Sunday, September 14, 2014

The NFL’s elaborate security network, and how I Punk'd Roger Goodell.

The NFL's reputation has received a black eye recently (as well as numerous welts and injuries to it's little bare tushy) with it's handling of the Ray Rice incident (the player who knocked out his then-fiancée on an elevator) and now with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson for allegedly striking his 4-year-old son with a tree branch - though in all fairness to Adrian, the branch is likely from a shortleaf pine, a coniferous tree indigenous to that region of Texas and which is most definitely a "softwood". And hasn't Adrian earned our benefit of the doubt in this case when he says the 4-year-old was "gettin' lippy"?

That's why I was more than a little surprised to learn that the NFL has an elaborate security network with the sole purpose of protecting the league from trouble. With approximately $10 billion in annual revenue, the NFL certainly can afford the cost for this "intricate and largely secretive three-layered security force — mainly comprised of former federal agents," but it still wasn't enough to stop the Rice or Peterson incident from occurring.

Hmmmm. "...a vast network of problem solvers who work security in one capacity or another for the National Football League." Kinda Orwellian creepy if you ask me:

Its emphases are swiftness and thoroughness, its tentacles reaching into states even without an NFL team, its code mostly one of silence. And while its agents can help keep bad actors from ever getting to the league by vetting them beforehand, they are equally if not more valuable in funnelling information back to the league office once problems occur to help make sure NFL leaders are not caught off guard.

It was at this point in the article when I nodded off (don't judge! I get sleepy when I read)... and *yaawn* started to dream... Zzz

Cue wavy lines for the upcoming blog dream sequence...

I was on another undercover blog assignment to investigate, and hopefully penetrate, the highly secretive uppermost level of the NFL’s security department with headquarters located in an anonymous New York City highrise. My advanced scouting report indicated this facility was crawling with decorated former law-enforcement officials on high alert for paparazzi from TMZ. While I had never heard of "paparazzi from TMZ", I do love mine with pepperoni, sausage, mushroom and onion, and I made a mental note to try this TMZ pizzeria joint after completion of my assignment.

The secret to being a successful deep-cover Chattering Teeth blog reporter is my uncanny ability to transform myself into a different person for each job. That is also, coincidentally, an IMDb plot summary of Legends, one of my new favorite TV shows.

Of course, I take it a step further than simply disguising myself with a fake mustache, speaking in a bogus French accent and putting bologna slices in each shoe (which I assume all good operatives do)... No, I go for TOTAL and complete assimilation in order to become one with my surroundings - veritably invisible in plain sight by watchful eyes. It's an occupation not without perils, however.

For example, after my undercover assignment to spy on the status of the president's billiards game in a Boston bar this summer, my steps to fit in got me addicted to Slippery Nipples from dirt glasses. Numerous discarded miniature umbrellas, as well as Chinese takeout boxes littered my blog studio until an intervention finally inspired me to get cleaned up. I am just happy the quality of my writing on this blog has not suffered.

But I digress.

I walked through the lobby and past the initial security desk unmolested. Obviously, my disguise was working. I was wearing a puffy shirt under well worn Lederhosen with crocheted suspenders, knee-high socks shoved into unbuckled size 12 rubber rain galoshes. I walked to the bank of elevators clutching my delivery and hit the "up" button, all the while humming the theme to that Titanic movie.

When the doors opened, I was initially taken aback to see the elevator attendant was none other than suspended player Ray Rice, his bellhop hat and tassel sitting on his head and slightly askew. Reluctantly I climbed aboard, pulling my own Pokémon hat down to hide my face from any security camera, and to also work as a sort of "sneeze guard" in the event that Rice attempted to spit on me. This hat had already proven its metal by getting me on the north lawn at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave recently in a dry run for this assignment.

"What Floor?," he asked.

"Top floor executive security suites. I have a delivery... Hey, aren't you Ray Rice, the player recently suspended for domestic violence? What are you doing here?"

"It's part of the top secret NFL rehabilitation program for problem players," he answered. "Some suit thought that if I worked the scene of the crime, so to speak, then I would eventually become desensitized to my violent reaction when confronted with "extreme femininity" in enclosed elevators."

I silently congratulated myself for not wearing my "Michael Sam" disguise, or otherwise dressing in drag as I am apt to do on most weekends.

The elevator *ding* announced our arrival to my destination, and I was once again thankful I wouldn't need help disembarking the elevator, dragged unconscious by my lederhosen suspenders.

As I stepped out and onto the top floor, I was immediately surrounded by gentleman wearing dark suits and sunglasses, each with an earbud protruding from one ear for surreptitious communications, or more likely just tuned to the ESPN network. My training took over as I nonchalantly thrust the bag of donuts at these semi-retired law enforcement officers, while in the other hand I held up the bright yellow Pikachu doll with one missing eye (hey, you use what props are readily at your disposal... or in this case, what is kept on your pillow).

"Special delivery for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell," I stated, but the guards had quickly lost interest in me, pouncing on the donuts as I quietly slipped past.

I was in.

I made my way down the hallway marked by a sign that said, TOP SECRET NFL REHABILITATION PROGRAM FOR PROBLEM PLAYERS, and thought to myself, "this could get interesting."

The first door I passed said "DAYCARE", and peeking inside I noticed Adrian Peterson busily changing a dirty diaper in a room full of babies and children, and was decorated with various large potted trees. Even NFL executives needed daycare and the occasional babysitter, and I was thankful these small children were not left unattended.

Proceeding down the hall, I came to a door with stenciling stating GAME ROOM. I cracked the door and spotted Detroit Lion's tackle,  Ndamukong Suh engaged in a heated game of Donkey Kong with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. I knew that Newton had recently stepped in it when he referred to the Lion's player as "Donkey Kong Suh", a term that would have been considered a thinly-veiled racial slur had it come from a white player. Detroit News columnist Terry Foster mused this: "Well, let’s say Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers called Suh “Donkey Kong.” Now you have a white guy calling a black guy a gorilla."

I don't know if Rodgers would have been suspended for that, or an apology demanded, but I couldn't help wondering how well the Packers QB would perform against Suh on the Donkey Kong field of play and whether he would be doing his patented "Discount Double Check" move to the 350lb Suh.

Continuing on, I silently practiced my expected upcoming confrontation with Goodell. "Sir, did you lie to the American public when you claimed that Susan Rice never saw that hateful video that spurred the tragedy at Benghazi, and do you share my desire to see Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton andd DNC "Chairbabe Debbie Blabbermouth Schultz" share an extended elevator ride with Ray Rice?"

Stenciled on the front of the next door announced this as the SURVEILLANCE DEPT. It was a large conference type room with banks of monitors being stared at by hundreds of surveillance staff. I had earlier pirated a mop from the Janitor's closet, so I now began to push it around and behind the work stations, roundly ignored as I eavesdropped on their reports.

I quickly discerned these monitors were importing date streams from countless video surveillance feeds across the country monitoring everything from cash register transactions and time clocks, to motor traffic, malls, bars, elevators, and drone feeds.

Station 33 ALERT! I have Johnny Football riding an escalator at his local mall and he appears to be arguing with a female! They appear to be playing tug-o-war with a bag of Cinnabons. This could get ugly. All stations RED ALERT! Let's see if we can get some boots on the ground people! Is there a mall cop nearby where we might get some audio? 

STAND DOWN. I repeat, STAND DOWN! The subjects have exited the escalator and now appear to be sharing the Cinnabons. Good work people. Disaster avoided. THIS time. But don't ever forget.

We have to be right every time. The NFL player just has to be right once.


  1. Jerry! Jerry! Wake up! You're having a nightmare!
    No more pizza with anchovies before bed for you anymore, young man!

  2. Haha I'm up now Ed, but I sure did amuse myself all morning with this one :)