The psychology behind NFL’s Friday news dump

FILE - In this March 23, 2016 file photo, the NFL logo is seen on a podium during a news conference at the NFL owners meeting in Boca Raton, Fla. House Republicans are calling for an independent review of allegations the National Football League sought to improperly influence a government study into the link between football and brain disease. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez, File)
AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez, File

The NFL likes to claim that there is no such thing as a Friday afternoon news dump.

And, considering that the conventional ways of delivering information is kaput, usually replaced by the speed of light via social media, the theory behind releasing bad news on a Friday afternoon, when the fewest amount of people are paying attention, is as antiquated as it gets.

But, old habits die hard, and whether its purposeful or not, the league still attempts to slip things under the radar as so many in the shadow of the league office on Park Avenue shuffle off to the Hamptons or the Jersey shore.

This time it was a couple of suspensions to receivers, as Minnesota’s Michael Floyd got popped four games for his extreme DUI case and his subsequent love of Kombucha tea (hold the eye roll), and the Los Angeles Rams’ Michael Thomas was also notified he will be set adrift for a quarter of the season after failing a PED test.

Floyd’s biggest issue now isn’t herbal tea with a kick, it’s his grumpy head coach, who told the St. Paul Pioneer Press this week that he will release the former first-round pick if he ever finds out that Floyd was lying to him.

“I said, ‘If I find out you’re lying to me, I’m going to cut you,’” Mike Zimmer claimed.

Thomas, a second-year player, has depth-chart issues to deal with, as the former sixth-round pick tries to remain relevant after the Rams drafted a pair of receivers in April, Connor Kupp and Josh Reynolds.

With the football implications set aside, the timing of these announcements from a psychological standpoint continues to be the most interesting part to me, because it unwittingly reveals what the real motives are behind the league’s drug policies.

It’s certainly not about stemming or curtailing abuse of certain substances, whether they are classified as performance enhancers, party drugs or “medicine” by certain lobbyists. It’s about serving up a few as a sacrifice to the altar of public perception.

The NFL wants its constituency to believe that it’s doing everything in its purview to make sure its game is as clean as possible, but the means to get to that end has always been public relations, not substantive testing.

The players deserve some of that criticism as well, because this is a collectively-bargained drug policy. So the lack of teeth when it comes to marijuana, HGH or so many other designer drugs that you may have never even heard of, is evidence that not enough people want a level playing field.

The third conspirator in this could be found by looking in the mirror, because the modern fan isn’t exactly on board with the message of “Reefer Madness,” and also has no real interest in going back to the days of 255-pound offensive linemen or watching edge rushers who can’t run a 4.5 while also being able to bench press a small sport-utility vehicle.

So, if you can pretend that everything is copacetic, the NFL should be able to suspend disbelief and play like you are all going to miss all the bad news, at least until the “George Michael Sports Machine” fires up on Sunday night.

The modern Friday news dump is a lot like a bad marriage — play along like there are no issues, and continue moving forward.

-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen.

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