the NFL game to a point where playoff berths are at risk and injuries are the order of the day? It doesn’t matter just so long as the American public eats it up and asks for more.  Matt Schaub lost part of an ear yesterday but nobody questions its gruesome display.  On the contrary, it was immersed in the precedent that was Tyson’s misbehavior in the ring and assumed a kind of been-there-seen-that status.  Perhaps it would have been different if the ear were completely detached and picked up from the turf by a ref who would have presented it to his huddled mass of refs to determine if, by consensus, this amounts to something like, I dunno, the assessment of a penalty. Players are put at unacceptable risk by the game being played and officiated right now, and public outcry needs to demand change.

That is exactly what is happening every week on Thursday, Sunday and Monday and will continue until this problem is resolved. I’ll say it again: the NFL brings in $9 billion a year and the product being televised is a bastardized version of its former self but the master and commander of the ship could care less because his and the owners’ pockets continue to swell with the ill-gotten gains of an inferior product. It all comes down to money and nothing’s going to change until there’s a real disaster, like a catastrophic injury or a fan riot (Auburn Hills) when the outcome goes against their cherished home team.  If the Patriots were playing at home yesterday it’s entirely possible that the Massachusetts State Police would have had a Code Red on their hands. Whose hands will be bloodied by the kind of anarchy that seems too likely to result from Goddell letting sleeping refs lie?

Brandt Snedeker rose to the pinnacle of the human sporting condition by capturing the playoff championship that won him $10 million and iconic status in the world of professional golf. He accomplished this feat in a controlled, orderly and highly competitive environment without concern for someone coming over the middle in a fast and furious attempt take his head off, as Tiger Woods suggested in his press conference last week. Goddell needs to look at the NFL’s bigger picture.  The audience might stick around to see what happens in the short term but over the longer term the credibility of the NFL as the mainstream spectator sport is very much at risk.  Who would want their child to play the sport that the NFL is currently allowing to be played?