MURRELL COLUMN: Spoiler alert: Greed revealed in NFL business

Published 10:54 pm Thursday, January 14, 2016

To paraphrase what Dr. Bennet Omalu said toward the end of the movie “Concussion,”: A football player knows he risks getting his arm or leg broken, but he doesn’t know the risk of losing his family or his sanity.
Football — the very game many Southerners revolve our world around. The sport that gaveFriday nights a new meaning in Texas. The game that is now played any night of the week on any level.
Whether it’s a team that gives us local pride or the excitement of speed vs. physicality, this sport has changed because of the Nigerian-born Omalu’s research, and the very league that dominates television for 22 straight Sundays out of the year tried to hide it.
If I spoiled it for you, I’m sorry. But it’s a true story, so do your own research.
The “Concussion” setting dates back to 2002. I was a young journalist then, but it didn’t strike me who Mike Webster was. I’ve always known about the Steelers’ glory days; I mean, that’s required knowledge for my position. But unless we’re talking Swann, Greenwood, Greene, Bradshaw or Harris, images of their glory days don’t pop into mind with a center, albeit the most important position on the field.
If it weren’t for Omalu, Webster would have fallen into obscurity years after his death. Just don’t tell Steelers fans that.
More importantly, the NFL wouldn’t have been exposed in a negative light. And our love for the game wouldn’t be challenged.
Oh, let me admit: My love for the game got challenged when I watched “Concussion.” That’s how we sharpen our minds.
(Aside from watching a movie about the NFL, I just wanted to see why Will Smith wasn’t deemed Oscar-worthy this time around. Now you know why I’m only crazy about championships, not award shows.)
To sum up Omalu’s scenario, his discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy within Webster triggered fears that the NFL would no longer exists with the way the game as violently played, and league officials for a long time refused to acknowledge the doctor’s research.
Turns out, the NFL no longer exists in its original violent manner. Many rules of contact in the NFL have changed, and many more 20-somethings retire from the game admit fears of CTE.
This same league has a penchant for taking a product away from a fan base that has experienced a championship, without leaving it up to fans whether a team can exist somewhere.
The Rams are moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles not knowing whether the Chargers are going to share a planned stadium in Inglewood. Somewhere in heaven, late owner Georgia Frontiere is fuming with the good Lord telling her not to be quick to anger.
Being a Mississippi River rat myself, I can’t say I’m not fuming either. And I have more to be concerned about with my two favorite teams, the Cowboys and Titans.
In an area that’s occupied with more glamour and expensive taste than just the simple fanfare of football, owner Stan Kroenke is staking his claim to the Rams being the hot new trend. It’s happening at a price much higher than what made me wince when the city of Memphis agreed to build FedEx Forum on Beale Street for the NBA’s Grizzlies. That came at a time when the Pyramid on the Mississippi was just entering its teenage years while funding for quality public education was at a much greater need.
Dire as the economic condition may be, leagues like the NFL and NBA will continue to build on entertainment value at all costs, if it means harboring owners who don’t take local fanfare of a team in consideration.
St. Louis proposed a new stadium. Kroenke didn’t go for it.
Once again, the Mississippi River has lost its luster, through no fault of the people on its banks. And the NFL wins again with greed.
It’s the price we pay for enjoying it.

I.C. Murrell can be reached at 721-2435 or On Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

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About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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