*Originally written by Jay Skeen who quit us.
This season, the number of people tuning in to watch NFL games has dropped by over a million. There doesn’t seem to be any other indicators of it dropping in popularity yet. Merch is still selling well, and Bud Light’s ad campaign struck a vein of gold by putting the team logos on NFL cans (by the way, if that won you over, advertising works on you to the point of ridiculousness). So it may just be people not paying for cable anymore, and streaming the games through Reddit or some other source. I mean really, between Hulu and Netflix, and everything on a news network also being available through the web, live sports has really been the last holdout. But let’s assume that’s not the case and the NFL has lost favor with the people of America. Why? Until now, Sunday has been football day. The NFL literally owned a day of the week. Sitcom and drama season/series premieres were placed immediately after Sunday Night Football in the hope that Americans would be too lazy to change the channel. The notion that helmet to helmet contact might be harming players took years to surface, because the billion dollar corporation couldn’t be touched, the game wasn’t going to be tempered with. Why the sudden drop?
First, the NFL is being tampered with. Flags are being called constantly, interrupting the flow of the game, and nobody really likes it. The players don’t like it, and the fans hate it. Why are rules being changed to make it impossible to play the game even a little dirty? Because the man who has the last word on any and all decisions has never played the game. He has no idea what football is like. I don’t care what the rule-book says, and neither do NFL players. They step on each other, grab face-masks, punch one another and talk mad shit. Lineman get away with it because the refs can’t always catch everything happening in the mob, but receivers, safeties, defensive backs and in some cases linebackers are on the open turf, and are almost always caught. The game of football is dirty, almost barbaric. And are we barbaric for loving watching players get banged up, for loving an intensely violent game? Yes. Humans always have been. Our NFL is the modern version of the Roman gladiator games. Embrace it and let’s move on.
Related to this is the issue of helmet to helmet contact, which is not okay. I played football. Me and almost every other guy in America. We get the passion of the game, and the want to hurt your opponent, but it comes from a desire to intimidate an opponent, to get in their head, rattle them. Notice how in the CFP National championship Deshaun Watson didn’t scramble anymore after Alabama’s defense made him do a double spin in midair? That’s what the goal is. But that doesn’t mean we want people getting permanent brain damage, concussions, or possible lifelong damage to the spine. There’s a line to be drawn, and that’s where the NFL and the NCAA has drawn it. And players are getting fined for it, suspended from games and their coaches may take punishment even further than that. Yet players still get it and I don’t understand it at all. They purposefully aim for the head, knowing what the punishment is, then throw a fit on their way to the locker room. It makes them look petty, their program look bad, and it’s completely pointless. Because these players could lower their shoulders another foot, hit their opponent in the gut and make them feel like they’re gonna die from not being able to breathe, and it’s perfectly legal.
The NFL doesn’t have the same level of excitement it used to. Most will be very surprised if the Patriots aren’t Super Bowl Champs at the end of this season. This level of predictability isn’t cool. The NFL knows this, but they missed their chance. When the Patriots were caught using cameras to try to steal away the New York Jets defensive signals, Bill Belichick should have been suspended. But it’s too late. But the NFL is trying; more recently was the deflategate scandal. Trust me, deflated balls have little impact on the game.
“But if we remove the star player, maybe the Patriots will lose enough to open the door for some other teams.” – The NFL
Well, they tried, and they’ll try again. The Patriots have never let us go long without reason to suspect them of cheating.
“Well what about Alabama? They dominate the college football landscape.”
True, but while I don’t have data to support my argument, I know from conversations I’ve had in my small pool of the population that the audience losing interest in the NFL is men in their 40s who grew up playing and watching football won in the trenches. A time of run first football strategy, aggressive defense and hard-ass coaches. Sound familiar? It should, it’s what Nick Saban does. Alabama has one of the best o-lines in all of college football, allowing for a run game that exhausts defenses. Their own defense is aggressive, their front four penetrate with little to no help from their linebackers, causing timing issues that result in turnovers. And Saban is the best college football coach of all time. He is one title game away from tying the record for most championships by a coach, and he will probably get there in a much shorter time span than the current record holder. Saban achieves this through his discipline. What that man says is law to his players. Anybody see him send three defensive starters to the locker room after an unsportsmanlike conduct call? Did they argue? Did they say a single word? No. Today’s NFL cry babies would have thrown helmets, bad mouthed coaches in the post game press conference and still had the nerve to demand a salary boost/contract extension the following off season. And the NFL’s most loyal generation hate it.
Finally, the NFL has a lot on it’s plate reigning in the many colorful personalities on various teams. For example, Odell Beckham Jr.; If you are payed millions to play a fucking game, punching walls and throwing hissy fits after a loss is embarrassing, to yourself and to your organization. Richard Sherman used to be cool, but he’s starting to get cockier despite his numbers slipping. Refusing to talk to any media except for one ESPN reporter? Okay, watch your merch sales and endorsement offers drop. Why would anyone give a commercial to a player rarely seen without a helmet on? Josh Norman, Cam Newton, all of them need to shut up. They have been blessed with the athletic capabilities to be NFL players. Have they worked hard, yes. But some athletic ability just can’t be learned. They were blessed with talent, and because of it, they get payed millions of dollars to play a game that they love. They, their kids, their spouses will all be well cared for because of it. Meanwhile their fans go to jobs that make them miserable to do the same only to come home after a hard day’s work, turn on ESPN and listen to these fucknuts bitch about multi-million dollar contracts and their coaches and other players being “out to get them”.