I don’t have a lot to add to things DZ , Jon Stewart, and others have already said about the recent NFL scandals. However, seeing all of these scandals play out and the media reacting like it’s breaking news, never before seen, it made me reminisce. You see, I grew up in Nebraska. In Nebraska, for those that don’t know, the Holy Trinity goes something like: the Father, the Son, and Cornhusker Football. The latter always beating the others when it comes down to it. The three National Championships in four years was, even I’ll admit, a special time. 1994 was one of those years I’ll never forget. Every team I cared about from our high school football team, to the Huskers, to Brasil in the World Cup, won it all. How often does that shit happen? 1995’s team is considered by many to be the greatest college football team to ever take the field. In those back-to-back years, the Huskers also fielded my reference point to the tragic athlete: a brilliant running back on game day, sexist psychopath by night, named Lawrence Phillips.
“LP”, as he was known, broke out in 1994 as a sophomore and scored in the National Championship game too. He racked up 1,722 yards his sophomore year, which is still a record at Nebraska. The following year started huge too with him putting up 206 yards and four touchdowns against Michigan State. Then, I guess as Dexter would call it, the “dark passenger” started to take over. Phillips was arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, also a Nebraska athlete, and was suspended by legendary coach, and our hometown Lord of Lords, Tom Osborne. Suspended. Not booted off the team. Now at the time, I was a teenager, I didn’t think much of it. But I remember one of my teachers making a comment like: “If this was anybody else, he’d be locked up. But because he’s a Husker star, he’ll get away with it.” That was essentially like screaming “I’m an atheist!” in the middle of mass.
Tom Osborne could get a separate article, including everything in my hometown that is named after him, but the point I want to make, is that good or bad, he’s one of the few coaches in the history of coaching that actually has a Ph.D. It happens to be in Educational Psychology. This is somewhat speculation, but I’ve read a couple pieces where they talk about “Dr. Tom” personally taking up Phillips as kind of a psychological challenge to try to see if he could personally rehabilitate him. I don’t know how much of that is true, but it makes sense. What also makes sense, is that Phillips was under Osborne’s wing, which meant no lawyer, judge, jury, mayor, or governor was going to touch him. At the end of the season, whether it was Osborne playing Henry Higgins saying, “Look at my masterpiece!”, or just injuries, he let Phillips start in his second National Championship game.
It may be possible that Dr. Tom did something to help a troubled young Phillips. What is certain, is that once he was in the NFL, it was dark passenger time to the extreme. While at St. Louis, he did some time for minor crimes. Once he got to Miami though, he pleaded no contest to assaulting a woman at a club. Fast forwarding some, he moved around the league, played in Canada, and all through it there were behavioral issues. This is where it gets really fucking dark and, I mentioned Dexter before, if he were real, the following would likely have put Phillips on Dexter’s radar. In 2005 in LA, after playing a pick-up football game with teens and getting pissed at them, he decided to hop in his car and try to run them over. Yeah. He was arrested on multiple assault charges. In San Diego, at about the same time, he was wanted on domestic abuse charges of a different ex-girlfriend. And there was yet another LA domestic abuse allegation. Phillips stood trial for the car mess, and got 10 years. While serving his first sentence, he was also convicted in the San Diego incident that included great bodily injury, criminal threats, and auto theft. He was sentenced to an additional 25 years and has a combined term now of 31 years. This is my lens people.
After protesting the billion dollar Vikings stadium construction and the Bond villain kicked off the island, Zygi Wilf, I was done with the NFL three years ago now. Of course, I should have been done with it years before for the violence against women, children, and all humans mentioned here. Gladiators of old, gladiators of today, empires of old, empires of today, what has changed? Speaking of gladiators, those that know me know I enjoy MMA and I (infrequently and lightly) train in aspects of it and I’m aware there are abuse issues there as well. It may seem hypocritical with the violent sports-violent people card, but it still feels different with concussion ball because of the power of the NFL and NCAA. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it felt like a weight was lifted. It has been harder, but this is my first attempt at cutting the cord of the NCAA and the Cornhuskers. For many years in Minnesota, it was a big identity thing. Now, I’m more conscious of how corrupt that league is too and I simply don’t have the time for so many long games.
Domestic/child abuse is a national issue, a national disease linked to capitalism’s toll on humanity. Dave added something like, what the NFL has is not an abuse issue, but a cover-up issue. He’s right of course, but with a man like Phillips, there was no NFL rug big enough to hide all of his crimes. What I’m interested in is whether Rice, Peterson, the big fish Goodell, or the never-ending list, will ever join LP in his cell block. Swap out a few thousand non-violent drug offenders, and he’d probably enjoy the company. Hell, maybe that’s where concussion ball truly belongs.