First preseason games tip off this Saturday. Media availability that Monday, training camps open on Tuesday. The NBA is thankfully, mercifully, almost here — and not a moment too soon because good lord does the NFL stink right now.
Look… I’m sure this topic will get overblown. (Probably by me, right now.) A few weeks from now–shit, even a few days from now–we could be looking back on the idea that “the NFL is unwatchable” as an absolute joke. I’m sure I’ll regret writing this. There’s a pretty solid chance I look back and hate myself for falling into the trap of the hot, lazy take of the day rather than patiently waiting for the ship to right itself.
Because yes, the NFL ship will right itself. Players will get more comfortable with contact and the speed of the game. Offenses will improve their timing. Coaches who haven’t fully adjusted to the new reality of training camp (less contact, less reps, less practice time) will start to get a better feel for their teams.
But man… this league STINKS right now.
Have there been three fun NFL games this season? Two? ONE??? Chiefs-Eagles yesterday was relatively good. Both Chargers games have been fun, due mostly to a lot of incompetence. And I guess the Pats-Chiefs game to kick off the season was entertaining for a while – if only just because we wanted football so badly.
But god damn has everything else stunk. I don’t know if we got one good ending during that 3:15 – 4:15 period that we used to call the best hour in sports. The vast majority of Quarterbacks are awful. Offensive line play is down. Coaching is an abomination. It’s just… it’s not fun.
And the thing is… that’s a bigger problem for the NFL than it would be for either of it’s biggest competitors.
College Football and NBA Basketball can survive dips in the quality of play because they don’t lack the baggage. College football will still have the pageantry of Saturdays and the innocence of the kids. The NBA will still have entertaining storylines and likable stars/personalities who the league actively promotes and allows to shine.
The NFL doesn’t have anything to coast on right now. They don’t have stars and storylines that even remotely rival the NBA. They don’t have the crowds and the unpredictability to rival the feel of a college football Saturday. But more than anything, they only have baggage.
The NBA has “will LeBron leave Cleveland?”
The NFL has “How long should Ezekial Elliot be suspended for beating multiple women?”
College Football has “These games are insane! This is so much fun! These kids are playing their asses off!”
The NFL has “Quality of play is down because the NFL swept concussion issues under the rug for years and now can’t practice as much and coaches/players haven’t figured out how to adjust for that.”
The NBA has “How will Harden and Paul fit together in Houston?”
The NFL has “Is Colin Kaepernick getting blackballed by the owners?”
College Football has “Death Valley at night! Clemson running down the hill! Packed stadium of drunk college kids going insane!”
The NFL has “Look at this taxpayer-funded stadium that’s half empty because it’s a million times more preferable to watch multiple games on my couch/it’s way too expensive and time consuming to go to a game/the NFL was greedy and move to a city that doesn’t care about football/etc.”
It’s not just that College Football as a product is more entertaining right now. It’s not just that the quality of play is better in the NBA right now. It’s that those two don’t carry the heavy, corrupt, depressing, and even sometimes malicious baggage that makes up the entirety of conversation around the NFL. Domestic violence, concussions, protesting, blackballing, powers of the commissioner, drug testing, etc.
If you’re not talking about how the quality of play sucks, you’re talking about how everyone and everything about the NFL sucks.
Like I said… it’s much more likely than not that the league rights the ship in terms of gameplay. It will get better. But right now there is nothing fun about the NFL. Not one single thing. And until he games get better, I really don’t know how you fix that.
P.S. Ok fine this was actually the best moment. And it really only happened because Marshawn has enough clout and has thumbed his nose at the idea of conforming to the NFL’s mold for so long that he can do this. Because of course if Odell dances after a touchdown tonight the entirety of stick up their ass NFL fandom (the overwhelming majority) will either call him gay or scream at him to act like he’s been there before. This league is the fucking worst.