In a few hours, Americans will engage in a collective activity that doesn’t involve being led like sheeple to another banker-endorsed conflict. Today, of course, is the culmination of what’s popularly known as Super Bowl weekend. Tens of thousands will shell out ridiculous amounts of money to watch grown men smash their brains. Millions of others will watch from their comfort of their lazy chairs.

The NFL is big business, sparking a sports economy like no other in this nation. In the 2016 edition of the Super Bowl, the National Retail Federation reported that overall spending topped $15.5 billion. To put this into perspective, this figure amounts to almost 60% of Vermont’s annual GDP. The sad part is that none of this Super Bowl revenue is related to utilitarian activities.

Sure, the hosting city gets a big payout from the NFL for accommodating one of the biggest sporting events in the world. At the same time, though, the costs for hosting rights are astronomical. Everything about the Super Bowl, and the NFL generally speaking, reeks of the entertainment business.

I’m not suggesting that the players are paid actors. All of them are incredible athletes, that’s not in doubt. But it would be remiss to ignore that the NFL has a financial interest in determining who goes to the prized Super Bowl, and especially, who emerges victorious.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was drafted 199th overall, will be competing for his sixth Super Bowl ring against the Philadelphia Eagles. This is an incredible, unprecedented feat, and one that would pay dividends for the NFL.

Let’s be real – the sports economy thrives not just on good competition, but also in dramatic storylines. Here before us, we have a classic David versus Goliath theme. Plus, we’ve seen this match-up before in the 2000s era. People eat this stuff up, which is why it wouldn’t surprise me if indeed the NFL and the Super Bowl were rigged.

I have no smoking gun evidence to suggest this, but certain events can’t be shrugged away. For instance, former NFL star quarterback Peyton Manning was a physical mess heading towards his second Super Bowl ring. Despite the fact that the quarterback is the heart and soul of a football team, his teammates carried his decrepit body to a championship.

In another eyebrow-raising series of incidents, the NFL has pushed new rules to protect the quarterback. These rules allow star athlete like Tom Brady to have an unusually long career, and he’s not the only one. Check out Drew Brees, who, if he keeps going the way that he is, will also be an elite-level, 40-year old quarterback.

Prior to these favorable rules, quarterbacks that survived that long in the NFL were unheard of. But given the alluring power of the sports economy, it’s not unthinkable to believe that our pro leagues have devolved into an entertainment business.