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PATRIOTS REPORT

NFL Heros & Villains

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First and Ten(derloin)!

Being a high paid athlete has it drawbacks. People perceive

that the money which athletes receive nullifies their rights

to many things of which privacy is one. Perhaps, this

perception stems from love/hate feelings people have about

the athletes' economic worth. Additionally, the perception

of athletes as Neanderthals, pigs, and jerks is not helped by

the characterization of football players in movies and on TV.

 

Few people today are naive to the life of some athletes in

the "fast lane" of the '90s. However, to the extent that

negative characterization of a few affects the majority, the

NFL/teams/players need to defend their institution/image and

establish a more positive perception of a football player's

social graces, mental acumen, and overall desirability as a

human... even if it means culling the bad.

 

Long before the aroma of the Patriots' shaving lotion entered

the room, the odor of their past hijinks did. Regarding the

Incident, most people that we surveyed just following the

Incident thought that the football players were guilty before

proven, or at least highly suspect of being likely to act as

accused. The press unanimously scorned them in word and

cartoons without proof.

 

Had football existed during Macbeth's time, he would have

paraphrased his famous statement to caution the NFL about the

manner in which it allows itself and its players to be

portrayed. In situations like the Incident, the portrayals

come back to plague in the form of prejudiced opinions.

 

No part of the above statement should be construed to

indicate naivety to life. One advertisement for this very

report ran next to an article regarding a Patriots' player's

transgression of the law. Nor should any part of this section

be construed to blame or exonerate individuals named in the

Incident. What follows is included for its merit in shaping

the opinions of people whom we interviewed and/or read in

their letters to editors, cartoons, etc...

 

Privacy rights exist for individuals as well as business

entities. For individuals a tort for the invasion of privacy

is the taking, or the use of a person's name, picture, or

likeness as a symbol of his or her identity without

compensation. Companies have trademarks, service marks,

copyrights and patents to provide them with similar

protection from confusion which could exist in the market

place regarding brand, process, or construction.

 

Whether the NFL has any rights under law to stop unfavorable

representation of it or the players associated with it is for

legal review. However, it appears that the League has been

lax in so doing... or it appears that the NFL has adopted

Henry Ford's posture, that it doesn't care what gets said

about it, so long as "it" gets said. "It" is all publicity.

 

For example, during the past few Fall programming seasons

Home Box Office, HBO, has aired a show, First and Ten. (It is

now even advertised during the Monday night game.) The show

centers around a professional football team, the "Bulls," and

the players associated with it. The team is owned by a woman

who occasionally appears in the locker room. There is nudity

(usually in the form of female breasts) in every segment of

which a new one is shown each week, repeatedly. The cast

represent various persona. And though there is always the

country-boy-that-reads-the-Bible, the players are best

remembered by the actors cast as animals or bumbling fools.

 

That there is any confusion that the "Bulls," is a fictitious

NFL team is dismissed by the presence of Fran Tarkington who

is the team's booth announcer and O.J. Simpson who is

currently the coach and manager. There are locker rooms,

large stadiums, etc. Semi-pro football this is not.

 

In the last episode, O.J., who is drinking too much -- he

cancels the early morning drill -- gets up to dance with a

gal who asks, or tells O.J. to do the Lambada. He gives an

assuring shrug upon which she tears open her blouse exposing

her breasts to him as they dance. The next day, Coach O.J.,

hungover, is very late for a Board of Directors meeting.

 

Given the above characterization, how can a football player

have a chance in a situation such as the Incident?.

 

Finally, given the above characterization, what chance is

there that tomorrow's player will be any better than what he

sees on TV today for a role model?

 

The image of the professional football player needs repair.

The near unanimity of people's negative, stereotypical

perceptions of these athletes is alarming. Jack Price, the

owner of Carry Back, a cheap horse ($1,500) which became a

champion runner, is quoted to have said in reference to the

horse's training, "Treat them like a champ and they become

one." There is some truth to Jack's words.

" O! Ye that love mankind!   Ye that dare
   oppose not only tyranny, but the tyrant,
Stand Forth! "
Thomas Paine, Common Sense 1776