Tag Archives: NFL

Congratulations (And Respect) To Carl Nassib For Coming Out As Gay In The NFL

Raiders lineman Carl Nassib comes out as gay - Outsports

Earlier this week, I told the story of Ryan O’Callaghan. He was a gay man who played several season in the NFL for multiple teams, but kept it a secret the entire time. It was a painful struggle, one that nearly cost him his life. He never found the strength to come out during his career, but he still managed to come to terms with his sexuality and get the help he needed.

Years before that, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team. Even though he never made it onto an active 53-man roster, it was historic. It showed that, even in a sport as traditionally masculine as the NFL, there was room for the LGBTQ community.

This year, another story unfolded that made even more progress. Carl Nassib, a defensive end on the Las Vegas Raiders who has been on an active roster for 5 years, came out as gay. For that, we should congratulate him because he didn’t just come out. He used it as an opportunity to donate to The Trevor Project. It helped make a historic moment that much more meaningful.

As a lifelong fan of football, I think this is good for the sport. These players aren’t just top athletes. They’re human beings. They deserve to live their lives and their truth. I imagine it wasn’t easy for Mr. Nassib, just as it wasn’t easy for Ryan O’Callaghan. It’s also very likely that there are plenty of other closeted players in both the NFL and the NCAA. Hopefully, this moment will help inspire them to live their truth as well.

The fact that his jersey became a top seller after his announcement is just further proof that the world is ready for this. I would even argue the world needs this. It’ll make football season this year all the more enjoyable.

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Filed under LGBTQ, NFL, sexuality, sports

The Life Ryan O’Callaghan: A Sad (But Uplifting) Story About A Former NFL Player Coming Out

Ryan O'Callaghan #75 of the Kansas City Chiefs in action against the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 14, 2010 in Denver Colorado.

For a brief moment, picture a typical gay man. Depending on when you grew up, where you came from, and what sort of media you consumed, you probably have a certain image in your head. I suspect that image looks nothing like Ryan O’Callaghan.

Unless you’re a world class NFL football nerd, chances are you haven’t heard that name before. However, after learning about his story, I hope he’s someone who has changed your perception of what it means to be LGBTQ. That’s because Ryan O’Callaghan’s story is a sad, downright heartbreaking story on many levels, but one that has a happy, uplifting ending.

We need more stories like that, especially during Pride Month. We need them now more than ever.

To appreciate what Ryan O’Callaghan went through, it’s necessary to appreciate how hard it can be to live life as a closeted gay man. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a story from decades ago. Ryan O’Callaghan was born in 1983. He’s pretty much the same age as I am. He was born at a time when things were steadily improving for the LGBTQ community.

However, that wasn’t much solace for him. He grew up in a very conservative part of California. After realizing he was gay, he had no idea how he was going to live that life in such an environment. That led him to hide his sexuality. At one point, he even made plans to kill himself.

It’s hard to imagine how agonizing it must be, having to hide a part of who you are from everyone around you. Forget, for a moment, how you feel about homosexuality in general. Imagine trying to hide a big part of who you are from everyone and being terrified of the truth coming out. Could we really manage keeping a secret like that?

I know I couldn’t. I question the honesty of anyone who claims they can. For Ryan O’Callaghan, it was too much. He really didn’t believe he could live a full life as an openly gay man. The best he could do was hide his secret as long as he could. That was where football came in.

This goes back to that picture I conjured earlier. Ryan O’Callaghan is 6 foot 7 inches tall. During his playing days through college and the NFL, he weight in between 250 and 330 pounds. He was an offensive lineman. He looked and played the part. In essence, he was the last person anyone expected to be gay and that’s how he liked it.

Through high school, college, and the NFL, he let football be his mask. It’s supposed to be the manliest sport in the world. Even after Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to play in the NFL in 2014, there’s still this perception that the men who play football fit a certain ideal and that ideal doesn’t involve being gay.

That’s not to say there haven’t been gay players in the NFL. In fact, there have been quite a few. One of the best tight ends in NFL history, Jerry Smith, played his entire 13 year career in the NFL as a closeted gay man. There’s a good chance there are active players in the NFL right now who are gay, but in the closet.

Be that as it may, it offered no comfort to Ryan O’Callaghan. Football was still his mask, but he loved playing it enough to keep going. It also helped that he was very good at it. He was so good that he managed to get a college scholarship with the California Golden Bears. He went onto play well enough to get drafted by the New England Patriots in 2006.

That’s a level of success very few football players ever reach, regardless of position. The fact that Ryan was able to go that far is a testament to both his skill and his talent for the game. Doing it all while in the closet just makes it all the more harrowing.

However, that success didn’t change his plans. Ryan still believed he could not live life as an openly gay man. Once his playing days were over, he still planned to take his own life. At one point, he even wrote a suicide letter, bought guns, and built a cabin. That’s how close he came to ending it all.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending.

Before he took that fatal step, he got help from a clinical psychologist. She helped him out of that dark place. Eventually, he was able to come out, revealing his secret to the general manager who had drafted him. It’s hard to overstate how big that moment must have been for him.

I certainly can’t do it justice. I’ve only touched on some of the details surrounding Ryan O’Callaghan’s story. For a more a more complete picture, check out his book, My Life On The Line. Also, I highly recommend that everyone read this story done by Outsports. It covers Ryan’s struggles in far greater depth.

I should offer a bit of a trigger warning, though. Some of the details are difficult to take in, but it’s worth noting that this story has a happy ending. Here’s a brief snippet.

Outsports: Former Patriots and Chiefs tackle Ryan O’Callaghan comes out as gay

Very early on in the process he felt it was mandatory to share his truth with Pioli, the man who had brought him from New England and helped keep his career — and his life — moving forward.

Just after the 2011 season, O’Callaghan visited Pioli in his office.

The day before he had called his general manager, who had become a good friend, to ask him for a meeting. Pioli had known about O’Callaghan’s drug abuse, and the gravity in his player’s voice over the phone told him that something dire was on his mind.

“He had built this up like he was coming in to tell me that maybe he had done something truly terrible,” Pioli remembered.

O’Callaghan trudged into Pioli’s office the next day. After a hug and some small talk, O’Callaghan turned serious. He told Pioli he had been visiting with Wilson and had gotten “clean.” It was good news to Pioli.

“I’ve got something else I’ve got to tell you,” O’Callaghan said. At this point he was fighting back tears. Pioli’s mind raced, wondering if his player had harmed or killed someone.

“I’m gay,” O’Callaghan said.

His private announcement was met with immediate support from the GM. Then:

“So what’s the problem you wanted to talk me about?” Pioli asked.

O’Callaghan looked at him, bewildered, 27 years of fear, anxiety and self-loathing meeting Pioli’s stare.

“Scott,” O’Callaghan said, “I’m… gay.”

Pioli acknowledged that and asked again if O’Callaghan had done something wrong.

“People like me are supposed to react a certain way, I guess,” Pioli told Outsports. “I wasn’t minimizing what he was telling me, but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. He built this up and built this up to the point where he said he was nearly suicidal. What Ryan didn’t know is how many gay people I’ve had in my life.”

O’Callaghan also didn’t know that, according to Pioli, he wasn’t the first gay NFL player whom his GM had counseled.

The two men talked more and Pioli assured O’Callaghan that their conversation changed nothing, he was still there to support him, and they were still friends. O’Callaghan was shocked by the reaction. Pioli handled it pitch-perfectly, as though he had known all along. So O’Callaghan asked if his boss had, in fact, known.

“Ryan, how would I have known?” Pioli responded.

“Do you really think I like coffee that much?” O’Callaghan asked.

Pioli had no idea what his player was talking about.

O’Callaghan had, since his time in New England, headed to the training room after every practice to consume copious amounts of coffee, a convenient excuse to avoid being in the showers with the rest of his teammates.

Pioli got emotional at the thought of one of his players having to go to those lengths to keep some distance from his teammates. The mental toll this had all taken on O’Callaghan had come into focus.

As they rose to say goodbye, Pioli came around from behind his desk and opened his arms to embrace O’Callaghan. They had hugged countless times before, after games, after the offseason, even just moments ago when O’Callaghan walked into his office.

This time O’Callaghan stuck out his hand to shake.

“What’s with the handshake?” Pioli asked.

“I just told you I’m gay,” O’Callaghan replied sheepishly.

Pioli was having none of it and grabbed O’Callaghan.

“Dude, it’s OK,” Pioli said. Then, in his signature sense of humor, “Just don’t grab my butt.”

That broke the tension and O’Callaghan burst into laughter. The humor was a sign to him that Pioli wasn’t going to change. They could get along just as they always had.

“Don’t worry,” O’Callaghan replied, “You’re not my type.”

I sincerely hope this story resonates with others for all the right reasons. Whether you’re openly LGBTQ, in the closet, or just know people who are struggling with their sexuality, I hope the story of Ryan O’Callaghan offers insight and perspective.

Yes, we’ve made progress as a society. Life for the LGBTQ community is better now than it has been in the past. We still have room for improvement, as Ryan’s story perfectly illustrates. If you or anyone you know is struggling, I hope this story helps you in some way.

Also, if you need help or are at all feeling suicidal, please check out the resources of the Trevor Project. Thank you an have a Happy Pride Month.

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Filed under football, LGBTQ, NFL, psychology, real stories, sports

My Top 5 Most Anticipated Games For The 2021 NFL Season

NFL delays deciding on expanding regular season until 2021 | Yardbarker

For lifelong football fans like me, this is often a bittersweet time of year. The most eventful parts of the NFL offseason have come and gone. Both free agency and the NFL Draft are behind us. All 32 teams in the NFL are very different compared to what they were when the 2020 season ended. For many fans, especially of those whose teams had major overhauls, it’s an exciting time.

As of now, every team is 0-0.

Every team has the potential to go from worst to first.

Every player has the potential to become the best at their position.

At this point, most people know what they’re team is going to look like when the season starts. Now, we also know who, when, and where they’ll play because the NFL just released the full 2021 schedule. It all starts on September 9, 2021 with the Cowboys facing the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. Even if you’re not a fan of those particular teams, that’ll be a glorious day if you’re just a football fan in general.

Given how crazy last year was with games being delayed and no fans being in the stands, I am ready for a full season that isn’t utterly chaotic because of a once-in-a-century pandemic. I can’t wait to see the day when full stadiums of cheering fans are a regular thing again. It’s something I hope players and fans alike never take for granted.

While that wait is going to be long from here on out, the release of the schedule already has me excited. So, to help pass the time while I wait for kickoff, here’s a brief list of the games from 2021 that I’m most excited about. Please note that this is just my list. Yours may differ considerably, depending on your favorite/most hated team. If you think there’s another game worthy of such hype, please mention it in the comments.


#5: Jaguars @ Texans in Week 1

Jaguars news: Trevor Lawrence thanks Clemson as he looks ahead to NFL

This is likely more of a curiosity than anything else. It’s the debut of the all new, fully rebuilt Jaguars and their new number one overall pick, Trevor Lawrence. Some call him Football Jesus. Some think he’s a once-in-a-generation quarterback who will take the Jaguars to a whole new level. We may not know how true that is with this game, but I’ll certainly be curious to see what he and Urban Meyer can do.

Plus, Tim Tebow could be back. That can only make this game more exciting.


#4: Steelers @ Chiefs in Week 16

Chiefs vs. Steelers recap: Kansas City moves to 2-0 with emotional road win

These are two perennial playoff teams with high-flying offenses. They both have Hall of Fame quarterbacks and Hall of Fame coaches who have won Super Bowls. This is one of those match-ups where you know you’re getting the best and at this point in the season, this match-up could very well determine which team has the top seed in the playoffs and which team will have to travel on their path to another Super Bowl.

Then again, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers didn’t mind traveling last year on the road to their championship, so there’s that.


#3: Packers @ Chiefs in Week 9

Packers vs. Chiefs: Three questions with Arrowhead Addict

I know. It’s another Chiefs game. No, I’m not playing favorites. I’ve just been watching football long enough to know that Patrick Mahomes makes any game worth watching. However, add future Hall of Famer Aaron Rogers to the mix and this could be must-see TV. Now, it’s not yet clear what’ll happen between the Packers and Rogers. I’ve been following the trade rumors along with anyone else. I don’t think there’s enough there to think someone different will be under center by the time this game is played. Hopefully, it’s still the match-up we all hope it will be.

Plus, this should’ve been the Super Bowl last year. It really should’ve.


#2: Ravens @ Steelers in Week 13

Steelers vs. Ravens: A decade by decade breakdown of one of the NFL's  greatest rivalries - CBSSports.com

I don’t think I need to say much to justify this. It’s Ravens versus Steelers. They’re not just division rivals. They’re two of the hardest hitting teams in the AFC. Both are regularly in the playoff hunt, especially by mid-season. Both have top tier quarterbacks and quality defenses. It’s usually at this point in the season where one team separates themselves from another and it’s usually in a match-up like this when we see these teams at their best.

If you’re a fan of old school had-nose football, this is your game.


#1: Buccaneers @ Patriots in Week 4

Tom Brady's 2 TD passes, Ryan Succop's 4 field goals lift Buccaneers over  Giants

It’s Tom Brady’s first time playing in Foxboro for a team that’s not the Patriots. Need I say more? Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to every play and his greatness brought six Super Bowl titles to New England. Him leaving was a big deal. Him coming back as a Buccaneer after winning them the Super Bowl will an even bigger deal. This is one of those games that’ll have a lot of drama to it. It’ll feel like a playoff game and it’ll only be Week 4.

For that reason, this will likely be the most anticipated game of the season for many, myself included.


I’ll say it again. I am so ready for some football. I know I’ll have to wait a few more months for it to arrive, but I’ll be ready when the time comes. The wait will be agonizing and these five games are just a small slice of a much larger, more delicious cake that is the NFL season, but it’ll be worth it.

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How HBO Max May Prompt Me To Get A Bigger TV

TCL 6-Series (55R625, 65R625) QLED TV Review - Reviewed

In general, I try to budget my money carefully when it comes to big purchases. By big, I don’t mean things you’d splurge on like fancy shoes, custom suits, jewelry, or a lap dance at a strip club. Those are more akin to casual indulgences. There’s nothing wrong with those in moderation.

For me, a single guy who has a mortgage and his own place, major purchases tend to involve large appliances and utility upgrades. Those upgrades can be expensive. One of the biggest purchases I had to make after buying my place was a new HVAC system. That purchase cost thousands. I had to taper some indulgences, as a result.

It was still worth doing. I feel like those purchases have paid for themselves many times over, in terms of quality of life. That’s how I gauge every major purchase. If it has an overall positive effect on quality of life, then it’s worth budgeting for. I learned in college that sometimes you need to endure a few nights of Ramen noodles before you can enjoy a good steak dinner.

This brings me to what could be my next major purchase. Earlier this year, I had a few things in mind that I considered saving for. My plan was to re-evaluate my priorities around the summer before I made a choice. Well, after watching Zack Snyder’s “Justice League” and “Godzilla vs. Kong,” those plans may have changed.

These past few weeks, I’ve documented how watching these movies as they debut on HBO Max has changed the way I’ve consumed new movies. I think it’s safe to say that my approach to viewing new movies has changed in a big way. Now, when a new movie is set to come out, I’ll have to weigh whether I want to see it in a theater or create my own experience at home.

I’ll be facing that choice quite a bit this year. Warner Brothers and HBO Max have a very promising slate of movies. Some of these were movies I planned on seeing in theaters. Now, after “Justice League” and “Godzilla vs. Kong,” I’m not so sure. To complicate the choice even more, I’m no considering a major upgrade to my living room in the form of a new TV.

At the moment, I have a 55-inch HDTV that has served me well for about five years. It’s not the highest end TV, but it gets the job done. It has seen me through multiple NFL seasons and plenty superhero movie marathons. However, I know I’ll have to upgrade at some point. With more and more content coming out in 4K, the incentives are there and growing.

However, given my recent efforts to re-create the theater experience in my living room, those incentives increased considerably. After watching “Godzilla vs. Kong,” I really felt the limits of my current TV. It still looks great and thanks to the sound bar I bought a couple years ago, the sound felt very similar to that of a movie theater.

The only thing that didn’t quite match that experience was the screen itself. It was good, but not great. For that reason, a newer, larger TV might very well be the kind of major purchase that pays off big time, in terms of quality of life. It may ultimately change even more how I determine whether I’ll see a new movie in a theater or at home.

Before this year, a new TV was a low priority for me. It’s not that I don’t want a bigger, better TV in general. I just didn’t see much value, given how few shows or events are broadcast in 4K. That may be changing, but it just wasn’t happening fast enough to justify the cost.

For me, the tipping point was whether NFL games would be broadcast in 4K. Thus far, that hasn’t happened. I was waiting until that announcement became official before I got serious about a new TV. Now, I don’t think sports are the tipping point anymore. HBO Max has suddenly changed the whole value structure for a new TV.

It’s exciting. I love the idea of being able to watch new movies on HBO Max or some other streaming service on a bigger, better TV. Whenever the NFL or baseball joins the 4K party, then that’ll only add to the value.

There’s still a real chance that I might find there’s a limit to recreating the movie experience in my living room. Once the novelty wears off, I might find there’s just now re-creating that theater or IMAX experience. No matter what I do to my living room, it just can’t measure up. I’m prepared to accept that outcome, should that be the case.

On the other hand, there’s also a chance I might recreate that experience a bit too well. If I get a good enough TV with a good enough picture, then going to the movies might end up being a last resort instead of an option. If I find that the experience in my living room is more enjoyable than any movie theater, then that will be my first choice for new movies.

That raises the stakes even more for this new TV. For once, it’s not just about seeking a better way to watch football games. It’s about turning my living room into something that can recreate that cinematic experience in the best possible way.

I’ll certainly keep everyone updated on this effort. As of this writing, I haven’t made any purchases, nor have I set a date for making one. For now, I’m just focusing on budgeting my money appropriately so that when the time comes, I’ll be ready to take that plunge. If anyone has any tips or insights into creating that special theatrical experience in their living room, please share it in the comments. Like any major purchase, I value the expertise and experiences of others. If all goes well, then I hope to be watching “The Matrix 4” on an awesome new TV by Christmas this year.

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Filed under HBO Max, Jack Fisher's Insights, movies, technology, television

Post-Super Bowl LV Aftermath And Thoughts

It’s over.

The 2020 NFL season is over.

Super Bowl LV is over and while the outcome was lacking in drama, it was still not surprising.

Again, Tom Brady led a team to a Super Bowl.

For the seventh time in his career, Tom Brady is a Super Bowl champion.

At this point, there’s no way around it. Tom Brady is the greatest. They call him the GOAT, the Greatest of All Time. It’s not just a cute acronym. It’s the truth. The man has won seven Super Bowls. That’s nearly double that of any other quarterback of any era. He’s also played in ten. Out of a 21 year career, that means he’s been to a Super Bowl almost every other year.

If you’re not an American football fan, just know that’s insane. That’s unheard of. In a game that’s supposed to be the ultimate team sport in which one player cannot win a game alone, it might as well be superhuman. It’s one thing to do this with one team over the course of two decades, but Brady had to raise the bar yet again by going to another team and winning them a Super Bowl in his first year.

Again, that’s insane.

That’s unheard of.

That was thought to be impossible, given the nature of the NFL.

That still didn’t stop Brady. He still went to a new team and, despite not even winning the division, he went onto win the Super Bowl. There are Hall of Fame players who are considered the greatest of their time who never even played in a Super Bowl. Barry Sanders, Bernie Kosar, Calvin Johnson, and Philip Rivers are all considered great, but Brady has played in 10 more Super Bowl than they ever did.

At this point, there is no debate. There is no context or second-guessing. Tom Brady is the greatest football player of all time. After this lastest Super Bowl, I would even go a step further.

Tom Brady is officially better than Michael Jordan.

Trust me, I don’t say those words lightly. Michael Jordan was so dominant when he played in the NBA. His six championship and the way he went about winning them are what put him a cut above the rest, even among players today. LeBron James is trying to catch him, but even if he goes onto win six championship, he won’t be better than Tom Brady.

Patrick Mahomes is still great. He still won a Super Bowl last year and he still put up great numbers. Nobody can take that away from him. However, even if he goes onto win seven Super Bowls throughout his career, he’ll never be greater than Tom Brady, if only because he lost to Brady when it counted.

You can hate Brady all you want for winning so much and being so dominant. You can even hate how lopsided the Super Bowl was this year. You still can’t deny the cold, hard truth.

Tom Brady has shattered what few doubts remained. He is the greatest of all time when it comes to football. I’m confident in saying that there will never be anyone as great as him, for as long as this game is played.

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Two Monday Night Football Games: Something Awesome From Something Awful In 2020

It’s been a weird year for sports and for horrific reasons. Let’s not overlook that. This year has been horrific in general for reasons I hope I don’t have to belabor. However, it is possible for good things to come out of awful circumstances. That doesn’t make the circumstances any less awful, but a good thing is still a good thing.

For me, a lifelong football fan who builds his Sunday afternoons and Monday nights around watching football, it’s been plenty weird. Watching NFL games in front of empty stadiums has taken some getting used to. All that fake crowd noise isn’t the least bit convincing.

That said, I’ll gladly take this kind of football over no football. At the same time, news about positive COVID-19 tests among NFL teams has me genuinely concerned. It already caused one game to get delayed. It threatened to delay another one. It was scary.

Then, through this horrible thing, something awesome emerged. The marquee matchup between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs was postponed to Monday Night. That meant we had what amounted to a double-header last night, starting at 7:00 p.m. EST and going past midnight.

I think I speak for many of my fellow football fans when I say I loved this. I loved it in ways I cannot put into words without the aid of alcohol or spiked coffee.

Yes, I’m tired this morning from staying up so late.

Yes, it’s something that emerged from a bad situation.

Yes, it’s still awesome.

Two Monday Night Football games? A double-header that makes Monday’s less awful and Monday night’s more eventful? Yes, please! This is an objectively wonderful thing and I say let’s have more of it.

Sundays are great and because of NFL RedZone, football fans can plug themselves into every game for hours at a time. It’s wonderful and has made football such an engaging, day-long experience.

However, there are times in the season when there are as many as 9 or 10 games going at once at 1:00 p.m. in my time zone. Even with RedZone, it’s hard to keep up with. Some of those games deserve to be prime time games. Some of those teams would benefit from a little prime time exposure. I say this is the perfect way to do it.

Monday Night Football is already a ratings bonanza for everyone involved, regardless of how awful this year has been. Adding another game to that mix can only help add to the boon. I hope last night was a proving ground of sorts. There is room for two games on Monday night.

To the NFL, please use this as a sign. Turn this objectively terrible situation into something awesome. Football fans will thank you for years to come.

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Filed under Current Events, football, sports, television

The (Pathetic) Virtue Signaling Of Those Who Whine About Virtue Signaling

The internet and social media are wonderful. They’ve done plenty of good for the world. People have connected like never before. Knowledge, information, and personal connections have never been easier. These are objectively good things for a social species like ours.

I make that disclaimer because I’m about to talk about one of the biggest negatives that the internet has fostered. I also concede there are far worse negatives. The internet and social media have done far greater harm in certain areas, plenty of which make the news. Some of that harm is just genuinely deplorable behavior. Some is outright illegal.

However, I would argue that one of the most infuriating, yet perfectly activities that the internet has enabled is virtue signaling. I’ve bemoaned it before and for good reason. Virtue signaling is a toxic combination of narcissism, groupthink, clickbait, and trolling. Take everything you hate about the worst people on the internet. Much of it is incorporated into virtue signaling.

It’s the selfish, ego-stroking act of loudly proclaiming that you’re so in favor or opposed to something that you demand acknowledgement and affirmation from total strangers. It’s not enough to just have a strong opinion or do something that’s actually virtuous. These people need the whole goddamn world to pat them on the back and assure them they’re a special snowflake.

There are far worse ways to describe this phenomenon. For my own sanity, I’ll leave it at that. I trust my readers to fill in the blanks without breaking their computer screens. All you need to know is that virtue signaling comes in many forms. Some acts are far worse than others. Like most things on the internet, there’s a spectrum to it.

Like any meme or trending hashtag, there’s a certain range of behaviors that constitute virtue signaling. Sometimes, it’s obvious. You need only see videos and articles whining about how video games, movies, and TV shows are ruining the world by empowering the patriarchy. However, I’ve noticed one particular brand of virtue signaling that’s becoming more common.

Specifically, it comes from the people who are usually the first to whine about virtue signaling. It’s every bit as hypocritical as it sounds, and then some. Virtue signaling is bad enough, but adding hypocrisy to the mix only makes it 10 times worse.

I’ve seen more and more of this pernicious virtue signaling in recent weeks, especially as the NBA playoffs wind down and as the NFL season gets going. It shows up in Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and pretty much any poorly moderated comments section. It usually goes something like this.

“These self-entitled athletes dared to protest social issues! I’m canceling my subscription!”

“Get your damn politics out of sports! Until then, you won’t get a cent of my money!”

“Boycott this league and all the snowflake cucks who work in it!”

“I will never support a league that doesn’t stand proudly for the flag/anthem/whatever political symbol I’ve decided to champion!”

Trust me, it gets worse. It gets much worse.

At the same time, it compounds the cringe. I imagine the people making these comments don’t think they’re virtue signaling. They may see themselves as heroic underdogs resisting some nefarious foe looking to destroy them and everything they care about.

Again, these are sports leagues. They’re a business. They’re main goal is to entertain, make money, and attract the widest possible audience. Sometimes, that audience includes people who aren’t you.

That’s a concept that seems to fly over the heads of everyone who whines and complains about politics in sports, video games, comics, movies, etc. Pick any form of media. Give it any kind of controversial or political undertones, even if it’s indirect. Chances are you’ll get people who call that virtue signaling and some of those people protest by virtue signaling how much they’re against it.

They don’t always see the hypocrisy, but it’s painfully apparent at times. The biggest catalyst, in my opinion, was the very public protest by Colin Kaepernick back in 2016. He stated very clearly that he was protesting police brutality and not disrespecting the American flag or veterans. He belabored and reiterated that countless times.

It didn’t matter. A sizeable chunk of people, who I won’t identify because they make their affiliations all too clear, decided he was this anti-American radical. He didn’t just want to protest injustice. He wanted to ruin America, the NFL, and sports in general. I’ve seen many toxic comment sections and Twitter threads in my time. This was probably the worst.

Again, most of it was just virtue signaling from the other side. Everyone seemed to compete for the right to proclaim they loved America, stood for the National Anthem, and hated Colin Kaepernick with every fiber of their being. They do all of that while calling someone like Kaepernick and other players who protested with him whiny, virtue-signaling America haters.

It’s a cycle of hypocrisy that doesn’t just miss the point. It goes out of its way to avoid the actual substance of what the issue was. Remember, and I wish I didn’t have to reiterate this, the man was protesting police brutality against young black men. That’s a legitimate issue that hurts innocent people. It should be confronted.

Instead, the hypocritical virtue signalers of the internet decide to ignore that issue entirely and make it all about who loves their country and flag more. It’s the digital equivalent of a pissing contest. Everyone wants to yell how much they hate the NFL and NBA. They want everyone to know that they don’t support their league and won’t be watching any games.

First off, I don’t believe them for a second.

I suspect the people who make comments like that will get bored one day, flip through the channels, and settle on a football or basketball game. Nobody will ever call them out on it. Chances are, nobody will ever find out. They may or may not feel a twinge of guilt for the hypocrisy, but they’ll pay no price.

Second, if you go out of your way to post comments in feeds to tell the world how much you hate something, you’re not just virtue signaling. You’re being an asshole of the highest order. The NFL and NBA are not out to get you. They’re not out to destroy America. They just want to entertain and make money. Sometimes, that means catering to a diverse audience.

Certain snowflakes on certain extremes of the political spectrum may hate it. They can whine about it all they want, telling as many people as they can how they’re not going to participate. They’re still the bigger assholes here and considering the scandalous behavior of organizations like the NFL, that’s saying something.

I’m sorry if this rant is dragging, but as someone who’s genuinely excited for football season and doesn’t mind at all seeing athletes protest causes they believe in, this kind of virtue signaling just pisses me off more than most. If you hate the NFL just because they dare to raise awareness of social issues, then I don’t know what to tell you. That’s petty, shallow, and just plain stupid. Virtue signaling is bad enough. Let’s not make it worse by adding whining and hypocrisy to the mix.

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Filed under Current Events, extremism, football, human nature, media issues, outrage culture, political correctness, politics, rants

An Ode To Cam Newton’s Suits

As I write these words, I’m still basking in the utter sports bliss that was the start of the NFL season. I know I’ve made a bigger deal of it than usual. I will not apologize for that. Cut me some slack. This year has sucked on so many levels. Indulging in my love of football made it suck a little bit less. I hope others feel the same.

While I cherished every last bit of the action in week 1, there was one other bonus I wanted to note. That’s Patriot’s quarterback Cam Newton’s suit. I know. It’s not the most important issue facing this world today, but just look at it. Take a single moment out of your day to appreciate this incredible feat of men’s fashion.

I want to put it into words. I just can’t. There’s no way my writing skills can do justice to this look. Between the bow tie, the yellow coloring, the hat, and the shoes, I don’t think Shakespeare himself could articulate how amazing this is.

When I saw this, I just couldn’t stop smiling. I also know this isn’t the first time Cam Newton’s fashion sense has raised some eyebrows. This is what he wore to a serious press conference one day.

Again, I have no words. That ridiculous, colorful style that seems so outlandish to the rest of us? Hell, that’s just Tuesday for Cam Newton. I, for one, thank him for that. Say what you will about his skills as an NFL quarterback. The man has style.

I know it’s not exactly the most salient issue facing the world in 2020, but come on. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate this.

Mr. Newton, as someone who appreciates men’s fashion as much as the next guy, I sincerely thank you. This year sucks just a little bit less because of you.

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Filed under men's issues, NFL, sports, Uplifting Stories

Jack’s World: My Picks And Predictions For The 2020 NFL Season

Every year, just before the NFL season kicks off, I write out my predictions and picks for the season. Being a lifelong football fan, it’s one of my favorite times of the year. This year, being what it is, has added some new complications. Be that as it may, I’m still going to try. This time, though, I’m going to offer my picks through my YouTube channel, Jack’s World.

If you like this new format and would like me to make more videos like it, please let me know in the comments. Enjoy!

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Filed under football, Jack's World, NFL, sports, YouTube

My (Fragile) Hopes For The XFL With The Rock

Earlier this year, I was very excited about the inaugural season of the second iteration of the XFL. Being a lifelong football fan, as well as a proponent of anything that could shake up the NFL/NCAA duopoly, I was genuinely hopeful for the future of this league.

It was doing everything right. It learned from the mistakes of the first version of the XFL. The league took its time. It got the right people. It dared to innovate how the game was played. It also had the beer snake. Who could forget the legendary beer snake?

Then, the pandemic hit and destroyed everything.

That’s not an exaggeration. I know the COVID-19 pandemic has ruined a lot of things this year, but it utterly destroyed the XFL. This was a brand new league trying to forge a new identity. It had a plan, but that plan did not account for the impact of the worst global pandemic in a century. How could it?

Sadly, the league declared bankruptcy in April. I was deeply saddened. I didn’t post anything about it. The thought of trying to put my disappointment into words was just too much. I was content to just swallow my anguish and find another way to endure the ongoing horror that is 2020.

Then, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stepped in and bought the league for $15 million. Suddenly, the slightest glimmer of hope for the XFL and the future in general has emerged.

As part of the bankruptcy procedures, the XFL went up for sale. There aren’t many people who could’ve bought its assets and inspired any hope that it would live again. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is definitely one of them. He’s one of the most successful and beloved entertainers of the past 20 years. Say what you will about his movies, but the man is just one of the most likable guys you’ll find in entertainment these days.

Compare that with Vince McMahon. There just is no comparison worth making.

He’s also former football player, himself. He loves sports. He has a genuine love for the game. Both he and his business partner/ex-wife, Dany Carcia, plan to play games again. How they’ll go about it and how they’ll make it work remains to be seen. We still have to survive 2020 in one piece.

However, this news gives me a genuine, yet fragile hope for the XFL. It’s fragile because after the events of this past year, everything feels more fragile. The XFL did everything right the second time and still got screwed over by forces beyond anyone’s control. Naturally, I’m very reluctant to put my hopes on something that just seems to attract bad luck and bad circumstances at every turn.

Make no mistake. I want the XFL to come back. I want it to succeed. I think it was on the right path to do so before the pandemic hit. Now, with the leadership and brand appeal of The Rock, I think it’s in a good position to emerge from this dystopian stretch with a viable future.

However, I don’t think it can succeed if it just tries to go back to the way things were. It’s way too late for that. Right now, the XFL has a bad reputation of either being trashy, unlucky, or prone to bankruptcy. That’s not a good brand identity, to say the least.

At the same time, the XFL has an opportunity to re-align the entire football world in a good way. The XFL wasn’t the only sports entity to get screwed over by the pandemic. The NCAA is in a state of enormous upheaval right now. It lost nearly a billion dollars when it had to cancel the big basketball tournament this past spring. It’ll lose even more if it has to cancel fall sports, which is already happening.

Now, say what you will about the brand of the XFL. It’s still more admirable than the NCAA. The current system the NCAA uses to exploit college athletes while enriching itself just cannot be justified. The fact they’re fighting so hard get college sports going shows how little they care for the student part in “student athlete.”

That system is utterly untenable. The pandemic is just exposing how flawed and fragile that system always was. This is where the XFL can step in. If the Rock and his business partners are a smart as I hope, they’ll jump at the opportunity to recruit displaced college athletes. If only a handful of big time college schools can still operate, then that means hundreds of skilled players will be left out.

The XFL can help them and help itself. It can offer these aspiring athletes actual money to play a sport they love. That shouldn’t be such a radical concept, but the NCAA has kept it radical for far too long. At some point, it can’t keep justifying the practice of not paying athletes who make millions for their league and their school. If they keep trying, then the XFL is in position to step in.

At some point, this pandemic will end. Sports will return and people will flood football stadiums as they once did. The NFL will always reign supreme in the world of football, but the XFL will greatly improve the sport by supplanting the NCAA. Other sports leagues have developmental leagues for young, aspiring athletes beyond college. The XFL can be that league.

To get to that point, it’ll take hard work and someone with the vision and grit to see it through. There aren’t a lot of people who are up to that challenge. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is definitely one of them.

I hope he succeeds.

I hope the XFL prospers.

The football world needs it.

The XFL already has two strikes against it. This time, hitting a home run won’t be enough. It needs to hit a grand slam. I’m still very hesitant, but I’m also hopeful.

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Filed under football, sports, XFL