Breed A Bully, And Guess What? That's What You Get

I find it fascinating that fans of the NFL who scream for blood and loudly cheer career-ending hits on Sunday (and Monday and now Thursday) are surprised when players carry that instinct -- and training -- to inflict pain into their off-field lives. Certainly there is a difference between beating up on a running back and abusing a spouse or child, but it is not so easy to toggle between the violence of the game and the gentility required for home life.

Let me be really straight about this: Nothing excuses the behavior of the NFL's latest round of wife- and child-beaters, and I suspect that the vast majority of players are loving husbands and fathers. But you cannot breed violence and not have it come back to haunt you. Anybody want to check on how many military vets beat their spouses? Bet those numbers are higher than for the general population -- and about on par, if not worse, than the NFL’s.

Here’s something that’s a little hard to understand about football unless you have been part of it on the field: When the Darwinian process of eliminating the weak and unproductive runs its course through high school and college, what you are left with is the athletically best of the best. Some are better than others, but if you have made an NFL team you are bigger, stronger, faster -- and most importantly, crazier -- than everyone else. Setting aside the smaller secondary and receivers, what you have are guys who are ALL physically tough and compared to the real world, gigantic in stature. So what is the secret ingredient that separates the starters from the second string, the all-stars from the also-rans? Violence.



Simply put, you rise to the top of an inherently violent sport by being crazier than the other guy. By hitting harder, with greater cruelty and mayhem, than the other guy. Nothing is more admired by coworkers and coaches than explosive violence done to an opponent. This trend was institutionalized by the Saints (and trust me, others), who had hit lists of players they wanted to crush so solidly that they (the crushees) could no longer play. If players are not by nature violent enough for the NFL, they find a way to get there with one substance or another. 

Okay, now single out the most promising athletes in your community, starting at about 10 years old, and put them in a bubble. Protect them from the consequences of their actions. Help them get the grades to advance through the system. Treat them like royalty. Praise their violent play, and reward them with trophies and scholarships. By the time they are ready for the NFL, they are fully programmed to wreak as much havoc as possible. After all, they have been bred for it.

The bubble process also assures that players rarely mature and understand the true meaning of being a man, a husband, a father. Their idea of maleness yields to their environs and culture: bigger, faster, stronger, meaner, more violent. Yes, colleges and the pros give the requisite lip service to providing "guidance" to produce "well-rounded" student/athletes or model citizens. But the real rewards come to those who are the most violent.

The way I see it (and saw it), you get what you pay for.





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