Is it the players? Is it the owners? Is it Roger Goodell? Is it the fans? Is it everything? I ask the question because over recent years I, among many others have noticed a trend within the NFL and the media surrounding it. A trend that, if left unchecked, could lead to corruption at the highest levels and destroy whatever purity remains of a game we love.
"I don't trust the NFL." - Chris Borland
This was a statement made by a retired NFL player - who quit after his rookie season. Chris Borland was incredibly talented, very intelligent, and had a fierceness that was hard to match out there on the gridiron. Unfortunately, football is a very rough game, and Borland decided that the risks were not worth the reward. Good for him to have the courage and foresight to see that conclusion - and make the choice to retire before his NFL career even really began. However, for a player of this caliber to make such a statement about a league that wanted him to succeed - says something bigger.
During Borland's rookie season - he was also given a very strange piece of advice from a former NFL player - at a NFL sanctioned, rookie event. The advice was to "have a fall guy." This advice, as we now know publicly, was given by former player and current ESPN Analyst, Cris Carter. The fact that Chris Borland was in that room at the time speaks volumes and helps to connect the dots here a bit.
Of course, the NFL and any other public figure OR organization cannot possibly admit to giving that advice or feeling that way about the subject. That is what makes Cris Carter's comments so controversial. He said this knowing full well that he was being recorded at a NFL sanctioned event.
What I'm more curious about regarding all of these topics and connections is: Why are former players so willing to bash the NFL? Why are there more and more reports coming out about how the NFL cannot be trusted, it is an organization that does not care about the players and only cares about itself, and it is an organization that will just use it's infinite money and resources to buy you off if you go against them?
Personally, I think the problem is Roger Goodell. He is the commissioner - and therefore all problems start and end with him. An organization like the NFL is run like a pyramid - if you fix the problem at the top - the rest will trickle down to everyone down the ladder.
There are a lot of problems going on around and within the NFL - and a lot of questions that continue to be raised - some are more likely to resemble a conspiracy theory than anything else, while others actually make you take a moment to think about the current state of affairs. From the proper treatment of players in regards to discipline as well as injuries to trust issues being resolved among players and team owners - one thing is for certain: We need a change - and change starts at the top.
Follow me on twitter @Dexmatthews - I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, or anything for that matter!