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February 14, 2014

Why the NFL is dead to me

It isn't much of a secret that I don't like pro football. Sure, I'll watch a random Falcons game or some playoffs, but it's been 20 years since the NFL has captured my attention in any real way. Part of that is the sanitized version of football in the NFL, with the same plays being run by nearly all 30+ teams in the same way, defended the same way, and approached the same way. Frankly, the NFL is like the NBA in that way, and that isn't meant as a compliment.

In reality, Brian Kelly's move to the NFL is a bit of an aberration. Folks with any ideas out of the ordinary, especially offensively, are instantly dismissed as gimmick mongers. There is a reason it is called 'pro style' offense. For my money, I'd bet Mike Leach would kill in the NFL if given the right combination of QB, WRs, and offensive line. But he'll never get that shot because he likes pirates and is a lawyer.

Same goes for anyone that doesn't fit in. While this isn't a Michael Sam post, it'll be interesting to see how the league approaches him. For now, it looks like the SEC is probably more tolerant and open minded than the National Football League.

Think about Myron Rolle, the Florida State safety that is a Rhodes Scholar. The NFL didn't take to him, despite him being projected as a first round pick before going to Oxford. His projection fell to the fifth round after he came back, and he got cut by the Titans and sent to the practice squad. Same guy. Same talent. But because he went to Oxford, the NFL found him to be unacceptable.

And Rolle thinks he knows why:
"If you ruffle feathers, ruffle it in a way that the NFL can deal with, like getting a DUI, maybe beating your wife, maybe getting a drug charge. We (the NFL) can overcome that. If you're smart ... a little too much for us, you know? If it's close, they're gonna go with the other guy."
The NFL makes a big deal about locker room culture and team. Which is funny considering the emphasis on individual stats and behaviors. Unless those individuals are different from the other individuals. Then that shit can be harmful to the locker room. And funny thing is, the NFL needed Myron Rolle way more than Myron Rolle needed the NFL.  Because the smart football people decided Myron Rolle wasn't what they thought of when they thought of a good football player.

I pray that college football doesn't become that, because that'd be a damn shame.


Dawg in Beaumont said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the sterile nature of the NFL, but do you really believe that all the NFL franchises, with all the money and jobs at stake, have opted to pass on Rolle simply because he isn't the typical football player?

I have a hard time believing that they wouldn't seek wins first and foremost. That's not to say they are always correct on their evaluations (Kurt Warner obviously comes to mind) but I do believe they are seeking to win first and foremost. If an NFL team thought Rolle would contribute, he'd be on a roster. They may be wrong about his ability but I see no way they are passing on him because he went to Oxford.

TylerDawgden said...

Maybe, but I see no distinction between Rolle pre-Oxford and Rolle post-Oxford, other than the 'questioning dedication to football' thing.

noladawg said...

I'm with you on the NFL in general - I only watch the Saints, and only because it's anthema not to when living in Southeastern Louisiana.

However, I'm with Dawg in Beaumont on this one, and I think the premise with which I disagree with both you and the article is his pre-Oxford assessment. The comments in the SBNation longform article are more nuanced, but even FSU fans commenting there seem to agree the 1st round was a reach for Rolle. If you recall, the defenses of FSU when Rolle was playing were far from elite, and his college numbers don't particularly set him apart as an elite level talent, and neither did his workout. As the comments point out, a lot of the quotes and projections were cherry picked, and the NFL was put in as bad a light as possible, invoking other attention grabbing names like Kluwe.
I also rarely buy into these types of conspiracy theories - the NFL is too diverse a place to conspire to not "allow" Rolle a chance because he's "too smart" and might raise concussion issues. The NFL could care less if Rolle raises the issue, they're worried about lawsuits, and plenty of intelligent people are already looking for ways to exploit the cash cow that is the NFL. Individual teams passed on Rolle, including a losing team that could use all the talent it could get, and a team with a strong coach and locker room in the Steelers that is known for taking on projects in defensive players.
I think it's an incredibly interesting story, even more interesting for me because I'm in residency. I think the better story is how someone with this much talent handles not achieving one of his goals, likely for the first time in his life. But as much as I agree with you about the conservative, bland nature of the NFL, I don't think Rolle being "too smart" is nearly as likely a reason for his ultimate retirement from the NFL as that he wasn't as good as projected. Honestly, I think the article does a bit of a disservice to some of the intellects in the NFL as well - there may not be any other Rhodes Scholars, but there are some pretty intelligent people playing the game.

swing8 said...

Post of the year.

TylerDawgden said...

There is a definite psychology of failure angle here.

paulwesterdawg said...

They passed on Rolle because he wants to be a brain surgeon and he's an activist for medical issues. Essentially, they felt that having him on the roster was a time bomb related to their pending Concussion cases.

He's a victim not of his intelligence but of his specialized ambition in brain injury and repair. It's a crazy story, but with the NFL you ALWAYS follow the money. And the money says they want to win more than they want to stereotype, fear or hate. HOWEVER, they want to make money more than they want to win. And they knew the concussion case was going to cost them $1billion +. Which by the time it goes back to court and they revisit the $780m...that's what's going to happen.

Dawg in Beaumont said...

That argument makes sense, but do you really think that the concussion stuff wouldn't be a problem for the NFL with or without Rolle on a roster? Perhaps it would happen quicker with him on the inside, but if the case for bringing down the NFL is so strong won't it happen regardless of Rolle being on a roster or not?

It's just hard to fathom zero teams taking the guy if he can play well enough.

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