The N.F.L. Season Has Begun. The Off-Field Games Started Weeks Ago.

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Sports|The N.F.L. Season Has Begun. The Off-Field Games Started Weeks Ago.on footballA league with no shortage of messy controversies over money, safety and player’s rights.ImageMitchell Trubisky takes the field before the N.F.L. season opener between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.CreditCreditJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesSept. 6, 2019Updated 1:31 p.m. ETCHICAGO — The never-ending reality show known as the N.F.L. began its 100th season on Thursday when the Packers beat the Bears, 10-3, in the latest edition of one of the league’s oldest rivalries. Banners were raised, names like Halas and Lombardi were celebrated and an N.F.L. museum in Grant Park showed off a version of every Super Bowl ring.It was the kind of party the league likes to throw: a celebration focused on the “heroes of the game” and the values of grit, determination and teamwork that the N.F.L. wants us to believe are the cornerstones of American life.Yet the N.F.L. exists with conflict and the league has no shortage of messy controversies over money, safety and player’s rights. A big party can’t mask them. The N.F.L. would love to avoid many of these disputes, and not draw attention away from the game itself. But these dark clouds create a bottomless supply of fodder for sports radio hosts, cable television talking heads and fans on social media, and that ultimately benefits the league, intentionally or not.That’s because at its heart, the N.F.L. is a media company that produces football games.

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