Rosberg is no Ray Rice, NFL is no F1…sort of

Reading a story today about how the NFL (America’s football) has its own security group staffed by former law enforcement agents that focus on keeping the league out of the press by “handling” situations such as players at strip club altercations etc, made me roll my eyes at just how far the NFL has fallen.

At the risk of sounding woefully naïve, I was a bit miffed at just how over-the-top the sport is when the mobocracy that social media has become started running contests on burning Ray Rice jerseys and now calling for the ouster of NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, because it was suggested he’d had the video of Rice abusing his girlfriend (now wife) for several months and hadn’t released it. Released where? To whom?

It crossed my mind that we are a nation of laws and the horrible act of domestic abuse (the New York Times says I can’t use that anesthetizing word) is afforded due process by those laws. It also occurred to me that if I were Mrs. Rice, I may not have wanted this video to be circulated so even if Goodell had the video, what “right” is it of ours to demand that it be posted on YouTube so we can all see it? The mob wants what the mob wants and they want it now so they can rend judgement. Good thing there is a hashtag out there to confront this situation head on…from the safety of a couch.

The stakes are high and the NFL is being battered by cultural change and the medium in which it is trying to gain a foothold. In the end, the cash is so big that the league has its own security group to manage PR situations. NFL has become its own worst enemy having cultivated a fan base, skimmed billions from the machine and now suffer the indignation of perpetuating a system in which domestic violence (as well as head injuries) is ignored in order to “keep the show going”. I think, at some level, this is what is wrong with most sports these days.

After the win at Monza, Lewis Hamilton felt rejuvenated and ready to continue his assault on the world championship having reduced his teammate’s title-leading points total to 22. It’s all playing out nicely and Nico Rosberg’s blown chicane entry happened twice, in which the second occurrence handed the lead to Hamilton.

It was this 2-time error that caused serious accusations from the mobocracy and while I am not one to parrot conspiracy theories at the expense of a perfectly good race, I felt I might be marginalizing those who felt strongly that this was either a punishment from the team for the Spa incident or F1 manipulating the outcome to “spice up the show”. Either way, Nico’s ham-fisted attempts at turn 1 were out of character.

F1 is no different than NFL in that it has become so bloated with cash that it has succumbed to corporate espionage, sex scandals and deliberate crashes to manipulate the outcome of a race. The dollars are massive and the distributions of those dollars are retained for the top influencers in the sport. Right now, that team is Mercedes.

Could Nico have handed the win to Hamilton? According to the Independent’s Kevin Garside, there is reason for pause and he uses the 2007 season as an example of how a “glitch” in Lewis Hamilton’s car handed the title to Kimi Raikkonen whose team had just been spied on. The notion is that the sport wouldn’t let a team who just pilfered Ferrari’s secrets win the title.

I’ll let you read the article here and share your opinion on the notion that Nico, having tried once, ran deep into turn one in order to hand the race back to Hamilton who had a very poor start. Here is what Kevin said:

“Rosberg’s error yesterday was ascribed to the pressure applied by Hamilton, the kind of pressure he has proved beautifully adept at handling hitherto. There is a calculating quality to Rosberg’s work and a ruthless cynicism that has prompted dubious behaviour but rarely the kind of rookie error that befell him on Sunday. Pressure? He was sitting on a lead of 29 points before he went off. At that juncture he could afford to see Hamilton rattle off four wins in a row and still lead the championship. As it is he has a 22-point cushion with a maximum six races to go, five if Russian aggression in Ukraine forces Sochi off the schedule.

Well that’s the case for paranoia. Taking events at face value, Hamilton’s victory sets up the long-haul finale brilliantly and of course masks the structural weakness that might in other circumstances see F1’s audience run for the hills.”

Where the NFL is not like F1 is that it tries to manage its PR and brand equity when negative things happen. For F1, all press is good press regardless of its perceived negativity. This affords F1 some leeway in not having to look like complete stooges on the world stage as it effectively manufacturers talking points to look socially responsible yet blatantly false. The same can’t be said of the Not Fun League.

I still believe that Lewis won Monza but I feel like I’ve been somewhat obtuse in not affording our community the opportunity to voice their opinion on why they believe Nico deliberately ran too deep into turn 1. Like the NFL, the stakes are so massive these days that it wouldn’t shock me if it were true. Let’s face it, I would never have thought a team would steal another’s car design secrets or that a driver and team would purposefully crash but then I was young and naïve back then too.

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