After seeing television ratings increase over the last two weeks, it looks like the NFL’s numbers are about to take another tumble. The afternoon windows on CBS and FOX were down and the Sunday Night Football rating for Panthers-Seahawks was the lowest number for a Week 13 contest in years. The ratings for Monday Night Football, which featured the Colts blowing out the Jets 41-7, will probably be just as bad.
It’s entertaining to watch the NFL get served some comeuppance. It also may result in the league delivering a better product.
On a regular basis, the NFL reminds its audience of just how loathsome its practices are. The latest example came Monday, when the league originally told the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans they couldn’t wear customized cleats for the league’s “My Cleats, My Cause” campaign when they play Sunday, even though both clubs had a bye in Week 13. After taking a public relations beating, the NFL switched course and decided to permit players on those squads to wear cleats for good causes Sunday.
Commissioner Roger Goodell often changes his positions after gauging the public’s reaction, because he apparently thinks that will make people forget about his brutal misjudgments. He’s employed this line of thinking when it comes to handling domestic violence cases, most notably Ray Rice and Josh Brown. The NFL originally suspended Rice two games for knocking out his then-fiancée in an elevator, but then decided to ban him indefinitely after a video was released that showed him punching Janay. Rice won the case on appeal, because according to the collective bargaining agreement, players can’t be punished for the same crime twice.
The Brown case progressed in a similar fashion. The NFL suspended him for just one contest after he was arrested for domestic abuse, even though the league’s Personal Conduct Policy, which was amended after the Rice fiasco, calls for a six-game ban for first-time offenders.
But then, after SNY obtained documents from Brown in which he admits to serially abusing his wife, he was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list and the New York Giants cut him. In the process, the NFL slandered his abused ex-wife, saying her non-cooperation was one of the reasons why its investigation stalled.
The NFL tries to hide facts from the same people who it expects to finance its glitzy stadiums. The next example of this boondoggle will probably happen in Las Vegas, given that a Nevada oversight committee voted to recommend $750 million in public funding for a new venue. Raiders owner Mark Davis says he’s determined to abandon the Bay Area and move the team to the Sin City.
Even bad NFL ratings still beat the majority of shows on TV, but it’s nice to see the league stumble every once in a while. This year has shown NFL owners the Shield isn’t infallible after all.
Though the league disputes the rumors about canceling or shortening the Thursday Night Football schedule, those reports indicate NFL executives may consider making some changes for the betterment of the game –– instead of solely thinking in terms of short-term gain. Everybody can learn from a little bit of failure.