Power Couples & Brain Drain

Danica Patrick & Aaron Rodgers (QB– Green Bay Packers), are dating. Have you heard?  It keeps showing up in my online news feeds, so I suppose I must comment. For the record, I am a fan of both of them. I don’t like the NFL, just as I despise NASCAR, as both are fronts for capitalist hypocrisy– like the rest of sports & entertainment. As a socialist, I always support the workers who create the actual value. Sports are entertainment, and athletes are the performers we pay to watch. When our needs are met, we all like to be entertained.

Fact: Both of these world-class athletes have had numerous concussions in their careers.  “Why Does Danica Patrick Wreck So Often in NASCAR?” is the most-read piece on this site. Published in the spring of 2016, a few YouTube videos I used as evidence, have since been taken down by their owners. I’ve left everything alone, as everything stands up, while illustrating the progression of reaction [1].

Danica Patrick has been wrecked so often, and so violently, that she surely has a level of CTE. Her behavior at the end of the 2017 season betrayed an inability to process reality, namely that her career was ending [2]. The word around the track was that she often exploded with a torrent of expletives.  Many blow-it-off as her being a superstar, and snapping under the pressure. But it’s on top of the repeated concussions she received, that puts everything into context. The point is, she was never intentionally wrecked in Indycar, compared to the way she has been viciously taken out of races in NASCAR. She’s likely suffered brain damage from this, but no one will admit it– or even comment on it. Except me [3].

Keep in mind that Daytona & Talladega Superspeedways are the two most dangerous race tracks in the world [4]. Danica Patrick rarely even finishes those races anymore. Her last run in NASCAR is to be this year’s Daytona 500, their signature event. This mass insanity is the Super Bowl kick-off to NASCAR’s premier series, which is losing sponsorship by the second. In this sense, NASCAR is grateful to have Danica one last time, until the race actually starts that is. Then NASCAR wants her out– ASAP. Nothing shrivels up NASCAR faster than Danica running up front.

In 2017, corporate sponsors insisted on a staged-race format, which allowed more TV timeouts for advertisers & the networks [5]. It’s so interesting to hear them talk, while the race is stopped, just for them. Of course, fans universally hated it, but have been told they have no choice but to agree, as television money is the only thing keeping NASCAR from bankrupting itself [6].

Owned & run by the France family since its inception, NASCAR prospered during the post-war boom, and became a trademark of pride in the South. Since the mid-1990’s, it has been forced to expand into other US markets, in order to find the money. NASCAR die-hards don’t get excited about races in Chicago, Kansas, Las Vegas & California; but that’s where NASCAR’s owners built the new tracks for its premier series.

I don’t write much about the NFL, because I feel I covered it already in two pieces I published in 2015, just before the Ray Rice incident hit the media [7]. Nothing has changed, in terms of the NFL (or the NFLPA) in getting better, so the final score on that piece remains: Ric Size– 256,  NFL– 3  [8].  Jan Stenerud (and too many others) were just too great, otherwise I had a shut-out. I tip my helmet to all the players, for their toughness, while being sympathetic to the pain & injustices they’ve had to endure from their owners and the league.

As I mentioned in that piece, Aaron Rodgers is a HoF QB. As of this publication, he is still recovering from a gruesome collar bone injury he sustained during the 2017 NFL season. I recall him appearing on a late-night talk show soon after he had surgery, claiming he had 13 screws in his shoulder, and was narced up on opioid painkillers [9]. That’s life in the NFL, boys & girls. Whatever he gets paid, it’s probably not enough, as 80+% of NFL players are broke 5 years after they retire [10].

As for brand Danica, she always finds a way to hustle the money. That largely defines her, and it’s why she manages her image so carefully. Her retirement campaign slogan is “1000 Miles,” in that she plans to run Daytona in February, which will cap her NASCAR career, and then run the Indianapolis 500— one last time. The rumor is she will do this with Chip-Gnassi Racing, but nothing has been made official yet. Therefore it may, or may not happen– we still don’t really know?

Here it is on her site [11]:

02.18.18 Daytona 500 Daytona Intl. Speedway FOX – 2:30 PM

05.27.18 Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis Motor Speedway ABC – 12:00 PM

I hope it happens, but I don’t expect her to get to 1000 miles. She always seems to get wrecked at the Daytona 500, just check the records & review the video. She’s been wrecked in qualifying & practice there, mostly by Denny Hamlin. Joe Gibbs Racing targets her, and she no longer has the protection of Stewart Haas Racing, or her “boyfriend” Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. I put that intimate term in quotation marks here, because I never saw anything but a relationship of convenience between those two. Many NASCAR fans will be interested to hear what Stenhouse has to say at Daytona. Honestly, I’ve seen & heard enough already.

Personally, I hope Danica Patrick sponsors herself at Daytona, as she has plenty of product in her clothing line, winery, etc… If it’s your last run, do it for yourself– I say. She can surely afford it. Aspen Dental was her primary sponsor in 2017, and they are a criminal corporate enterprise, which is starting to negatively impact her brand [12]. That’s when things get serious for her. These are the most-interesting storylines, for me.

Mostly I only hope she doesn’t get wrecked. At least it’s not Talladega, which is the most dangerous track in the world [13].  My final thoughts on safety at both those tracks is for all their races to become road course design. You can run part of the lap on the fast track, then divert to road course to spill the drivers out somewhere else up the track. This would eliminate the all-dangerous draft, which happens when cars build up speed lap-after-lap on a super-speedway, especially as they run together. These death tracks becomes two long lines of cars separated by mere inches going ~200 MPH, while surging forwards & backwards. Mayhem ensues when someone (inevitably) bumps someone or goes three-wide at the wrong time, usually in a corner. This road course innovation would also eliminate the hated restrictor plate.

I’m more excited to see Patrick finish (for real) at the Indianapolis 500. For those who don’t know, this happens every Memorial Day weekend, as it’s a big event in racing– worldwide. The Indianapolis 500 is much bigger than anything NASCAR puts on, as they run their Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same day. Their goal is to claim superiority at their new home track, on mileage, if not in quality of the race. Note that when NASCAR last ran at Indianapolis, they ended up cutting the race short– due to reckless incompetence & impending darkness [14].

Danica Patrick will go down as one of the all-time great drivers, simply for surviving her career. Her skills behind the wheel are elite, and can’t be measured by her finishes– especially in NASCAR. She faced obstacles no other competitor ever had to face. Perhaps her greatest contribution will be her part in exposing the hypocrisy that is NASCAR, and it’s broadcast partners in the media. Her fans were shell-shocked for the longest time, until something [?] woke them up.

Danica Patrick was never (& still isn’t) allowed to say how she really feels about everything that’s happened to her, as the sponsors have her under contract. When she wrecks, they make more money. Parading across the finish line in 23rd place doesn’t have the same effect. You understand, pardner?  Her fans now understand all this much better.

In many ways, Danica Patrick & Aaron Rodgers are trading in their brains for all the money they can get now. This is only natural, as they both are still smart enough to know they are probably going to need the money. But what about their brains? Note that these are the winners, whom everyone admires. No one sees anything else, because no one actually cares about them as people. Few of us think outside ourselves, in the context of the greater hypocrisy that is capitalism. This new couple is simply presented as the best of capitalism, personified.

They are only admired & coveted because they are beautiful & rich. Too many people still want this for themselves, not realizing that the existing economic set-up is unsustainable. I hope Patrick & Rodgers stay together and take care of each other, even if they become afflicted & poor. They are going to need each other. Others need to realize that, and what all this means.

…………..<><>><><><><><>………….