Sports Commentary 2/21/14 – Another Meeting of the Culture Club
ANOTHER MEETING OF THE CULTURE CLUB
Wednesday I discussed the culture that exists in the NFL. Yesterday I heard Joe Philbin’s spin on it, then I saw the video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice that led to allegations he knocked out his fiance in an incident at an Atlantic City casino. It’s worse than we could ever have imagined.
Joe Philbin, for those who don’t know, is the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. For those who have been away from all forms of media for the last three months, the Dolphins are the team embroiled in a bullying scandal that led to the retirement of one player, the suspension of another, allegations against two others and, to date, the firings of two team employees. With all of this going on under his nose Philbin held a news conference yesterday to promise the team locker room, his locker room, will become a better workplace, and he will look under “every stone” to make sure that happens. In other words, he’s the guy responsible, the guy with the power to make it change, but he knew nothing about what was going on. Anyone who believes that never met a coach. Philbin already knows what’s under every stone in his organization, he put it there. Any coach who doesn’t know everything going on his team usually ends up out of a job. No one goes to the men’s room without the head coach knowing when, why and for how long.
Richie Incognito, the player found to be guilty of bullying a teammate, will be back in an NFL uniform next season, his being the preferred attitude of NFL teams. That’s the second worst thing about all of this, and that brings us to Ray Rice.
A hotel video camera shows Rice dragging the limp body of his fiance out of an elevator, dumping her on the floor, then kicking her leg out of the way to close the elevator door. The Ravens have circled the wagons, saying they need to know more about both sides of the issue before taking any action against their star running back. This is the same Ravens organization that had no problem with all pro linebacker turned ESPN NFL analyst Ray Lewis changing right from a bloodstained suit that ended up being destroyed evidence in a murder case into his uniform for the next game. So far no penalty has been suggested in Rice’s case while Incognito was suspended immediately amid discussions of a lifetime ban from the NFL. Bullying a teammate, you see, is a far more heinous offense to the NFL than beating up women.
The league’s attitude that women are disposable, a nuisance when they get in the way of “Any given Sunday”, was on display earlier this week when league broadcast partner CBS allowed studio host Dan Marino to “Pursue other career options”, a clean way of firing him over the revelation that he’d fathered a child out of wedlock, a revelation that came out months earlier but could have been a problem for CBS at the time. They knew of the incident before it was revealed, because it happened in their work place, while Marino was on the job, the mother was a CBS NFL production assistant. By waiting until nearly a month after the season to allow Marino to pursue other options the network was able to create enough distance between the event that led to the firing and the firing itself to get out with it’s reputation and it’s image intact.
The closer you get to the NFL the more it’s culture rubs off on you. If you weren’t sure before about the culture that exists in the NFL you don’t have to look any further back than this week to be convinced.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.