My Breakup Letter To The NFL

It’s you. It’s all you. It’s not me.
Publish date:
September 19, 2014
domestic violence, nfl, football, ray rice

Dear National Football League,

It’s you. It’s all you. It’s not me. I’ve done everything right. I’ve loved you for most of my life.

I watched your games. I cheered for my team. I followed your players on Twitter. I’ve sat through countless Super Bowls on my couch, stuffing my face with salty snacks, complaining about the half-time show. I’ve headed up screaming matches with friends and foes about which running back is faster and which quarterback is more elite. But listen, National Football League, I’m done. I’m out. No matter how much I love you, you won’t love me back.

I am going to stop watching football because you, the NFL, hates me. You despise women. I see that now and it hurts.

This is about more than Ray Rice. It's about women and how you think we're disposable. It's about how we're marketed to, it's about the pink jerseys with sequins. Nobody wants to wear that. If I’m going to buy a jersey, I want it in team colors. I’m not six years old.

It's about the commercials with the men sitting on the couch eating pizza and drinking beer, their wives in the kitchen away from the action. You know that we can explain to a non-fan what a two-point conversion is. Let us watch the game. It’s boring in the kitchen and Drew Brees just connected with Jimmy Graham for a touchdown.

It's about the pretend-awareness raised by the Pink Campaign for Breast Cancer. Putting on a pair of pink cleats is good and all but where does the money raised actually go? Do 100% of the funds go to breast cancer organizations? Eighty? Sixty? Do you even know? Probably not. You’re too busy patting yourself on the back for supporting a women’s cause that you don’t know exactly how much money you pocket versus how much you’re giving to charity. Could you be any more self-centered? Oh wait, you can because, according to Business Insider, SB Nation, the Huffington Post and the rest of the Internet, only 5% goes to charity.

I’ve counseled friends when they’re dating mega tools. “Hey,” I’d say. "He/she's just not that into you. He/she doesn't respect you." I’ve spoken those words before but it wasn’t until the mishandling of the elevator incident that I realized how they applied to our relationship.

Did you need to see a video of a woman getting knocked unconscious and dragged like a rag doll out of a casino elevator to figure out that domestic violence is a problem? Seriously NFL, are you as concussed as the players you fail to protect with flimsy helmets? Because Janay Rice didn’t press charges, you were all like, “Whatever, it’s not a big deal.” We don’t know why she didn’t press charges. Maybe Ray threatened her life or her family? But nooooo, you’re acting like a giant douche about it.

I probably should’ve broken up with you years ago when you let Michael Vick back in the league. Or when the Ben Roesthlisburger stuff happened. Or when countless other players violated more than just the no-weed policy. I was under your spell. Not anymore, though; I am no longer waiting all day for Sunday night. (I see you rolling your eyes at that joke.)

It's going to be hard but I am determined to stop seeing you. I will try not to watch a sport that I love. I will avoid SportsCentre* segments that talk about football, no matter how cool the highlight, how perfect the spiral, or how long the reception. I won’t hear Phil Simms’ signature butchering of the letter I. (Got heeeeem!) There’ll be no more C’mon, man! clips playing on my TV. NFL, please tell Keyshawn and company that I’m sorry but when I break up with you, I can’t hang with your friends. It’s too hard.

This past week, instead of watching you on Monday night, I caught up on television. Have you seen "Banshee"? That show is crazy. A lot of unnecessary boobies. And "Masters of Sex"? Great show with tons of necessary boobies. "The Knick" was really gross but I’m into it. You remember how squeamish I get around blood and guts? Like, when I used to watch you and guys would get knocked around and I’d have to turn away before I’d puke. I’m thinking about Tom Brady’s leg injury from a few years ago and shuddering.

I’ve travelled for you, crossed borders, attended games in far-off places like Western New York. I’ve spent money on memorabilia, tickets, apps. I’ve talked you up to other people who said you were a league of dogfighting degenerates, murderers, and sexual assaulters. “You don’t understand,” I’d say. “For every Ray Lewis, there’s a Darren Sharper.” Then Darren Sharper was accused of rape and I had to change it up, “For every Darren Sharper there’s a … I’m running out of players who don’t have an arrest record.”

I have some fond memories of you. The freezing cold game I sat through in Cincinnati, my first time at the Superdome, and the obnoxious Bills fan who drunkenly (and hilariously) told my brother he sucks for no reason. I’m glad that in happier times I got to see the team I’ve been following since childhood (WHO DAT!) win the Super Bowl. Those happy times are long gone. You broke us, NFL, and we can’t be fixed.

I’ve decided to wean myself off you, because in your eyes, I am not worth it.

So that’s it. Don’t bother to come by and pick up your stuff. I left it on the curb. If you don’t care about me, NFL, why should I care about you?

Your ex,


*This is not a typo, it’s called SportsCentre in Canada. We use different spelling because it makes us look super important and kinda British.