It’s October, which means NFL teams play dress-up as if every Sunday, Monday and Thursday throughout the month is Halloween. The costume: normal NFL gear worn by players, coaches and referees, accented with hot pink from cap to cleat.
When the promotion first started, I figured that even though the pink bothers me because it draws attention away from the game at hand, it was for a good cause. So I was willing to stomach all the hot pink splashes for a week. Then I realized it was for a full month, which I considered overkill … but not quite something I could publicly rail against for fear of upsetting those who’ve been touched by breast cancer. Heck, I’m a person whose family has been touched by breast cancer. It’s a terrible disease.
With Jezebel coming out with a report on Thursday that detailed just how little money flows directly from the NFL to the cause they’re promoting so heavily, I’m no longer hesitant to let my stance on the pink gear be known. One week is fine, but a month is ridiculous.
According to Business Insider, the NFL’s October Breast Cancer Awareness Month fundraising effort is multi-pronged. There’s the on-field onslaught of pink (AWARENESS), the off-field auction of autographed or otherwise noteworthy NFL paraphernalia (MONEY FOR THE CURE!), and the part of the NFL store that entices shoppers to purchase officially licensed NFL breast cancer gear, a portion of which goes to FINDING A CURE. According to the League, 100% of the proceeds from the specialty auction go to the American Cancer Society, but the total percentage of purchases of officially licensed gear that actually goes to FINDING A CURE is actually kind of pathetic — 5%. If you want to look at this cynically, in a way, the on-field wearin’ o’ the pink serves as an ad to direct consumers to purchase pink fan items.
BUT WAIT, you might say, AT LEAST THEY’RE DOING SOMETHING. And 5% is still something! Well, kind of. As BI pointed out, if NFL products are sold at a 100% markup and only 5% of sale proceeds go to the American Cancer Society, then the NFL is pocketing 90% of sales of Breast Cancer Awareness products, many of which would not be purchased if they didn’t come with a promise that consumers were “helping.”
Am I of the opinion that this makes the NFL evil? No, but the pink campaign certainly counts as a cause-based revenue generator, and shows that the intense October focus on breast cancer is about as altruistic as Vitamin Water is healthy.
The whole commercialness of the pink movement is what gets me, as well as how the ability to sell pink shirts, hats, shoes and the rest automatically puts the breast cancer cause ahead of different cancers and other diseases which are equally deadly and are probably in greater need of research funding. If the NFL spread the marketing love among several other causes throughout the year, the blatant money grab centered on pink gear may not be quite as unseemly.
To make a long story short: if while watching a game I catch myself wondering whether the NFL really cares about this cause or if they’re more interested in selling more gear than they would’ve without Pinktober, part of me wishes the whole thing would go away. It’s great to shine a light on a cause, but in this case it seems like revenue is just as important to the NFL — if not much more so — than awareness.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-6) @ Tennessee Titans
**Titans won 23-20**
Bay Area Sports Guy: Titans
East Bay Sports Guy:
Bay Area Stats Guy: Titans
Ruthless Sports Guy: Titans
Bay Area Duck Guy:
Oakland Raiders @ Atlanta Falcons (-10.5)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Just like before the season began, I have no idea what to expect from Dennis Allen’s team following the bye week. But I do expect the extra time to rest and prepare to help the Raiders stick around in this one, despite Atlanta’s distance from Oakland. Pick: Raiders
East Bay Sports Guy: I hate to think that the Raiders are primed for a blowout, but it would foolish to expect otherwise. I’m not sure what’s more dismal about the Raiders: their play on the road, or their play in the secondary. Whatever the case, the Falcons are built to exploit such weaknesses. They possess size, speed, and 2,400 miles over Oakland. Which is to say, you may want to look away for this one, Raiders’ fans. Pick: Falcons
Bay Area Stats Guy: I don’t feel good about this pick and I came very close to overruling the system. The Raiders are not a good team, the Falcons are. This game in Atlanta. All bad signs for the Raiders. However they are coming off a bye and that may help them keep it close. The model protects a touchdown margin and a 58% chance of victory for the Falcons so we will see. Pick: Raiders
Ruthless Sports Guy: Don’t ask me why, I really don’t know. I have a good feeling that I’m going to get burned here, but I just can’t see getting 10.5 points and not taking it. The Raiders aren’t as bad as they looked in Denver. Right? Pick: Raiders
Bay Area Duck Guy: With a spread like this, I’d usually take the underdog. But let’s be honest, the Falcons are very tough at home, and the Raiders are simply not playing good football. Matt Ryan and co. can easily win by more than eleven points at home. Pick: Falcons
New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers (-7)
Bay Area Sports Guy: These teams split two very close games last year, with one of them causing irreparable damage to my vocal cords, eardrums and psyche. Both teams should have plenty of motivation — the Giants want to show that they haven’t slipped since last year; the 49ers want to beat the team that ended their 2011 season. However, the 49ers’ biggest defensive weakness (coverage) is much improved this year. That, along with some slippage on defense for the Giants, will be the difference here. Pick: 49ers
East Bay Sports Guy: I was dead wrong last week, so take my opinion here with a grain of salt. On paper, the 49ers have the edge. And so, I think they will win. However, I don’t think it’ll be by such a large margin. The Giants have the second ranked pass offense in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus (of course). This doesn’t bode well for the 49ers whose pass rush and pass defense rank in the bottom half. In all, I just don’t think a team as good as the Giants will be beaten by a touchdown– I’m ignoring last year’s regular season matchup, obviously. Pick: Giants
Bay Area Stats Guy: The model actually says don’t bet on this game, spitting out a margin that is exactly the spread but the rules say I can’t skip one. So the benefit of the doubt goes to the home team in this one. I hope they avenge the NFC Championship loss in grand fashion. Pick: 49ers
Ruthless Sports Guy: With the Giants secondary depleted and the 49ers passing game coming into form last week, I don’t see San Francisco having a problem putting up points on a team that gave up 27 to the Browns. Like I said in the last post, Jim Harbaugh has been unbelievable against the spread, both at Stanford and for the 49ers. The door is open for a touchdown cover so I’m walking right through it. Pick: 49ers
Bay Area Duck Guy: The spread is a big one for San Francisco, but the 49ers are at home. If this game was in New York, my pick would be different. But as long as the offensive line can give Alex Smith some time against the great pass rush of the Giants, San Francisco should have no problem winning by a touchdown. Pick: 49ers
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Green Bay Packers @ Houston Texans (-3)
Bay Area Sports Guy: The Packers have the 10th best record in the NFC. Boy, is that weird. Houston is undefeated, but the only decent team they’ve played (Denver) scored 25 points on them. I see the Packers’ offense proving they aren’t dead yet on Sunday night, and Houston struggling a bit in their first game without Brian Cushing. Pick: Packers
East Bay Sports Guy: The Texans out rank the Packers in every significant statistical category available through Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders. This fact combined with the marginal line means I take the Texans–even though the Packers haven’t lost two in a row since 2010. Pick: Texans
Bay Area Stats Guy: The average margin is 2 and the most common margin is 7 points. I don’t feel super comfortable when the indicators are pointing in different directions but again I will defer to the home team with my pick. Pick: Texans
Ruthless Sports Guy: Hard to believe that the Packers could be looking at 2-4 after Week 6 is done. They were the top team in the league on paper this offseason and haven’t been right all year. But advantage to the Texans at running back and defense, plus they can go blow for blow in the passing game. Hard to see Houston losing this one. Pick: Texans
Bay Area Duck Guy: The Texans are the best team in football right now. Losing Brian Cushing will hurt, but they stood strong last year after losing Mario Williams and Matt Schaub. Houston will be able to run the ball on Green Bay, and that will open up the passing game for Schaub. The defense can even afford to give up a few more points in this one because of how many touchdowns the offense will score against the Packers’ defense. Pick: Texans