Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

NFL is indestructible

Posted by Eric Fisher On February 8

Fisher column logo2The NFL may be indestructible. Regardless of how many negative developments rear their ugly heads, the games keep the NFL rolling along.

The Ray Rice controversy. Adrian Peterson. Concussion lawsuits.

The NFL barely missed a beat (no pun intended).

The week before the Super Bowl was dominated by DeflateGate, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s awkward news conference and Marshawn Lynch’s obnoxious antics with the media.

And then the game started.

Super Bowl XLIX was one of the best Super Bowls in history. There were intriguing storylines, fascinating action and one of the most dramatic finishes to a big game you’ll ever see.

The Seahawks’ decision to throw instead of run on second-and-goal at the 1-yard line will be debated for weeks – if not months or, maybe, even years.

The game was watched by an estimated 114.5 million people. That means more people watched Super Bowl XLIX than any show in television history.

Late in the fourth quarter, the television rating was 52.9, with a 73 percent share. That means more than half of all television sets in the United States were tuned in to the game, and 73 percent of people watching television were watch the Super Bowl.

What happened to all the people who said the Ray Rice incident and the NFL’s bungling of the investigation and punishment would make them less likely to watch the NFL?

What happened to all the people who said that the growing mountain of evidence that playing football has resulted in physical and mental problems for players later in life would detract from their enjoyment of watching the games?

I’ll tell you what happened to them. Almost all of them were watching Super Bowl XLIX.

The game is what keeps bringing us back. As I wrote in early October, the NFL produces huge ratings because the games are entertaining and somewhat unpredictable. You never know what’s going to happen each week.

The NFL is entertainment. As long as the games remain entertaining, the engine will keep rolling along.

The NFL is perfect for television. The pace, in particular, is ideal. Unlike the NHL, there is enough time between plays for replays and analysis – except for the Eagles’ frenzied pace under Chip Kelly – but there isn’t too much time between action, as there often is in baseball.

The games have more meaning in the NFL. There are 16 games. A win or loss is more important than a win or loss in the NBA and NHL, with their 82-game seasons, and Major League Baseball, with its 162-game season.

Why did the Eagles miss the playoffs this season? You can point to the home loss to the Cowboys in December. Or you could point to the losses to the 49ers and Cardinals. You’re probably able to cite specific plays in the losses to the 49ers and Cardinals that cost the Eagles those games.

Can you cite a specific “bad” loss that might cost the Flyers a playoff spot? Can you do the same in the NBA– pretending for a moment that the Sixers are within miles of sniffing distance of the playoff race – or in Major League Baseball?

The NFL is a seemingly indestructible sports and entertainment giant. No other sport can come close to challenging the NFL. That’s why no other sport schedules games that would conflict with the Super Bowl.

The only thing that can bring down the NFL is the NFL itself. The behavior of the players, from domestic violence incidents – ranging from assault to murder – to on-field behavior such as Doug Baldwin’s “pooping” mime routine after scoring the biggest touchdown of his career during Super Bowl XLIX, threatens to turn people away from the sport.

The lack of confidence in Goodell, who should have resigned after the bungling of the Ray Rice situation, is a potential problem. His explanations during news conferences and interviews about DeflateGate and Ray Rice’s assault of his fiancé haven’t helped his rapidly eroding credibility.

The frightening health issues so many former players are dealing with are disturbing. The brain injuries, in particular, have caused people to reconsider whether they will allow their children to play football.

But it hasn’t stopped them from watching the NFL.

Nothing, it seems, can stop people from watching the NFL.

Ronald Reagan was once deemed the Teflon president. Scandals and criticism didn’t stick to him. They seemed to slide right off, failing to dent Reagan’s popularity ratings.

The NFL is a Teflon league. Regardless of how many scandals and negative stories arise, nothing seems to affect the NFL’s popularity and its television ratings.

The NFL is the Roman Empire of sports. Only internal problems could knock the NFL off its exalted throne.

Based on this past year, though, even an onslaught of self-inflicted wounds might not be enough to derail the seemingly indestructible NFL.

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