Waiting for Goodell

September, 19, 2012
9/19/12
9:07
PM ET


In which we return yet again to the work of Samuel Beckett in the interest of clarifying American football.




A country road. A tree.
Evening.


ESTRAGON: Nothing to be done.

[+] EnlargeWaiting for Godot
Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty ImagesRoger Rees (Vladimir), left, and Sir Ian McKellen (Estragon) star in "Waiting for Godot."
VLADIMIR: I'm beginning to come around to that. All my life I've believed, but not now.

They sit a long time in silence.

ESTRAGON: Believed in what?

VLADIMIR: Which what?

ESTRAGON: In what did you once believe?

VLADIMIR: The NFL.

ESTRAGON: In football?

VLADIMIR: Not just football. NFL football. The Shield. It was a symbol.

ESTRAGON: A cymbal?

VLADIMIR: A symbol of quality. It was unquestionable.

ESTRAGON: Incontrovertible.

VLADIMIR: Ineluctable.

ESTRAGON: Indisputable.

VLADIMIR: Undeniable.

ESTRAGON: And now?

VLADIMIR: I question. I dispute. I eluct.

ESTRAGON: What was once indubitable is now dubitable.

VLADIMIR: The whole apparatus is in doubt.

ESTRAGON: Replacement officials?

VLADIMIR: Scabs.

ESTRAGON: The very same! Like a skinned knee!

VLADIMIR: It's tragedy masquerading as comedy.

ESTRAGON: Comedy rebranded as tragedy.

VLADIMIR: It's a leaguewide lockout.

ESTRAGON: Union-busting cahoots! The league is in league with The League.

VLADIMIR: The league isn't the players. The league is the owners.

ESTRAGON: Maybe the league left its wallet in its other pants, because the league needs to scrounge a few dollars.

VLADIMIR: Very few.

ESTRAGON: So the league is using bargain officials from other leagues.

VLADIMIR: From the Lingerie League.

ESTRAGON: Safety first! Who would know better the risks and rules governing high speed helmet-to-helmet contact and potential brain injury than a back judge from the Lingerie Football League?

VLADIMIR: And at an attractive discount.

ESTRAGON: So except for the absurd incompetence, it's been a win-win-win right down the line.

VLADIMIR: He'll have to explain it all to us when he gets here.

ESTRAGON: Who will?

VLADIMIR: Goodell.

ESTRAGON: We're waiting for Goodell?

VLADIMIR: Yes. He can explain it.

ESTRAGON: Of course he can. Maybe. But can he make good on it?

They wait.

VLADIMIR: In his defense, you can't be half a gangster.

ESTRAGON: Or even half a Gangnam.

VLADIMIR: Those nickels and dimes add up.

ESTRAGON: Too true.

VLADIMIR: Especially in Las Vegas.

ESTRAGON: Where they gamble on football?

VLADIMIR: Professional American football is the most beloved and lucrative random numbers generator in human history.

Both rise, look up into the lights and hold their hats over their hearts for a very long time. Their eyes well with tears. They sit again, exhausted.

ESTRAGON: But it has to be on the up-and-up.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning and Matt Ryan
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesPeyton Manning and Matt Ryan take the show on the road as Vladimir and Estragon in "Waiting for Goodell."
VLADIMIR: On the level.

ESTRAGON: On the square.

VLADIMIR: Or it might as well not be football at all.

ESTRAGON: Like operetta, or the New York Jets.

VLADIMIR: Or anything else you can't reliably bet upon.

ESTRAGON: Because the league sells physical marvels and unbelievable feats of nonfiction.

VLADIMIR: And if people can't believe them …

ESTRAGON: Real trouble.

VLADIMIR: It's a question of epistemology …

ESTRAGON: And the betting lines.

VLADIMIR: Exactly. Goodell has to fix it because all of a sudden it looks fixed.

The sky darkens.

ESTRAGON: Will he never get here?

VLADIMIR: I'm not entirely convinced he ever left.

ESTRAGON: True. He's everywhere.

VLADIMIR: And nowhere.

ESTRAGON: He'd want us to remember.

VLADIMIR: Remember that it's slow-motion violence set to music?

ESTRAGON: The very thing. Sentimentalized carnage. The Shield is a cymbal of integrity, after all. And your assurance of highest quality action.

They sit a long time in silence.

VLADIMIR: Still. It's not a strike.

ESTRAGON: It's a lockout.

VLADIMIR: Time to shake off the dust. Shall we go?

ESTRAGON: Yes, let's go.

They do not move.

Curtain

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