One hundred years from now, when scholars analyze the rise and fall of our dynasty, the NFL might be considered America’s greatest invention, the cultural and economic force that should’ve been our guide to 200 more years of global domination.
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If only Pete Rozelle had been our president rather than the architect of the modern-day national pastime, Americans would understand the value of restraints on capitalism, revenue sharing and a system that strengthens the poor.
The NFL — with its salary cap, sharing of TV revenue, emphasis on teams over individuals while making room for superstars, last-shall-be-first, entrants-must-play-three-years-in-college draft and a free-agent system that allows franchises to retain their marquee players — is the perfect blend of capitalism and socialism.
We’ve been worshipping a false savior, Tim Tebow. The NFL provides us a road map to salvation. Sunday, if you were listening and watching closely, you witnessed the league preach a sinners-to-saints sermon that had Pat Robertson and T.D. Jakes green with collection-plate envy.
I caught the holy ghost and began speaking in parlays at the Light of the World First Missionary Baptist MGM Grand Casino Sportsbook shortly after the Chiefs carried a 6-0 lead into halftime against the unbeaten, defending world champion Green Bay Packers.
Any given Sunday, indeed.
The Packers lost to the Chiefs. The Colts snapped their season-long losing streak, beating the Tennessee Titans. Tom Brady stomped Tebowmania. The Dream Team drilled the Jets and looked like Super Bowl contenders again. Ndamukong Suh blocked a would-be game-winning field goal. The Seahawks crushed the Bears. The Chargers slapped 34 points on Ray-ven Lewis. Reggie Bush rushed for 200 yards. Oops, Cam Newton did it again. Eli Manning stunk.
Sunday was awesome, and I didn’t win a dime.
What’s better than the NFL? Seriously.
With two weeks left in the regular season, I can count 16 teams (in no particular order) that believe, with the right breaks, they can win the Super Bowl: 1. Packers; 2. Steelers; 3. Saints; 4. Patriots; 5. Falcons; 6. Chargers; 7. Lions; 8. Texans; 9. Cowboys; 10. Giants; 11. Eagles; 12. Jets; 13. Ravens; 14. Bengals; 15. Broncos; 16. 49ers.
In addition, I can count another 10 teams that believe they’re doing the right things to contend next season: 1. Colts; 2. Chiefs; 3. Seahawks; 4. Panthers; 5. Bears; 6. Dolphins; 7. Titans; 8. Raiders; 9. Cardinals; 10. Redskins.
President Obama wishes he sold “hope” as effectively as the NFL.
Damn near the entire league believes it’s a year away from winning the whole thing. And it’s not false hope. It’s the NFL. In the 45-year history of the Super Bowl, only the Jaguars, Texans, Browns and Lions haven’t played in America’s greatest sports showcase. The NBA has anxiety attacks when the Lakers or Celtics don’t qualify for the Finals. Major League Baseball depends on the Yankees and Red Sox. Golf is nothing without Tiger Woods atop the leaderboard.
Last week, the sports world was in an uproar because NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed a trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers. This was a tragedy. How dare the commissioner block a superstar from joining the Lakers and moving to Los Angeles? A compromise was reached. Stern traded Paul to the Clippers. In the NBA, the big stars all want to play in big markets.
Meanwhile, two of the greatest defensive players in NFL history — Reggie White and Charles Woodson — chose to play in Green Bay, Wis. Peyton Manning, without complaint, has spent his entire career in Naptown. The same city Paul escaped from is home to Drew Brees.
NFL players manage to cope with a system that requires them to basically spend three years in college developing a fan base they’ll bring to the NFL. That is not written in support of the NCAA’s exploitive free-labor agreement with football and basketball players. It’s written to explain there are advantages to players staying in school and to suggest the NBA would be wise to figure out a way to financially incentivize its future players to stay in school.
Football is not the superior game. It has the superior system. It favors strengthening the whole league while leaving incentive for the individual parts to pursue greatness. You can get filthy rich playing in the NFL and become an advertising/endorsement icon (Peyton Manning). You can build a dynasty (Bill Belichick). You can shower yourself in excess (Jerry Jones and his stadium).
You can mix unfettered capitalism with some socialism restraints without harming democracy. America could be the NFL.