NFL

Gridiron Gridlock: Why The NFL Has Become An Unwatchable Product

Darren - December 5, 2023
NFL

Gridiron Gridlock: Why The NFL Has Become An Unwatchable Product

Darren - December 5, 2023

Hello! Magazine

Simpler Schemes

Tom Brady attracted the ire of coaches when he said that they are running simpler schemes than before. But he’s not wrong because they’re reverting to college defensive schemes in 2023. Meanwhile, coaches are throwing increasingly young players into the deep end and this is a problem (via The Ringer).

Fox News

They can’t learn complex playbooks so quickly after jumping up to the professional level. That’s why coaches are dumbing down the NFL and weakening it as a product. We might have better athletes now because of advances in sports conditioning. But we don’t have more skillful players than in the 2000s.

Bleacher Report

Social Media

Social media is another reason why the NFL is becoming an unwatchable product. It’s unfortunate but these days players care more about the short-term than the long-term. Tom Brady agrees and says that there’s a cultural shift where young players crave unsustainable TikTok fame.

Sporting News

Brady said (via CBS News): “People think that because people are paying attention or they’re liking something, that actually means something. And I think if you want to build something great, that’s over a long period of time.” The all-time great knows what he’s talking about but some young stars will call him a dinosaur.

San Francisco 49ers

Weak NFC

Another issue is that the NFC is at its lowest point in decades. One major aspect of this is the horrific hellzone that is the NFC South. The division’s garbage displays forced analysts to question if the postseason should ban teams with losing records. The likes of the Saints and the Falcons made football an unwatchable product.

Audacity

Yes, there are some good or even great teams like the Eagles and the Niners. But there’s a clear quality difference between the AFC and the NFC. Even weaker AFC teams like the Jets have outstanding defenses. Their counterparts on the NFC side have nothing positive about them (via The Ringer).

Sporting News

Generational Shift

With an average career length of 3.3 years, there has always been a massive player turnover in the NFL. But the last few years have seen some generational icons walk away from the sport. Brady is an obvious one but we’ve also said goodbye to Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, and many other stars.

CNN

There isn’t the same connection with the younger stars because the media is different now. There are exceptions like Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow but it’s not like it was. One of the reasons why the NFL has become an unwatchable product is because there are so many vanilla personalities (via NFL.com).

CNBC

Too Many Ads

Here’s one of the most obvious reasons why the NFL is an unwatchable product now. There are far too many commercials on TV as networks take every possible excuse. There are up to 25 ads per quarter with the potential of 100 per game. This means a diehard NFL fan could consume 3000 per season.

New York Times

They also severely impact the flow of the game and make it worse than baseball. However, networks know they’re a winner because they make billions of dollars from them. The NFL also says that people continue tuning in but there’s a breaking point. These things swing around in circles (via Front Office Sports).

NBC Sports

Weaker Coaching

Sadly, the NFL is experiencing weaker coaching than ever before. We’ve already mentioned how coordinators are running simpler schemes. This is one symptom of weaker coaching. But also weaker coaching is itself a symptom of the changing Draft antics. Coaches are under pressure to throw inexperienced running backs and QBs into the mix.

Sports Illustrated

They’re never going to get the best out of these young men immediately because it takes time. The high turnover of head coaches and scapegoating of coordinators is another aspect of weaker coaching. These things combine in a cocktail of mediocrity that makes for an unwatchable product (via NPR).

The New York Times

No Celebrating

In 2017, the NFL finally tried to shed the ‘No Fun League’ moniker and eased celebration rules. Nonetheless, it’s difficult for players to express themselves without attracting a flag. They have an unreasonable attitude toward athletes celebrating and constantly cite them for taunting opponents.

AP

NFL fans love to sneer at soccer but at least their players can run around like crazy when they score a goal. The reality is that Commissioner Roger Goodell wants a league of robots who will make him fat and rich. It’s a shame because these can be amazing bonding moments between fans and their stars (via ESPN).

Stern

Taylor Swift

We don’t have any personal problems with Swift but she represents everything wrong with the NFL today. When she began dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, the NFL’s eyes lit up with dollar signs. They showed her on-screen more often than the ball when she attended his game as they simped for the star.

InStyle

It was pathetic and showed how desperate they were to lure her diehard fanbase to watch football. Even Kelce agreed they took it too far. Meanwhile, most NFL fans couldn’t care less about Swift unless she can catch a touchdown pass or sack a quarterback. It’s dumb but the NFL couldn’t see it, or more likely, just doesn’t care (via Newsweek).

CBS Sports

Rookie QB Crisis

Nobody should doubt an NFL owner’s desire to make money. That’s why their attitude toward quarterbacks is changing. Instead of spending a fortune on veteran free agents, they’re maximizing the allure of cheap rookie contracts. Some teams even intentionally tank because they want to draft a new quarterback.

The Athletic

This is ruining the NFL as a spectacle and making it an unwatchable product (via AP News). The quality on the field isn’t as good because they’re throwing inexperienced players into the deep end. Meanwhile, bad teams aren’t trying because they want to lose. Why would anybody enjoy this?

Sporting News

Cultural Shift

Unfortunately, the NFL is witnessing a cultural shift where everything is softer. We care about concussions and player health but we also want a physical league. Now some linebackers are wrongly receiving abuse for being dirty players. This is unfair because they’re doing the best in their position (via PFF).

AP

NFL legend Richard Sherman tweeted: “The product is suffering. Calling a player ‘dirty’ because he plays a physical brand of football that would have him on every highlight tape on every network when this game was great. Skewed the game so that players don’t have to be as skilled to be productive.”

Sporting News

Coach Scapegoats

NFL franchises hire and fire like a Walmart in a student town. The problem is that owners are turning their head coaches into scapegoats. Mark Davis is a prime example of a garbage owner who uses his coaches to deflect his shortcomings. Meanwhile, poor Frank Reich ran into a similar problem with the Panthers.

AP

Then there’s the pressure to scapegoat somebody if things aren’t going right. Sean McDermott felt the heat in 2023 after inconsistent performances so he threw offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey to the wolves. This chopping and changing doesn’t help teams to settle and deliver a good product (via AP News).

Black Friday Football

Black Friday Football

Everybody knows about MNF but now there’s BNF. Yes, that’s right, Black Friday Football became a thing in 2023. The NFL saw a golden opportunity to cash in on America’s most wretched contribution to the world. It’s already a massively oversaturated market but they couldn’t resist.

CNBC

In 2017, Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban said that the NFL would regret milking the cash cow too hard one day. Maybe we’re approaching it because this made so many fans roll their eyes. The only thing stopping them from doing April Fool’s Day football is that the season is unfortunately over (via Total Pro Sports).

NBC Sports

Broadcasting Woes

The NFL is generating billions annually from broadcasters. In turn, the networks make their money back through commercials and advertising. This is fine for their bank balances but it’s not good for the product. The scatter market means that it’s challenging and expensive for fans to find every game.

Bleacher Report

Meanwhile, not every broadcaster is equal in their production quality. Fans bemoaned NFL + when it suffered several problems because they spent their hard-earned dollars on it. But it’s not the only platform that struggled. There are many horror stories of networks turning to commercials at the wrong time  (via Sports Business Journal).

Sporting News

Scoring Decline

Scoring declined for four years in a row by 2023. This is not a good advertisement for the NFL and probably doesn’t make sense to some people. Quarterbacks are getting away with everything so why aren’t they throwing more touchdown passes? However, we’ve also seen more injuries to QB1s over the past few years.

Sky Sports

Aaron Rodgers, Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, Daniel Jones, Anthony Richardson, and Kirk Cousins all received long-term injuries in 2023 alone. Meanwhile, the number of younger players means that that is more athleticism but less end product. It’s a shame for viewers because it means that there is an unwatchable product (via ESPN).

CNN

Roger Goodell

NFL fans hate the league’s commissioner because they know that he is the owner’s stooge. They sighed with despair that bordered on indifference when he signed a new deal until 2027. They’re paying him more money to do what the owners want but he doesn’t care about the sport.

AP

Yes, he brought millions to the league through endorsement deals. But it has also become an unwatchable product under his watch. For example, Goodell enraged Philly fans in 2023 because he wanted to remove the ‘Tush Push.’  Meanwhile, there have been more scandals during his tenure than any other (via Distractify).

CNN

The Moral Aspect

The NFL is the most popular sports league in North America. But that disguises the reality that fewer parents are allowing their children to play gridiron football. Now we know about the health risks and that we’re allowing our young men to inflict brain damage on each other. At least boxers don’t pretend they don’t know what is happening.

Sky Sports

That’s why the NFL is currently engaged in a concussion lawsuit. Many people think that it’s an unwatchable product because it doesn’t entertain them anymore. Tua Tagovailoa’s concussions in 2022 shocked the world and created another discussion. The sport may be at a turning point (via The Guardian).

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