Football is an increasingly hard sport to like. Take your pick of horrific controversies that have wracked the league under Roger Goodell’s tenure: concussion denials, tolerance of domestic violence, or the public subsidy of palaces that build almost exclusively private wealth; what the Buffalo Bills situation with their recently departed coach represents is just your garden variety cold-heartedness.
There’s a certain disease that plagues our most consumerist pockets of society, and maybe no society is as blatantly corrupted by money as the NFL. Days after Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone ended a locker room speech in New England by chanting “Bills family!” he sent a mass text to all the players confirming his resignation after media outlets had already reported that like the scrivener before him, he’d prefer not to. It’s almost a prerequisite for NFL coaches to hold the same advanced degrees in evasive honesty as elected officials, but Marrone has officially outed himself as a shill.
With the man who reportedly referred to himself as Saint Doug for building a winner in a loser city packing up and taking his remaining $4 million in salary with him, the thing that is most disturbing about the NFL is the shortsighted corporate relationship that league brass has instilled in the fans, players, and staff. The only thing that ever matters is money, and that’s all well and good. But with the bungling New York Jets front office basically falling over themselves to get tangled up in his holiness, this situation requires special attention.
Bills fans shouldn’t be too concerned about Marrone leaving. After a season-long frustration with a wimpy fourth down strategy, wide swaths of questionable game-planning, a poorly-constructed offensive line (that should have been the former lineman’s strength), and not realizing when he had benched one his best players in Jerry Hughes for the second half of a pivotal game; the consensus among most fans is that we could do better.
But it’s not that he left, it’s how he left. Not only did he leave in the dark of night on New Year’s Eve just before his opt-out clause expired, he let the door hit him on the way out. Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reported that Marrone played a big role with Bill Polian declining an offer made by owner Terry Pegula to return to the team in an advisory role.
So far the consolations in his resignation out-weigh the regrets. We found out that Marrone played an instrumental role in drafting EJ Manuel. So let’s go ahead and pin that one on him. We also learned that Marrone was riled that radio talk show hosts would criticize him last month, and we already knew he had a particularly thin skin with the press. So please, at all costs Woody Johnson, make this man the next head coach of the New York Jets. Saint Doug’s ongoing canonization with the New York media would be the gift that keeps on giving.
That’s where the NFL has landed in 2015 in Buffalo, NY. If it’s going to be a cruel business that breaks our hearts and disgusts our sensibilities, just let the cruelty be more severe for the Jets.