NFL: Killing the Gipper

Movie producer Peter Bogdonovich once said “There are no OLD movies – just good movies you haven’t seen yet.” It would behoove the spoiled brats -players, coaches, owners, and especially Commissioner Goodell of the National Football League to watch the 1936 movie Knute Rockne: American Hero.
Knute Rockne, coach of Notre Dame, was a living legend in football at a time it enjoyed its’ zenith of national popularity. It was also a period in which the future of football was being questioned by Congress for the illegal subsidizing of college players with cash and the numerous deaths during the games. Rockne was asked to testify before a congressional committee inquiring into whether football should continue to be a college sport. Several colleges had already banned it from their campuses.
This is what Coach Rockne said:
“A game such as football is more than a little help for the boys. It’s an absolute necessity to the nation’s best interest.”
Q. Why is football so vital to the nation’s welfare?
A. “Because any red-blooded young man in any country can build what’s called the natural spirit of combat. In many parts of Europe and elsewhere in the world this spirit manifests itself in continuous wars and civil strife. We have tried to make competitive sports serve as this outlet for the spirit of combat. I believe we’ve succeeded.”
Q. Do you mean to say you’ve never interceded for a football player whose fallen behind in his classes and had to be suspended from your team?
A. “I mean just that. Any player that flunks in his class is no good to his coach nor to the school he attends. And any coach who goes around trying to fix it for him to become eligible scholastically did not do that young man a favor and is playing him for a fool.”
Q. Mr. Rockne. Could football be replaced by some other game? Something less violent?
A. “What game would you suggest?
Q. Well, hockey, for instance.
A. “Well, now, as a matter of fact, I suggested that very idea to our president [of Notre Dame] Father Callaghan. He was downright interested until we came to the matter of the sticks. And then he threw up his hands. He said, noooo, that game is not for our university. Notre Dame will never endorse any game which puts a stick in the hands of an Irishman.” (followed by laughter from the gallery)
Q. In your opinion, Mr. Rockne, what is a college for? Where do these elaborate spectacles called sports fit into the scheme of education? How would you grade an average athlete’s contribution to the boys intelligence?
A. “We’re living in the 20th century. To limit a college education to books, classrooms and theories is to give the definition too narrowly. Now if I have learned anything in my 21 years of work with my boys it’s one thing: The most dangerous thing in American life today is we’re getting soft – inside and out. We’re losing that forceful heritage that embodied what was once our most precious possession. Now we, these men and I (Pop Warner, et al) have spent our lives trying to work out that flaccid philosophy, work it out of our boys’ minds. We believe that the plan of the work of Man is to build the character of young men. Try to build courage, initiative and tolerance and persistence. Without which the most educated man is not worth very much. Now our boys at Notre Dame have played all over the country. And they’ve gotten to learn that southerners aren’t lazy, northerners aren’t cold, middle westerners aren’t hicks and Californians aren’t big and dumb. They’ve learned from all sorts of Americans what America is. And in that process they’ve found themselves. Now I don’t know, I don’t know how you grade a boy in these things professor. 50, 75s, 95s? But wouldn’t it be a good idea not to grade anybody’s contribution to the national intelligence until all the results are in? Maybe five or ten years after graduation? When his record in character can be put on a wall like a diploma? Showing what’s inside the man himself?” The movie ends with Rockne telling his players about a former player who died of cancer encouraging his team to “Give one more for the Gipper” when the going gets tough.
One definition of character is doing the right thing when no one is looking. The principles Rockne described should not be limited to college football. Some well-known professional athletes deny any responsibility as role models to younger, aspiring athletes. That was an amazing denial of reality. Yet now many are using that influence to destroy the American culture. Knute Rockne, Pop Warner, Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry (who was a B-17 pilot in WWII and coached with Lombardi at West Point) and all the coaches of character are rolling over in their graves (so Goodell, et al can kiss their asses) at the unpatriotic, lack of character existing in the NFL today.
When Coach Vince Lombardi failed to get a coaching job with the New York Giants because he was Italian, he heard about a nascent football team in the frozen, Midwestern city of Green Bay, Wisconsin. His successive national championships are now a fading legend. The Green Bay Packers were considered a threat in one other way by the other professional football team owners. The Packers are the only publicly-owned professional football team in America. Once the Packers became so successful – and profitable to the citizens of Green Bay- the NFL owners association wrote an amendment to their charter PROHIBITING any other football team from being publicly owned. That guaranteed the ever increasing profits would not be shared with any more citizen fans.
That was the NFL’s first unpatriotic act. Some might call it an illegal monopoly. Others might label it an Unfair Trade Practice to prohibit citizens (whose taxes pay for the NFL’s stadiums) from being able to own a participating, professional football team. Fans should write congress and demand that be changed. In an era of decreasing tax bases citizen fans should demand their local and state representatives invest in professional sports in order to benefit from the profits. This would break the back of the monopolistic NFL owner’s association and broaden the local tax base. It sure as hell beats ripping off taxpayers through gambling on lotteries.
It wasn’t the last unpatriotic act by the NFL owner’s / player’s association (see “Kaepernick: Useful Idiot” on this site). The way the NFL treated the Nigerian pathologist who discovered the concussion issue was absolutely shameful – if not criminal. The NFL boasting “We OWN a day of the week!” (Sunday) was sacrilegious – but true thanks to fans worshipping their false god. One of the most egregious (other than the mushrooming disrespect to America, it’s flag and anthem) was the NFL telling the Dallas Cowboys they couldn’t wear black armbands in memory of the five Dallas police officers killed during the Black Lives Matter demonstration. Those two examples convinced me to divorce the NFL after life-long devotion. I encourage every other fan to do the same until the NFL pulls its’ head out of its’ ass.
It’s a national disgrace that the National Football League is not already bankrupt. Boycott anything NFL.

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