Except this offseason was a nightmare. Michael Sam declared for the draft, then came out as gay. It was a step forward in sports history, but it also put a spotlight on the uglier views within the NFL’s machine—not just the lowest common denominators defending their perceived frontier of masculinity, but the deepest recesses of the apparatus itself: scouts and executives who spoke anonymously about the "distraction," and the media outlets that harbored that cowardice for pageviews.
Less than a week later, Ray Rice knocked his fiancee unconscious in a casino, then dragged her out of an elevator with less care than you’d give a sack of potatoes. Roger Goodell and the NFL reviewed the horrifying video, ignored legal and ethical guidelines in interviewing Palmer about the assault, and—after months of deliberation—suspended Rice a paltry two games. A month later, Goodell upheld Josh Gordon’s year-long suspension for a positive marijuana test. Somewhere, on a private jet or in a leather chair or at a podium surrounded by handpicked bootlickers, Dan Snyder saved face with the worst of Washington fans by reiterating his stance on the team’s racist name.