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The NFL and the Left


Can a leftist have a rooting interest in the Super Bowl? Dave Zirin on why the Seahawks are so awesome from a political perspective:

But to make this a social-media story, or a narrative about the more relaxed nature at the top of the Seahawks organization, takes too much credit away from the courage of the players themselves. To have Seahawks linebacker Michael Bennett use the Super Bowl media scrum to slam the NCAA and say, “I think the NCAA is one of the biggest scams in America” and “I think there are very few schools that actually care about the players. Guys break their legs and they get the worst surgery they could possibly get by the worst doctors with the worst treatment” is more than someone sounding off. It’s an act of solidarity.

To have their always-outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman follow that up by saying, “I tell you from experience that one time I had negative forty bucks in my account. It was in the negative more times than positive. You have to make a decision whether you put gas in your car or get a meal” turns it into a national story.

To have Marshawn Lynch consciously try to control his own labor and by doing so, dredge up the worst impulses in the sports media aristocracy was, intentionally or not, a national service. Thanks to Lynch, we have seen a layer of sports writers regurgitate all of their suppressed bile against young black athletes—tweeting things like their desire for an “English to Marshawn dictionary”—and exposing the long-standing resentments older and mostly whiter sportswriters have towards the people they cover. When Lynch looked at the media and said, “Shout out to all my real Africans out there,” you could almost hear the ventricles in the room constricting.

Plus who does not want to see Roger Goodell squirm if he has to give the MVP trophy to Marshawn Lynch? Now that would be Must See TV! The idiot sports journalist community would also freak out. It’d be great.

Speaking of the NFL, Jeb Lund published a harsh but true attack on Goodell’s NFL in Rolling Stone today. The magazine then pulled it for unspecified reasons. Maybe Goodell is able to persuade mainstream media outlets to kill anything that criticizes him to an extent that even I don’t realize, who knows. You can read the essay at Jeb’s personal website. You should and then publicize Rolling Stone’s cowardice.

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  • Manju

    What if Richard Sherman takes paternity leave on Superbowl Sunday? Talk about conflicting emotions.

    • I’d be pretty surprised if he did that. But if he does, he does and I’d never blame him for that.

      • NewHavenGuy

        Hell, I’d admire him for that.

    • MAJeff

      He’d be a better man than those assholes on the VISA ads a few years ago who skipped children’s births and weddings and shit to sit in the bleachers at the SuperBowl every year.

    • cpinva

      I would most certainly understand, and really, expect him to. I’d be bummed though, because then I would miss roger goodell awarding mr. Sherman the game MVP trophy, for having picked off tom brady 4 times, getting pick sixes on two of them. that would be sweet all by itself. for an old cornerback, it would be especially enjoyable.

      • GoDeep

        Its a personal decision b/tn him & his gf. Its too much to “expect” him to.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    rs botched that one- it was good

  • dl

    Deadspin had an article last year that Pete Carroll is probably a 9/11 Truther

    • Yeah, well.

    • djw

      There’s that, but the whole ‘less toxic masculinity bullshit, more attending to the psychological well being the players’ approach seems pretty praiseworthy from a progressive point of view.

      • NewHavenGuy

        Carroll annoys the hell out of me (9/11 truthing, terrible judgement in signing QBs till they lucked out with Wilson, etc) but morale and esperit de corps seem strong in this team. That usually grows out of cues from leadership.

        Setting Harvin loose told me something, e.g. Patriots’ relationship with Aaron Hernandez told me something also.

        Belichick is a master of the Xs and Os and NE is very good at coldly evaluating talent. (LOVED the 32 weird formation plays the last two weeks, really I did.) But that’s strictly esoteric football geke stuff.

        Interesting contrast in style here, and not the usual “Great Offense vs Great Defense” pablum.

        • Ann Outhouse

          Ignoring any away-from-the-game deficiencies either man may have, is there any doubt that right now, these are the two best coaches in the league? Not saying they’re the only good ones, just the two best.

          • CrunchyFrog

            Hard to say. Belicheck, yes – if/until he does get caught with minor cheating again, at which point every victory will have an unofficial asterisk attached. Even, then, though, he’s a wizard at winning with lesser talent. The problem is that he’s had lesser talent since 2010 or so because he’s also been the defacto GM since 2009 when Pioli left.

            Carroll? Well, he’s got a shitload of talent and yet he has come very close to losing playoff games to teams with less talent.

            I like that Carroll uses the Inner Game of Tennis as a coaching guide and focuses so intently on the mental part of the game.

            It’s worth noting that neither of these guys has an impressive road playoff record. Belichek is 3-3, and that includes 2 road wins early against Cowher’s Steelers – a team that didn’t do particularly well in the playoffs at home (8-6, despite usually being heavily favored). Carroll is 1-4, counting two losses with the 90’s Patriots. The sole win was that horrifying game against Shanahan’s Washington Racial Slurs, in which he sent out an obviously injured Griffin to play and further damage his leg, and even in that game Seattle had to come back from down 14. Both these guys enjoy very special home field advantages. Belichek 13-4, Carroll 6-0 in playoffs at home.

            • erick

              yeah but that was Wilson’s rookie year, they also nearly pulled off a comeback at Atlanta the next week only to give it up on a last 2nd FG when the D broke down.

              Since then they haven’t had a road playoff game of course.

            • ColBatGuano

              Carroll? Well, he’s got a shitload of talent and yet he has come very close to losing playoff games to teams with less talent.

              Every team has a shitload of talent. It doesn’t get parceled by magic and “coming close to losing” in the playoffs is kind of how the system is supposed to work. Also, it’s known as winning.

          • joe from Lowell

            Ignoring any away-from-the-game deficiencies either man may have, is there any doubt that right now, these are the two best coaches in the league?

            When you’re a Patriots fan, you often find yourself watching another team and just feeling contempt – for the stupid play calls, the bad preparation, the screwed-up execution.

            I’ve never found myself feelling that way about the Seahawks. They’re an extremely tight ship. Guys do their job. The coaches put them in a position to win, and they execute it. It’s looks familiar to a Pats fan.

        • GoDeep

          Setting Harvin loose told me something, e.g. Patriots’ relationship with Aaron Hernandez told me something also.

          What did firing Harvin tell you?

          I’ll tell you what it told me. Waiting until months after he had body slammed Golden Tate–& trading Golden Tate rather than Harvin–told me that they had effed up judgment & values. Had they done the right thing the 1st time, they’d hold a dominating edge heading into this thing, rather than the suspect wide out corps they do have.

          • djw

            Golden Tate left via free agency.

            • GoDeep

              True, but they still had to choose b/tn Tate & Harvin & they chose Harvin over Tate…

              Before NFL free agency began on March 11, former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate made it clear that he wanted to stay in Seattle. Tate even offered to take a discount at one point if it meant staying with the Seahawks.

              But re-signing Tate was not the highest priority for general manager John Schneider, who gambled that Harvin would work out in 2014 despite missing most of 2013 with injuries and, apparently, causing problems in Seattle’s locker room.

              Now that both Tate and Harvin are gone, the Seahawks have the 24th-ranked passing offense at 7.0 yards per attempt, and are tied for second place in the NFC West at just 6-4.

              • ColBatGuano

                Now that both Tate and Harvin are gone, the Seahawks have the 24th-ranked passing offense at 7.0 yards per attempt, and are tied for second place in the NFC West at just 6-4.

                That is some sweet, sweet cherry picking there. The Seahawks ended up winning the NFC West at 12-4 and ended the season with the 6th ranked pass offense at 7.7 yards per attempt. Why, it’s almost as if there was a transition period from when they traded Harvin.

    • Emily68

      Nobody’s perfect.

  • Roger That

    Was an asterisk/patriot reference deleted?

    • Whoops. Referred to the working title of that post.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        way off topic, but noticed in the twitter thing the other night you were watching ‘once upon a time in the west’

        ever read/hear of a biography of henry fonda called ‘the man who saw a ghost’? it’s kind of overheated and overestimates (i think) the place fonda has in our collective memory. the author’s main premise is that fonda’s father snuck him into a building across the street from the omaha courthouse to witness a lynching, which stuck with him the rest of his life and compelled him to make movies about people kind of at odds with society

        dunno if it’s a great biography, but it was interesting. another example of how deeply screwed up people can be and still do meaningful things

  • I’d applaud those Seahawka — except that I have the misfortune to be a 49ers fan.

  • Joshua

    Goodell is one of the dumbest leaders I’ve ever seen, and I lived through the Dubya Presidency. It’s interesting to think of where this guy would be if his dad wasn’t a US Senator.

    • GoDeep

      In light of your Dubya comment, let’s just count our blessing that his dad wasn’t a Vice President.

  • burnspbesq

    I wonder if Jake Seau will be watching the Super Bowl.

    • So much for getting “banned”, eh?

      • I can’t believe that the PC police that is myself and Scott allow Burnsie to keep posting. It seems like he’d be in a reeducation camp by now.

  • NewHavenGuy

    Loved seeing Sherman and Bennett rail against the NCAA, righteously so. Jesus, leave Lynch alone— you want an interview go talk to #25.

    I don’t like the way Sherman covers/holds my beloved Saints receiving corps but he seems like a very smart and decent human. Also he’s elite at his position, which makes him harder to ignore.

    More jocks like this, please.

  • jeer9

    As a Pats’ fan, I actually have some mixed emotions about the game. On the one hand, it seems pretty clear that Belichick and Brady are lying through their teeth (especially with the new info regarding the statistical analysis of fumbles since 2006 when the offensive ball change initiated by Brady was implemented – and I sure hope some low level bathroom attendant doesn’t end up taking the main brunt of the punishment); but on the other hand, grippier football or no, its impact on the two playoff games seems fairly minimal (though I guess one can always speculate about the turnovers that didn’t happen; and its impact on the last eight seasons is certainly another question entirely).

    In any case, it would be rather fitting and ironic if the Pats were to lose the SB on a late game fumble. Not saying I’m hoping for such a twist, but that type of poetic justice wouldn’t disappoint.

  • dp

    Pete Carroll irritates the hell out of me — I can’t stand watching him chew gum — so I can’t be a Seahawks fan. That said, Lynch, Sherman and Bennett are awesome. I think Lynch is their best player, even though Russell Wilson gets a lot of the credit and will score the big contract in the off-season.

    • GoDeep

      No doubt abt it, S-hawks offense lives & dies w/ Lynch. If they have a prayer of winning this game it starts w/ him.

  • Pseudonym

    I’m looking forward to seeing either Belichick or Carroll lose.

    Incidentally, Marshawn Lynch did have an interesting interview the other day.

  • Amanda in the South Bay

    Rooting for CTE is certainly a progressive cause! Go Seattle!

    • That’s the spirit!

    • Please, tell us again about how much of a better progressive you are than the rest of us. Perhaps you could use the labor rights of BART workers as an example?

      • Vance Maverick

        I don’t get it — is there some sort of connection between BART and the South Bay?

        • Jordan

          Amanda in the South Bay was not a supporter of BART workers in their semi-recent labor dispute. To put it nicely.

          • sparks

            I think the striking BART workers inconvenienced her.

        • Hogan
  • JKTH

    Plus who does not want to see Roger Goodell squirm if he has to give the MVP trophy to Marshawn Lynch?

    At the very least I would hope to see a Shabazz Napier-like approach to it.

    • dp

      If he wins the MVP, I hope he responds by saying, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”

      • Peterr

        I think he’d go with his second press conference answer, as I said a couple of days ago: “In my dream, I see Lynch take trophy, take the microphone, turn toward Goodell, look him dead in the eye and says ‘You know why I’m here.’ Then he drops the mic, lifts the trophy, and walks away.”

        Then let him high five his offensive linemen on the way off the podium. For that matter, they’d probably put him on their shoulders and carry him off if he did that.

        • colleen2

          We would probably give him the Smith Tower if he did that.

  • Ahenobarbus

    It looks like Paul Allen has donated to the likes of Scott Brown and Olympia Snowe, while Robert Kraft is a more reliable Dem.

    Sorry, but pretending your favorite sports team supports your political beliefs is delusional.


    • Jordan

      I was actually a little surprised with how many democratic supporters there were on that list.

      • Latverian Diplomat

        The Republicans seemed to give more though, on average. Several were at or near six figures.

        • Jordan

          Yeah, Rooney seemed like the only major Dem contributor. I was actually also a little surprised that total donations weren’t higher across the board. Mostly its small change to local candidates, apparently random ones (son’s college roommate works on the campaign?), and dudes from delaware.

          • Ahenobarbus

            The big donations probably go to PACs.

            • Jordan

              Well, that site clearly includes *some* PACs. Does it include all of them? A rigorous investigation from the commissioners’ office is clearly required.

    • gmack

      Yeah, pretty much. I’m a fairly lunatic fan of one particular sports team (I can’t help it. Some people are raised Catholic; others are raised to be Steelers fans). I also spend more time than I want to admit on online team forums (hey, I have to do something other than write about democratic theory and the poor!). So I understand fandom. But one thing I’ve never understood is why fans keep trying to justify their preferences with reference to some kind of objective political or moral criteria. We really are just rooting for laundry and for public relations imagery. I just don’t understand the effort to say that there’s more to it than that, to argue that, say, the Seahawks are some how more progressive, or that the Steelers really represent old school values, or whatever.

      That said, the Steelers really are morally better than every other team, and their fans are far more knowledgeable than other fans are.

      • sharonT

        Ravens fan says, “you gotta be shittin me?”

    • erick

      On the other hand Allen is funding a Friends of the Earth lawsuit against coal mining on federal lands.

      Locally I think he supports Dems in both Oregon and Washington, but like most businesses I imagine his donations are all over the place.

  • tonycpsu

    Everyone needs to go watch the Key and Peele Super Bowl special right now.

    Biscuits and gravy.

  • rmgosselin

    Why would you point to any NFL team as a role model of political equity? Egads. I mean, I may have spent three hours in class today promoting Marshawn Lynch’s “work-to-rule” ethos in Sarah Jaffe’s wonderful article at The Week, but I’m not naive enough to believe that he wouldn’t jump to whatever team offered him a better financial deal.

    Oh, and by the way: Go Pats!!!

    • GoDeep

      That’s the quirky thing abt the whole embrace of Lynch here & elsewhere. How many of these NFL players support unions other than their own? How many of them vote for “Right to Work” politicians every time they get? Or worse yet, donate to them? Richard Sherman is the closest thing to Jim Brown we’ve seen in recent decades.

      • Jordan

        How many of these NFL players support unions other than their own?

        Well, you know.

        • brewmn

          Which just further goes to show that there is only one team any “true leftist” should support. And that team beat the Seahawks like a drum for fifty minutes and was a flubbed onside kick away from being here instead of them.

          Which would have had the further benefit of shutting their increasingly insufferable fans the hell up.

          • ColBatGuano

            Your bitter tears taste delicious.

            • UncleEbeneezer

              Which would have had the further benefit of shutting their increasingly insufferable fans the hell up.

              At least he admits the truth about Packer fans.

    • djw

      I don’t understand the “but”. How does a willingness to take a job with higher pay change anything.

  • Bitter Scribe

    Someone should tell Richard Sherman that there are a lot of students who didn’t get full rides for football and are going to graduate with “negative balances” a lot higher than forty dollars.

    • GoDeep

      That’s the thing. The athletes had it so much better than every other kid at my school. They ate better. They had more food. The training table was legendary. And when they ate off campus they ate at real restaurants. I had $25 to last the weekend. That had to pay for Sat & Sun dinners plus movie/entertainment/clothes/etc that I needed that weekend.

      Was talking this week to a guy who got thru college on a b-ball scholarship & the GI Bill. He told me that his coach let him use his credit card to buy dinners on the w/end (pre-NCAA crazy days). My thought: If you can’t afford to get thru college w/ the GI Bill & a full ride b-ball scholarship then you have a spending problem, not a cost problem…Knowing a fair number of them, I’m skeptical that Sherman had it ‘harder’ than the avg black Stanford student. He almost certainly had it better.

    • djw

      Many of those people are allowed to accept paying jobs.

      • wjts

        Yes, that $10/hour job at the library check-out desk means you graduate debt-free and live a life of unimaginable luxury in the interim.

    • Refrozen Caveman Lawyer

      Yeah, I’m sure Richard Sherman, as someone who grew up in Compton, CA, knows nothing about hardship or poverty.

  • Jordan

    A true leftist would root for the mini-Seahawks against the giant-Patriots in the Breaking Madden super bowl (Farley linked to last years version, well, last year, and this one is also pretty funny).

  • 2liberal

    the left really has to search to root for any NFL related. For me, the Pats are my AFC team and the Cardinals my NFC team so I won’t be rooting for the Sea Chickens. I hope the Pats win big.

    If we are going to expend energy rooting for liberalism there has to be a better thing to root for than an NFL team.

  • wjts

    In the run-up to the Seahawks/Steelers Super Bowl, Jonah Goldberg (as I remember) was arguing that conservatives should root for the Steelers because the Seahawks represented West Coast liberal values*. If you agree with Jonah Goldberg, it’s probably a sign that you should rethink your analysis.

    *Exactly how a team owned by a future Democratic ambassador that plays in a strongly Democratic, pro-union city represented Republican values is a mystery, though I seem to remember Goldberg citing Primanti Brothers’s sandwiches as a fundamentally conservative foodstuff.

    • the Seahawks represented West Coast liberal values

      Everything I know about Seattle I learned from Frasier reruns and reviews of 50 Shades of Grey.

      • wjts

        Don’t forget those awful “grunch” musicians from the 90’s. They weren’t conservative at all. (Or were they? I’ve lost my copy of National Review‘s list of the top 50 conservative rock songs.)

  • Brien Jackson

    Apropos of nothing, it’s going to be pretty funny watching the same people venerating Lynch start screaming bloody murder when those same sportswriters’ jobs start being downsized in a few years when publishers begin to realize how worthless they are.

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