The National Football League season kicks off Thursday night, and thank God and Vince Lombardi, because I was beginning to think gridiron news never would overwhelm our airwaves again.

Yes, that was sarcasm, just as it would have been if I said I’m floored that the game’s fearless leader, Roger Goodell, won’t appear at the New England Patriots-Pittsburgh Steelers opener. Or that I hope Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s hall of fame reputation can recover from the rock-solid proof that he is a big, fat cheater-head.

I actually see strong parallels between our 24-7 news cycle’s two pet stories to distract us from the really important crap that’s going on in the world. You guessed it: Commissioner Goodytwoshoes and the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s favorite walking, talking bad hair day, Kim Davis, are kindred spirits.

Each has a knack for straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel, as the Good Book says. Goodytwoshoes hides away under beach house arrest, wringing his hands and drawing up an unbelievably bizarre and short-sighted pecking order of the sins that besmirch his precious game.

Caught riding dirty with a dime bag of low-quality herb, or allegedly, more probably than not, perhaps conspiring with a couple of student manager types to soften the football before obliterating a woefully overmatched opponent? You will rot on the sideline, son.

Captured on camera beating the bejeebers out of your significant other, or perhaps even found guilty in an actual court of law? Well, now, we wouldn’t want to air our dirty laundry to the world, or pay homage to the reality that half our fans are women. Surely thou hast learned thy lesson. Thy sins art forgiven, son. Enter into the presence of our bazillion-dollar pie and split it with me.

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Please, for the love of Lyle Alzado, stop talking about “the shield,” Goodytwoshoes. There is nothing holy or even dignified about your shield and what it represents. The NFL spent two full generations turning blind eyes to the scourges of performance-enhancing drugs and post-concussion syndrome and deaf ears to the plight of players who were carried out on their own shields.

None of us should expect a get-tough policy on the proliferation of domestic unrest and misbehavior with street weapons that plague the league today. Goodytwoshoes and his merry band of blissfully ignorant underlings host an annual “rookie symposium.” It’s where the most Pharisaical of all hall of fame-belonging hypocrites, Cris Carter, essentially told the newbies that everything is legal as long as they don’t get caught. Surround yourself with people who are stupid enough to take the rap for you, Carter counseled in 2014. How inspirational!

Not that we should concern ourselves with such grievous offenses, anyhow, because it is essential that we examine the integrity of air pressure in the football used while one team ran roughshod over another, 45-7. And publicly compare the quarterback of the winning team, laws of science and lack of conclusive proof of his involvement be damned, to the steroid use we so conveniently ignored in the 1970s. You know, the decade when players likely were snorting cocaine off “the shield” at post-game celebrations.

Bless the Honorable Richard Berman for skewering the frivolity of all this from the get-go, picking apart the NFL’s case with the comic incredulity of Fred Gwynne shooing Joe Pesci from his country courthouse in “My Cousin Vinny.” For placing the affidavit equivalent of air quotes around “independent” as a modifier for “investigation” in his pronouncement. For being an island of common sense in a sea of agonizing stupidity.

Brady gets to play against Ben Roethlisberger. Supply your own joke about how many times Pittsburgh’s chanpion co-ed chaser should have been suspended for his personal failures by now. And I hesitate to watch, because sadly I’m not convinced that isn’t what pro football’s smarmy, overmatched leader wanted in the first place. Now he gets more publicity for a corporate giant that already holds a monopoly over the public’s attention, no matter how egregiously it attempts to offend us year after year.

Goodytwoshoes deserves to be booed by the masses, grilled by the media, and have his resignation demanded by us all. Instead, he will go into hiding and resolve to continue his fight; precisely the parts of Brady’s behavior he found most galling and offensive.

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That’s what hypocrites always show us with their actions: What’s forbidden for you is permissible for me. I’m the boss. I’m forgiven. I’m immune. I’m special. I’m an exception.

Exceptional failure, in this case. I wish I could punctuate this piece by calling for everyone to boycott the product, but sadly, that would make me an equal hypocrite.

I can’t quit the NFL, and no, that isn’t sarcasm. If you’ve made it to the end of this case and this column, you probably can’t either.

But Goodytwoshoes should.

Kalle Oakes is a staff writer. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Oaksie72 and follow his Faceboook fan page at www.facebook.com/kalleoakes.sj.


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