The NFL Had Better Straighten Out–Or Else

#BoycottNFL is not just a Twitter trend. It’s a thing.

Both Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football are seeing steep drops in viewership. It’s not just competition from presidential debates, either.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football was down yet again in viewership, drawing in 16.68 million viewers and scoring a 6.19/19 rating in the advertiser friendly 18-49 demo. The numbers mark a season low for SNF and the show’s 11.0 overnight rating is the lowest total since 2007 (ouch). While the NFL still won the night in total viewers, those numbers mark a steep drop from last week’s 18.62 million/6.8 ratings and the week before’s 20.6 million/7.4 rating.

MNF isn’t faring any better, with a year-over-year 8 percent drop in week 4. Throw in the debate, and you get the worst ratings in MNF history.

The 5.7 is likely the lowest in the history of Monday Night Football. Complete overnight records were unavailable, but the lowest final rating in franchise history is a 5.1. No other MNF telecast has gone lower than 5.7 in the final nationals.

Coverage aired opposite the first presidential debate, which had a combined 46.2 rating across nine broadcast and cable networks. The last time MNF faced a presidential debate, Week 7 in 2012, Lions/Bears scored a 7.3 overnight. That game faced both a presidential debate and Game 7 of the MLB National League Championship Series.

Forbes entertainment reporter Brandon Katz asks “how does the NFL fix the problem?” The answer is obvious, isn’t it?

Play fricking football, not politics, money, and media deals.

Outside the U.S., football means soccer. Actual football is called “American football” everywhere else. Americans like our football without a side dish of bullcrap political correctness. Even liberals turn off that junk for the gridiron. We can handle politics in football precisely once a year: for the Super Bowl, and that’s mostly because we have to put up with it, and at least some of the advertisements are entertaining.

Week by week, injecting protests, national anthem sit-downs, kneel-downs and hand-holding, while the league flip-flops over fining Tennessee Titans’ Avery Williamson for wearing cleats honoring 9/11 turns the NFL into a very unfunny joke. Two things need to happen at a football game: play the national anthem while everyone stands, and then play football.

We can stand ESPN and other announcers going gaga over Michael Sam, who couldn’t hack it in the NFL, and then ditched the CFL, walking off the practice field of the Montreal Alouettes for “personal reasons.” We can laugh at that because Sams never made it onto the field. If we don’t like what the announcers say, we can watch with the sound down, and listen to the AM radio broadcast.

But with the NFL increasingly pushing for its own media deals–the NFL channel, Thursday Night Football–and games in London and Mexico–if the league wants to cave to political correctness, it better go overseas for new fans. London wants a franchise.

In a perverse turn, perhaps politics might have a way of fixing the NFL if it doesn’t clean up its act. (League commissioner Roger Goodell is such a jackass that he’s been called “the devil” by former players.) Remember back in the 80’s, when a much younger Donald Trump challenged the NFL’s monopoly with the USFL? Trump and the USFL won its antitrust lawsuit against the NFL in 1986–a jury awared triple damages–for $3 dollars total.

That could be the most valuable $3 the bankrupt league ever collected, if someone like Trump decides a less politically correct option, less dependent on billionaire owners getting new stadium deals every week, every-growing media, and less prima donna idiots like Colin Kaepernick might be worth a gamble. There’s no shortage of cities, stadiums and players.

What such a league lacks is fans.

The way the NFL is going, in the near future there may be plenty of those who are sick of a football league that focuses on everything else except football.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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