The season opening Monday night football doubleheader is a tradition in the NFL unlike any other. For years we have been staying up extra late and watching 6 straight hours of terrible early season football. In that regard, this years iteration was more of the same. In the 8pm game the Vikings easily dispatched the Saints, with a stinker of a game diminishing Randy Moss’ Ring of Honor ceremony and completely spoiling APs return to Minnesota. In the late game, the Broncos defeated AFC West rival Chargers 24-21 in a largely uneventful game. However there was one moment in the first quarter that shook the internet to its core. In the first quarter, commentators Rex Ryan and Beth Mowins sent it to sideline reporter Sergio Dipp, who did this fancy bit on Broncos coach Vance Joseph:
This is reminiscent of Boom Goes The Dynamite guy, who had a similar episode that has become something of an internet legend (for the uninitiated). On its surface, this just seems like a normal guy having an embarrassing moment on national television. And in some respects, it is very much just that. However as we all know, things are never that simple. For brevity sake, I will henceforth be referring to Sergio Dipp’s on air stroke as The Incident. In the immediate aftermath of the Incident, twitter and Instagram were aflame with irrefutable video evidence and a vicious internet roast was already underway. I must have saw 15 videos within 30 seconds of it ending. It was truly beautiful to watch social media go completely bananas for something I thought I had hallucinated. The Incident quickly became the collective talk of the internet, vastly overshadowing the low quality games on Monday (and over all of week 1 for that matter).
The prevailing narrative is that the NFL is hemorrhaging viewers and ad revenue thanks to declining on-field product , public awareness on concussions and their long term effects, and Colin Kaepernicks continued unemployment. What the ratings crisis really boils down to is that the NFL has a narrative problem on their hands. There are inherent truths about the nature of the game, its participants and financiers, and the fans who enjoy it that the NFL is terrified of upsetting, so as to maintain the status quo. At its core the NFL is a lucrative moneymaking operation, and there are many interested parties that would benefit or hurt from the disruption of said status quo. On Monday night, interested parties saw an objectively shitty week 1 capped off with two snoozefests. They saw the narrative spiraling out of control, their precious status quo teetering on the edge, and depending on who ultimately was the interested party, saw an opportunity. Enter Sergio Dipp, and the Incident.
So it would seem the crux of this investigation is trying to identify who those interested parties might be. Sergio Dipp, in my professional opinion, was perhaps merely a pawn in a larger scheme. Let’s start with a little information about Sergio himself. Sergio has been working at ESPN since 2013 and has largely been working with ESPN Deportes, covering el jogo bonito , or soccer for you uncouth swine who don’t speak Portuguese. Much of his twitter activity is in Spanish, and according to his bio he was born in Mexico. So I think its safe to say he is Mexican. Mexicans notoriously love the NFL, and Sergio also released a strange apology slash 9/11 tribute video that I couldn’t decide was heartfelt or just damage control.
After ruling out foul play on Sergios part, I went to the tape for clues. If you’ll notice in the screencap, a gentleman in the neon green hat, is standing just behind Sergio before the Incident. According to the internet, “Green Hats are the only person allowed to wear a lime green hat on NFL sidelines during games” and are responsible for “monitor[ing] TV breaks, controls the officials’ microphones” and, most importantly “connected by headset to the NFL Observer in the press box.” The NFL Observer is a representative of the league, appointed by Roger Goodell himself, to monitor the games, mostly for injuries.
Notice in the screengrab you can CLEARLY see the guy in the teal, henceforth Teal Shirt Guy, handing Green Hat Guy something behind Sergio’s back. After the exchange Green Hat Guy backs up towards Sergio, just as he begins his rambling attempt at sideline reporting. Perhaps Green Hat Guy, after getting word from the NFL Observer, used whatever he received from Teal Shirt Guy to put Sergio into some type of drug induced stupor. As an agent of the NFL sworn to protect the shield, the NFL Observer instructed his agent in the field Green Hat Guy to sabotage Sergio’s 30 second sideline bit.
What possibly could have caused an otherwise well-spoken young man to blab incoherently? I watched the video about 40 times and all of the sudden it hit me. Wes Welker. Sergio’s rambling, listless response reminded me of any time Wes Welker tried to give a press conference. Utter nonsense. Like if you tried to speak in hieroglyphics. And, as we all know, Wes Welker sustained no less that 22 concussions during his NFL career. Then I though to myself wait, what organization is on the cutting edge of concussion research? The NFL of course! Perhaps as consequence of their research they figured out a way to weaponize concussions, which they used on Sergio to turn him into a mush mouthed nincompoop. In the beginning of the video you can even see Teal Shirt Guy shaking what is presumably the aerosol based concussion spray, thus activating the temporary concussion serum.
It’s known that the US military unsuccessfully tried to weaponize concussions during the shady military research boom of the mid-1960s. However they deemed it a dead-end and they gave up. But it wasn’t a matter of dead-ends, it was simply the technology wasn’t there. Enter Will Smith. The NFL appointed Will Smith as the head of their skunk works initiative labelled OPERATION NIGHTMARE under the guise of heading up their concussion research. As one of the world preeminent scientists, Smith was a natural choice. A known scientologist who also developed the cure to being a zombie, Smith was no doubt able to achieve what was written off as impossible. It was not merely a matter if ‘if’ the NFL would be able to develop weaponized concussions, but a matter of when they would use it for their own maniacal ends.
But why would they do it? To protect the shield of course. It sometimes feels like the times have finally caught up to the NFL. Where even 5 years ago the league could insulate themselves from the prevailing political shitstorms of the day, it seems in 2017 things have changed. They can no longer just ‘stick to sports’. This has created an environment where they must take stances on certain things in order to ‘protect the shield’ or whatever. And as we know, no matter where you might stand on a certain issue, right or wrong, someone somewhere is going to get butthurt about it. So the NFL has done just that. They tried to be forthcoming with concussion research and has touted the increased safety of the league. Yet the point is moot. Football is inherently a violent and dangerous game and no amount of special helments or fines are going to change that. At this point you’d be a fool not to agree that what boils down to a choreographed head-bashing street fight every Sunday is detrimental to your health in the long term. Players are seeing their elders developing dementia and a litany of other health problems in their fifties (if they haven’t already blown their brains out in their forties). Players, even young players, are seeing this and understandably noping the fuck out. And there are other players who are willing to die on the football field. Parents are taking notice too, and they keep their kids out of football for their own safety. This increasing, and justified, concern for player safety has cast the league in a negitve light to he collective perspective, turning off many Americans.
The issue of Colin Kaepernicks blacklisting is not much different. His protest of police brutality during the national anthem is forcing many football fans to confront realities about themselves or their teams or their fellow fans that they are clearly uncomfortable with. Let’s be clear. Colin Kaeperick is an NFL quarterback and should have a job somewhere. Of the 33 QBs who played at some point in week 1, he is better than, by my estimation, at least 8 of them. That’s at least 8 teams who would rather not sign him and be worse off than sign him and have to confront the fallout with the less-enlightened (read: ignorant, possibly racist) demographic of their fanbase. Let alone teams that could use an experienced backup. QB talent is always at a premium. There is no other explanation as to why a QB who led a team to the Super Bowl is without a job even as a backup. Just like player safety concerns have turned folks off to the NFL, Colin Kaepernick’s blacklisting has alienated a certain demographic of NFL fans.
These two big crisis’ that have harmed the NFL and threatened to upend the existing state of affairs had their origins largely outside the NFLs control. They have no say over who gets a concussion and who doesn’t. And they can’t address identity politics and social justice because they cannot afford to turn off the less-enlightened segments of their fanbases, which is sadly their ratings and revenue lifeblood. So what did they do? They affected the narrative concerning the product on the field, the one thing left that they actually can control. They concocted Ballghazi to punish the most despised and dominant team in the league, leveraging the 24hours news cycle in order to drown out the critics saying partity must be dead when a team reaches six straight AFC championship games. They squashed the Zeke suspension to placate their most vocal and perhaps least-enlightened individual fanbase and owner, Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys (I’ve never met a cowboys fan I didn’t want to throat punch).
Roger, knowing a botched opening weekend would spell disaster for revenue forecsss for the remainder of the season, decided to act. In other words he tried to get ahead of the narrative. He knows all too well the powerful effects viral videos (Ray Rice video anyone) have on perception. Being the vial marketing genius they pay his $35 million to be, he knew a well-placed meme or video could be enough to shift public perception away from the shitty on-field product, at least temporarily. It is my conclusion that Roger Goodell attempted to stage a false-flag viral meme in order to shift the narrative away from the declining quality and parity of the league, so as not to disrupt the precious status quo he’s paid so handsomely to protect.