Welcome to the life of a conspiracy theorist, one that is almost as bad as the life of a New York Jets fan. At least with believing in conspiracies, there’s some hope you’ll find what you’re looking for and the payoff will be great. There’s not much payoff with being a Jets fan.
Today, we’re going to look at some of the more infamous conspiracy theories in recent football history and if we believe them to be true or not. The majority of these conspiracies will be from the 2010s and on, though there are some that extend back to the earlier 2000s.
Really, our only ground rules for these theories is that they have to be interesting. Something like “Colin Kaepernick wasn't signed by the Miami Dolphins because of money” isn’t quite what we’re looking for. However, if there was a theory that “Kaepernick wasn't signed by the Dolphins because they refused to pay him money that would be given only to high-profile black charities”, we’d include that. I doubt that happened, but with the Wilpons, who knows?
If you’re ready to replace your New Era cap with one made of tinfoil and prepare to make your thoughts felt on every message board known to man, join me on this journey to explore conspiracy theories.
15 Might Be: The NFL is fixed for the New England Patriots
Theory: Because Tom Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback of all time and the Patriots are challenging the Dallas Cowboys for the title of America's Team, the NFL will "push for" New England to always win the Super Bowl.
If the idea is that the NFL is pushing for the Patriots to be in the Super Bowl, then I do think that is a fair thought because the Patriots are the league's most iconic team right now.
Why wouldn't the NFL want their most marketable quarterback and most marketable coach featured in their biggest game once more? However, the idea that the NFL is rigging games to enable the Patriots to compete for a Lombardi Trophy, as we'll discuss later, is ridiculous. Theory one makes sense, theory two does not.
14 Might Be: Tom Brady is hiding concussions
Theory: Based on comments from Brady's wife, Gisele Bündchen, the five-time Super Bowl champion has suffered numerous concussions that he and the New England Patriots have hidden.
If you'll remember Gisele's comments last year, Brady's wife told Charlie Rose, "He had a concussion last year. He has concussions pretty much every ... I mean, we don’t talk about it. He does have concussions."
I don't know if Brady has had concussions in terms of the plural, but I wouldn't be surprised if the veteran signal-caller had one over his many years of playing football and never reported it.
Concussions weren't what they were until roughly 2012, when Brady's former teammate Junior Seau was among many ex-NFLers to take their own lives because of CTE, and Brady understands how badly the Patriots would be in trouble if he had to exit the game. Is that the right thing to do? Maybe not, but Brady will do what Brady wants.
13 Nonsense: Analytic-tanking in the NFL will one day work
Theory: With more and more NFL teams accepting analytics and sabermetrics, there will one day be a team like the Houston Astros who went from nothing to champions because of a heavy reliance on advanced stats. Originally, the Cleveland Browns believed this approach could work before ditching that approach after ana 0-16 2017 season.
For the non-baseball fans reading, sabermetrics and analytics are simply using math formulas to build a team based on a players' worth and value.
Though this works in baseball and basketball, building a team on metrics is impossible in the NFL because you can take years and years to tank and mix-and-match in those sports.
In the NFL, where your average career is roughly three years, that can't happen. Baseball has 162 games and basketball 82, far more time than football's 16 to properly evaluate players with those newer metrics. Sorry, fellow advanced stat lovers, but this will never work in the NFL.
12 Might Be: The NFL accepts tanking for big-market - or popular - teams
Theory: If a big-market team, or at least one with extreme popularity, decides to tank, the NFL is alright with the move as opposed to a weaker franchise.
For example, the NFL was more accepting with the Colts tanking during "Suck For Luck" than a team like the Browns just tanking for the sake of it.
I know how mixed people are about tanking even in 2018, but this extends to other sports as well. Notice how many people had issues when the Browns, 76ers, and Astros - all lesser teams - openly tanked, but were fine when the Indianapolis Colts did it for Andrew Luck? The Colts were a big-name team who had achieved plenty of recent success, so the NFL could turn a blind eye. When the time comes where the Patriots tank in the post-Brady years, the NFL won't care much then either.
11 Might Be: Super Bowl XLVII's blackout was done intentionally
Theory: With the Baltimore Ravens riding a blowout in the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers, the league intentionally staged a blackout of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome so the 49ers could pull it together and make the game closer.
I think we've acknowledged plenty of times in the past five yeas that this is most likely true.
Too many things seem suspicious, even with the counter-theory that the blackout came from Beyonce's halftime show using way too much equipment and energy, but at least the second half made the game worth watching.
Remember, the NFL hadn't had a blowout Super Bowl in over a decade and recent history saw some awesome games. Why try to change things if you have the chance to do something sketchy?
10 Nonsense: Super Bowl 50 was rigged for the Denver Broncos
Theory: The NFL wanted Peyton Manning to retire a champion, so the league did what they could to ensure the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Maybe I say this because of how much I love Peyton Manning, but I just don't see it.
If the game was rigged, wouldn't the Panthers defense be making more holes for Manning to exploit even with his dead, old man arm? Wouldn't Cam Newton be more obvious with his bad throws?
Too many things don't add up for this game being a conspiracy theory, even for the biggest tinfoil-hat-wearing fans out there, but it is what it is. Peyton went out on top, Cam was immature after the game, and neither team has been back to the Super Bowl in the past two years.
9 Might Be: The NFL is forcing the Bengals to keep Marvin Lewis
Theory: So as to not limit the amount of "elite" black coaches to only Mike Tomlin, the NFL is forcing the Bengals to retain Marvin Lewis until another black coach has a high level of success at the game's highest level.
I think I've mentioned this theory on here before because it's one I could definitely see being true. Look at how many people complain each year about teams not adhering to the Rooney Rule. If the Bengals part ways with Lewis, that leaves only Tomlin and Ron Rivera as the only two successful minority coaches right now - and with the Panthers set to have a new owner, how safe is Rivera's seat? Lewis isn't getting any younger, but this theory has some potential in it.
8 Might Be: The NFL is still hiding concussions
Theory: The NFL will never fully acknowledge the true danger of concussions to make sure that star players stay in the game - and in the league - and as to not scare young, potential future NFLers away.
Come on, we definitely know this one is true. After all of the suicides and proven brain damage, the NFL is still trying to ignore the true damage of concussions and still paint things in a positive light.
There were more reported concussions in 2017 than any other year, but the NFL looks as that as a good thing because people are actually acknowledging concussions!
No, just no. The NFL has a problem that will never truly be acknowledged and we'll continue to go in circles for the next 40-50 years.
7 Nonsense: Russell Wilson's Super Bowl interception was a league decision
Theory: Late in Super Bowl XLIX, the NFL told the Seattle Seahawks to make sure Russell Wilson threw a touchdown at the goal line, though there are two possible theories as to why. The first is so that the New England Patriots would have a higher chance at winning as opposed to the Seahawks. The other was an idea that if Wilson completed the touchdown, he would be a "media darling" and the hero as opposed to Marshawn Lynch.
I can see the NFL wanting Wilson to be the MVP instead of Lynch, but this was all on the Seahawks and Darrell Bevell. We know this. This has been established. Let's stop trying to make things what they're not and create a false narratives when the Seahawks destroyed themselves.
6 Might Be: Ezekiel Elliott was suspended to prove a point
Theory: The NFL repeatedly kept taking their fight with Ezekiel Elliott, and eventually suspending him six games in October 2017, was not about domestic violence or what actually happened so much as it was Roger Goodell wanting to prove a point: the NFL could still punish people.
Here's another theory we're almost certain is true.
There was so much proof that the woman who accused Ezekiel Elliott of domestic violence as making aspects of the case - and maybe the case as a whole - up to smear his name and the NFL still kept fighting him on the suspension.
How does the NFL send a message that they're not pushovers? Suspending the star player of America's Team is definitely a smart option on paper, but we know how things really wound up working out.
5 Might Be: Ray Rice and Greg Hardy weren't blackballed
Theory: Ray Rice and Greg Hardy, despite each committing domestic violence and assault crimes, were not blackballed from the NFL contrary to what popular claims were. The two simply were not given repetitive chances at their jobs because their play wasn't what it once was.
Another one that makes sense and builds off another conspiracy case in its own right. Rice wasn't signed by any other teams because he was a running back with serious wear-and-tear who was mediocre in 2013 playing an injury-prone position. Hardy wasn't his old self in 2015 with the Dallas Cowboys, his final chance, and also shot himself in the foot with numerous statements about what really happened. At least Rice has found comfort in becoming a high school coach and Hardy is having fun as an MMA fighter.
4 Nonsense: The games are predetermined
Theory: The NFL decides in the days - and sometimes weeks - before games are played who will win not unlike WWE matches. It's all about the storylines...
If you've never heard of the website “The Fix is In" by Brian Tuohy, you should look into it if only to better understand why people get so crazy about the NFL being rigged.
Here's why this theory makes no sense: injuries, suspensions, all of that. You think the NFL is rigging team's seasons this past year with all of the quarterback injuries? Nope.
Whenever something goes wrong, we always jump to the conclusion that something is rigged. Before the 2018 season starts, can we get into the habit of not always jumping to those conclusions?
3 Might Be: The NFL will have a "black act" for next year's Super Bowl
Theory: Because of the anthem protests, Colin Kaepernick's blackballing, and other racial issues plaguing the NFL, a "black act" - most likely a rapper or R&B performer like Kanye West or Rihanna - will perform Super Bowl LIII to attract the minority fans the league has lost.
I could definitely see this one happening if said acts were willing to perform at the Super Bowl, which given the presence might be an excellent time to make a political statement. Kanye West is likely too much of a wild card, but Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Rihanna, any hip-hop or R&B act that has proven themselves over the years might be a good draw for the NFL. Someone like Migos or Cardi B who hasn't done much, on the other hand? No chance.
2 Might Be: The referees wager on games
Theory: Whether they are betting on the spreads or prop bets, the referees wager on the games through gambling services. This includes fantasy football and DFS.
The only way I can see this even being close to true is because the NFL does not have full-time referees.
In other words, nothing is stopping Jimmy The Ref, who is officiating a Ravens-Steelers game, from putting down money on the Jets-Patriots game which he is not working. The same could be said for fantasy football leagues, daily fantasy games, etc. Now, if the referees were full-time employees by the NFL and were technically subject to the gambling rules applied to players, the chances of this happening would decrease, wouldn't it? There's even more incentive for Goodell to hire full-time employees, yeah?
1 Nonsense: The NFL pre-determined Super Bowl LII
Theory: Because of a Facebook post days before the 2018 AFC and NFC Championship Games, many believe the NFL had pre-determined the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots would advance to Super Bowl LII before making a last-minute change.
Nope. Here's the NFL's actual response:
“It was a regrettable mistake,” an NFL spokesman told NJ Advance Media via email after said mistake was made. “The ads were mocked up using all the [possible] combinations, but weren’t supposed to go until Monday when the matchup is known. Obviously, someone jumped the gun.”
Besides, let's look at the actual championship games. Jacksonville lost the AFC Championship Game because they played too conservatively in the second half and the Eagles were too good for the Minnesota Vikings. Simple as that.
Which of these conspiracy theories do you heavily believe in? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below.