A News Sports — 31 January 2015

Editor’s Note Vinny Fausone is a senior at San Francisco State and is much too young to be cynical. But he’s very bright, so let’s just say he is observant!

Self-deprecation as a source of comedy has been the basis of many of the most acclaimed acts and shows of all time. A “look at how internally corrupt I am” schtick has given the entertainment world some of its best characters, from George Costanza to Louie C.K.

In the past few weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, a new contender has emerged in the pursuit of garnering attention at the expense of its own moral reputation: the symbiotic tandem of the NFL and major sports media.

Fans nationwide have been enthralled while watching the lovable Marshawn Lynch smirk at huffy NFL officials in suits as they fine him for his gold-pleated cleats, or fume at his refusal to answer questions on Media Day.

Brandon Browner, a Seahawks-to-Patriots offseason transplant, has publicly encouraged his new teammates to attack the existing injuries of players on his old team. ESPN has since released stories claiming that partially-injured Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman texted his old friend “LOL” in response. Does this competitiveness retain the integrity of football or is the NFL not adequately concerned about player safety? Come see for yourself on Sunday.

Most prominently, viewers have been treated to Deflategate, a scandal backed by the notion that one of the game’s top teams gets away with cheating thanks to dinner dates between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Business Insider even reported that the unnamed ball boy who deflated game balls to better fit into Tom Brady’s hands was a “person of interest” in the NFL’s investigation.

All of these Super Bowl plotlines are currently among the most searched football-related topics according to Google Trends, and seem desperate to conjure a mental image of a greedy businessman tapping his fingers together in a mansion surrounded by stacks of cash, all the while laughing gleefully about the millions he is making at the expense of the players.

Everybody loves a villain, and the NFL is happy to give them one.

To be fair, this tactic is viable from a ratings standpoint, as controversy clearly catalyzes interest.

As much as I, a lifelong fan of the NFL, would love to see in-depth coverage of why the most prolific offensive team of the past decade-and-a-half is or is not prepared to prevent a defensive powerhouse from consecutive championships, I am not among the target audience in marketing ‘the greatest show on Earth’.

When it comes to the Super Bowl, I would watch a Rams-Seahawks matchup played in an exact replica of Candlestick Park erected in downtown San Jose. I need no convincing, and will apparently watch this game despite the NFL’s best attempts to keep me disinterested.

The x’s and o’s have never really been sexy enough to ensure that every casual fan is going to set aside February 1st for the sole purpose of a single football game, but this year’s media storylines have been more pointedly anti-NFL than any since the last time the Patriots were accused of cheating en route to the Super Bowl. And its working.

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Vinny Fausone

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