Thursday, June 5, 2014

The NFL. Too Big To Fail?

Let me preempt this article by saying that I LOVE the NFL – everything about it. It’s the most popular sport in America by a landslide and for good reason. That will not change any time soon.

Still, the question remains, will there ever come a point when fans grow a little tired of just how much the league is constantly in our faces? It may not be in our lifetimes, but it’s tough not to consider the possibility.

People have been discussing this issue for some time now, but in light of the recent “news” that the Super Bowl 50 logo will not feature Roman Numerals it really struck a chord with me. Seriously, this is what we’re doing now? Making a big deal about the freaking logo? Who gives a shit if it has Roman Numerals in it or not? Why is this even being discussed? We haven’t even crossed into the summer season yet and teams are just starting OTAs. Never mind the fact that Super Bowl 50 isn’t until 2016.

The NFL regular season starts at the beginning of September and culminates at the beginning of February with the Super Bowl, one of the best days of the year (that’s not an opinion, that’s a fact). All in all, there are about five months of meaningful, gut-wrenching, thrill-inducing football in the calendar year. I’ll throw in August because it’s always cool to see how things work out for teams in training camp and preseason. So let’s top it at six months. Half the year. Most people (myself included) would say it’s not enough. Between living and dying with fantasy football teams and caring way too much about your favorite team, it’s all just so damn good.

BUT in today’s day-in-age there is no such thing as an “offseason.” Anything and everything that goes on with the league is scrutinized and deliberated all year long.

The NFL is a cash cow in every sense of the phrase.

The problem is that the fat cats who run the league are acutely aware of this – and are exhausting all options to milk every penny out of the enterprise.

It seems like there are more and more in-game commercials. The ads are incessant all year round. There is a 24-hour channel dedicated to it, and people probably know more about some dude the Buccaneers drafted in the 6th round of the draft than they know about important things like the federal interest rate or Barry Obama’s foreign policies. Such is life in general in the 21st century, but I digress.

League execs want to extend the regular season to 18 games, add coverage to optional workouts, and move a team (or multiple) to London. (Seriously? London?!) People obsess over the free agency period to see which big player their team might land – even if it means staying up all night refreshing their Twitter timeline. Raise your hand if this person is you (I slowly raise mine). As a reminder, this happens in MARCH. Hell, this year’s draft was pushed back and drawn out over an entire weekend just to build as much hype as possible. The analysis was borderline nauseating. I’m also fairly sure McShay and Kiper have already drawn up mock drafts 1.0 and 1.01 for the 2015 draft.

There are games on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Why? Because they know, even when it’s some meaningless Bengals-Dolphins game with Dalton and Tannehill trading awful interceptions, people will be parked on their couches, beer in hand, watching with the highest of interest.

There have been lockouts, strikes, Super Bowl blackouts, concussion lawsuits, sex boat scandals, drunk driving charges/manslaughters, gun charges, and one guy has literally been charged for multiple murders IN COLD BLOOD (who did he play for again?). All these things could have damaged the league’s reputation and forced fans to stop watching.

They didn’t and we haven’t.

The NFL raked in close to $10 BILLION last year, with a B. Forbes says this number could balloon to $25 billion in the not-so-distant future. Let that sink in for a second….

Personally, I hope the success continues and I know I’ll be a fan of the league as long as I’m walking the Earth, but some small part of me in places I don’t like to talk about wishes they would stop throwing every little incident/detail/proposal/transaction in my face. People tend to jump at things that are scarce. The less that is available to them, the more they are going to want it. The NFL needs to ensure it doesn’t expose itself so much that people start to want less of it.

Baseball used to be the most popular sport in this country. Boxing used to be prime entertainment. People used to be considered the wealthiest in the world if they owned a radio or could afford a smart phone. Everything has a tipping point and change is inevitable. I just hope the NFL fat cats realize this and don’t push their luck because eventually there will be a decline. Can you have too much of a good thing? Absolutely.

To conclude, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the Patriots’ potential this year since the team signed Darrelle Revis back in March and I am writing an article about the NFL at the beginning of June. I’d say the league is doing just fine.

Is it September yet?

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