I tuned in to watch Monday Night Football last night and got presented with blurred photos of Brett Favre's junk. WTF? What in the wide world of sports is wrong with the NFL, and ESPN, that, presented with the hottest sports scandal of the year they give me pictures of Brett Favre's junk, instead of (or at least alongside) pictures of the woman he sexually harassed? Here's what the Four Letter should have shown you, instead of Brett Favre's junk:
Those are the SFW pictures of a woman who was deeply, deeply insulted that a pro quarterback would email her pictures of his junk because exhibitionism is nasty, and it's creepy to just flaunt your stuff out there. So she sued the league, or has threatened to sue it, or is settling out of court but now reluctant to talk about it, or something like that. Nobody knows really... What matters is BRETT FAVRE'S JUNK!!!!
What's up with that? Why are we getting newsflashes, so to speak, on ESPN showing us pictures of Brett Favre's junk? What, was Roger Cossack not available?
Steve Czaban, from whom I cribbed the Sterger pictures, has it figured out. Unlike many of his other theories, this one isn't crazy. The NFL and its network cronies are doing it to appeal to women. It's about teh Market Share.
It's not like the NFL is going to get any more male fans in the U.S. They got that locked up, and they're so desperate to expand, they're going to go to 18 games and hope to hell that the PEDs and cortisone and vicodins hold up and the players can wheeze across the finish line of an 18 game regular season. SO that's maxed out, and there's no foreign market to speak of (NFL World League failed), so you gotta figure out how to wring more money out of the product here in the U.S. They're already calling the New York teams "Nueva York" on some broadcasts, and they have spanish broadcasts of most games so that market is being exploited... so what market is left untapped still?
The women's market, of course.
And not the good time redneck and blue collar (in outlook) girls who already like football, but the soccer mommy and Sex in the City gals who don't care much for it. How do you get them to love the League? Why, you make your notoriously macho football teams wear all sorts of hot pink flair for a month to show that We Care About Breast Cancer, despite the fact that various forms of ass cancer take out far more men than breast cancer takes out women each year, and ovarian cancer takes out far more women than breast cancer does. But breast cancer is a trendy cause so it's a good women-centric marketing scheme. Being an anti-cancer guy wins you all sorts of free passes in the strangest quarters - ask Lance Armstrong about that.
There is also a new line of women-specific NFL gear, and they're advertising the hell out of it. Great. The problem with that is I'm thinking the ads are going to miss the people they're targeted at, and hit some unintended targets, causing collateral damage - me! Like I need to go to the game and see a 255 pound woman in a HAYNESWORTH 92 halter top and some burgundy and mustard short shorts... It will happen, trust me. But I don't matter in this equation, in fact I'm really not even supposed to notice the marketing effort. I'm sure, however, that both women who listen to SportsTalk 980 in D.C., who happen to hear the constant flow of ads for the new women's NFL gear, are getting the NFL's message loud and clear. Message: "I Care."
Finally, to really win the women's market share - or to win the market share of women who don't much like football as it is - the league needs to go really politically correct and issue a handwringing report about how there are few women executives in the NFL, and no women coaches or players, but by God, we're working on it. Yep, the NFL did just that a few weeks back. And to back that up the league flipped out when a Jets player made note of an exhibitionist Telemundo reporter wandering through the locker room being an exhibitionist, and then they wigged out when a swinish Alpha Jock like Favre acted pretty much the way we expect our swinish Alpha Jocks to act by showing his junk privately to a woman who doesn't mind showing her junk publicly. Double bonus round to win female fans - the NFL then lets ESPN show a bunch of pictures of Brett Favre's junk during prime time.
So this brings me back to my point which is all I want to do is have a corner of my life that isn't femaled all up, taken over by a femmy womens' sensibility. I live in a house with a great woman. She has had the upper hand in decorating all of the rooms but for the Fortress of Solitude, where I managed to hold the line and stick with earth tones, bikes, guns, knives and fishing gear. I work in an office that is probably 70:30 in favor of the distaff. They are wonderful professionals and talented... but I feel freaky and weird talking about fishing or hockey or similar guy topics there, 'cuz it draws a look like "dude... where'd the alien come from?" I've got several female friends who I love chatting with... but I need my space.
[update: after sleeping on it overnight, what bugs me is that this is changing the culture of the game, which is what it is, in a way to make it appeal to non-fan whose culture, frankly, thinks NFL culture is pretty stupid. It is as insulting as when Fox tried to make non-hockey fans into fans by digitally painting a big blue blur over the puck "so you can see it." That was offensive because the real action in hockey is what the players are doing, and if you can see that you know exactly where the puck is. It would be like shortening the TdF because novice fans "find it's a bit too long." In this instance, the NFL is a macho culture place, driven by the nature of the sport itself. Don't take my burly ass macho sport, and try to make it Lifetime: TV For Women-friendly. It ain't, you can't make it be that way, and it's incongruous and irritating to sit her watching the NFL try to do this.]
Ferchrissakes, I'm not asking for the Men's Ice Dancing competition at the Olympics to be made full contact, and I'm not asking for Women's Gymnastics to have a Steel Cage Deathmatch Parallel Bars Round. I would just like to have a little corner of my life that ain't all chicked up to appeal to a female demographic that doesn't like football.
I'm not saying I don't want women watching football; I think it's cool when I meet women who are football fans, it's great they like it. But it's like any other sport - let women come to it naturally, don't try to make the sport's culture more girly in order to draw female fans. Do they really have to dress Ray Ray Lewis in pink shoes and a pink freakin' doo-rag for 4 games to draw in women who aren't naturally drawn to the game? Jeebus. What's next - having a cry and talking it out after an incomplete pass or a missed block? I have a sneaking suspicion that NFL Commish Roger Goodell is about one marketing initiative away from causing zombie Woody Hayes to rise from the grave, stagger over to the NFL headquarters, and punch him square in the mouth.
I could handle it better if I thought the motivation for the big publicity campaign was some weepy initiative inspired by Roger Goodell's visit from Oprah and Doctor Phil, but it isn't even that genuine. The League's goal is just to get more money, and it is counting on being able to dupe a large segment of women, who are utterly indifferent to football and who think it's kind of stupid, into thinking it's as cool as Manolo shoes, to wheedle more money out of them, to tap an untapped market. It's just creepy, like a lot of things Goodell does, and I can picture him getting all sweaty and flushed when he looks at the women's Nielsen ratings breakdown for Olympic gymnastics. "See? Women *do* like sports. You know how much money that represents? Now if we can just get them to watch the NFL. Get Hillary Clinton on the phone and see what it'd take to get her to watch, willya Gene?" It's just stage dressing because you can only dress up a sport so much, when its underlying ethos is war without actual deaths.
I'm sorry to go all retrograde on you people. I really am. And I know that the various felonies committed by NFL players against women are completely wrong, and that there needs to be equal opportunity in the workplace. That much I agree with.
But repeated exposure to Brett Favre's junk along with all the crap that the League office is floating right now, is exactly the kind of stuff that turns ordinary, reasonable guys into Archie Bunker. Are they trying to alienate ordinary male viewers? Must they keep showing us pictures of Brett Favre's junk?
If they keep this crap up, I'm going to get a lot less serious about my football and a little more serious about my hockey.
Sure, I'll miss the Giants a lot, but not if they're wearing pink trim on their red white and blue and if the League continues to make it clear that I ain't particularly welcome to their new hen party. Plus I'm reasonably certain that for all his other flaws, Gary Bettman isn't about to let MASN show me pictures of Alex Ovechkin's junk every time there's a stoppage in play.
UPDATED TO GET THE VISIBLE FLECKS OF SPITTLE OUT OF THE TEXT.