The league is more popular than ever. Sports talk shows are wall-to-wall NFL. For a lot of young adults, fantasy football is more popular than just about anything. The wiseguys in Vegas are getting rich, and fans are setting their clocks in concert with the NFL schedule.
It’s hard to even remember that some folks were contemplating the league’s eve of destruction just eight weeks ago. Goodell, who made $44 million last year, is more secure than Joe Kennedy, who ran unopposed in the Fourth Congressional District.
The story line was that the league was going to be in trouble because advertisers were going to step forward and pull their sponsorships. On Sept. 16, mighty Anheuser-Busch (halfway through a six-year, $1.2 billion deal) issued a statement saying the company was “disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season.’’
The beer folks said they were “not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors.’’
Since that PR threat was floated, it has been nothing but crickets from Bud’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis. Like all other advertisers, Bud knows that the NFL is DVR-proof. It’s the only television programming that demands that folks are going to watch the ads. In other words, the NFL wins again.
I do a fair amount of public speaking in our area, and I’m usually asked about football’s concussion problem and how it will affect the future of the sport.
In places like Concord and Newton, fewer kids are playing football because parents are concerned about head injuries. I applaud these parents and appreciate the question, but my standard answer is that the NFL doesn’t care if there’s a dropoff in football participation in the Dual County League. The league doesn’t stock its rosters with players from Acton-
Boxborough and Lincoln-
Sudbury. Come talk to me when there are fewer tryouts in the football factories, places such as Brownsville (Texas), Fort Myers (Florida), or Western Pennsylvania.
The NFL has admitted that as many as one in three players will suffer brain trauma, but envisions no difficulty stocking rosters in future decades. There will always be strong, fast young men willing to sacrifice their bodies for the fortunes and glory of college scholarships and professional football.
The NFL is the most lucrative league in the world, a $9 billion industry intent on becoming a $25 billion industry. The value of the top 10 franchises increased between 22 and 44 percent in the last year. According to Forbes, your Patriots have increased in value by 44 percent in the last year.
There is no perceptible fallout from the sins that led to the league’s September crisis. The noise has subsided and football is king again.