The 2016 NFL Hall of Fame Game… or Lack Thereof

nfl logoThe August 7, 2016 Hall of Fame between the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts will likely go down as possibly the most “in-fame-us” (infamous) game in NFL history.  Please bear with me as I sift through this mess.

In anticipation of the preseason opener, my girlfriend Gigi and I made the 2 hour mini-trek from Pittsburgh to Canton, Ohio.  But just as the festivities were about to get underway, there was mass confusion.  Half the crowd was entering the newly renovated stadium while the other half was exiting.  Many attendees were in a confused state of disbelief.  The vast majority of adults were complaining and some of their children were in tears.  Nobody knew exactly what was happening.

Why?  Because at 8pm, the game was abruptly canceled.  However, word of the cancellation had already leaked, 90 minutes prior at 6:30pm.  Apparently the grounds crew had used the “wrong paint” for the vaunted NFL logo at midfield.  The turf was a mess.  ESPN reporter Lisa Stahl claimed it was very sticky and gummy, almost like taffy.  ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted how the paint had begun to congeal and it would be the equivalent of “playing on tar.”

David Baker, Pro Football Hall of Fame President, summed it up best.  “You’ve heard me many, many times talk about our values of commitment, integrity, courage, respect and excellence.  If we don’t have that integrity to respect our players and respect their safety, then we shouldn’t be doing this job.  It was a difficult decision to make.  But in some respects, it was an easy, ethical decision.”

Forgive my cynicism, but I have some serious objections to that statement.  You see, for the past 5 years, I’ve been trying to get the NFL to formally acknowledge the outdated state of their emergency stadium evacuation protocol.  Rather than reiterate my concerns for the hundredth time, I’ll let the website speak for itself. Suffice to say, there exists a looming cyber-security threat with ramifications along the lines of 9/11.

So when I hear an NFL representative speak about values such as integrity, courage, respect and excellence, I tend to take it with a grain of salt.  I only wish his concerns about player safety extended to the 50,000 – 100,000 fans in every stadium.

Isn’t it ironic that the iconic NFL logo was the ultimate reason for the cancellation of the annual kickoff game?  It’s a real-world microcosm.  Not for the circumstances surrounding this one specific game, but rather, the organization itself.  Forgive the trite pun but the NFL literally dropped the ball at the Hall of Fame Game.

The weekend started out fine.  Filled with pomp and splendor, hoopla and pageantry.  There was a Tim McGraw concert on Friday.  Hot air balloon rides and fireworks.  Fashion shows, autograph sessions and merchandise galore.  Hungry fans could satiate their appetites with a $5 hot dog.  And quench their thirst with a $10 draft beer.  The grand parade and enshrinement ceremony would follow on Saturday.  Everything went off without a hitch.  Well, except for one trivial detail.

There was no game.

But this isn’t a game.

Isn’t it peculiar that out of all the seasoned, well-trained security professionals advising the NFL… none of them are permitted to acknowledge the downside of wireless hyper-connectivity?  I’ll give you a clue — the modern, technological equivalent of shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.

So rather than be informed about a variety of hacking scenarios… rather than elaborating on phishing scams, robocalls and social media hoaxes…. rather than analyzing wireless disinformation campaigns, Stingray technology, reverse 911 sabotage and the potential for the deceptive misuse of Amber alerts / campus emergency alerts / weather alerts / imminent threat alerts…. rather than verifying the consequences of spoofed emails, bulk text messaging, facebook algorithms, retweets and the exponential spread of viral information on the internet… rather than admit the existence of a variety of potentially threatening scenarios and devising a simplistic contingency plan, whaddya say we simply ignore it all?

How much credibility and what degree of evidence is necessary?  Why is this subject completely unavailable for public consumption?  Why is this topic avoided, and in some cases, deliberately overlooked and concealed by government and private industry?

The NFL has a bad track record.  Drugs, weapons, the never-ending concussion scandal, NFLPA disputes, tax evasion, fraud, racketeering, DUIs, rape, murder, domestic violence, gang related activity, gambling and draft violations, lawsuits and suspensions for just about anything imaginable… even felony animal cruelty charges and a deflated football scandal.  Perhaps if I approach the subject of “artificially generated stampedes” with a heightened degree of levity, maybe somebody will take notice.

So let’s give it a shot.

Is it a coincidence that Jeffrey Miller, the head of NFL security, resigned in May of 2016?  While the NFL searches for a replacement, the position remains dangerously vacant.  Perhaps they’re searching for a way to reconfigure the job title in order to lessen the degree of future culpability.  What if it’s a mysterious portent?  What might happen if something catastrophic occurred during his vacancy?  Who would there be to blame?

Let’s forget the logical deductions about plausible deniability.  Let’s ignore the prospect of big-pocket litigation.  Let’s completely disregard the lose-lose proposition.  Let’s pretend how there’s nothing to be gained from utilizing a proactive approach.  Let’s dismiss the societal paradox and toss aside the catch-22.  And while we’re at it, let’s pretend there’s some kind of secret technology that prohibits potentially nefarious cellular information from seeping into any NFL stadium, or at the very least, filters out all the “bad” staff.  Is it any wonder that Vice Sports once referred to NFL security as an “extralegal clusterfuck?”

It’s all hogwash!  Or pigskin wash, I suppose.

How about I throw a Hail Mary in the NFL’s direction?  Just some conspiratorial gibberish.  Maybe that’ll do the trick.

September 11, 2016, fifteen years after the most diabolical attack on American soil, the NFL will open its early Sunday slate on the exact same day.  Nine simultaneous games on September 11th.  One of those games will be in East Rutherford, NJ, a location from which the billowing smoke of the Trade Centers could be seen across the Hudson River.

Jets Center Nick Mangold — “It is truly an honor to open the season at home, at MetLife Stadium, on the 15th anniversary of 9/11.”

I expect that physical security will be on a heightened state of alert.  Seriously though, has anyone examined the issue of wireless security?  With all of their halftime military tributes and the continued exploitation of our armed forces, the NFL should somberly consider the notion… that every single stadium is currently vulnerable to an undiscussable, cyber-security threat.

It’s called a “dominipede.”  And if you ask me, it sounds like it has the makings of one helluva conspiracy.  Nobody knew about it but everyone was in on it.  I’d explain it further… but nobody’s allowed to talk about it.