The NFL is absurd; God bless the NFL.
Amid weeks of intense, often disturbing controversy surrounding the NFL, let us not forget one thing: America’s most popular sports league is a totally absurd spectacle, both on the field and off. Viewed through the prism of normal life, then coupled with the league’s current domestic violence crisis, the league’s fundamental absurdity was never in starker relief than it was this weekend.
Let’s take a quick trip through the looking glass with three ludicrous moments from Sunday’s menu of NFL action.
1. Ray Lewis explaining ‘things you can cover up’
Former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis appeared on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown to discuss, among other things, the Ravens’ reported attempt to cover up and whitewash their brewing scandal surrounding running back Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiancée (now wife) in a hotel elevator last February.
Lewis, at one point, told viewers that “there’s some things you can cover up and then there’s some things you can’t.” This was met with incredulity by nearly every longtime NFL observer.
Why were Lewis’ comments met with incredulity by nearly every longtime NFL observer, you ask? Well, back in 2000, Lewis led the Ravens to Super Bowl XXXV. The year before that he was charged with murder after he and a group of friends got in a fight with another group. Two men from the other group were stabbed to death, and blood from one of them was found inside Lewis’ limousine.
Lewis eventually accepted a plea deal for reduced charges in return for testifying against the men he was with.
The white suit Lewis was wearing the night of the killings was never found, and he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of justice. He went on to win the following year’s Super Bowl and enjoy a Hall of Fame career, from which he retired in 2013.
So it’s not surprising if his “there’s some things you can cover up and then there’s some things you can’t” arrived with just the slightest bit of irony.
2. Violence for everyone! Bloody brawl in stands
The NFL isn’t just a league centered largely around men committing acts of controlled violence against one another. As we’ve seen more clearly than ever recently, it’s also a league where too many of those men go home and commit acts of violence against loved ones.
But that’s not all. During the games themselves, fans commit acts of violence against one another in the stands. Witness this bloody brawl caught on camera during Sunday’s 49ers vs. Cardinals game in San Francisco. [Warning: The clip embedded below contains some blood and violence.]
Notice how much blood there is on the stairs, and on the security guard wearing the shirt that says “S.A.F.E.” after the fight is broken up. Notice the guy hold up his blood-covered hands at 1:21.
Drunken fans brawling at an NFL game is, of course, nothing new. But the level of violence here, coupled with the NFL’s current crisis of off-the-field violence, seems to connect more dots.
But it gets even better. See at the 0:45 mark where the guy in the black no. 90 jersey pulls away the guy choking the security guard and then punches him twice in the head? That’s a Darnell Dockett jersey he’s wearing.
Now Docket has tweeted about the fight that he “likes that shit” — meaning the fact that the guy dished out some vigilante justice on behalf of the guard, we presume from various other retweets — and wants to give the budding pugilist some free tickets to a future game.
Who was the guy in the Dockett jersey in the brawl at the cardinals game??? Contact me I have some tickets for you. I like that sh*t.
— DARNELL DOCKETT (@ddockett) September 22, 2014
3. The player who tore his ACL celebrating a sack
If the past few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that NFL football players don’t always act like grown men off the field. They frequently don’t act like grow men on the field either — and a bit of overenthusiastic celebrating by Stephen Tulloch of the Detroit Lions had some disastrous consequences on Sunday.
Tulloch sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Sunday. Then he celebrated. Then something popped and he went down like a wounded animal.
The Lions later announced that Tulloch tore his ACL, all but ending his season. Tulloch had previously played in 131 consecutive without injury, according to NFL.com.
All in all, just another NFL Sunday in America.