No, I’m not talking about the wife-beating, the steroids, the murders, the cheating, the concussions, or the child abuse. No, this is something much more upsetting to the see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil commissioner (making $44.2 million a year).
The dirty little secret? Television ratings are not as stellar and unassailable as the NFL wants you to believe. The highest-rated Super Bowls were in the 1970s and 1980s. You wouldn’t know that to listen to the spin each year in the game’s aftermath. You’ll be told the game is the “most-watched ever” or something along those lines. What they won’t tell you is that there are 100 million more Americans now than in 1980.
Of course, a large part of the Super Bowl ratings are made up of “me too” viewers. The people who are attracted to things because “everyone does it.” As for regular season NFL ratings, those are propped up by the fantasy football gamers — the “fantasy weenies” — who can now play not only for fun but for money. Fantasy cash contests have made betting on NFL games — indirectly — legal in the United States.
So, on this Super Bowl Sunday, while you are being bombarded with propaganda about what a wonderful and popular thing the NFL is, know this: The first British Open was played in 1860, 155 years ago, when the NFL didn’t even exist. In 2170, 155 years hence, when the British Open is played for the 310th time, the NFL again won’t exist.