Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gatorade tastes like syrup anyway...

Living in Chicago, it’s sometimes easier to follow stories here that get missed out on by the rest of the mainstream media. Of course, it helps when said stories involve people with a more local focus. For instance, the NFL recently fined Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher $100,000 for wearing a hat and drinking water during the Super Bowl media day back in January. Why would the league fine a player for preventing dehydration and skin cancer? Simple – because both the hat and the water were from a company (Vitaminwater) that is not a sanctioned sponsor of the NFL*.

If $100K sounds like a big chunk of change to you, consider it this way. Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was able to finagle his way out of multiple felony assault charges last fall stemming from an incident where he threatened some kids (who he allegedly believed stole some ATVs from him) with a handgun. Despite plea-bargaining his way out of prison, the league still imposed a fine of four game paychecks for violating the conduct policy. The grand total of that fine, given Taylor’s base salary that season? About $106,250.

So the implied message is that promoting a brand that hasn’t signed a contract with the league is essentially just as bad an offense as threatening a few teenagers with a pistol.

Of course if you’re like newspaper columnist Rick Snider, Taylor's offense was actually *less* than Urlachers, because Taylor’s fine was “way too heavy handed”.

Beating up someone to regain stolen property — which started this whole mess — is something many of us would have done. Not that it would have been the right choice. Recovering stolen property is the police’s job, but many men would have
punched the guys for stealing two all-terrain vehicles. And if you wouldn’t, start watching Olympic figure skating instead of the NFL.

If you ask me, this is the problem with America – arrogant blowhards who hide behind their media status** to promote behavior that – frankly – I doubt they would really practice in real life. Sure, Mr. Snider *sounds* like a tough guy, all puffed up full of sound and fury. But if he really believes that watching the NFL should be reserved for wife-beaters and schoolyard bullies then he is probably either one or the other himself. Football only works when both teams follow the rules of the game, and that applies to everyone both on the field and off.

In the end, I’m incredibly disappointed with the NFL on this one. While I’m glad that they have instituted a new personal conduct policy, if the end result is a system that values corporate sponsorship more than the basic social contract then we’ve started down a long road to me caring as much about football as I do about the NBA. And I’m pretty sure Roger Goodell doesn’t want that.

* “Brought to you by Gatorade!”
** Real or imagined

2 comments:

The Phoenix said...

One one hand, the fine imposed on Urlacher was way out of line. It's so incredibly stupid.

On the other, if some teenagers were on my property stealing my stuff, I'd be threatening them too. They are now intruders, and that puts my family in danger.

grrrbear said...

That may be true, but in this case they weren't on his property. They hadn't even stolen the ATV's, and Taylor didn't have any evidence - he just *thought* they had. At first I was willing to cut him some slack, but then I read the details and the ridiculousness just is silly. The only place I could find another copy (from the wire services)was at:

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/sport/archives/2006/04/16/2003303066

As for the Urlacher fine - yeah, totally ridiculous. But at least he won't have to pay it, no doubt Vitaminwater will pick up the tab as the cheapest publicity they've had in years. =)