Tragedy, silliness and selfishness add to bad week for NFL


No one runs things like the NFL, but even their mighty PR machine can’t make last week go away.

Within days, the league was struck by a gruesome tragedy involving one of its most promising players, a familiar farce from one of its most polarizing performers, and a clear case of deception and irresponsibility plaguing the league. one of its biggest stars.

By far the most devastating news has come from the wilderness, where the Las Vegas Raiders – already dealing with fallout from coach Jon Gruden’s forced exit over racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails – quickly cut off the catcher. sophomore Henry Ruggs III after his high- A motor sports car slammed into the back of another vehicle, killing a woman in a fiery crash.

Police said Ruggs was running over 150 mph and had twice the legal blood alcohol content when the crash happened early Tuesday morning, meaning the receiver’s NFL career fast is probably over by the time it started.

Of course, this pales in comparison to the personal toll of Ruggs’ incredibly reckless behavior.

Tina O. Tintor had escaped war-torn Serbia as a child and was on the verge of obtaining her US citizenship, according to family members, only to lose her life insanely at the age 23 years old.

Heartbreakingly, witnesses said Tintor was still alive, crying for help, before she and her beloved golden retriever, Max, were consumed by a fireball.

His family and friends will have to live with this image for the rest of their lives.

It’s all the more infuriating: The Las Vegas attorney said the NFL Players Association has contracted ridesharing services since 2013 to provide free transportation to its members “specifically to avoid tragedies like this. “.

Ruggs was the No.12 pick in last year’s Alabama draft, a flamboyant receiver who was just beginning to realize his huge potential in the first seven games of his second season.

Today, the 22-year-old faces up to 46 years in prison.

Everyone, including their former Raiders teammates, need to pick up the pieces.

“I’ll always be there for him,” said the guy who threw him passes, Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr. “He needs people to like him right now.

Kind words from Carr, let’s move on to another quarterback who is clearly lacking when it comes to caring for others.

Aaron Rodgers probably thought he was the smartest guy in the room when he said in August that he was “immune” to COVID-19, making us all believe he had taken one of the vaccines developed. by real scientists and proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be extremely safe and highly effective.

We now know Rodgers chose his words carefully.

Or, to put it another way, lie.

Dr Rodgers, who apparently is what he wants to be when he grows up, has asked the league to approve its own “homeopathic treatment” as a replacement vaccine. This request was rightly denied because, you know, we have real vaccines.

Rodgers has since tested positive for COVID-19, which means he will miss Sunday’s renowned game against the Kansas City Chiefs and will have to stay away from teammates he claims to care so much for at least 10 days. .

Choosing an unusual channel to influence public opinion, Rodgers took to the freewheeling podcast of former NFL bettor Pat McAfee, whose main job these days is to comment on the show’s outrageous colors. WWE’s “Friday Night Smackdown” fight.

Rodgers insisted he was not one of those crazy people who believe the vaccine has a microchip or that the Earth is flat.

Then he started to look like them, claiming he was allergic to an ingredient in vaccines and, using the medical degree he never earned, developed his own vaccination protocol. He also mentioned something about being the victim of a “witch hunt”.

“I realize I’m in the crosshairs of the waking crowd right now, so before the last nail is put in my undo culture coffin, I’d like to set the record straight on some of the blatant lies going around about me right now, “Rodgers said.

With it, he regaled McAfee and those who listen to podcasts with stories about the vaccine potentially robbing him of his ability to conceive, how he treats his current condition with a range of drugs including ivermectin (yes, that dewormer for horses), and congratulate renowned immunology expert Joe Rogan for helping advance the cause of alternative medicine.

That nonsense aside, the league’s most troubling issue in all of this is familiar: the lack of openness or accountability when it comes to crises the NFL would rather simply go away.

For example, most of the details of a full investigation into the poisonous owner of the Washington football team, Dan Snyder, were quickly put under the rug, the emails from Gruden – which had nothing to do with it. with Snyder – being one of the few leaked snippets.

Chances are, the league will take the same approach when it comes to Rodgers, the hugely popular face of one of the league’s most prominent franchises, the Green Bay Packers.

Shuffle up a few papers, make vague statements, and finally hope everyone forgets everything that happened. (Which, frankly, always seems to work).

We’ll probably never know if Rodgers broke any of the supposedly strict protocols for unvaccinated players, although attending a team-up Halloween party dressed as John Wick likely qualifies (if nothing else, out of bad taste).

Packers coach Matt LaFleur insisted the team was following all league mandated protocols under his watch.

He was then asked if Rodgers did not wear a mask during press conferences contradicted his claim.

“That’s not what I said,” LaFleur retorted. “I said in our football area. Meeting rooms, passageways, whatever we do in this area. I don’t pay attention to media rules.”

In fairness to the Packers, Rodgers is hardly the only unvaccinated player speaking to reporters without a mask, so we can assume that is not part of NFL protocols.

This must change. While they are at it, the league should also require masks for unvaccinated players whenever they are not on the playing field for a game or practice.

Like those of us in the media, teammates who have chosen to be good citizens deserve protection.

Finally, we were going to move on to Odell Beckham’s final three-ring circus, which involved a daddy making videos to show how his grown-up son was treated by the average quarterback, but we ran out of time.

In fact, the Cleveland marquee closed on Friday.

The Browns unleash their mercurial receptor.

With that, good news for the NFL spin masters.

The week is almost over.


Paul Newberry is a national sports columnist for the Associated Press. Contact him at [email protected]

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