The suits at the NFL have created a problem for themselves.
Point #1: They employee hundreds of physically powerful men who are accustomed to a high level of violence, a number of whom would probably be dead or in prison if their high athletic ability hadn’t supplied an opportunity for a better life in sports.
Point #2: The NFL wants to sell its overpriced merchandise to women, who may enjoy the pageantry and speed, but who won’t tolerate much actual on- or off-field violence. (At least, that’s what the NFL thinks. I personally doubt women would care much, if the NFL just shrugged it off. But the suits don’t want to be asked about the latest wife-beating or shooting every week, either. So one way or another, they want to limit it.)
There’s an obvious contradiction here. In the past, the answer was simply to cover most of it up. If a player beat someone up in a bar or got caught in a crime, you paid a few people off and made it go away. But in the age of social media — and some players even tweeting and instagramming their own antics — that’s hard to do now. So the league decided to go to the other extreme, appointing itself moral den mother to the players in a quest to prevent all their bad behavior. The league will tell you how you can fight with your girlfriend, how you can discipline your child, and what you can say about things.
That’s what the fight over Brady’s phone ended up being about. If you’re going to try to monitor all these guys and prevent or catch their misbehavior, what better way than to have easy access to their cell phones? But you don’t want the publicity of battling in court for each one, so you need to set a precedent that you can just require it as part of the job.
So when the league got the Patriot equipment guys’ cell phones and saw what matching texts would be on Brady’s phone, it must have looked like a godsend. They knew what would be there, so they figured they had him dead to rights, so he’d be willing to deal. Best of all, he’s white, so they couldn’t be accused of racism like they would have been if they’d made this unprecedented demand of a black player. So they hit him with a huge penalty, figuring he’d gladly deal to get rid of it.
It might have worked, except they overplayed their hand and got sloppy about the actual evidence-gathering and rule-following, Brady was more stubborn than expected, and they ran into a judge that didn’t buy their act. Now just the opposite precedent has been set, and the next time they see a chance to go after a player’s phone or get more control in some way, it won’t be a player who’s so easy a target.
So the league still has a problem, and it’s an unenviable one. If they crack down harder on players with criminal records, they’ll be accused of racism, which they fear almost as much as accusations of insensitivity to women. They could try to go back to keeping private lives private, but that may not be possible. The technology of gossip really has changed. Plus, they don’t want to do that. That’s what happens when SJWs infiltrate; you end up with a bureaucracy that really wants to obsess about these things.
So there probably isn’t a solution, and they’ll continue trying to buy feminists off with Pinktober and forced apologies. The game is still pretty great, but it’s getting harder to enjoy it through the nonsense.