The Oakland Raiders issued a code of fan conduct Tuesday, and America laughed. Then it turned out that the Raider initiative was in fact part of a league-wide program to hold fans more responsible for their behavior, and America threw up.
The NFL? Telling fans how to behave? With its recent history? Yes, I do believe that is a touch of nausea coming on.
|The way to help young fans avoid despicable behavior? Keep them away from NFL players and owners. (Getty Images)|
First, this sudden interest in fan behavior came up only after people finally ratted out a pocket of revolting Jets fans in the pages of the New York Times. If this had happened anywhere else (and of course it has), Roger Goodell would never have noticed, let alone cared. But in his home yard in front of the people he needs to impress most? A painful local public relations problem that demands a large showy response.
And this while one of its signature franchises and its signature player have been humiliating themselves on an almost hourly basis. And this while the Giants and Jets have basically announced that no human being can afford the best tickets in their new stadium. And this while the Atlanta Falcons are still reeling from last year's Vick-A-Thon. And this while champagne spraying has become a metaphor for violence. And this through the bizarre tour of Spygate. And this while players are suspended occasionally and other times let off for DUIs and domestic abuse and all other manners of bad behavior. And this while the league still charges full price for practice games.
I mean, yipes. Not busy enough watching Brett Favre behave far worse than Kobe Bryant did when he tried to get himself traded last summer? Can't get motivated to ask the New York teams to exercise a milder form of extortion? Not even a word of acknowledgement that so many of the league's far-flung employees have acted up far worse than the fans ever have?
That, boys, girls and undecideds, is real gall.
Of course, the league has always had gall in great supply, operating with impunity under two of the most basic theories of human behavior -- the laws of supply and demand (they have the supply and can demand whatever the mood strikes) and of bread and circuses (if you lay out enough bread, you can watch the circus). It has had drug scandals, gambling scandals, jurisprudence scandals, moved franchises, held up cities for stadium costs and in general threw around its considerable weight with no fear and little care.
But it seems you're the problem. The NFL, which has been in embarrassing, illegal and downright creepy situations on an almost steady basis for years now, is basically telling you your behavior isn't up to their lofty standards.
Now before we go much further with this, the fan's code of conduct is actually useful in many ways, and under normal circumstances we'd be completely for it.
But we'd appreciate the effort a little more if it began with something a little more reflective from the league, like this:
What do you think of the NFL's new fan conduct policy?
It's about time
Let fans be fans
Total Votes: 1,836
"Hi, Roger here. Look, we know it isn't like we've covered ourselves in glory here over the last couple of years. We've bounced from scandal to crime to price gouging to whatever the hell it is Favre and the Packers are doing. We're really in no position to lecture anyone about anything, and we get that.
"But we kind of need you guys to stop swearing at and vomiting on and punching folks you don't like. People are starting to complain, and while we try to put them off for as long as possible, we really do have to ask you to knock it off. We probably should have done something about this a long time ago, but with counting money and pocketing politicians and chasing away the poor folks so that there'd be more room for the rich folks, we just haven't gotten around to minding you as well as we should.
"So here's what we'll do. We'll make Favre shut up. We'll make our teams a little less overtly greedy. We'll make the officials better, and we'll put a governor on the little emperors like Jerry Jones and Bill Belichick and Mike Shanahan and Danny Snyder, who think they have two and a half brains all the bloody time. We'll even pretend to listen to your complaints from time to time. Just kind of chill on the ugly stuff, OK? Thanks ... oh, and here's a free team jacket. Don't worry about it -- we've got thousands of 'em, and it's the least we can do. Really, it is."
But no, you get badgered by, well, badgers. The irony in that would be breathtaking if it wasn't quite so annoying. Being told by Roger Goodell and the Ski Mask 32 that you're embarrassing them is pretty darned weird indeed.
So watch your step, you walking wallets, and don't forget your place. You pay, and they say, and that's that. They may not know what's best, but they know what's best for them, and that's making sure you behave properly.
And their behavior? Well, they'll get around to it. They're just kind of busy right now telling you that everything's fine, and that they're all really swell folks.
Yup, that includes the Raiders, too.