One of the more underrated aspects of the NFL’s popularity is the league’s calendar.
For most fan bases the season is only four months long, but Roger Goodell and Co. have done a wonderful job setting up the league’s high-profile events so there is little downtime for its followers in what is a short-attention-span culture.
Once the Super Bowl ends you roll right into the scouting combine, the March NFL meetings, and the draft, which in turn kicks off rookie minicamps, OTAs and the mandatory June minicamp.
And that’s when things are finally supposed to wind down for a six-week dark period before the opening of training camps around the country, the unofficial start of the next regular season.
Too often, however, the news cycle surrounding the NFL does not go dark despite the league’s best efforts.
You could see the old-school, media mentality of Park Avenue last Thursday when they unleashed a classic Friday-afternoon news dump a day early because most Fourth of July revelers had Friday off because the holiday itself fell on a Saturday.
The problem is that almost everyone has cell phones with Internet access these days, so the old rules don’t apply and trying to limit the amount of media coverage by announcing the suspensions of New York Jets lineman Sheldon Richardson, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain, Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones and San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, when everyone was preoccupied was an exercise in futility.
The NFL, of course, denies it has a policy of releasing bad news in an effort to limit media or fan attention, but the level of coverage is hardly the real story here.
Those suspensions highlighted the fact that we are in deep into “knucklehead season,” those six weeks where every NFL head coach lacks access to his own players and is wary of getting that Associated Press alert about one of his own.
Right now a whole new group of players could be spending too much of their time partying or ingesting those pesky OTC tainted supplements, fueling another potential news dump down the line.
Or, in the case of now former Texans defensive tackle Brandon Ivory, it was getting popped with two counts of first degree burglary, while Packers tight end Andrew Quarless took it up a notch when he fired two shots into the air during an argument outside a Miami Beach parking garage.
However, the big loser so far in “knucklehead season” has to be the New York Giants and it had nothing to do with legal entanglements or drugs. “Big Blue” may have lost its best pass rusher to fireworks and the inability to have the good sense to stay away from them when you have yet to sign your $14.8 million tender.
Jason Pierre-Paul suffered a serious hand injury Saturday night while setting off Fourth of July fireworks at his South Florida home. The Giants have yet to confirm the severity of the injury, but the New York Post reported that JPP suffered significant burns on his palm and several fingers, with one finger possibly sustaining nerve damage.
By all accounts the 26-year-old got off lucky. Instead of losing multiple fingers, the incident shouldn’t end Pierre-Paul’s career or even his season.
But the Giants now have to think long and hard about investing heavily in someone who showed a stunning lack of common sense. In fact New York would have every right to rescind its franchise-tag designation on Pierre-Paul and take that $14.8 million off the table.
The NFLPA fought very hard to limit access to the players in the offseason and because JPP is angling for a multi-year extension, he stayed away from voluntary OTAs so his time around the Quest Diagnostics Performance Center has been more limited than most other Giants players.
There is no obvious answer here because if organizations were granted more access to their players in the offseason, abuse of that time would surely follow rather quickly because of the hyper-competitive environment in the NFL. However, the fact that players don’t even have the option to stick around if they want to seems heavy-handed as well.
Granted because of his contract situation JPP wanted nothing to do with the Giants this offseason, but a change could help others from making bad decisions in the future.
Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
It’s a simple proverb but it rings true. Most of us don’t get in trouble when our minds are occupied. So, if you are ever sitting in rush hour traffic and contemplating why you rise and grind your way into the rat race every day, remember those simple words.
People who have nothing to do generally come off the rails at some point, whether it’s drug or alcohol abuse, crime or some other addiction like JPP’s idiocy on Saturday night. Human beings need a purpose to carve out a positive existence.
Young men left to their own devices with too much free time — especially those with money to burn (pun intended with JPP) — need structure.
Why not help them get it?
— You can reach JF McMullen at email@example.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also listen to John weekly on YAHOO! Sports Radio, YSR Indianapolis, ESPN Atlantic City, ESPN Lexington and ESPN Southwest Florida.