Trying to knock off the popularity of the National Football League is like Robert Duvall’s space shuttle crew in the movie “Deep Impact.” No matter how hard they tried, the crew was unable to completely knock the asteroids off their collision-course with Earth. Oh sure, they were able to deflect an asteroid but a great deal of damage was still done.
This must be how the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball must feel when trying to slow the momentum of pro football in this country.
No one in all of sport has a better playoff than the guys in the National Hockey League. No one in all of sport has a more decorated history than does professional baseball and no one in sport has the glory of individuals like the NBA does. Yet despite all of that, the National Football League continues to run roughshod over the other three.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, for all of his faults and sometimes ridiculous decisions, has made the NFL into the only year-round professional sport. Even with its’ length, baseball can’t hold the attention of the fan base for 12 months. The NHL or NBA? Not even close.
Strangely enough, the NFL also leads in the dubious category of ‘most likely to have criminal and otherwise bad behavior.’ Look at the developments over the last few weeks… Players in Pittsburgh busted for smoking marijuana in the car just hours before they departed for game… Wes Welker of Denver got his 3rd concussion since November yet that was overshadowed by his four-game suspension for amphetamine usage… Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay was banned for six games and fined $500,000 for a DUI in which he tested positive for a number of drugs… Just hours after Goodell laid out the new penalties for domestic abuse which included a six-game suspension followed by a lifetime ban, the Niners’ Ray McDonald was arrested on domestic assault charges.
I didn’t even mention Josh Gordon in Cleveland who announced yesterday that he was going to be a car salesman while on suspension and I didn’t even mention Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones drunk-dialing Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson either.
All sports’ leagues have problems. I’m not suggesting any are free of them. Baseball has PED problems and basketball had Donald Sterling and hockey has a goon mentality it is trying to remove. Those things really do pale in comparison to the excessive issues of the NFL. From domestic violence and drunk driving off the field to the crackdown on illegal holding on defense, the NFL is essentially a dysfunctional family that relies on its’ popularity and wealth to remain at the top.
For all of the problems this opening weekend of the NFL will once again reign supreme over anything else that might be on television. Stadiums will be filled and merchandise will be sold in ridiculous amounts. Fans will check their smartphones and tablets and computers not for emails or texts or tweets but to see how their fantasy football teams are doing.
I honestly don’t know what it will take for the NFL to stumble to the point where it loses popularity or lags behind another major sport. Fans are tired of the criminals being in uniform and office personal getting in trouble but they continue to watch anyway. The NFL is both the unstoppable force and the immovable object rolled into one.