NFL and network executives are baffled by a mystery that even Inspector Clouseau could solve in five minutes. The case of the vanishing NFL TV ratings. You see, NFL ratings are plummeting faster than Wile E. Coyote stepping off a cliff holding an anvil.
May I be bold enough to suggest that the decline in ratings is primarily due to the NFL’s embrace of several of its players’ repeated blasphemy of our National Anthem prior to each football game? A situation in which I have pointed out previously that the NFL could control if it really wanted to. Players are employees, and game day at the stadium is certainly not the players’ personal time, in which they are free to do as they please.
But no, I must be wrong about the reason for the ratings plunge. After all, the NFL says so itself in a letter penned by NFL Executives Brian Rolapp and Howard Katz, who seem to think the whole Colin Kaepernick fiasco has been good for the NFL, pointing out, “In fact, our own data shows that the perception of the NFL and its players is actually up in 2016.” Oh, brother. I bet this pair also have mirrors at home which tell them they are the fairest of them all.
For the NFL and the TV networks, the search for the missing ratings plows on much as the A&E channel’s perpetual search for Ancient Aliens or Big Foot. Even TV advertisers can’t figure it out. Andy Donchin a media buyer at Dentsu Aegis Network, whose clients include General Motors, says, “We’re scratching our heads. We cannot pinpoint any specific reason why the numbers are down. It is probably being caused by a confluence of events.”
As with anyone who can’t accept the reality that they may be the source of their own personal failures, the NFL isn’t lacking scapegoats or crazy conspiracy theories for explanations of what is going on, hence, the “confluence of events” of which Andy Donchin speaks. The biggest dog ate my homework excuse the NFL is using is that it is all Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s fault. Although the pair are lacking, and the idea of President Hillary Clinton is enough to give me a migraine, to blame them is laughable. True, one of the NFL’s prime time games went up against the first debate, but that still doesn’t explain the failure to match last year’s ratings each week so far this season. But when you’re in denial you go with what you have, or as Fox Sports President, Eric Shanks, puts it, “The election is probably the biggest factor you could point to.”
We also have the Tom Brady defense. Brian Rolapp, the NFL Executive who I mentioned earlier for believing fans are embracing its players more than ever, eagerly points out, “We’re missing some stars out there.” I could, if I wanted to be impolite, point out this too is another self-inflicted wound by the NFL. Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, has just finished serving a four-game suspension over Deflategate, an incident that happened two years ago. If you don’t know what Deflategate is and why Brady was suspended let me sum it up for you: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Tom Brady, not because he could prove with evidence that Brady did something wrong, but because he had a hunch and wanted to prove, as Commissioner, he had the power to suspend him evidence or not.
But when things are bad you can always count on one official to tell you that up is down, and everything is fine so not to worry. The Neville Chamberlain of this group is CBS Executive Les Moonves reassuring us, “I don’t think the sky is falling at all.”
League of Denial was a recent documentary and bestselling book that outlined the NFL’s implausible rejection of any connection between playing football and brain damage. Perhaps given recent events and the NFL not being able to connect the dots between Colin Kaepernick and the ratings slide, perhaps we can start referring to the NFL as the League of Perpetual Denial.
Roger Goodell, call your office. Your lack of action over the National Anthem debacle has damaged the NFL brand. It is time for you to man up and support the NFL fans in this matter instead of coddling a handful of radical miscreants.