SOMEWHERE IN CYBERSPACE — When you hear somebody mention "4Chan," "leak," and "pro athlete's girlfriend," the first thing that comes to mind probably isn't head trauma. But in a largely overlooked story, 4Chan user "footballsux" hacked the San Diego Chargers website in the hours following the team's exciting victory over the Buffalo Bills on September 21. Instead of highlights and analysis, fans who visited chargers.com were treated to what appeared to be excerpts from an internal NFL report on concussions and other forms of brain trauma sustained by those who find themselves in close proximity to NFL players.
"Wives, children, girlfriends, strippers, strip club managers, even bar patrons — people in nearly every position are at risk," noted the document, which was allegedly produced by Industry Research, Inc., the same organization that first suggested a link between steroids and the complete physical transformation of baseball home-run king Barry Bonds. Apparently also at risk: football's reign as America's favorite sport.
"As troubling as the recent reports of the damage done by on-the-field concussions have been, they have resulted in no noticeable damage to the NFL brand," states the report. "For example, we have yet to document a single instance of a San Diego Charger fan who has stopped watching football, buying Charger-related merchandise, tailgating at the Q, or purchasing a season ticket in the aftermath of Junior Seau's unfortunate demise. Well, except maybe for people related to him." (Linebacking great Seau famously committed suicide in May of 2012, and specialists consulted by the National Institutes of Health have concluded that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia, memory loss and depression. The disease is associated with repeated head trauma.)
"Especially encouraging has been data showing that the female fanbase, determined to be potentially unstable due to the fact that Mr. Seau left a wife and three children behind, actually grew in the season following his death. Credit here must be given to two factors: NFL Pink's enormously visible Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, and sufficient cultural ubiquity to overwhelm any real possibility of protest. In this latter regard, the NFL seemed to have achieved the status of government data surveillance and drone strikes — a truly impressive feat for a private corporation."
"However," notes the report, "the recent rise in off-the-field concussions may prove a more formidable challenge. An estimated 7000 Baltimore Ravens fans traded in their Ray Rice jerseys following the release of video showing the running back knocking out his girlfriend in an elevator. Sources in the Ravens organization say the PR move, while effective, cost the team 'six figures.' That's an unacceptable expense. Simply put, there are just too many OTF concussion cases out there right now for the League to continue these kind of efforts. A few hundred thousand here, a few hundred thousand there, and pretty soon, you're talking about real money, the kind you might pay a backup kicker."
In conclusion, the report notes that "football is a beautiful game, combining the balletic grace of ballet with the complex strategic maneuvers of chess and the sheer determination of the marathon. But for some reason, violence seems to be finding its way into the heart of the game, or at least, the hearts of its players. Something has to be done. We suggest swapping out NFL Pink for NFL Purple, the color associated with Domestic Violence awareness. That should take the heat off, and remember, the League only ever sent 8% of its NFL Pink merchandise profits to cancer research. You go with what's worked in the past, right?"
As of press time, the Chargers had declined to comment on the hack.