How Real Were the Cougars? Crime and Deviance in the National Football League/ QUELLES-ONT ETAIENT LES REALITES DES COUGARS? DU CRIME ET DE LA DEVIANCE DANS LA LIGUE NATIONALE DE FOOTBALL

Article excerpt

Abstract

In 2003 ESPN premiered a new series titled Playmakers which provided a fictional account of life on and off the field of professional football. Despite the high viewership ratings and television awards it received, the show was cancelled during the first season. Playmakers told the story of a fictional professional football team, the Cougars, from an unidentified American city. The show depicted various acts of crime and deviance in American football such as: injurious violence on the field, steroid use, painkiller use, illicit drug use, night club violence, domestic violence, homosexuality, and eating disorders. The NFL league office claimed that the show was a gross misrepresentation of life in the NFL. This paper examines the real life events and issues in the NFL and reveals that Playmakers did not misrepresent professional football but rather, it cast an important critical light on many issues in professional sport and NFL football in particular.

Key words: American football; Television; "Violence; Crime; Deviance

Résumé

En 2003, L'ESPN la première d'une nouvelle série intitulée Playmakersqui ont fourni un compte rendu fictif de la vie sur et hors du terrain de football professionnel. Malgré les évaluations d'écoute élevés et des récompenses qu'il a reçues de la télévision, le spectacle a été annulé au cours de la première saison. Playmakers a raconté l'histoire d'une équipe professionnelle de football fictive, les Cougars, à partir d'une ville non identifiée américaine. Le spectacle représenté divers actes de criminalité et de déviance dans le football canathen, tels que: la violence préjudiciable sur le terrain, l'utilisation de stéroïdes, de l'utilisation antalgique, la consommation de drogues illicites, la violence boîte de nuit, la violence domestique, l'homosexualité, et les troubles alimentaires. Le bureau de la ligue NFL a affirmé que le spectacle était une déformation grossière de la vie dans la NFL. Ce document examine les événements réels et les enjeux de la NFL et révèle que Playmakers n'a pas dénaturé le football professionnel, mais plutôt, il jette une lumière critique importante sur de nombreuses questions dans le sport professionnel et de la NFL du football en particulier.

Mots clés: Football Américain; Télévision; La violence; La criminalité; La déviance

INTRODUCTION

In 2003, ESPN aired a fictional television show titled Playmakers, which depicted various acts of crime and deviance in professional American football. The television drama revolved around a team identified as the Cougars, a fictional team name, who were located in an unidentified American city. Much of the drama in the series occurred off the field, depicting fictional accounts of life off of the field for professional football players. Despite the high viewership ratings of approximately two million American viewers and winning various awards, the show was cancelled in its first season after airing just eleven episodes. According to ESPN, a primary reason the show was cancelled was due to pressure from the National Football League (NFL) front office. ESPN, a partner of the NFL, were criticized for developing storylines that cast professional football in a negative and inaccurate light (Rovell, 2004).

According to ESPN, various NFL players were also outspoken about the need to cancel the show. According to Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, a man once conviction of obstruction of justice following a fight leading to the death of another man, publicly stated "That show don't mean nothing ~ that show is nothing about us" (Rovell, 2004, p.l). Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Willie Anderson said "It one of those false interpretations people get about the NFL and the players. If the NFL's serious about our image and the image that we portray, canceling [Playmakers] is a good thing" (Rovell, 2004, p.2). Both players and administrators of the NFL publicly proclaimed that the show was bad for the image of football and grossly inaccurate. …