There sure is a lot wrong with the NFL these days isn’t there? The big news this week of course was that all of those wrongs have led to a dip in the NFL ratings on TV. Gasp… people aren’t watching the NFL? Why, I thought it was baseball that was the dying sport?
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 6, 2016
Well, it’s ok, folks. The NFL’s Golden Boy is back on the field this Sunday, and the world will watch.
People are blaming the Race for the White House as the main problem with the NFL’s ratings. You know, those debates that happen on Thursday nights? You know Thursday nights, that showcase Blaine Gabbert against Drew Henson to follow up the mesmerizing matchup of creamsicle-clad Ryan Tannehill and the always-spectacular-under-the-spotlight Andy Dalton.
As much as people are mesmerized by what The Donald will say next or how Hilary will bash him in return, people have long been dissuaded by the match ups of Thursday Night and Monday Night Football. The NFL did this to themselves, especially with TNF.
You see, when I was young, TNF was for Thanksgiving. It evolved and several years ago it started around Week 10 and finished out the season. Now of course, in true Roger Goodell shove-it-in-your-face style, it is every Thursday. EVERY team gets a shot at prime time football. But you know what? Not every one deserves a shot at prime time football.
How many people do you think are tuning in to the Jaguars/Titans game on October 27th? You know, the Jaguars, the team that can’t even fill it’s own stadium? How about the Browns/Ravens game two weeks later? Ryan Tannehill again, three weeks after that? But if they were on a Sunday, on one of the TVs surrounding you in a sports bar, or as part of the Direct TV package in your living room, you’d probably watch a little, especially if you are a Red Zone junkie.
It’s the same with Monday Night Football. MNF was an event. You found a bar and you waited all week to call your friends and meet up, even if you had a long day at work on Tuesday, you got out for the first half. The games were good. They were solid match ups, and while it felt like we constantly saw the same teams in prime time, it was ok. They always put on a show.
Goodell and the powers that be got so much into their own head, that they felt their product was successful as MNF, and it didn’t matter what team they put out there. WRONG. It’s not the same iconic broadcast teams they always had. It’s not the Broncos of the late 90s, the Packers of the mid 90s, the Cowboys of the early 90s and the 49ers of the late 80s every week. It’s not the Miami Dolphins ruining one of the greatest teams of my generation perfect season and it’s not Bo Jackson running over The Boz.
Nope. Instead Tyrod Taylor has earned the right to play on Monday Night, with a team led by two buffoons and has already fired one coach. Not everyone is Monday Night Football worthy. I like Matthew Stafford. Doesn’t mean I need him to be the guy I’m watching when there is no other game to flip to.
It sounds crazy to most of the people I associate with because I live in Atlanta, but I’m not surprised that Trump and Hilary had better ratings than the Saints and Falcons. These were two non-playoff teams last year… and the year before… and the year before that saw the Falcons finish a four-win team. While it is a huge rivalry in NOLA and the ATL, we aren’t talking a huge national audience rivalry. I wonder what the ratings would have been if there were no debate and some silly reality show like Dancing With the Stars debuted. I promise you, they still would have dipped.
That’s why Tom Brady’s return is so important. I’m not a Pats fan, and quite frankly, I could care less about Brady. His suspension was one of the most absurd things I have ever witnessed in sports, especially with the way they treat drug addicts who have a legitimate problem and Josh Brown’s one-game suspension for beating his wife multiple times.
Send that message, Goodell. The protector of The Shield sent the message loud and clear. Deflating some balls is bad, taking it to court, appealing it several times, and bringing it back up to re-suspend Brady because I didn’t get my way bad. Really bad. Beating your wife, eh? Slap on the wrist. One game suspension.
Tom Brady will spike the ratings. You watch. More people will tune in for at least the first quarter of the Browns/ Pats game just to see what he does in his return. That first quarter will likely get better ratings than any of the garbage we have been force fed on Thursday nights for the better part of three seasons. In the immortal words of Saucy T, “I hate Thursday Night Football.” And for anyone who follows The Thread, you know we love the NFL.
Speaking of terrible match ups, why would I want to wake up and turn on the Colts and Jaguars from London at 9:30 in the morning? Don’t you think the London game should be an event? Why have the Raiders yet to go to Old England? The Broncos? The Cowboys? Because those teams don’t need gimmicks. They play actual football. But I digress.
Brady is good for the NFL. Goodell is not. He was, mind you, when he came in and laid down the law. But he got too in love with himself and his power. Come on, these taunting penalties are absurd. These are grown men, most of whom are monsters, running full speed into each other fighting for an inch of the football field. You know how much crap I talk when I win a fantasy football game? You’re telling me Antonio Brown can’t dance when he scores?
That’s what people want to see. Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Jim McMahon. These guys were personalities. Sure, they got fined, but whether you hated them or loved them, they made football watchable. Goodell doesn’t want that. He wants prim and proper NFL players, you know, like no other sport in the world.
Brady will change that. Brady will give his high fives that no one responds to and people will laugh. Brady will complain to the refs after every play, and people will scream. Brady will give Gronk the ball which will lead to Gronk press conferences which are some of the best watching on TV. And the Patriots will win. People will watch, because the want to see “Belicheat” lose. They will watch because they want to see Brady fail. Because Brady illicit’s a response. And that’s what gets ratings. Just ask Donald Trump.
But they never fail. And since 2000, people have watched, waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And on Sunday, led by a cast of misfits, the Patriots enter Week 5 at 3-1 and in first place with the best player in football returning to the helms. Well played, Goodell. Really got your point across.
I have worked in a sports bar for the majority of my life. I’ve seen the difference first hand. A lot has changed over the years. Those big fancy HD TVs that used to be in bars have been made affordable to the average viewer. The Sunday Ticket used to be hundreds of dollars and now it is seemingly in every other household. The Red Zone Channel is all most fantasy junkies watch. Could you imagine a Home Run Channel? Baseball would die.
What Goodell needed to do was combat the trends that were clear to anyone who runs a sports bar. Less people were watching. The proper response would be, “how do we spice this up?” Goodell’s response was, “let’s take away the game’s biggest star, and punish the characters that our fans have grown to love.”
Maybe it’s me. I know half the world is split, some wish Brady was suspended longer, others can’t wait for his return. I also know that Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football have been a majority of crap over the past few seasons and to blame this decline on two idiots running for office is irresponsible. Take some blame and make some changes. In fact:
Make Football Great Again!