Melissa’s Monday Musings Week 5: Recapping an NFL Sunday From Hell

Around 4:30 pm ET in the bowels of a jam-packed day Cam Newton was asked to address his misguided comment from last week that it was “funny to hear a female ask about routes.” After worldwide ire led to a thoughtful apology in which he dripped with emotion talking about being a father and wanting to be a good role model to children, today Newton simply blew the incident off as a display of his ‘sarcasm.’ Evidently, he was simply paying the reporter a ‘compliment.’ Of course suggesting it was a compliment is code for ‘wow a woman knows about routes!’ and only re-ignites the flames of an incident I believe 99% of us would like to move on from. But as annoying as Newton’s new rationale may be, it was only about the 25th worst thing to happen on this NFL Sunday.

Apologies in advance for being so negative – I promise there is some positivity later in the column – but this Sunday was an absolute shitshow.

First there were reports that Colin Kaepernick reached out to the quarterback-deficient Titans and was met with no interest for unexplainable reasons. That story wasn’t political enough for the day apparently because our self-righteous veep had to attend Lucas Oil Field for Peyton Manning Day and to cheer on his beloved Colts (see picture from 2014 passed off as it was from today). But then the horrid 49ers, who have had anywhere from 1-30 players kneel for the anthem in every game since the start of last season, shockingly kneeled again. Our pure veep could not handle such an atrocity and left the stadium in disgust, enter his car and within minutes tweeted out a craftily prepared statement. (In reality, he had a fundraising appearance in California at 6:30 and his press pool was left in vans while the veep completely his tax dollar-fueled publicity stunt.) Sigh.

Then even more politicizing. Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross insisted his players stand for the anthem or don’t come out of the tunnel, so WRs Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills, along with TE Julius Thomas remained. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who has embraced known abusers, took it a step further when declaring that any player “disrespecting the flag” would not be allowed to play. Atypical as this ultimatum may be, shoving beliefs and mandates down players’ throats is not exactly the path to locker room harmony. Not to mention the players will now be unfairly forced to field questions about their stance.


On field was a mega infirmary as one injured player after the next fell including the entire Giants WR corps – Odell Beckham Jr. will be having ankle surgery Monday – and J.J. Watt, the last person who deserves bad luck. The grimace on Watt’s face as he tried to position his knee on the cart in a way that was not excruciating painful was heartbreaking. The later news that Watt was out for the season with a tibia plateau fracture felt like a punch in the gut. Even though the best team in football was on a national stage, the soul and importance of the game left when Watt departed for the hospital.

And then the nightcap: A Facebook video surfaced of Dolphins OL coach Chris Foerster snorting lines of blow while talking to some stripper about places he’d like to place the coke. (As of this writing he is Foerster is still employed, I guess because he stood for the anthem.

My brain is fried this Sunday – and not for the right reasons. As I’m writing this late at night there are still hours-long vitriolic social media conversations with my handle involved comparing atrocities or Jones’ right to operate like a dictator. None are civil.

The NFL’s sharp direction is highly concerning. We used to argue over play calling and officiating, now it’s knee deep in political and societal issues. In theory it would be great and productive to intelligently discuss viewpoints, to use all the protests and the sideshows to educate and create action steps – and to open our hearts and minds to those who disagree with our premises.

But the fighting involves no advancement of ideas and zero simpatico. In my case, it’s hard to even start productive conversations when all the contrarian responses are smothered in nasty name-calling. At this point too much of the NFL’s narrative is simply a microcosm for current society at large – deep-seeded division and very little joy.

But…a few shiny happy things happened during this Week 5:

  • Aaron Rodgers is a treasure. Even my Bears fan husband doesn’t root against Rodgers, he marvels. Rodgers showcased so many of the tricks that set him apart from the other elites during the Packers 35-31 comeback win over Dallas including his uncanny ability to look off defenders with his eyes. We are lucky to watch football in the Aaron Rodgers era.
  • Alex Smith is not yet worthy of an ‘era’ but his transformation from game manager into badass MVP candidate is so much fun to watch. Smith’s combination of efficiency and explosiveness so valuable. Another three touchdowns gives Smith 11 TDs with no picks on the year with an unreal 76.6 completion percentage. By drafting Patrick Mahomes, a QB who could theoretically take this team to a Super Bowl at some point, the Chiefs unleashed that ability in Smith right now.
  • How cool was it to see no. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett record a sack on his very first NFL play? He added another and clearly looks like the real deal.
  • Jalen Ramsey is so special. Already having a great sophomore season, Ramsey thrived in his toughest test yet. He beautifully stepped in front Antonio Brown for one interception and knocked another ball way from Brown that landed in Barry Church’s hands on its way to the end zone.
  • Congrats to the Los Angeles Chargers of their first win. They capped it off with my favorite locker room celebration this week:

(On a related note, anyone else struggling to recognize LAC as the Chargers and not the Clippers?)