Those of you who are regular readers know I usually start the morning with coffee — necessary to function — and checking the news. This morning, I turned on the local Fox affiliate. That isn’t the channel I usually watch for local news. I’ll be honest, one of the newsreaders drives me up the wall. But it was the only local news on at the time and I hadn’t seen anything but national news for a couple of days. Just as I was about to switch the TV off, the sportscast came on. The tease for it was enough to keep me watching. Oh. My. Ghu. If the sportscaster is right, we may be about to see the end of the NFL as we know it.
It is no surprise that the NFL is suffering a crisis right now. Viewership, especially of the Sunday and Monday night games is down, really down. That means advertising dollars are being impacted. Worse in a lot of ways, attendance at a number of games are down as well. As easy as it would be to say the trouble started with the National Anthem protests, it didn’t. The NFL’s long history of failing to deal with players who continually violate the drug policy, who have abused their spouses or women they were dating, and then of over-reacting when they finally realized the public had had enough started the decline. But the National Anthem protests by some players and the NFL’s failure to address it was the final straw for a number of fans.
Goodell can get up there and talk about how he wants to support his players and how this isn’t really a protest against the National Anthem but the average working person — the average fan — doesn’t buy it. After all, if they were to go out and do something that harmed their employer’s brand, they would be disciplined. Instead of seeing the NFL players facing any consequences for their actions, once again, they see a very different standard being applied.
And yet, Goodell and company continue to ignore the problem. Instead, they have worked with the various networks to make sure the players aren’t being shown being disrespectful of the Anthem. They are hoping for the “out of sight, out of mind” adage to become true. Except it isn’t going away and it won’t.
If that isn’t bad enough, it now seems that there are some NFL owners who are so out of touch with their fans, they think the way to deal with the controversy is to try to force Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, out of the league. The Fox sportscaster this morning discussed the news circulating recently that a group of owners want to use the “nuclear option” in every owner’s contract when they buy a team. This option basically says that if a certain percentage of owners decide another owner is acting in a manner detrimental to the league, they can vote to force him or her to sell the team.
What is Jerry Jones’ sin? He isn’t backing off of his derision for the protests. Nor is he backing off his demand that Goodell should actually work AND accomplish things to move the league forward. In other words, he is listening to his fans and knows his money comes from them and not from the few players who want to make a political tatement at the beginning of a game. He knows that the head of the league should have the good of the entire league in mind when he acts and not the feelings of a few of the players.
If these owners are foolish enough to actually try to force Jones to comply with their BS demands, I hope they are ready for the fallout. For one, Jones isn’t going to go down without a fight and he will leave bodies, at least metaphorically speaking, in his wake. But that isn’t what they should fear. They should be trembling in their boots at the thought of how their actions will look to the fans, the people who buy tickets to the games, who buy their merchandise, who watch the games on TV and then buy products from sponsors. This action could very well tell the NFL fabric apart, leaving the league in tatters.
How long until these owners realize who has the real power here and it isn’t them and it isn’t the players. Those with the real power are the fans and they have already fired the warning shot. If the NFL under Roger Goodell continues on its current course, it will go down in flames and there is no guarantee it will rise from the ashes like a phoenix.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying the college football season and looking forward for baseball to return.