“Saturday Night Live” Kicks Off 40th Season With Jabs at NFL Scandals

"Saturday Night Live's" season 40 premiere featured host Chris Pratt, musical guest Ariana Grande and plenty of jabs at recent NFL scandals. 

The cold open scene delved right into NFL's domestic violence controversy and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's handling of it in a mock scene of CNN's "State of the Union," with Candy Crowley (Adily Bryant).

In a clip from a fake press conference, Goodell (Chris Pratt) thanked "the people that stood by" him including, scandal-plagued "Red Skins owner, Dan Snyder, Jets quarterback Michael Vick, and Saints Coach Sean Payton."

Crowley then went on to get perspective from former NFL players Ray Lewis (Kenan Thompson), who avoided conviction after being charged with murder in 2000 and Shannon Sharpe (Jay Pharoah), who was accused of sexual assault in 2010. Both had trouble giving coherent answers to questions about the league's reputation and their own run-ins with the law. 

"Have you ever had legal troubles yourself with a spouse or child?" Crowley asked Sharpe.

"Candy, I have never had any legal trouble of my own dating all the way back to 2010 when I did have some legal trouble, so yes, yes I did," said Sharpe. 

"Why is this such an ongoing problem?" she continued.

"Players in the NFL are trained to be aggressive," he said. "When you get off that field you're full of adrenaline, testosterone, painkillers and Budlight Lime. The NFL needs to calm these players down, you know maybe have some herbal tea," he said. 

In another clip from the mock press conference, Goodell said, "We want to be part of the solution" and explained that the NFL would be organizing it's own "Take Back the Night" march (an international event organized by a non-profit organization with the goal of ending sexual violence).

However, Goodell misread his poster, saying "We Fight Women" instead of "We Fight 4 Women."

During Pratt's monologue, he said he was so excited to host "SNL" that he decided to write a song.

"I know I'm not half the singer that Ariana Grande is," he said while playing guitar. "But I am technically three times her body weight, so the math works out." 

In his song he mentioned, "that hottie in the audience," his wife, actress Anna Faris.

He poked also fun at his dramatic 60-pound weight loss for his role in the summer film, "Guardians of the Galaxy," singing "I've gone from skinny to fat back to skinny, back to fat, I'm probably going to die if I don't stop that." 

Michael Che made his debut as the new "Weekend Update" anchor, but former co-anchor Cecily Strong returned to the desk as her recurring character, "That Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party."

Che asked her what she thought about the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

"I'm thinking about it twenty-five seven," she said. "This isn't just an outbreak Michael, it's an outrage, it's an 'Obamanation,' it's 'uncomprehendable.' 

She continued a rant that was unrelated to any of Che's questions and called him a "'fetishist dictator."

President Barack Obama's dismal approval ratings were also discussed. 

"It's no secret that it's been a rough summer for Barack Obama, his poll numbers are at an all-time low," said co-anchor Colin Jost.

"So we just wanted to say, cheer up, President Obama," said Che, "because no matter how hard stuff seems right now, things are going to get easier," cueing background music for "Ooh Child (Things Are Gonna Get Easier)" from the Five Fairsteps, and Kenan Thompson came out to sing. 

Che and Jost alternated in sharing uplifting, but backhanded, messages to Obama about his future.

"If you had a better approval rating, you'd have to be all over the country campaigning for other Democrats," said Che, "but they don't want you anywhere near them, so why don't you just skip the campaign tour and hit up the 'On The Run' tour with the real first family, Jay Z and Beyonce." 

"And plus, everyone loves ex-presidents," said Jost. "I mean the last guy spent eight years wrecking the economy, bombing every country with sand in it and all he had to do to make us forget what he did was paint an OK picture of a dog."

Ariana Grande performed her hit song "Breakfree" and "Love Me Harder," featuring rapper, The Weekend.

Next week, Sarah Silverman hosts with Maroon 5 as musical guest.

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