Best/Worst: The NFL Fun Police, College Lawsuits, and Dwyane Wade

Friday.

End of the week.

Let’s do this.

WORST: The NFL doing NFL things. We’re never going back to the days when Joe Horn was pulling a cell phone out of the goalpost. Every year we drift a little further away. This week’s bad news was broken by a producer from “The Dan Patrick Show”: “The NFL will not allow dunking the ball over the goal post next season. It will be a penalty. Cannot use the ball as a prop.”

Nobody who follows the NFL could’ve been surprised by this. Goalpost dunks were one of the last fun celebrations the NFL had left, so the goalpost dunks had to go. Of course.

Football is great, but god the NFL is horrible.

A spokesman said the league was worried about players delaying games by wrecking the crossbar — something that happened last year — but in that case, why not just penalize anyone who breaks the crossbar? Fifteen yards, or even an ejection. We don’t need to ban dunking altogether.

But you knew that already. The problem is that this is the NFL, where anything fun and spontaneous must be eliminated. We’re two years away from outlawing fat-man sack dances, I promise you. It all dovetails nicely with Mark Cuban’s comments this week, predicting doom for pro football within 10 years.

“Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered,” Cuban explained in this Facebook post. Pigs obsess over petty bullshit, and try to monopolize our entire week, and get rich off brain damage to a bunch of players who almost universally end up going broke … eventually, we all decide to slaughter those hogs. It sounds good in theory.

I don’t think he’s right, because America is too hopelessly addicted to football. But whenever the NFL comes up with some obnoxious rule like this, I root a little harder for the whole thing to collapse one day. Nothing would make me happier than watching Roger Goodell preside over the NFL’s downfall. College football’s more fun anyway.

WORST: Remember Nike commercials? The NFL’s shitty rules reminded me of the Nike Fun Police ads, and I realized that in the Internet era, Nike’s basically abandoned TV commercials. We used to get a different, awesome Nike commercial every month. Now, we maybe get one a year. A little Googling confirmed I’m not crazy — Nike’s decided to spend that $2.4 billion budget elsewhere.

And now an entire generation of sports fans has to grow up without the Roswell Rayguns, the Good Ol’ Boys, Lil Penny and Ken Griffey, the Brazilians at baggage claim, or the Fun Police.

This is an even bigger crisis than the NFL banning goalpost dunks.

BEST: Snyder cares. Dan Snyder writing open letters to America is quickly becoming my favorite NFL tradition.

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“The more I heard, the more I’ve learned, and the more I saw, the more resolved I became about helping to address the challenges that plague the Native American community,” Dan Snyder wrote in an open letter to “Redskins Nation” this week. “As loyal fans of the Washington Redskins, I want you to know that tomorrow I will announce the creation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.”

Perfect.

For the record: The Redskins name is obviously offensive and should probably be changed, but on the scale of racist things in America, this still ranks pretty low.

It only gets really racist when you try to defend it on an intellectual level. Then, you’re not only defending an outdated racist slur, but also insulting the intelligence of anyone who might be offended.

• “High schools use it, so ignore this billion-dollar franchise named after a racist slur!”

• “My dad used to take me to Redskins games, not Washington football games. Where are we going if we forget where we’ve been?”

• “Look at these Native Americans we invited to the game!”

• “I bought a backhoe for these Native Americans in Nebraska!”

These PR campaigns are so condescending that they remind people how racist and arrogant this country’s always been, and suddenly a symbolic thing like the name of a football team gets a lot more depressing.

As someone who’s grown up loathing Dan Snyder, it’s wonderful to watch. The longer he drags it out, the more open letters he writes, the worse he looks, and the more galvanized the opposition becomes. He could just change the name to the Hogs or the Pigskins, and then pledge to help Native American tribes around America, and be universally applauded. But no way. That would ruin all the fun we’re having.

WORST: Baseball contracts. For real.

Someone needs to explain how this keeps happening. Miguel Cabrera just signed an eight-year contract worth $248 million and elicited this amazing headline from Jonah Keri, but really, all superstar baseball contracts are every bit as indefensible.

Felix Hernandez is making $175 million over seven years. Prince Fielder’s making $219 million over nine years. A-Rod got $275 million for 10. Pujols got $240 million. And on and on. Mike Trout’s gonna get $40 million a year whenever he signs his deal. You could fund a small country with all the money we’re giving to baseball players most of America completely ignores.

BEST: Fortune names Derek Jeter the 11th greatest leader in the world. Not even for what he does on the baseball field, you know? He’s just an inspiring guy.

He does things the right the way.

We could all learn a thing or two.

BEST: College lawsuit season. The NCAA is currently fighting three major lawsuits, and one of them was decided in the players’ favor this week. The suit will probably be stuck in appeals for the next few years, and the others (Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit and the recent Jeffrey Kessler suit) will probably take another few years before anything ever gets settled, but in general, it’s all positive.

The NCAA is finally being questioned in open court, and losing; eventually, it’s going to be forced to make some major concessions. We came up with some immediate solutions here, but what’s most important is that we’re headed in the right direction. Soon players will win out here, and the completely corrupt college sports system will be only pretty corrupt. Progress is a good thing.

WORST: Commenters and commentators. I will never understand the people who passionately defend the NCAA’s right to not pay athletes. They might be the purest form of haters we have in American society.

Look at the Facebook commenters on this article — never look at the Facebook commenters on any article, but still — and try to explain the logic.

• “WHAAA I GET FREE COLLEGE AT A $50,000 A YEAR UNIVERSITY, CLOTHES, AND A PLACE TO STAY, BUT I’M SO UNDER PRIVILEGED WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”

• “This is a complete joke. These punks are getting the privledge to be a college athlete. Go pro if you want to get paid.”

• “LOL…welcome to the real world. They wanted the ‘benefits’ of being considered paid employees, they have to live the with costs just like the rest of us in the working world. The dollar value of all they are given is WAY higher than people consider.”

Why do people care this much if someone else wants to get paid?

Or put differently. Why are we fighting to NOT pay people?

It’s not coming out of your check. Nobody would even lose money. If colleges ever start paying kids, they’ll come up with a plan that limits the impact on overall balance sheets and limits the tax exposure for kids and schools alike, and (almost certainly) forces someone else (Nike, Adidas, ESPN, CBS) to help foot the bill.

It comes down to rich people not getting quite as rich, and broke college kids making a little bit of money for the 40 to 60 hours they spend playing big-time sports every week. This shouldn’t be that controversial. It’s 2014. Stop hating.

BEST: CHUCK. The king.

Easily the highlight of Thursday night’s Sweet 16 games, and none of it could’ve been possible without Shaq’s diabetes soda.

Anyone who watches this and says, “Talk about the games!” is someone I can never be friends with. That person probably hates goalpost dunks, too, and thinks paying college kids would ruin the integrity of the game. Thank god for Barkley to balance those people out.

BEST: Reevaluating everything. I’ve always been one of those people who hates everything Wisconsin basketball stands for, but suddenly the whole world looks different. We all need to get on Wisconsin’s level.

It’s another reason to love the NCAA tournament. Almost every tournament win ends with celebrations like this, with college kids dancing like idiots, and college towns like Dayton turning into gigantic campuswide parties. As corrupt as college sports look sometimes, this is why they will always be great.

WORST: DeSean Jackson is gone. This is a tragedy only because an offense as insanely entertaining as Chip Kelly’s in Philadelphia deserves a player as insanely entertaining as DeSean Jackson. But the Eagles cut him, which is bad enough. And they also cited gang affiliations as a factor, so now we get to listen to a bunch of old white NFL writers speculate about gang culture for the next 72 hours. Terrible news all around.

WORST: SPARTAK DOWN, NOOOOOOOOOOOO. Russell Westbrook is definitely making the Dwyane Wade face right now.

BEST: The Playoffs are coming, and Dwyane Wade is still evil.

As much as I hated that Wade move was the other night, it was oddly comforting. Like seeing an old family member, even if that family member is someone you’ve always despised.

Wednesday night I found myself alone in my living room, shouting at Wade and the refs who cosign his bullshit, and remembering what it’s all about. The playoffs are coming.

There were a lot of great things in sports this week, but nothing made me happier than watching that Pacers-Heat game devolve into chaos with Lance and Wade, or LeBron and Hibbert. Soon we’ll have those wars every night in the East, and outright chaos in the West. Until then, we have Kendrick Perkins with this sea lion, and the NCAA tournament all weekend. Life is good.

Filed Under: NFL, Mark Cuban, Derek Jeter, Dan Snyder, Charles Barkley

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Andrew Sharp is a staff editor at Grantland.

Archive @ andrewsharp