The NFL is out of touch with its base. What could have been a sweet victory for the NFL quickly turned into a bitter defeat, and suddenly the league is at a crossroads. With the lowest-rated Super Bowl in a decade and one of the biggest social media disappointments of all time, it is time for Roger Goodell to go and for the NFL to grow with the times. If they do not get their act together now, they are going to take a huge hit with the rebirth of the XFL next year.
There is a lot wrong with the NFL: players holding out, the Pro Bowl, Collin Kaepernick, but perhaps the most fundamentally flawed part of the game is the rules. What is a catch? How hard is too hard to hit the quarterback? It is all far too subjective. Other sports do not have this issue. If you shoot from behind the three-point line in basketball, you get three points. If the ball goes over the fence in baseball, it is a home run. If the ball goes into the back of the net in soccer, it is a goal. But, even the so-called rules experts on broadcasts cannot tell you what is definitively a catch or not.
Many fans grow tired of the uncertainty around the rule, and it is an easy fix. One foot in-bounds and you have to finish the catching motion without losing the football. Define the catching motion as for all movement before a receiver comes to a complete stop, steps out of bounds or begins to run with the ball. This way there is no controversy about what is or is not a completed catch.
This issue extends to officiating too. NFL officials should not have to work other jobs. They should be paid a decent living wage, and when it is not football season, they should constantly be training. The NFL needs a corps of elite officials who live and breathe officiating so that we can clean up all of the missed calls in the game. There is no excuse for what happened at the end of the Saints-Rams game, and fans deserve a highly skilled officiating crew to make sure nothing like that can happen in any game.
Another huge issue with the NFL is the fact that they are so blatantly money-grubbing. The sport makes it abundantly clear that its only concern is to make money. It seems like most viewers are watching commercials instead of an NFL game and that is not what anyone wants. Aside from Super Bowl commercials, advertising is so boring and fans would much rather hear Tony Romo talk for three minutes than to have to watch Peyton Manning sing the State Farm jingle again. We need to be immersed in the sport. I would definitely watch more games involving other teams if they could make it an interesting experience instead of watching the Jaguars and the 49ers punt back-and-fourth all game with Flo from Progressive sandwiched between.
Now let’s talk about the Super Bowl on Sunday, which to this point has been one of the biggest disappointments in my adult life. Admittedly, I have been wanting to see Rams-Chiefs score 104 points combined in the Super Bowl ever since that Monday night game earlier in the season. So, imagine my disappointment when the score was 3-0 at halftime. Many people have claimed that it was a defensive game, but realistically it was just two quarterbacks struggling. Defense is great, but watching Jared Goff and Tom Brady play like a first-time Madden player playing against the CPU on hall-of-fame mode was just sad.
Then came perhaps the most frustrating moment of the night. Millions of people signed a petition asking for Maroon 5 to play “Sweet Victory” at the halftime show in honor of Steven Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob’s death. The NFL later teased that Squidward, who directed the performance of the song in an episode of the show, would be making an appearance at the Super Bowl. When it came time for that appearance, fans were teased with a short clip of the introduction, which transitioned into Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode.” The internet took issue with this, as hundreds of memes flooded their way onto social media, some of which even called for a boycott of the NFL. How in the world can the NFL be so out of touch with their fan base? Anyone who understands social media knows that if they did this right that it would have given them so much publicity. Instead, they bamboozled people into watching their painfully boring halftime show.
The game is not exciting anymore. They are too out of touch. You cannot hit the quarterback, there is a holding penalty on every other play, it is just stale. I could go on and on about how the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl should visit different cities each year, or about how Collin Kaepernick should be playing football right now. But the truth is, the NFL does not care about what I think or what you think. They care about money, and that is it. And the sad thing is that we will probably keep watching not because it is interesting, but because we will have some shred of hope that it could return to being what it once was. Maybe the AAF and the XFL will give fans what they desperately desire.