Monday, December 30, 2013

That's the Back, Jack

Lost in the tumult from yesterday's Romopocalypse, wherein some dude randomly taking his shirt off in the owner's box after the final play - presumably for a ritual flogging - has become a national sensation, is the fact that the NFL is apparently going to fine the Cowboys. Not for being the Cowboys or inflicting Kyle Orton on a national television audience, though Lord knows, either of them is certainly a hanging offense. 

No, it's because the Cowboys got cute with the injury report before their week 16 pillow fight with Washington (now Shanahan-free). Specifically, they may or may not have failed to mention Tony Romo's back injury going into the game.

To the casual fan, this means nothing. After all, what's the big deal? Romo played, he played well enough for the Cowboys to win, and that was that. Sure, it's a little gamesmanship not letting the other guys know your QB is gimpy, but in certain circles not painting a bullseye on the guy's sacral vertebrae is regarded as a good thing.

Not in the NFL, however, where the weekly injury report is a sacred trust. And by "sacred trust", I mean "something not to be messed with". Nevermind that to fans of the game itself, it's a side note. The people who actually care about it can be sorted into precisely two categories: gamblers and fantasy football players (and really, aren't they the same thine). It's on the backs of these guys that the NFL has risen to its colossal status in the American sports landscape, after all - no fantasy football, no Red Zone, and that's just scratching the surface. 

And really, what difference does it make? After all, by safeguarding that intel, the NFL is serving its two most important customer bases. It's just a subtle reminder, lost in the thud and blunder of a blown call in KC and an interception in Dallas and a firing in Cleveland, of who really matters in all this. If you're just interested in watching the game, it ain't you.
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