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Quick Inside Slant: Week 10

Impressions of the 2015 NFL Season as perceived by a Creative Writing graduate student, part-time amateur stand-up comedian and collegiate intramural flag football legend.

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By: Dustin Fisher

Boy, the Broncos sure don’t know how to lose. Either they’re poking people in the eye or they’re benching the greatest quarterback of all time. The Ravens, however – these guys know how to lose.

Totally Raven

Ever hear of play to the final whistle? Apparently Elvis Dumervil hadn't, but that also means he just yanks the facemasks of opponents after the game.

Ever hear of play to the final whistle? Apparently Elvis Dumervil hadn’t, but that also means he just yanks the facemasks of opponents after the game.

Before I begin, I want to calm all the Ravens fans down about the refs. Maybe it’s because I live here and have a Facebook feed that only seems to stream posts about how the refs hate the Ravens, but people seem to be way too upset about one missed call. And it’s not like missing a false start penalty is all that egregious an error. Missing Elvis Dumervil’s hammer toss wind-up facemask penalty would have been pretty egregious. At that point in the game, nerves are running high and people are running in every direction and maybe a guy wasn’t leaning all the way over at the time the ball is snapped. But there was never any whistle, and you could see several players stop playing, including Courtney Upshaw, who was walking to the sidelines with his arms raised in victory, apparently playing to the crowd instead of playing to the whistle. Even Coach Harbaugh thought the game was over. And the one guy who did keep playing decided the best course of action was to separate the quarterback from his helmet at all costs. The refs may have missed a call at a crucial point in the game, but it would have been easy to overcome if the Ravens didn’t turn into the monkeys from the CareerBuilder commercials on that last play. Some teams just don’t know how to win.

The Cowboy Way

Speaking of teams that don’t know how to win…

Tony Romo, one of only five undefeated starting quarterbacks this season (Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Matt Hassellbeck, and Blaine Gabbert (not a misprint)), will be taking back over as the Cowboys signal-caller this weekend and will eventually lead the Cowboys to a 7-9 record and an NFC East title this season. Which is good news for the Cowboys because now they can talk about something else other than the league’s public enemy #1. I’m speaking of course of Jerry Jones.

Sigh...I'm tired of talking about Greg Hardy...

Sigh…I’m tired of talking about Greg Hardy…

A couple weeks ago, the pictures from Greg Hardy’s police report – the one where he was accused of domestic violence, where he hit his girlfriend and threw her on a couch with a bunch of guns – were released. Honestly, I haven’t seen them and I don’t need to. I’m guessing it’s a bunch of pictures of a woman with a lot of bruises. And unlike Ray Rice, this hollow, soulless ogre seems to not even know what the word contrition means. He came out on twitter and blamed people for jumping to conclusions or something like that. And Hardy continues to get into sideline fights with his teammates and coaches and seems to welcome the role of piece of trash. My wife even said that this is the reason she doesn’t care for football, and I can’t blame her.

But we all knew Greg Hardy was a street thug. As a friend once said about someone of Hardy’s relative size and muscle mass, “guys like that don’t learn a lot of life lessons growing up.” It’s probably hard to learn contrition and sympathy when you never have to. And the NFL tried to make their case. They already suspended him for 10 games, and the appeal process reduced it to four. So with all the uproar over the pictures, they’re probably saying “See! I told you! We tried, but noooOOOOOooo.” So the only course of action that my wife can hope for (and that I can hope for too, so I don’t have to watch so many episodes of Cupcake Wars, which by the way, is somehow on ALL THE TIME), is for the Dallas Cowboys to place him on the naughty list. Instead, Jerry Jones has defended Hardy, and gone so far as to call him a team leader.

Que?

I get it. Jerry’s job is to put a product on the field that will win (actually, it’s to generate money, but we’ll simplify things for now). And Greg Hardy helps him do that. So unless his sponsors start pulling out like the Vikings’ did last year amidst the Adrian Peterson scandal, I don’t think Jerry would do anything so righteous. And so for his comments, and his blind defense of his players, and for his refusal to cut Hardy, Jerry has drawn the ire normally reserved for Roger Goodell, who has had a rather quiet couple of months. Good for him.

Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio

What I’m mostly curious about in this case and many others, is what do the other players in the locker room think about this horrible human being? And I’m talking specifically to you, Jason Witten. Witten is a guy who confuses my feelings for the Cowboys. As an Eagles fan, I really want to go all in and just hate them completely. But Witten has won the Walter Payton award, which honors his off-field accolades, as well as several other charity and nice guy-based awards over his tenure as a Cowboy. And he does it with – get this – a charity for survivors of domestic violence. Yes. That’s the same domestic violence that Greg Hardy was accused of before his accuser suddenly dropped the charges. He has a charity called the Jason Witten SCOREkeepers program, “which places full-time, trained male mentors in battered women’s shelters throughout Texas. The mentors seek to demonstrate positive male behavior to the children living in these shelters in an effort to break the cycle of violence that plagues families affected by abuse.” How can this guy sit in the same locker room as Mr. Womanbeater and not say anything, especially after Jerry called that sewer rat a “leader?”

Maybe this isn’t the kind of thing they can talk about publicly. And maybe nothing can realistically be done, as long as Jerry is willing to sell whatever is left of his soul to win football games – something, by the way, Hardy hasn’t done in his five chances this year.

Empowerment

Everybody knows Roger Goodell should not be in charge of player punishment.

Everybody knows Roger Goodell should not be in charge of player punishment.

When I was first going to the playground with my daughter, I monitored her every interaction and swooped in whenever I felt the need to apologize on her behalf. Until one day, when I ran into a parent who saw a toddler showdown about to break out over a shared playground toy, and he decided instead to let the two kids handle it themselves. It blew my mind. Let them figure it out themselves? That’s amazing! But what about fairness? Or taking turns? Or fostering bullies? Well, those are still things we have to teach our kids about, but maybe not when they’re one. And only if we need to. What happened was that the two kids came to an agreement. Or maybe they didn’t. I forget. But the seed was planted. Let them figure it out themselves. Brilliant! Maybe they can learn some of those life lessons.

This is really what I wish the NFL would do. Couldn’t we have a panel of players decide on the fate of somebody who fails a drug test or beats women silly? I doubt many players want that kind of people in the league taking their jobs. Maybe a panel paints too much of a target on certain people, and is probably too time-consuming during the season. But maybe they could appoint someone. Because the guy that the owners appointed, despite his quiet two-month stretch, has not been working. In fact, he has caused such a rift in the system with his random punishments and abuse of his power, players appeal their suspensions before the ink dries on their sentencing paperwork.

Aqib Talib’s Honest Mistake

Last week, Aquib Talib appealed a one-game suspension he received for violently and obviously poking a Colts player in the eye, because they were winning and Talib didn’t like that. Afterwards, he claimed it was an “honest mistake,” saying that “I went over to poke his head, and I think my hand slipped and hit his face.” And he still continued, because he has no perspective. “He acted like he got in an 18-passenger car wreck. I guess that’s what type of guy he is.” Yeah, he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t like another adult’s finger in his eye. What a sissy. And what exactly is an 18-passenger car wreck? How does Talib travel around in this world?

 

 

The point I’m kind of trying to make here is that the system is so fractured that players feel like they can win anything on appeal. The two sides are as diametrically opposed as republicans and democrats. Goodell over-punishes and the NFLPA fights for the player, regardless of infraction, like Saul Goodman. After Hardy’s 10-game suspension was reduced to four games, he talked about appealing again, which I’m not really sure how to, but whatever. Goodell has so much egg on his face, nobody takes him seriously. So why not find somebody the players can take seriously for conduct matters? If the owners can ever get over themselves and relinquish control of this, maybe this whole thing goes a lot smoother. Let the toddlers figure it out themselves. Maybe then, the Greg Hardys of the world will finally learn some of those life lessons.

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Dustin Fisher is a writer, comedian, storyteller, and stay-at-home dad. Follow along with his dad blog at http://daddyneedsanap.com/ or buy his first book, Daddy Issues.

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Dustin Fisher is an amateur standup comedian, storyteller, freelance writer, and stay-at-home dad, all of which are just better ways of saying “unemployed.” He worked in the area of collegiate recreation for the previous 14 years at UMBC, Miami University and the University of Baltimore. There, he became somewhat of a folk legend on the flag football field and actually got paid to play fantasy football. Dustin is currently in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore seeking a Masters degree in Creative Writing. He has made contributions to various publications including The Good Men Project and the Baltimore Fishbowl. For more about Dustin, check out his stay-at-home dad website, Daddy Needs a Nap. Dustin lives with his wife and daughter in New Carrollton, MD in a house surrounded by too many trees to get the Dish Network.

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