I Don’t Want Your NFL Team

Dear St. Louisans, or Oaklanders, or San Diegans,

Sometime next year, one or two or maybe even all three of your NFL teams will move to Los Angeles. You will be heartbroken and emotionally shattered and will have internal conversations about whether you can continue to support your team now that it has returned to the metropolis that, not coincidentally, was once home to all three franchises.

And I won’t care. I mean, it bums me out that you’re going to lose a team. But I won’t care that the NFL has returned to LA. And after the flash wears off, I don’t think too many Angelenos will care, either.

Most kids choose their NFL team before they hit their teens. But if you’re from LA, it’s not as easy as picking your dad’s team. Dads from Mexico and Armenia and Korea and El Salvador don’t really have a favorite NFL team. I got into the NFL while watching the 2002 NFC Wild Card game, you know, the one where Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens overcame a 24-point deficit against the New York Giants. I became a San Francisco 49ers fan that day, just as they were about to embark on one of the worst periods in franchise history. In the ensuing years, I did everything a teenage NFL fan does: played fantasy football, bought the newest Madden on release day every single year, watched NFL Films religiously to learn the history of the sport. But then, suddenly, I stopped caring about the NFL. I quit watching it cold turkey, just as Jim Harbaugh took control of the 49ers. I cared so little, not even a Super Bowl appearance got me back into football.

But why did I stop caring about something I was obsessed with for nearly a decade?

I don’t care about supporting a league that pumps players full of opiates while ruining their careers over marijuana.

I don’t care about a league that, up until last year, operated as a nonprofit while selling ads for beer and trucks.

I don’t care about a league where player contracts aren’t guaranteed, and the player union acts as middle management for a company that peddles in concussions.

I don’t care about a league that is so open in its homophobia that it made Michael Sam the first SEC Defensive Player of the Year to not be drafted in the first five rounds, setting him up as the prime example for ESPN.com commentators that gays can’t play football.

My level of caring is further buried when I compare the NFL to my favorite league, the NBA. I’m a Lakers fan, but not an ungrateful Lakers fan. Sure, we’re in the worst three-year period in our franchise’s history, but even if I didn’t have memories of celebrating NBA Finals championships, I would still watch the games and feel good about it.

I feel good supporting a league run by a commissioner who kicked out two racist owners in his first year, who allowed his players to wear protest t-shirts during warmups, who presides over an environment where a player came out of the closet, and who even encouraged his players to speak out against gun violence in nationally televised PSAs. The I only time I feel good watching the NFL is when I visit my old college roommate in Vegas and am about to hit my five-team parlay.

I can’t care about a league run by Roger Goodell. I especially can’t care when he’s a relatively young commissioner who will control the league for at least another decade. It’s like being a Redskins fan or a peasant in 15th-century England: You pray that the king’s reign isn’t one of the four-decade variety.

I won’t care When Goodell becomes the commissioner who brought professional pigskin back to Los Angeles.

I won’t care when I see the exorbitant ticket prices to attend a game in a stadium that will inevitably make Levi’s Stadium feel like Fenway Park.

I won’t care about one, possibly two stadiums that cater to the super wealthy, the type they couldn’t find in St. Louis, or the type in Silicon Valley that they couldn’t convince to come to Oakland. I can’t even care about the traffic mess that these stadiums will create, because their locations in Inglewood and Carson are so far away from my Echo Park apartment that I won’t feel the effects. Not caring about traffic in Los Angeles is indicative of an immeasurably low level of interest

So come 2016, or 2017, or whenever The Shield rolls back into town, I will do the same thing any rehabilitated NFL fan does every Sunday, from September to January: anything I want.


Pablo Goldstein is a writer and humorist. You should follow his non-NFL tweets on Twitter.