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The Oathbreakers

A true leader knows when to walk away. To that end, Frank Lampard could learn a thing or two from Jon Snow.

Hudson River Blue + Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The ball is round, and full of terrors. Throughout the sixth season of Game of Thrones, we will endeavor to write a commentary, following each new episode, on what the show can tell us about the epic adventure that is NYCFC's second year, and vice-versa. CLICK HERE to read last week's article, "What Is Dead May Never Die."

As you may have guessed, this article contains spoilers concerning Season 6, Episode 3.

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Watchers gonna watch.

Indeed, the responsibilities of Westeros's solemn watchers on The Wall are pretty plainly established:

  1. Be a man with nothing to lose
  2. Take the oath and join the Night's Watch
  3. Watch people, places, and things; perhaps also defend The Wall
  4. Die
Ain't no half-steppin'. That's just how it is. Unfortunately, the miraculous death and return of Lord Commander Jon Snow presents a legal quandary for the Night's Watch that is entirely devoid of precedent.

As per the age-old covenant, death marks the end of a watchman's commitment. Logic would hold, naturally, that Jon's tenure concluded upon his infamous betrayal and assassination at the end of Season 5. As far as we know, however, there's no rule currently on the books explaining what happens when a dead watchman comes back to life. Is he free from his commitment thanks to a "death loophole"? Is he automatically re-instated? It's not as if the Watch would willingly put itself in a position to lose an able body; the pickings have gotten awfully slim over the years as the throne's regard for the Night's Watch receded.

And let's be clear: we aren't talking about some roguish wastrel of negligible ancestry. This is Jon Snow, a duly-elected Lord Commander, zombie-slayer, chief diplomat, and, quite possibly, a very real claimant to the Iron Throne.

There's no like-for-like replacement for a talent like that. So, how does a struggling organization keep its own talent and avoid the wrath of its very own rules and regulations?

The solution is to buck tradition, and hard. Given that Jon's is an utterly unique circumstance for the Watch, that prideful institution ought to have done precisely what Major League Soccer would have done-- shamelessly, brazenly create a new roster rule on the spot in order to get its guy.

David Beckham's sensational arrival in MLS in 2007 necessitated the prime example of this manner of deliciously ad-hoc decisionmaking, precedence be damned. Prior to Becks putting pen to paper for the LA Galaxy, there were just three players in the entire league making more than $400,000 per year: Landon Donovan, Carlos "Blackfish" Ruiz, and Eddie Jonsnow Johnson. Well, the Galaxy wanted to pay the Manchester United scion $6.5 million, a sum so massive relative to the baseline of the league that the pre-existing roster paradigm simply couldn't support such an outlay.


Of course, the result of this snag was the Designated Player rule, allowing teams to pay out-of-pocket to cover wages substantially above $400,000 for a select number of players. It's hard to figure how this was strictly permitted under the league's collective bargaining agreement, but the players surely got the league's message-- let us make this rule anyway, and your teams will be able to spend more on salaries. Boom.

In order to sign (or re-sign) a game-changing superstar, you have to be willing to do anything. MLS understood that a decade ago (and, really, whenever the hell LA Galaxy wanted to sign someone that the present roster restrictions couldn't support). But for the Night's Watch, Jon Snow's exeunt was a consequence of a missed opportunity: surely, if Maester Aemon was still amongst the living, he could have made one hell of a pitch to keep Lord Snow around. Hell, Aemon might be Jon's great-great-uncle...

It could have worked. Instead, the Watch has to withstand the irony of watching their captain and best Designated Player spring back to life, only to drop the mic and leave.

To be fair, though, Jon's sincere feeling is the logical one-- that his watch ended when he died, full stop. So, he walked right out of Castle Black. In so doing, he wasn't turning his back on his brothers. He's not some two-bit betrayer and he's definitely not Bowe Bergdahl. He's got a future. Hooooo boy, does he ever. But to hear him tell it, that future just isn't with the Night's Watch.

Here in Castle Bronx, even if it hurts the squad in the short term, it's time for Frank Lampard to show the kind of faith in his teammates that Jon showed in his.

By leaving.


Yes, Frank Lampard will remain an impactful figure in the global game no matter what, whether as a player, coach, pundit, children's book writer, or Conservative MP. But at this point, with so much bad blood having been spilt, it's time to stop pretending that there's any chance of the man being any kind of impactful figure for New York City FC. Ever.

Just like the Watch, your team will be in reasonably good hands without you -- we think?? -- even if it means a massive change of plans. It won't be quite the same, sure. It will be difficult, even painful. But it's time to walk away and apply your diverse talents in a fresh environment. In the Five Boroughs, the steady buildup of Lampardian emotional scar tissue has been positively overwhelming. There's no more surgery that can be done to reclaim the situation and do right by the fans.

Just go. Somebody else could probably really, REALLY use your help.

But not us. Not anymore.