Like a TV zombie that takes multiple hits to the body, the National Football League continues to survive, and thrive. The September 20 Sunday Night Football game between Seattle and Green Bay led all programs that week with over 26 million viewers. According to Variety.com, “This was the largest audience for a Week 2 NFL primetime game in 24 years (since Dallas-Washington on ABC’s ‘Monday Night Football’ in 1991).”

We could have seen this coming. The Hall of Fame game on August 10, the NFL’s preseason opener between the Steelers and Vikings that featured neither Ben Roethlisberger nor Adrian Peterson, had a 6.9 rating, (according to CBS Sports) better than Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals and both the American League Championship and National League Championship openers.

This all seems incredible based on how the NFL has presented itself as a tone-deaf botch-fest this year. We have witnessed many events that would weaken most corporations. Yet pro football keeps gobbling up brains.

So what, if anything, could possibly derail the NFL’s popularity? We asked a number of journalists their thoughts on the topic and categorized their answers.

NOTHING

Most seem to have joined this camp (well, less “joined” than “acquiesced to”). Even those who posited potential problems with the league included disclaimers. Nothing, it seems, shall damage the allure of the shield.

BSMW head Bruce Allen laid out the bullet points: “Well, what hasn’t derailed the NFL’s popularity? An active player arrested and convicted for murder. Numerous drug arrests and suspensions. Concussion and brain damage studies. Numerous domestic violence incidents. An inept boob of a commissioner who has been proven a liar on more than one occasion. Made up scandals (Bountygate and Deflategate) which the WWE wouldn’t even attempt…

If those things haven’t – I don’t know what will.”

Tanya Ray Fox, writer for SportsGrid, had a similar outlook, including a few specifics and a New England perspective.

“Let me put it this way,” Fox said. “In a league where a superstar QB has been substantially accused of rape, a superstar RB was videotaped beating his wife, a Hall of Fame LB was arrested for rape, a former TE is in jail for murder, a former DB and NFL Network employee is in jail for serial rape, and Pacman Jones is still playing (Note: a rundown of Jones’ arrests here), you know who the fans hate the most? Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, who they believe have been in six of the last fourteen Super Bowls because they cheat.

“Think about that. Fans still watch loyally, despite the fact that they think the most successful team in the NFL are cheaters and the rest of the teams that they hate far less are peppered with violent criminals. If that’s not enough to take away even a fraction of the fan base, I don’t know what is.”

Dan Duggan, NJ.com Rutgers football beat writer, agreed. “I really don’t think anything (can derail it), at least in the short-term. We all get outraged about the off-field issues, and then we dedicate all day Sunday, Thursday night and Monday night to watching the NFL.”

Duggan did hint at a possible pitfall. “Maybe there will be an effect down the road as parents shy away from allowing their kids to play football due to concerns about concussions. But I can’t see the popularity of the NFL diminishing any time soon.”

CONCUSSIONS

The greatest trouble for the NFL lurks within this issue. Just a few years ago, we would hear about a player from a past era dealing with what was then an alleged – and seemingly rare – brain injury. Now, in real time, we’re witnessing the decline of recent retirees whom we followed into the new millennium; meanwhile, young players have decided to hang up their cleats early. The most recent report from the Department of Veteran Affairs and Boston University study on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) puts the rate at 96 percent of NFL football players tested.

The study comes with caveats, of course. The brains that have been tested came from players who showed symptoms and/or had concerns. Still, we could see these occurrences increase. We have to ask: will more and more of our favorite players live out their post-NFL lives in constant physical and mental pain? That’s tough to consider, and even harder for the league to spin.

“The only thing that could remotely threaten the league’s popularity is the concussion issue, and even that is probably not enough to stop it.” said Mike Giardi of CSNNE.com. “I think it’s pretty clear that we’re just scratching the surface on the staggering amount of brain injuries players have suffered in the past, and I wonder if eventually we get to the point where players are forced to sign waivers, absolving the league of any legal responsibilities and the financial burden that can come with it.

“That’s obviously a slippery slope, but unless there are some dramatic rule changes – say no helmets – then this will continue to be an ongoing issue. But by and large, I think the average fan doesn’t care. They want points, they want big hits and they enjoy the potential that you can rebuild your team from year to year if needed.”

Mark Daniels, football writer for The Providence Journal, said, “I think it would come down to the concussion issue. I still think we’re a long ways away from that, but it would have to get to a point where parents didn’t want their children playing because they were fearful of head injuries. If people stopped playing, then you might see a diminished product on the field. But so many people love this sport and it’s so popular, I don’t know if I see that happening in my lifetime.”

Mike Reiss, ESPN Boston writer, and Shalise Manza Young, writer for Yahoo! Shutdown Corner, saw both the concussion problem and a leadership problem plaguing the league in the future.

Reiss said, “Head trauma and concussions remain issues worthy of further exploration. As we learn more about it, perhaps there is a possibility that the game becomes more challenging for the general public to support. Admittedly, that seems like a reach right now.”

“You know, at this point I’m not sure if anything could (derail the NFL’s popularity).” Young said, adding, “Parents are rightfully concerned about their own kids playing, but that doesn’t mean they won’t watch someone else’s kids play. Maybe if we start seeing an increase in former players committing suicide (i.e., more Junior Seaus), that could affect it.”

The concussion/CTE issue puts the NFL in a tough spot. They have to admit their product can cause irreparable damage to its employees, yet the scheduling of Thursday night games reveals players’ health remains a minor concern. If former Patriot guard Stephen Neal can allude to NFL games as “car crashes every week” and few people bat an eye, it will take more time – and more exposure of damaging effects – for health issues to make a difference in fans’ minds.

While most respondents considered the long-term, chronic effects of playing football, Christopher Price of WEEI.com brought up another, more immediate danger. What if, he asked, a player died because of an on-field injury?

“I think that would cause the rest of the world to take a hard look at player safety and and the level of violence associated with the game. You’d likely get Congress involved, and there would be hearings, which would (inevitably) lead to other revelations, most of which would probably come down to money. I think the fallout from something like that would be incredibly severe, and making a sizable impact on how the game is viewed and played going forward.”

In 2005, Al Lucas of the Arena Football League’s Los Angeles Avengers died of blunt force trauma to the spinal cord. A write-up of the incident from 2013 can be seen here on Grantland. A high school player from New Jersey died last Friday night, cause as yet unknown.

These deaths happen rarely enough that they can be viewed as aberrations, but if an NFL player were to get killed in front of tens of thousands of spectators and millions of TV-watching fans, how would the league handle that? Is leadership prepared for this?

Which brings us to another potential issue…

LEADERSHIP

In talking about the leaders of the NFL, I am reminded of a slogan from 30 years ago: Certs have Retsyn.

Sounds like an Eastern European language? Let me explain: the Certs breath mint company created an additive (basically cottonseed oil, sugar and flavor) specifically so they could mention it and set themselves apart from competitors (as does this vintage commercial).

“The NFL has integrity.” Right? They use words like “integrity” and “shield” as if they mean anything, as if they give the NFL something that other professional leagues can only long for but never attain.

We’re talking about a league with a commissioner that has – on the record – mischaracterized the testimony of two different players. Roger Goodell said Ray Rice lied to him; a judge disagreed. Goodell said Tom Brady did not mention speaking of the football scandal with his equipment manager. Brady’s appeal transcript showed that was not true.

“And maybe,” Young said, “if Goodell keeps making such stupid decisions, that could affect interest.”

Maybe. It seems probable the commissioner will make more mistakes; therefore, it must be possible he makes one or two big enough to actually make an impact. But how big do those gaffes have to get?

COMPETITION

We know they’ve busied themselves with keeping the shield clean, but have the heads of the NFL stayed in touch with fans’ interests? As Reiss said, “Any time you are No. 1, there is always the possibility of resting on one’s laurels and not pushing harder to continue to improve and be proactive against competitive threats. Resisting against that is critical.”

This topic provides fascinating hypotheticals. What could possibly draw viewers away from the NFL?

We look past baseball, basketball, and hockey because, frankly, they’ve had their chances. Soccer? Too many teams, too many leagues, too many countries. And too floppy for the taste of many.

Maybe we’ll see a non-traditional sport like “American Ninja Warrior” grow, where we root for the contestants (rife with human interest stories) and root against the obstacle course. At some point, there could be a kind of live-action single-shooter video game, a choose-your-own adventure where viewers would text an actual human being where to go in a game of laser tag.

Mixed martial arts has gotten popular. But then we go back to the health/concussion issue.

I dunno. Is dodgeball still viable?

Well. Maybe something can take viewers away from football, but hell if I can predict it.

GAMBLING

If you watch television for more than two minutes on a Sunday afternoon, you will see an ad for a fantasy sports website. On these sites, visitors pay money to participate in a fantasy league. According to DraftKings.com, “Daily fantasy sports is a skill game and is not considered gambling.”

Hey, remember when Pete Rose gambled and got banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame for life? Bet he wishes he’d had the Internet.

This angle seemed to intrigue Matt Chatham, founder of footballbyfootball.com, writer for Fox Sports “Game of the Week” breakdown, analyst for NESN and ESPN, and volunteer Super Bowl 38 security guard. Chatham sees the NFL’s potential downfall in the money that exchanges hands outside of NFL arenas.

“Reversal of some law regarding fantasy sports and some government overreaching would be the biggest potential blow,” he said. “Stripping away a huge new part of the audience that likely otherwise wouldn’t watch. TV revenue projections and ad values are based (I believe) on the assumption that that audience will be there and continue to grow. If for some reason it was gone overnight and there were a competing product that could accept that audience, that’s probably the most plausible scenario.

“But I don’t think that’s happening. Very unlikely. The wagering (legal, fantasy and otherwise), the league, and the communities that have these teams are symbiotic at this point. They both need each other. There would be holy hell to pay if it was ever disrupted, for politicians, whatever. So in the absence of choice, everything will be done to maintain the status quo.”

Young said the NFL could also get hurt “if some major scandal like finding out games are fixed is uncovered. But really, at this point I don’t think anything could have a major impact on numbers and interest, and fantasy plays a huge role in that.”

OFFICIATING

Related to Young’s point, let’s look at officials not for what they do or how well they do it, but for their role in upholding the (dare I say it) integrity of the game.

As Price said, “If there was some sort of overarching scandal involving officiating and/or gambling regarding major games, like the conference championship and/or the Super Bowl. I’m not just talking about Donaghy-esque style issues with regular season contests between the Bucs and Jags. If there were marquee games that were found to be not on the level, the fallout would be massive. The ripple of suggestion that games might not be on the level would in turn create sizable waves throughout the sports world – namely distrust among the NFL’s fanbase.”

Fans don’t trust the NFL front office or its players. They do trust the game itself and the effort put into each one. Taking those elements away could deal the biggest blow of all.

Concussions/Injuries, Leadership, Competition, Gambling, Officiating. All possible traps for the NFL. But, for now at least, it looks like they shield is safe.

Chris Warner has email (chris.warner@patriotsdaily.com) and tweets: @cwarn89

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185 thoughts on “The Unstoppable NFL

  1. Nice compilation, Chris.

    The gambling thing–which, all leagues are happily complying with the daily fantasy sites (who either have investments or fork over big sponsorship $)–is such a hypocrisy. The absurdity of the government telling folks they can’t legally wager, but then taking a pass on the daily fantasy sites? Ah, yeah, lottery.. Those sites were smart to get the sports leagues involved and is there any station or show not paid off by them? Both have someone talking about their “daily fantasy picks” (I don’t gamble nor play, so it’s annoying).

    Duggan’s quote I thought summed it up well.. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday people spend being outraged at the NFL. The other days they’re parked infront of the TV watching that very product.

    This via Shaughnessy’s various and sundry column today. He quotes a new book Colin Cowturd has out. (Why do people who do sports talk feel the obligation to write books? Do you really think you’re contributing to humanity?):

    “It was nothing short of jaw-dropping to witness the performance of the
    Boston media during the entire [Deflategate] episode. In one of
    America’s mosteducated cities, with perhaps our nation’s richest sports
    history, local outlets transformed themselves into pom-pom waving,
    jersey-wearing, fist-pumping superfans . . . It was a hazmat spill of
    homerism . . . Do we want a media that makes us comfortable by placating
    and pandering to the dimmest and least discerning

    He [Cowturd] is good at this stuff but kinda sounds like a blanket generalization in the spirit of taking a shot. You could write pages on this one but I just posted it because it’s funny.

    I am awaiting the day that Brady/BB disorder is a classified DSM VI disorder people go on disability for.

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    1. I’m not sure which is harder to believe: Cowherd has a new book coming out or that quote.

      I had to look it up, but he released a book in September of last year. What audience is clamoring for another book by Cowherd 13 months later?

      That quote just has so much wrong with it. Cowherd makes the claim that the NE media defended the Patriots like over-the-top fans. Who did that? Who are these super Patriots homers in the media? Jerry Thornton and Dave Portnoy? I doubt the “traditional” media consider them to be among their peers. Even the people who trying to be objective, like Hurley and Curran, couched their positions by saying “I think something happened…” The fact is, the NE media goes out of their way to avoid the appearance of homerism. Their stance in the football deflation story was no exception.

      This sentence just kills me, considering the source: “Do we want a media that makes us comfortable by placating and pandering to the dimmest and least discerning.” This is exactly what Cowherd’s prior employer did with this story and he played some small role in it. Objectivity? Fairness? Facts? Corrections/Retractions? Not from ESPN on this topic. They shoveled out biased chum to the Patriots haters throughout this story and still haven’t shown an inclination do anything else.

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  2. Is this National Sports Media Dumber Than Normal Week? Seems like we’ve really exceeded quotas this week.

    Bart Scott was on wherever DA is on and really soiled his drawers. Audio/commentary:

    http://media.weei.com/a/109691219/bart-scott-hates-boston-10-1-15.htm?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

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    1. Not sure if you heard, but Felger and Mazz mentioned Scott’s tirade this afternoon, and one of them asked, “Is this gonna become a thing? Is it that big of a deal?” Felger’s response: “Of course it will become a thing, because Patriots fans have become the most thin-skinned, whiney bunch of………” that’s when I clicked it off. You’re absolutely right, Mike……it’s OUR fault that Bart Scott decided to crap all over Brady today in an obvious attempt to stir up some headlines for himself. It’s Patriots fans fault that Scott did that, and that the media then reported it. YARM!!!!

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      1. Yep. Teams doing well so they need to attack the fanbase instead. It’s been the M.O. for years, yet they inexplicably pull a 14 rating.

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  3. Maybe I’m late to the party but thanks to Kirk this morning, found out that Danny Amendola is dating Kay Adams? WELL DONE, young man. Well. Done.

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    1. She’s too adorable for words. She’s the kind of chick that ruins millions of guys out there because she’s not “hot”, per se, just really cute, and so she seems attainable, even though she runs in completely different circles and really isn’t attainable for the average guy. I mean, you take one look at Heidi Watney, Holly Sonders or Erin Andrews and your first thought is, “way outta my league.” With Kay, the first impression is, “she’s really cute, seems friendly and cool enough, is into sports….maybe if I saw her in a bar and pretended not to recognize her I’d have a shot.”

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  4. Great work as usual, Chris.

    I could say a lot on this subject…. but I’ll try and keep it brief. Football, much as I love it, is a dying sport. It’s the concussions/injury thing that will kill it… but not in the way people (including those in Chris’ article) think it will.

    Parents are, indeed, going to think twice about letting their kids participate in football in increasing numbers the more we learn about CTE and the other long-term heath risks of football. But long before a critical mass of parents is reached, parents will lose the OPPORTUNITY to have their kids play football. Why? Because of insurance.

    High school football programs are great! But wait, now suddenly we see that there are students winning large judgments against school systems for injuries incurred during football games, because we have larger and larger bodies of knowledge concerning the risks, which courts will find were negligently ignored by the schools. So now having a football program means equipment costs, coaching costs, a field…. and the $1.5m annual premium to insure the district against liabilities arising from it. Are schools going to want to pay that? Will they be able to pay that? If you’re talking about Odessa, TX — yes, they will. (They’ll have a booster drive and raise $5m to buy the best damned Texas-sized insurance policy in all of Central TX.) Private prep schools could foot the bill. But what about Brockton? Or Boston English? Or high schools in rural Florida or Louisiana? You WILL be seeing football programs priced out of existence. A trickle at first, and then a flood. (Insurance issues like this tend to be self-reinforcing — as insureds decide to drop coverage, the pool over which the underwriter spreads the risks shrinks, and premiums go up, which leads to more insureds dropping coverage…. etc. Eventually, the underwriting becomes unprofitable and the insurer just gets out of that particular risk category entirely. But I digress.)

    And in the long run, this is going to drain the sport of its talent. You’ll eventually wind up like boxing, where the only people who go into the sport are a narrow slice of the poor and the stupid. People will grow tired of seeing the one or two Tom Bradys throwing to what would today be Div III-level talent. And that’s how football ends; not with a bang, but with a whimper.

    Which is why I think Goodell is, beyond the Deflate/Bountygate screwups, destroying football. I understand wanting to stick your head in the sand over CTE to avoid huge lawsuits from players, but he’s either too dumb or too blind or too arrogant (or all three) to see that it’s much better to take an immediate 8- or 9-figure hit in liability and admit the problem and work towards a solution, and much worse to avoid the issue while it steadily works to undermine your entire league.

    Okay, this wasn’t exactly brief…..

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    1. I wondered, too, if the continued installing of Spaulding Smails to the NFL would hinder it even further. I think there’s something like 15 now, with many being as prototypical as you can get, and we’ve got Roger Goodell. I’m thinking a decade-or-two down the road to where 23 or more are this way. Not all are bad–or, will be–but if you continue to get Irsays, Johnsons, Davis-types, your league is completely f-cked.

      I also wondered how/if the cord cutting will affect this. I used to park myself infront of the TV Sundays, thanks to RedZone, or do the same with friends at another place. About 9 months after cutting the cord, while I can get games via my OTA setup (and other means), I’ve consumed next to nothing outside of the radio (car/workshop). I’m the exception not the rule but ask anyone under 30 if they’ve got cable and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who does.

      I think you hit the “what was at the core” part but anything this big is usually falling down from a number of issues, even if you can pinpoint one major one.

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    2. Before DeflateGate I would have been sad about this.

      But afterwards? I want to see the whole, entire edifice burned to the ground and I’ll be cheering every step towards the end of the NFL every step of the way. The death of it is what the NFL front office and all 32 owners richly deserve.

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  5. So no disrespect to DaveR and his missive on insurance…which I mostly agree so I do not need to regurgitate here… Insurance is not going to kill football at the school level. It has not killed hockey (where it is worse than it will ever be in football) nor has it killed girls gymnastics (don’t get me started on that one says the father of a 3rd year Level 10).

    To me what is going to kill the NFL and it has already started are the exact rule changes that were put in place to protect the QB’s and WR’s. When you have a league that is so dependent on passing that the running back position has been completely marginalized, where pass catching backs have more value that tackle runners, and where single back sets account for over 90% of the formations, eliminating the full back, I formation and Two back sets, you have a situation where the fans are starting to realize that if their team does not have an elite QB then they do not have a chance to win and getting an elite QB is extraordinarily difficult. If there is no way to win without a great QB (look at the last 15 superbowls…Brady has 4, Rothlesberger 2, Eli Manning 2, Peyton Manning 1, Aaron Rogers 1, Drew Brees 1, Russell Wilson 1…that is 12 of the last 15 winners) then at some point you stop watching regardless of the betting, fantasy or bookie action.

    Bart Scott went a ridiculous anti- Tom Brady rant on the DA show last night and for the most part he was just a moron…however I think he was right in his frustration…the days of lining up and imposing your will on the other team are gone. The league is 100% finesse now and that is what the rules favor. So Brady will play until he is 45 because you can’t touch him. He takes no unnecessary hits. So he will stay longer and longer because the primary skill for being a successful NFL QB…reading defenses and accurately getting rid of the ball quickly to the open receiver is not taught in high school and college. Instead because of the “athleticism” of the modern player there is a prevalence of the run/option offenses which fail miserably at the NFL because the best athletes can’t run over kids at this level.

    As the lack of quality QB’s becomes more and more prevalent in the league and more and more fan bases realize their team has no chance by the end of September…interest wanes…see Jacksonville attendance, Tampa Bay’s attendance, San Diego’s attendance and Buffalo’s attendance last year for proof. The TV ratings are currently bullet proof because there is no counter programing. If apathy starts to sit in, there will be counter programming. Look at Baseball. They did away with day time playoff games for TV audience. In doing so they turned an entire generation off of the product. Now no one watches the prime time playoff games unless it is in-market and even then they get no ratings until the ALCS. If you told my grandfather there would be a time when people did not make appointments to watch baseball, esp the CBS game of the week Saturday afternoons…he never would have believed you.

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    1. I wish they had (or would) balance out the pro-offensive rule changes with some pro-defense rule changes (that wouldn’t decrease player safety): maybe cracking down on offensive holding, or allowing defensive backs more leeway in terms of pass interference.

      They could have preserved the concept of defense while still accomplishing player-safety goals; instead we get the finesse league that you describe.

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      1. This has been my argument all along. I understand toning down the hitting for health issues, but by also allowing less contact at the same time has been unnecessary and done only for the purpose of growing offense. What they should have done is take out all the cheap shots and allowed MORE contact in receivers, thus balancing the game.

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        1. The current calibration for defensive PI is terribly unsatisfying to watch, too. I don’t enjoy when the team I am rooting for benefits from a borderline call, and naturally it’s even worse when it’s called against them. There are even specific pass patterns in the NFL that seem like they are used because coaches know that PI is a frequent outcome.

          So raising the contact criteria for defensive PI would both bring some balance back to the game and also make it more satisfying to watch.

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          1. Not just pass patterns, heck, the whole point of the “Jumpball Joe’ Baltimore offense was/is to throw it deep, either the receiver actually makes the catch (a la that Denver playoff game a few years back) or a flag is thrown. They win either way. They got at least one win over the Pats in the last few years solely due to a PI call near the end of the game.

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      2. The Fantasy Football cottage industry wouldn’t want to see rules to help out the defense, and the NFL has finally figured out a way to make money off of FF. To me, the biggest change they should make — and I’ve been arguing this for years — is to switch to the college football rules on defensive P.I. Making it a spot foul has always been a bad idea IMO, and P.I. in the end zone should not be an automatic first and goal at the 1 either. It should be 15 yards anywhere in the field, and half the distance to the goal if the P.I. occurs in the end zone. Seriously, how many of those 45 and 50-yard spot fouls (like the one that the Pats benefited from last Sunday on the long ball to Dobson down the middle) would have resulted in a catch by the WR had the DB not made contact? I’d say it’s still a 50/50 proposition. It should not be a spot foul. I’ve seen far too many games turn on a 50-yard P.I. call that resulted from minimal contact.

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        1. I think the solution is 2 penalties…incidental interference and pass interference. Incidental should be 10 yards and a first down. PI should be a the spot of the file. The difference…a defender does not look for the ball and interferes/contacts the receiver…incidental interference. The defender grabs clutches or deliberately changes the direction of the receiver…pass interference.

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          1. I’ve floated that idea, too, actually. However, knowing that the NFL doesn’t want the officials making too many “judgment” calls like that, I figured it would never fly. I like your two scenarios. This “the defender didn’t look back for the ball” b.s. is killing the game. 50 yards because the defender didn’t look back for the ball and MIGHT have made some incidental contact with the WR? That’s insane and it’s changing the momentum in too many games. And let’s not forget the smart receivers who see an underthrown ball and deliberately run into a DB with his back turned to get the P.I. flag….a stunt that most refs fall for 90% of the time. That’s gotta go.

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          2. Make it reviewable. The refs are making judgment calls all the time…is it intentional running into the kicker (15 yards and a 1st down) or incidental contact (5 yards repeat fourth down). Is PI (ball is in the air and the receiver has a chance to make a play) or is it holding (defender kept the receiver from running his route and the ref judged he would not have had a play on the ball).

            My solution would work. I am actually surprised it has not been thought of and tried in preseason games as a test. In the new pass happy league something has to be done to let the defenders be a little more physical. They have a right to the ball.

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          3. I totally agree. I hate the NFL’s P.I. rule with a passion. It changes too many games. Also, just like every other sports league (the NBA in particular), certain teams get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to calls like that, and others don’t. My God, how many times during the Manning Era in Indy did the Colts benefit from ludicrous, and I do mean LUDICROUS pass interference calls at the RCA Dome (not so much on the road, of course, but they still got plenty of calls away from home, too)? During that epic 2007 regular season meeting between the undefeated Pats and the undefeated Colts, I remember poor Ellis Hobbs, who got flagged for EVERYTHING, having perfect coverage on Reggie Wayne downfield and still getting hit with a 40-yard P.I. call for an alleged “arm bar” — he barely touched him, and the replay was very clear on that. Still, it was the Colts, it was Manning, and it was in the RCA Dome, so it was a 40-yard P.I. call against New England. In the 2005 playoff loss at Denver, the game completely turned around when Asante Samuel was called for P.I. in the end zone. Horrible, horrible call — 40-yard penalty, first and goal from the one, Denver TD, and momentum completely swung towards the home team. The Pats, of course, have benefited from the rule, too. It has to be changed. I like your idea, but at this point I’ll take any tweaking that will make it a less-devastating call against the defense.

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          4. So I only disagree with you on one thing. If the defender does overt PI (Hold the arms down, deliberately knocks the receiver off his spot before the ball arrives, face guards) I think it should be a spot foul. Without the threat of the spot foul you would have no pass plays where the ball does not travel more than 15 yards in the air because the defender would take the 15 penalty every time rather than give up 30 yards.

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          5. I would agree with that: 15 for “non-flagrant” and spot foul for flagrant P.I. That would be much, much better than what they’ve got now.

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    2. I think the changes the NFL made was perfect for their situation.

      First the RB’s career length averages just about 2.5 years. WR’s are just under 3 years. QB’s are close to 5 years. So QB’s are the NFL’s money makers. It is not a coincidence that the NFL has gone out of it’s way to protect the QB’s. A team cannot put their title hopes in the hands of their RB or WR for more than a couple of years after taking 300+ hits per year as a RB or 100+ hit per year as WR.

      So QB’s play longer, have better stats because they are protected and their WR’s don’t get molested on their routes, and QB’s become more marketable for longer periods of time because of the gaudy numbers and their careers last longer and teams make more money off of them.

      The second thing the NFL realized is that they cannot have is a decade and a half of dominance by a select few teams. For example, four teams won 13 out of the 15 Super Bowls from 1981 through 1995. So now the salary cap has prevented elite QB’s from winning more championships and we have seen 10 different champions in the last 16 years. In addition to that 21 different teams competed for the SB during this time.

      I think, aside from Cleveland and Jacksonville, most fans feel like their team has a shot at the title during one 3 year stretch out of a ten year period. In most cases that is enough to sustain the brand.

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    3. Cogent points. NFL runs the risk of becoming NBA. A select handful of cities attract superstars as ennui sets in around the league. Alas, they will sort out the rules to ensure that Tim Tebow and The rapist from Florida win some rings. That’ll Sustain It Until We’re All Dead
      .

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  6. Dodgeball? I could go for a pro Dodgeball league. No doubt the Globo-Gym Purple Cobras would be the ADAA equivalent of the Patriots.

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  7. The concussion situation is the obvious one, but the two potential areas I would have of concern for the success of the NFL would be the gambling matter and the inevitable decline of ESPN. Fantasy football is really where they are banking their growth on at this point, they have pretty much destroyed the defense in the game so as to benefit it. And it is more blatant and obvious than ever that much of the interest in fantasy football comes from gambling. The advertisements we have for companies like Draft King, Fan Duel and so on at this point is beyond the point of absurdity. Yes, at this point fantasy football is not gambling due to a technicality in the law. But the way they have made these leagues where it is now all so heavily focused on individual weeks and individual players rather than a season’s worth of activity, it is becoming more and more luck versus skill. Someone in politics will take a shot at it at some point.

    ESPN is and will continue to take a big hit financially as the cord cutting phenomena continues. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe ESPN is the single biggest payer to NFL for TV rights. As shown by recent reports, ESPN is starting to be impacted very negatively financially as more and more people who have had ESPN and other channels forced upon them by getting cable are having enough of it and getting rid of it. ESPN’s extreme bias certainly isn’t going to help it in this part of the country. If I wasn’t locked into having it through my contract I’d be seriously considering cutting the cord myself or going for a package that does not include ESPN. Once my contract is up, I am likely going there. I am a huge sports fan, but after their behavior with Spygate and Deflategate I’ve had enough. I can go without Monday Night Football and have ignored all their other programming for a while now. More and more people are feeling that they can go without ESPN, whether its for the reason I have or simply because they are not sports fans and had it forced upon them. And it will reach a breaking point where ESPN cannot pay those huge fees the NFL is seeking from it. It’s not something that is going to kill the NFL overnight or anything like that, but when the biggest payer of their product is either out of the running or can no longer offer huge increases in rights fees like they have for years now, that is going to impact the NFL.

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    1. Draft King, Fan Duel and so on at this point is beyond the point of absurdity.

      Yup.

      It’s gambling. Lets not be curt and think it’s not.

      Whomever the owners are were smart to get the leagues to invest/sponsor it. Why? It means they won’t complain to congress about ethics in gambling. (Again, the gov/state govs sponsor some of the biggest gambling schemes: lotto.)

      Don’t complain (*cough* lobby *cough*), they don’t outlaw. However, just wait for one state to want their skim.

      Then I wonder what happens. I also wonder how a large lobby like the casinos could not sway this @ some point.

      Like

  8. Oh my goodness BSMW. More like this please. This was like a huge thanksgiving meal. I’m stuffed, but I want more. This will put you on the map.

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    1. I know Remy hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory over the past few years, and so we shouldn’t have too much sympathy for him, but if NESN really is working “behind the scenes” to bring in someone else as the color analyst next season, that’s low, even for them.

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      1. Especially when they should have fired/replaced him during the Jared fiasco. At this point it is academic. Let him finish the contract…I am not going to watch but that is besides the point…you made the deal with the devil.

        What I do not get is the fascination with Darling. Seriously, there are no ex Red Sox players who would make a good color man. We need a member of the ’86 Mets. Hmmm let me start a list.

        Shilling (love him or hate him…he is good at Baseball and always amusing…and he needs the money)
        Merloni (he would love the gig and would be good at it)
        Gabe Kapler (if the managing thing is not working out for him as well as he wanted)
        Dave Roberts (he is doing radio and tv work out in California)
        Eck (but my understanding he will not travel so he is out)
        Steve Lyons (he did Dodgers work, he has done national Fox work, he is back in the market)

        I am sure I could name more. I just don’t understand this fascination NESN has with making one lousy decision after another.

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        1. My first reaction to the Ron Darling rumor was the same as yours…..”Really? They’re going to bring in a member of the 1986 Mets as the Sox color analyst?” It was only later on that I remembered that he grew up a Sox fan and actually attended Game 6 of the ’75 World Series (that story made its way through the media rounds during the ’86 Series, as I recall). Still, bring in a former Sox player, please. It would be one thing if Darling played for the Sox after he helped break New England’s collective heart back in ’86, but he didn’t. His career’s second act took place in Oakland in the early 90s after the Mets gave up on him.

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          1. Have the Sox ever had an ex-player in the radio or TV booth who didn’t spend at least some time in a Red Sox uniform? I can’t think of one.

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          2. Not in my lifetime. I remember Johnny Pesky being the color guy before the team signed the big (at the time) deal with Channel 38 in the mid-70s, then it was Hawk Harrelson, followed by Bob Montgomery, and then Remy, who did color on both Channel 38 and NESN. before NESN became their only TV network. Remy has been there the longest, of course (I may have missed one along the line, but the ones I can remember all had spent time with the Sox organization).

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          3. I agree with Tony C — I can’t remember one in my lifetime. I thought for a second “what about that first NESN year with Ken Derdivanis (or, as it was always spelled in the program, Ken Der Divanis)…. but the color guy that season was Mike Andrews, so there you go….

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  9. Speaking as somebody who successfully boycotted last year’s season until literally the last five minutes of the Super Bowl, I can say that what will lessen interest is realizing that the NFL is ridiculous, and it can’t be made to look ridiculous.

    It’s absurdity – the whole league from top to bottom. It’s a borderline WWF fantasy narrative that would have fit into the Channel 38 wrestling in 1985. A bunch of crazy billionaires employing out-of-control millionaires. These aren’t serious people and they aren’t playing a serious game.

    I mean, look at these clowns – Jerry Jones? Mark Davis? Ziggy Wilf or whatever his name is? They’re grifters and conmen – if you met them in a bar they’d steal your wallet. And we take them seriously? What?

    So the only thing that will eliminate fan interest in the NFL is when you look yourself in the mirror and say “this is a stupid thing that I’m paying attention to. I’m stupid for caring, and I’m stupid for thinking it’s all real, when these games were probably played in Vegas last Thursday. It’s stupid of me to invest emotional energy in this cartoonish jerk-off fantasy called the NFL and the absurd, ridiculous bumpkins on all sides of the ball. I’m an idiot for caring. I’m an idiot for watching.”

    When you realize that YOU are the rube for caring, then the illusion lifts and you see the NFL for the dry, rotted trashbag that it is. And then you’ll wonder why you ever let yourself care about something so totally silly. It’s an amazing feeling of liberation – not as good as the Sox in ’04, but close.

    You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

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    1. Cool story, bro. But baseball….THAT’S the f**king ticket, huh? No conmen and grifters in those ownerships, huh? I live in Minnesota. Carl Pohlad was BY FAR a bigger conman than Zygi Wilf. Baseball owners pocket every dime they can and screw the fanbase in about 25 of the 30 markets. Pohlad literally volunteered the Twins for contraction in 1997, I think it was? He put almost zero money into the Twins for a decade and a half, fielding a AA team while trying to beg for a stadium. Promised a higher payroll when they got Target Field. He and his sons delivered on that promise in year 1, then the payroll went down every year for the next six. I’m glad you enjoyed the steroid fueled World Series run of 2004. Pat yourself on the back for enjoying that purity. The sanctity and honesty of baseball, right?

      You could have just started and ended your post with “I’m an idiot” and cut out the rest. Or “I’m a fraud.” Whichever. Both apply.

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        1. OK. What’s my reaction supposed to be to that? i LOVE being a rube. Go Pats! I live for Sundays. And Saturdays. And Thursdays and Mondays. Touchdowns, tackles, and duck boat parades. But you’re above it all, so….what the f*ck ever, chief.

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  10. Chris Simms continuing to give his dad a run for the money in the Simms’ Family Darwin Award Derby:

    http://tikiandtierney.radio.cbssports.com/2015/09/29/chris-simms-rodgers-is-top-5-qb-of-all-time

    Comparing Brady/Rodgers,

    “Most of the time, he gets the snap in the shotgun. And, the first guy he looks at is usually open, and he throws the ball–which, is great game planning by o.c. Josh McDaniels. I’m not trying to take anything away from Tom.. [starts talking about GB/Rodgers”

    BREAKING NEWS: Offensive coordinators are good when they design game plans to get other guys on the team open for quarterbacks to throw to.

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    1. Can someone,ANYONE, in the local media around here please do something other than tweeting “hottakez” and investigate why Chris Simms is always taking shots at Tom? This is clearly more than just judging Tom’s skills,it sounds personal. I want someone to do a little digging and find out why Chris has a hair across his ass for Tom. It’s obvious something went down and it’s not because Bill didn’t pick him to QB the team in 2008 because he doesn’t troll Bill all the time,just Tom.

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      1. If his last name wasn’t “Simms” would he even be within a mile of a microphone? WHY is he continuously on radio? He’s the poster child for living off his high school glory. He sucked at Texas, he was an absolute nothing in the NFL. He had the family name and was good in high school. Now everybody wants his hotsportztakez on the radio? What planet am I living on?

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        1. He was the ultimate “little game” player at UT. I don’t think he ever beat Oklahoma — the Longhorns’ biggest rival — during his career, and I distinctly remember him being benched for Major Applewhite during the Big 12 Championship Game against Colorado one year (maybe he was hurt…not sure, but I do know that he wasn’t playing well). He put up good numbers in the games that didn’t matter. If his last name was “O’Brien” he’d be out there selling vinyl siding or something.

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          1. That’s awesome. What the hell happened to Scobee, anyway? He was a pretty good kicker with the Jaguars back in the day. Pretty reliable, with a strong leg. Must have lost his confidence. As the recently departed Yogi Berra might say, kicking is half-mental 90% of the time.

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  11. You guys! I just got back from the year 2024 and you won’t believe this, but NESN just unceremoniously dumped Dave O’Brien despite being voted the area’s favorite play-by-play man in the 2024 New England Sports Survey by Channel Media 7 Market Research. Everyone is pissed. They played a montage of all of O’Brien’s greatest calls — Dustin Pedroia’s last game, Papi’s 600th home run, and the now-historic wild-card clinching game on the last day of the season that propelled the Sox to the 2019 World Series! Shockingly, a #SaveDave campaign on twitter gained 900k signatures and after the first weekend everyone forgot about it. No word yet on whether Ron Darling will be retained.

    I’ll answer all your questions about the future but first, yes, they did bring back Sox Appeal 2.0. I was on it, and even though I didn’t find love, I did get a nice NESN tote bag.

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  12. Every year we “get” a dozen articles like this and every WEEK we see the NFL shatter ratings records. Records they set the year before. And the year before that. And the year before that. Concussions, PEDs, legal issues, rule changes, London, various “gates”….nothing will stop this league. If that’s not evident by now than you’re not paying attention.

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          1. I’ll take that as a no. Your trolling game needs serious work. Maybe since you don’t follow the NFL it’s something you could work on in your copious amounts of free time.

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          2. I’ll take that as a no. Your trolling game needs serious work. Maybe since you don’t follow the NFL it’s something you could work on in your copious amounts of free time.

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  13. I’ve mentioned this NUMEROUS TIMES, and I’ll go to my grave believing it. The reason (besides the sport itself) why the NFL is KING is very simple, THE 16 GAME SCHEDULE…..every weekend is a “happening” every week seems “special” … the other sports, with their 82-82 and 162 game MARATHONS can’t compete. LESS is BETTER…. simple as that.. not gambling, not violence, not fantasy football… the 16 game schedule, that is the key…

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      1. no doubt, gambling is a big reason. This could be my personal viewpoint..( play some FanDuel but not a huge gambler). from the ages of 10-20 I followed all the 4 major sports very closely. Then life got in the way. I don’t have the time or the ambition to follow the other sports and their endless amount of games anymore… so for me anyway, the 16 game schedule is a big reason I’m a foottball fanatic

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      2. Not that simple. Football has been the king for 20+ years now. Gambling and fantasy have only exploded in the last 10 or so. There’s a lot more that goes into it’s popularity than just “gambling.”

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    1. Its a combination of things. The game is perfectly designed for TV…that helps greatly as compared to baseball, basketball or hockey. Also don’t discount the fact that it has 1:00 and 4:00 DAY games. My daughters have been raised on watching football on Sunday afternoon especially since nothing else is on then. Entire generations are lost to baseball, basketball and hockey because there are no day games.

      The gambling is no small component because it goes hand in hand with your 16 game theory. The anticipation coupled with the action is so much greater than it is in baseball where a 1 run spread does not do much for me as a gambler…ditto hockey. Basketball is the next easiest to bet but it is fixed so most gamblers I know stay away from it.

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      1. Not to mention it’s, inexplicably, the ONLY sport who actually puts its postseason games on at a time when the whole country can watch. How many NBA, NHL, MLB playoff games are starting at 9pm EST? 70% of the country lives in the CST and EST, yet they’re in bed by halftime of these games?

        And the LENGTH of these seasons is ridiculous. Games every night of the week for 7-8-9 months of the year. 162, 82, 82 is waaaaaay too much baseball, basketball, and hockey. Then, add another two and a half months for playoffs? Baseball now ends in freaking NOVEMBER?! It takes almost three weeks to complete the first f**king round of the NBA playoffs. Even in the Finals, let’s take three days off between games. GTFO.

        There are many, many reasons the NFL is king.

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    2. Good post. I don’t know that less is “better” exactly but I totally agree that the NFL’s week-to-week anticipation helps so much. And – like is said below, they are day games, perfectly timed for when everybody’s hanging around.

      I loved football as much as the next guy even 5 years ago, but the last few years it’s turned into this beheomth that takes itself far too serioously. Never mind the incompetence and corruption.

      But you are right that the schedule, aided/abetted by fantasy football, HDTV and online culture, has created the grotesque monster we see today.

      I hope the Patriots go 19-0. I’ll check the score with a few minutes left in the SB, and if they’re ahead I’ll watch the celebration. But not a minute until then.

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    3. I’m late to the party here, but your post makes a lot of sense. Sadly, I’m old enough to remember both the very long 1981 MLBPA strike, and the 1982 NFLPA strike. The NFL players’ strike basically lasted 7 weeks, or 56 days. The MLB strike in the summer of ’81 lasted 57 days. However, the baseball strike seemed to go on forever, and ever, and ever, whereas when the NFL strike was finally settled and the league announced plans for how to handle the truncated schedule going forward, I was shocked to hear a talking TV head say the words, “the 56-day strike.” What? That strike was 56 days long and was just one day shorter than the ’81 baseball strike? The NFL strike seemed like it lasted about two weeks because each team plays only once per week, whereas baseball teams play just about every day. The 16-game/17-week schedule makes every NFL game an “event,” and “events” feel like special occasions to those who follow them.

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  14. For the past 2 days I have listened to and been genuinely amused by the Rothlesberger phone non scandal. However the more i think about it the angrier I get. Its clearly a phone. There are clear rules about using a phone on the sidelines. First offense is 4 games. The reason for it is two fold…they do not want someone tipping off gamblers about injuries. Second they do not want someone having access to replays or other information that is on the TV broadcast but which is not in the stadium…for example miked up players or coaches..

    The NFL spent north of $10 mill trying to persecute Tom Brady over .25PSI in a game the Pats won by 20 points and the NFL has the audacity to A) Lie to us and say they investigated Rothlesberger, B) Lie again and say it was a laminated play card and C) Lie to us a third time and say there is nothing to see here move along.

    Roger Goodell wants to be known as this tough sheriff who treats all players fairly. This should have been an easy one. 4 games. But he did not do it because the Rooneys have backed him in his battle against the pats. Makes me sick.

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    1. Yeah, I love how they came right out and it’s not a phone. B*llshit. Unless armbands now have volume buttons, it’s a f*cking phone.

      I’ve said it before:

      Kraft needs to go rogue.

      Briefcase with about 250k cash in it. PI who gets it and doesn’t ask questions.

      They’ll find something. These guys are arrogant and dumb. There is stuff there. TMZ will be happy to publish it and get it going.

      This will not end until Park Avenue is flushed of the turds polluting the water there.

      Like

      1. Let’s say we accept the story that it was a wrist band with the offensive play calls on it. That’s perfectly normal, the injured starting QB helping out/staying involved by following the offensive play calling.

        If that was the case, why does Roethlisberger put the wristband away and never refer to it again for the rest of the game. Wouldn’t that explanation be much easier to accept if someone produced a clip of, for example, Roethlisberger doing the same thing late in the 3rd quarter where you can clearly see it’s a wristband?

        As far as the league’s explanation, the story is someone from the NFL looked into, found it to be nothing out of the ordinary and photographed the “wristband.” Where is that photo then? If we’ve learned nothing over the last 9 months, it’s that any sign of concealing information means you’re guilty. Don’t agree to a 5th interview? Guilty. Turn over all the information on your phone, but not the actual phone? Guilty. The league had opportunities to show this photo that exonerates the Steelers, but hasn’t done it. For some reason, the media hasn’t jumped to the “guilty” conclusion.

        Finally, why is the Steelers explanation being accepted without question? The player in question has been involved in accusations of serious crimes in the past. The team has broken the no cellphones on the sideline rule before. The head coach has very obviously and publicly broken league rules before. There’s no reason why they should be given the benefit of the doubt and this situation has more than passed the “smoke=fire” test.

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    2. You know what makes me angrier? This “asterisk” b.s. is never going away. The NFLN unveiled a new “Top 10” list show the other night: Top 10 NFL Dynasties. I had to watch, since I knew the Pats would be in there somewhere, and they were ranked #4 behind the 80s/90s 49ers, the 70s Steelers and the Lombardi Packers — I have no problem with that ranking (though I do have a problem with the 90s Bills — they of the zero Super Bowl wins — being on the list). Here’s the main problem……..two or three of the talking heads (all media types) asked to comment on the Pats during their three-minute segment brought up “asterisks” and the team’s “scandals”. Mind you, two of the teams in front of them on the list (SF and Pittsburgh), are known to have “cheated” in various ways during their runs (SF with salary cap violations in the 90s, with Walsh playing games with the headsets, per Bill Parcells, and with Rice admittedly using Stickum on his gloves for his entire career; the Steelers, of course, should have been renamed the “Steel-Roids” for their copious and groundbreaking use of them during the 70s). Mind you, as well, that the #10 team on the list was the Raiders of the 70s and 80s. The Raiders. The team that practically invented “cheating” and actually told their players that “Raider Rule #1” was, “Cheating is Encouraged.” Yet, the only team on the Top 10 list that gets mentioned in the same breath as “asterisks” is the Pats. For what? For having a camera on the sideline in violation of a league memo while taking part in the common, league-wide practice of filming signals, and for being prosecuted, tried and convicted with ZERO actual evidence in an alleged ball-deflation scheme. The NFLN will run that show 200 times over the next five years, and so the “asterisks” will be mentioned 200 times, and people who may be too young to follow the NFL now will watch that thing five years from now and become convinced that the Pats were the cheatingest bunch of cheaters in history. Goodell’s house of Jets needs to be burned to the ground. Too bad Kraft doesn’t have the stomach for it.

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        1. I like that one! Definitely better than Steel-Roids. Of course, I could also mention the fact that their former team doctor was found to have a massive amount of HGH in his possession as recently as 2007, which would be right in the “sweet spot” between their 5th and 6th Super Bowl wins in the 2000s. If James Harrison wasn’t/isn’t a beneficiary of PED use, it would be one of the great shocks of all time, in my opinion. Guy came out of nowhere, practically in his 30s, to become one of the dominant defensive players in the league and the most important player on their ’08 championship team; then, he was let go, sucked in Cincinnati, was cut, re-signed with the Steelers, and became a productive player again, at a very advanced age. Nothing to see there, though. Only the Pats’ titles need to be questioned.

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  15. So what did we learn this weekend?

    We learned that maybe perhaps being aware that the game footballs might (although science explains the circumstances)…let me reiterate might be .25 psi under regulation is a crime against humanity worthy of losing 2 draft picks $1 mill and having the star QB suspended for 4 games. On the other hand, having a cell phone on the sidelines, a true violation of the rules…rules put in place specifically to maintain the INTEGRITY of the game, a violation all players and coaches are warned about, a violation a team had their GM suspended for 4 games earlier this year when it was violated, when that violation is perpetuated by an alleged rapist…then there is nothing to see here.

    I am so glad the NFL is so focused on maintaining the INTEGRITY of the game that they are appealing the Brady decision to the US Circuit Court of Appeals. You know…lets make sure the commissioner has the power to take $3 mill from a player for maybe knowing about deflation that appears not to have happened however when a violation that is significantly worse happens on National TV…let’s sweep that one under the rug.

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    1. I’m just waiting for when someone is texting (a player) or lets say he tells a ball boy or someone who can disappear for a few minutes over injury information due to one of these FanDuel/DraftKings leagues.

      That’s when they’d really care.

      I’m all for gambling but I don’t know how you balance this stuff out.

      Like

      1. I actually think the no phones on the sideline rule is a good one. There are plenty of communication devices that all the coaches and players to get the info they need. By removing phones you remove the appearance of the possibility of impropriety. Gambling is not going away. I don’t think it is in the best interest of the NFL for it to go away. I think that what is in their best interest is doing all they can to make the games appear above board. This means little things like no cell phones on the sidelines, correct injury report information, and who has access to what equipment are paramount.

        Normally I would not care about a cell phone being handled by a player who is injured and not playing. What is amazing to me is Goodell tried to make an example out of Brady and he failed for numerous reasons. In Rothlesburger there are plenty of reasons to make him a scapegoat and show the league the commish is tough but fair. The NFL dropped the ball..

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        1. NFL (and every other sports league) knows it needs gambling to attract casual interest.

          Injury report is for gamblers.

          But, they want a cut or some “pro quo” (as do the politicians). Each one of these leagues is already knee deep in ownership/investments for DK/FD. I’m sure they’d love to keep it that way.

          Back to the issue: I’m the same way. They worked their hardest to put this fire out quickly. By doing so, they also prevented the sports/casual news networks from making a big deal out of it. (It not being the Patriots also helped this.) As I said before, this doesn’t end until these turds are gone from the toilet on Park Avenue.

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          1. “As I said before, this doesn’t end until these turds are gone from the toilet on Park Avenue.” —- That’s part of it. The media, however, will still control and push the “Only the Patriots cheat/It’s only cheating when the Patriots do it” narratives even after Goody and the Jets are (hopefully) gone from the league offices. I think nothing short of Belichick sailing off into the sunset, and then a few years passing, may finally start to put an end to the b.s. BB’s tell-all book would also help to correct the horribly flawed public record that’s been “kept” by the media since 2007; but, of course, many will just downplay any revelations in said book, and many mediots will just call BB a liar, like they’ve been doing for years.

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    2. Wait so the NFL is REALLY saying that what we saw Ben with was a playsheet on his forearm?

      My god.

      They REALLY have surpassed ANYTHING that Vince McMahon could come up with in his wildest dreams.

      Pray for the NFL.

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  16. BREAKING: The NFL will be voting to ban Bill Belichick from coaching, as he’s costed 3 other AFC East teams, and many others throughout the league, millions in paying for fired coaches.

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    1. And I’m bummed that Rex didn’t mention Bill or Tom in yesterday’s post game rant foot stomping press conference. Rex to media. DAMM, next game we will have 30 penalties and still lose and I’ll still love this bully team of mine

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      1. I don’t check other team’s message boards, because I’d like to try to hold on to whatever sanity I have left at my age; however, I read on a Pats’ message board last night that some Bills fans were posting stuff like, “the refs called all those penalties today to see to it that we lost, because they want to help the Patriots.” I mean, seriously. How many NFL fans out there believe stuff like that? They really think that the NFL, which has spent the last 8 years basically trying to criminalize Belichick and the Pats, is trying to help them succeed in any way? Sadly, I’m guessing that the number of people who believe nonsense like that is disturbingly higher than any level-headed person would think.

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        1. Those types of people posting that stuff on message boards sound like beat writers for the Boston Globe, WTHR and the NYDN.

          Actually, if this continues, I’ll propose the double-reverse theory: The NFL spent all offseason, knowing they’d lose, trying to f- the Patriots/Brady, only because they wanted to villianize them, in order for it to setup the highest-rated Superbowl, ever.

          Where ya at Hubbuch? Kravitz? Step it up, guys. You don’t want a fan to beat you to the theory, here.

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    1. According to the NYT article, Robert Kraft is an investor in Draft Kings so it’s just a matter of time until this is worked into the Cheatriots meme. Jerry Jones also has a stake in DK but no one will care about that.

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  17. So how is the refs’ blowing the call last night going to the Pats’ fault? I can see the NFL’s official statement now: “Because of the increased stress and scrutiny the referees are under due to the New England Patriots habitual and repeated breaking of NFL rules, Gregory Wilson was not able to correctly rule on the batted ball.”

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  18. Hardy went off on Beatle today and it was wonderful. Bertrand went for the low hanging fruit and criticized Calvin Johnson for the play last night, despite the fact he previously spent 10 minutes arguing about the rule itself and then just poo-poo’d Zolack saying Kam Chancellor made a great play. Kam made a fantastic play and then the refs totally botched the call. Two points that far supersede the fact that Johnson fumbled.

    Bertrand seemed like the sane one in the room w/ DB & YARM and now he’s arguably the worst one of the three now that he has his own show.

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    1. I want to discuss a little more the coverage the “play” has generated. I think it is a legit topic. Clearly the refs blew the call and Dean Blandino in a rare moment of honesty admitted this. There is really nothing to be done. Detroit was hosed, the last 2 minutes cannot be replayed, Seattle steals a game. What I find interesting is the almost hysteria generated when the idea that Bill Belichick knew the rule and that this would not have happened had either Pete Carroll known the rule (and had honor enough to make sure it was implemented correctly) or that Jim Caldwell knew the rule…or for that matter that 11 NFL refs, back judges and officials on site knew the rule and applied it correctly.

      Lousy officiating in the NFL is nothing new. Learning that NFL coaches are not prepared is something that we in NE have been learning week in and week out since BB got here. The contrast to Pete Carroll and his idiocy (how he won a Super Bowl and almost won a second is beyond comprehension to me) is glaring. Rex Ryan, Joe Philbin, Jim Caldwell…the list goes on and on. What really surprises me is the recent movement in the media to finally recognize that Belichick is playing chess while the others are playing tic-tac-toe (they are not smart enough to be playing checkers). Maybe this is the backlash as people realize the Pats don’t cheat..they are instead just better prepared by a coaching staff that out thinks, out works and out plays the rest of the league on a weekly basis. Do the Pats occasionally lose…sure. Does it happen consistently…not since 2002 and even then they were 9-7. In NE prior to this year a malaise had set in. The Pats were expected to win and when it happened it was ho hum. Not this year. This year there is satisfaction in each and every win as each and every fraud coach, fraud official and fraud person in the commissioners office is exposed. The fact that the media seems to be getting on board with this narrative is an interesting thing to me.

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    2. When I’ve caught him on the weekends (I don’t know if he is still on with Sesquipedalian 9-12), it’s the same. He used to be the voice that spoke up when stuff got real dumb with F+M, and now it looks like he got indoctrinated.

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    1. In a MMQ several years ago Tony Gonzalez shared his experience playing for BB in the Pro Bowl. The latter lit into him for his lackadaisical effort on special teams, so on the next play he leveled the returner and stormed back to the sidelines, where BB eventually uttered “nice tackle”. Gonzalez admitted “I’m not going to lie, it felt pretty good”.

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      1. And in the story King recounts, Gonzales then had the epiphany (back at the time) that without Gonzales realizing it, Belichick had coached him into trying hard on a special teams play in an all-star game.

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  19. Watch it for this to be downplayed by the local bozos. 4 games in 19 days… I don’t care who the opponents are and which players are injured.

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    1. That Jets game on the Thursday night in Foxboro last year (the now famous “16 PSI” game), when the Pats looked crappy and barely survived (27-25), came at the end of a similar stretch — 4 games in 18 days, or something like that. That “near-defeat” spawned Tanguay’s epic “the championship window is closed!!!!” rant on the CSNNE post-game show, even though the win was the team’s third straight in the wake of the KC debacle on MNF, I believe. So, yeah, if they lose 1 or 2 of these games, or even if they win them all but look unimpressive in a couple, the rants will follow, and the 4 games in 19 days context will not be mentioned (except by the few level-headed guys, like Curran and “Kraft’s fifth son”). Fortunately, the last game of this stretch is at home against the Dolphins, who are a complete dumpster fire. The Jets under Rex, even last year when they fell apart, always played the Pats tough, even in Foxboro. I’m not sure Miami has that in them this year, but we’ll see.

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    1. Wow. What a bunch of Shleprocks. (actually, Dan and Bob do know how to dress – even if it looks like Aunt Mabel’s third wedding)

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    2. Jesus. Is Bob Ryan sick? He looks like he’s about 103 pounds in that photo. I hope nothing’s wrong. He should have quit writing 10 years ago, but I hope he’s OK.

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  20. Kudos to Felger for saying Mazz lives in BananaLand for not feeling good when Gostkowski lines up for a kick, given the current state of kickers these days. Mazz ranted like a moron, acting like Ghost was Josh Scobee or something. Murray and Felger we’re like “he never misses!” and Mazz was “well….uhhh…how is he under pressure?” Felger counters with “he makes the kicks he’s supposed to. What else do you want?’ Mazz was trolling hard yesterday. Like, most kickers in the league are mental head cases right now EXCEPT for the one on our team and Tony Mazz still finds something about that scenario to complain about.

    This is the guy New England voted their favorite radio personality? Wow.

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    1. Sadly, there is an element of the fan base out there who will never accept Gostkowski and will try to downplay his accomplishments because he “never made a really important kick” like the guy who preceded him. That’s not exactly true, since he did make the tie-breaking kick in the final two minutes of the AFC Divisional win at San Diego in 2006, and he’s made a lot of big kicks in the regular season to either salt away games or to tie them up late. Conversely, the memories of Vinatieri nailing those big post-season kicks is all people remember about him. His big misses, which were rare, but did happen, are totally forgotten (like his 1 for 3 day in Super Bowl 38, but the one he made was the game winner with 4 seconds left, and so that’s the memory people carry with them from that game). Also, we’ve never really gotten a good explanation for the 4th and 13 attempt in Super Bowl 42. The FG try would have been indoors from about 49 yards, yet BB opted for the very low-percentage 4th down attempt instead. Maybe Ghost was nursing an injury that we didn’t know about? Maybe BB wasn’t sold on him yet (he did miss a FG against Jacksonville in the Divisional round and only attempted 24 FGs that season, because the team scored so many touchdowns)? That will always bug a lot of people, for sure, because you’d have to think that if Adam had still be their kicker that night, BB opts for the FG there, and the 19-0 season may have happened after all. For my money, however, the guy has been one of the best kickers in the NFL ever since they drafted him, and he shouldn’t be punished just because he followed a legend.

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  21. I love inside radio chat as much as the next guy so with that said I found the segment D&C did this morning where they mocked and ridiculed Mike Salk highly entertaining. What I did not know was the extent that Minihane was involved with getting Salk fired from the station. I would really like to know more details about that if they are available.

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    1. Lately EEI has been running a commercial for the Freemasons narrated by a guy who sounds like Salk, or at least how I remember him sounding. I wonder if it’s him?

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      1. From the bits and pieces I heard, it sounded like he was one of the people (to no surprise) starting and leading the effort that led to him being let go.

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          1. Given this market as context:

            Benz was setup to fail.

            Salk was a failure to begin with.

            Sounds like both work in their respective markets but I think Benz at least “tried” and had the better shot at working, if you had to pick between the two. Benz at least had history here but he’d been gone too long and institutionalized by another market. I think he tried to hybridize the approach by doing the “well, let me tell you how it works outside this market.” Unfortunately, that will never work here. There might be a rare exception but I’d say it’s more like 1 in 50.

            Salk seemed like he just came in and thought because he was Mr. ESPN in Seattle, he’d show the Boston Market a thing or two. There’s a reason 850 gets a 0.0 rating.

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          2. Benz was terrible and earned his walking papers but Minihane is a petty POS. I always thought addicts were taught to be forgiving…

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    2. I think everyone knew Benz was not long for the market but besides his Pittsburgh homerism, I’ve never heard anyone really go after him.

      Quite the opposite on Salk. Has anyone ever said one good thing about him? Hell, even Dale has gone after him. It’d take you murdering his immediate family for Dale to even align you in a bad light, let alone say stuff about you.

      Same on the details, but I get that he just rubbed everyone wrong. You kept hearing that he was trying to implement his own thing, run the station, boss folks. It sounded much, much worse. Benz was just setup to fail (and hopefully we learn that importing talent has an iota of a chance of working.)

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  22. You keep seeing/reading this. I get they have to be on somewhat good terms but shouldn’t these be the “ex-wife dropping off the kids”-type not something else?

    Or, maybe it’s part of the bigger plan?

    Maybe we’re all just fooling ourselves.

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    1. They’re just billionaires being billionaires.

      It’s like Boehner hugging Pelosi – they despise each other, but they’ll never show it. It’s the old “keep your enemies closer” line.

      In truth, I bet Goodell and the rest of the owners loathe Jonathan and are already laying that groundwork for the years to come – and I’m sure Jonathan is well aware of that and will do as little as possible to show his hand until he needs too (although frankly, he’s way too undisciplined for his age). I have little doubt Jonathan is as angry/bitter at everyone as his father, and probably that much more – since he can’t do anything about it.

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      1. Yeah, there’s a lot going on there. I don’t think they’re that dumb to openly flamethrower the league but they have to realize they’re not liked, even if BB/Brady are gone.

        I just wonder how they view the league. You’ve got a large quantity of absolutely atrocious owners, who are nothing but lucky, all set to hand the team off to their Spaulding Smails (already 50% of the league) children. This “good luck” streak can’t last forever when it comes to the NFL being absolutely bulletproof and ratings gold. Eventually, the dumpster fire of leadership, between Park Avenue and the owners, is going to really come to bite them. Nothing that horribly run lasts long.

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        1. They’ve gotta hate them, right?

          BK is probably thinking “my TV deal made you morons millions of dollars, and you clowns come after me?”

          But Kraft’s got to protect his kid, and his kid is looking at HIS next 20 years of glory. It’s going to be REAL ugly when the last few legit owners go away. Because most of these fucking idiots couldn’t run a soup kitchen in a famine. They’re playing with money that was earned for them 10-15 years ago. Never mind the union won’t ever be that friendly again.

          The sooner the whole operation burns into the night, the happier I will be.

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          1. Yeap, you got my point.

            It reminds me of the .com industry, pre 99-00, brokers prior to 08, etc.

            Lots of idiots making tons of money and then it all comes crashing down.

            I know it’s the Kraft’s legacy, but I wondered if he’d sell the team once Brady and BB are gone. I think the NFL’s CBA is up 2021 or 2022, and that decade is going to be when all of the sports leagues really feel the cord-cutting. There is no way that even with the popularity of sports continues that the networks, and then the cable companies, can continue to pay the $ they do for rights.

            However, if you’ve got even more dolts in charge of the league, you have to wonder what else they’ll do to screw things up.

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          2. If he tried to sell the team, he would die in his sleep and I hope Jonathan could hide the pillow he used.

            The cable companies and the networks are the linchpin – if they can’t find a way to keep making money with the sloughing off of subscribers, etc., that’s what will make the difference.

            That’s why the owners are morons – they don’t see that any of this is because of them or their decisions at all. It’s only because the networks can pay so much for the rights – if that goes away, it all goes away, and in a few years, I do think it’s going away. I hope…

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          3. I’ve wondered if their last ditch effort will be a combination of quotas and trying to charge more on streaming (high bandwidth users). We’ve already seen the debacles around quotas, Netflix, etc.

            Where I am, Comcast is really the only game in town. If I don’t want their internet, I can basically get a very slow DSL line (think 768k down and 256k up). If they were to do this, I’d have no choice but to “pay”.

            I’d just stop Netflix and the limited watching now if that were the case.

            Either way, there’s no way to stop the bleeding.

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          4. Honest question.

            With the exception of MNF every game is broadcast on OTA channels so even the cord cutters will still have access. Advertisers are paying over $600k per 30 second slot for just the game of the week on CBS, NBC, and FOX. I have no idea what they pay for the regional games but using NBC as an example they are earning $1.9 billion per year from advertisers and this number doesn’t include years they have the Super Bowl. It looks like a good deal since they are paying about $800 million to the NFL per season.

            If the number of cord cutters escalates, and it looks like it will, over the years leading up to the end of the CBA and TV deals how could the NFL be affected given 94% of all games are broadcast over the air?

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          5. Good point – I just think that as people move away from cable, they will ALSO move away from TV. And once advertisers see that, they won’t pay those rates.

            ON the other hand – since football is the one event with a central audience at one time, it might be the one thing advertisers are willing to pay a premium for. Maybe the only thing!

            This is what I mean – the idiot crop of owners (Haslam, Snyder, Wilf) stumbled into the infrastructure built up by the owners before them (Kraft, Rooney, Mara, Jones) and are reaping all the rewards because Pete Rozelle was smart enough to develop a weekday franchise 40 years ago. Without MNF, there’s no TNF.

            So fans ARE rubes, and the owners ARE horrible, and the organization IS corrupt and rotten, but the product IS a monopoly and IS entertaining and IS on at the right time.

            So we might be stuck with it.

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          6. And once advertisers see that, they won’t pay those rates.

            And, the biggest problem is that online ads yield 1/10-1/100th the cost of TV ones. I’m not up to pay on how/if this would change, with the increased cord-cutting and people shifting how they consume media. I’d have to think that as more go, the cost will go up due to increased exposure, but the “shift” in media consumption usually also means that you can skip the ads.

            That’s what, right now, makes live sports such a high-cost. People don’t DVR it. It’s a bulletproof “live consumption” media.

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          7. But – I think that’s the point. There will ALWAYS be NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox, and since the NFL is the ONE thing that can guarantee an actual, live, sit-down audience, it’s the ONE thing an advertiser will pay crazy money for.

            So yeah, cable will go away, but people will still be watching on a platform owned by one of those main network providers.

            One thing that could also factor in is the “outgrow” factor – I just think it’s stupid. I think it’s a stupid spectacle that takes itself too seriously. So when people grow up they’re like, “this is so stupid.” And while kids care, part of that is driven by artificial things like fantasy football.

            And while the NFL is reaping the benefits of fantasy football right now, that IS the kind of thing that people outgrow – and when they outgrow that, they never actually cared about the games at all…so they outgrow the entire product.

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          8. Don’t hold your breath. With DraftKings and FanDuel, fantasy sports are here to stay. This isn’t happening anytime remotely soon.

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          9. I think the NFL could expand into Wednesday night games as well. Each network gets one prime time game all to themselves.

            Hear me out. The NFL could change how bye weeks work by changing the schedule.

            Old way
            SNF on NBC
            MNF on ESPN
            NE, BUF, NYJ, MIA have Sunday while two different teams play a Thursday night game after having played 4 days earlier. Games are usually sloppy.

            New way – AFC East plays the mid week games
            SNF on NBC – no change
            MNF on ESPN – no change
            Wednesday night football NE and BUF play Wednesday night on CBS
            Thursday night football – NYJ and MIA play Thursday night on FOX

            All four teams get about a week and a half off, once before, once after. Start doing this 4 games into the season and roll through all the divisions for 8 weeks. Rotating when each division gets the mid week game yearly just like you do with how AFC plays the NFC on the schedule. In year 1, AFC East gets the week 5 mid week games, next year they get the week 6 mid week games, etc.

            NFL adds divisional games to the prime time window, they get more money from networks, networks get prime time all to themselves with higher ad rates, and players aren’t asked to play games so close together.

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          10. I would rather have an International Series game every week than Thursday Night Football. Line up 16 weeks of that – London, Frankfurt, Munich, Mexico City, Rio, Toronto, Madrid, Paris, Moscow, whatever…..it would be a better product than 4 days off between games. One year an AFC plays “host” in a foreign city, the next year an NFC team. It’s a fair way to rotate who loses a home game.

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          11. That’s a creative way to build the fan base in Europe. Very interesting. The difficult part of that plan is that most owners don’t want to give up a home game in their stadium. I know the Cowboys have mentioned that and the Patriots as well.

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          12. It’s due to the carriage fees they rely and make so much money off of. ABC, alone, makes $10 a month from everyone with cable, regardless if you watch ESPN or anything on ESPN.

            (It amazes me how many people who hate ESPN around here still don’t know nor understand this. Many think that by not watching ESPN, you’re hurting them. Nope.

            At least if you don’t listen to an online stream of a radio show, their numbers do go down and they don’t make money. However, as far as the shares and #’s that each sports talker relies on, you don’t count unless you’ve got a PPM.)

            The problem is that nobody breaks these numbers out, and you’d have to be privy to some pretty high-level Excel docs to see that.

            I think someone looked at the same question from all sports.

            I had pasted something close to this a few posts ago, when we discussed cord-cutting, but we really just don’t know.

            The one thing I think you can say with certainty is that the 100m/250m/yr budget cuts coming to ESPN are directly tied to this.

            So, go up the food chain, as we’ve discussed. If cable companies aren’t making as much money, they can’t afford the sub fees with all of the networks. That means the networks can’t afford as much programming. The networks not being able to afford as much programming means they’d have less money they can realistically spend toward what they pay for. Sports leagues can’t demand billions per year as they do now.

            Cut all the Bayless/Simmons/etc and that’s still pocket change. Look at what TNT/Turner had to do just to get ready for the new NBA rights (CNN was most visible) and will have to continue to do. Something, somewhere, has to change.

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          13. I know man. I talk to people at work who are protesting ESPN by not watching it and I get the blank stares when I alert them that they are still paying them. I do not pay ESPN a dime. I have the ‘a la carte’ with VZ and ESPN and their affiliates is not a package I have. I know I am paying Disney with ABC and the Disney channels, and I don’t care as long as my dime isn’t added to ESPN’s ledger.

            No question cable stations are in trouble. However with the carriage fees. I don’t think you can bundle ABC in with ESPN. They are separate media units under Disney with separate carriage fees with ESPN w/ESPN2 and ESPNU charging over $8 per month and ABC is charging $1-2 per month. ESPN can continue going down the drain and ABC isn’t affected. If Disney wanted, and they probably should, next time around they could shift the NFL broadcasts to ABC by dropping ESPN out of the bids for broadcast rights and have ABC bid.

            ESPN, out of all the NFL broadcast partners, are the ones who are in trouble as you outlined since they are the only cable channel broadcasting the NFL and will be affected by cord cutting. At worst CBS, ABC, and Fox maybe have to close up shop on some crappy cable stations they may own.

            NBC, CBS, and FOX who broadcast 94% of the NFL games on can continue to broadcast the NFL with or without cable providers.

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        2. I would be shocked if they were not cordial. Furthermore I doubt there is much going on. There are billions of dollars at stake…they argued about principle for a few months but in the end none of them….let me repeat….NONE OF THEM are willing to upset the golden goose. So they compartmentalize. On the day they have to go to court…there will be anger. On the day they have to discuss how to increase revenue from $9 bill a year to $25 bill a year….they will make small talk, make jokes, and work together quite well.

          Bob Kraft already played his hand when he accepted the fine and the picks. The rest is theatrics. For years Bill Gates and Steve Jobs supposedly hated each other. Well until Apple needed $150 mill loan and microsoft wanted access. Then all of a sudden Dell became the enemy. Your shock should come if the Pats braintrust was not friendly or cordial.

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          1. I can think of another day when there will be anger: Day 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft, when the Patriots are, for absolutely, positively no reason at all, not eligible to select a college player. For absolutely, positively no reason at all. None.

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    2. When I first read this quickly, I saw “Kraft pats RG on back end.”

      That would have been a much bigger story.

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    1. Though I’m sure it wasn’t his intent, it is gratifying to see that the scumbag Official League Shill is confirming that Goodell is a complete idiot.

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      1. King should have added:

        “Ballwash the commish and you’ll land a seven-figure job where you don’t have to walk among the common folk–yet may lecture them as they’ll gravel at your every word, have your own brand, and get to eat lobster with the folks who run the league”

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    2. And I believe that Adriana Lima is going to knock on my door tomorrow morning, dressed in her V.S. finest, and declare her unrequited love for me. Hey, that’s what I believe. In fact, I firmly believe it, as PK would say. That, of course, doesn’t mean that my beliefs are in touch with reality in any way, shape, fashion or form, but dammit, I firmly believe that’s going to happen. The annoying thing about this is that King, after a while, actually began to come around to the side of reason and logic on Deflategate; clearly, however, he’s now back on the NFL’s bandwagon, because somebody’s got to pay for his three $5 gourmet cups of coffee per day.

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  23. This from Rachel Nichols is tremendous. No wonder she got out of BSPN

    I expected Roger’s response to be something like, “well, we take these comments seriously. We are going to suspend Tom Brady indefinitely so he can’t bring his wife, or her friends, to any games, thus avoiding a potential situation whereby violence against women could be perpetrated.”

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    1. What are the odds that Roger the Jet actually didn’t see or hear Hardy’s comments, or at least hadn’t heard of them before Nichols queried him? The comments have been out there for a good 24 hours at this point. There is NO WAY Goody didn’t at least know of Hardy’s comments when Nichols asked him about them. What a lying POS.

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      1. Nichols also told Goodell what Hardy’s comments were. Not word for word, but the gist of them. He could plead ignorance if she asked “What do you think of Greg Hardy’s comments?” Since she asked it as “Hardy said X, what do you think?” Goodell can’t believably claim he doesn’t know what he said. He could say he was hearing them for the first time and hadn’t had time to consider them, but he didn’t do that.

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    2. You have to revise the statement. You have to shoehorn the word “integrity” in there at least twice.

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  24. Anyone catch our favorite BB-hater, the Notorious Ronnie B. (known to others as Ron Borges), pontificating on Jerry Jones’s GM abilities last night on CSSNE? Borges basically said that Jones was a decent GM, and when Bertrand countered with the fact that Dallas, since the ’95 Super Bowl won under Switzer (with the talent leftover from the Johnson era), has only made the playoffs a few times, won precious few playoff games, and has never even gotten as far as a conference title game. Borges responded with: “Yeah, so? Belichick didn’t win a Super Bowl for 10 years either.” Amazing. Utterly, utterly amazing. Since winning it all in 2004, the Pats have gone to the playoffs every year but one (and went 11-5 in the year they didn’t make it), played in 6 AFC title games (winning three), and played in three Super Bowls (winning one). Yup, that’s EXACTLY the same track record as the Cowboys have had since the two JJ’s decided they couldn’t share the credit for the team’s success and parted ways in ’94. What a complete tool. But, what should we expect from a confirmed plagiarist anyway, right?

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    1. The dumbfounded looks on the faces of Bertrand, Felger, and Dickerson mirrored all those around New England at that point.

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    1. Lou’s okay; I wouldn’t exactly storm the barricades if he was given the job. But…
      (a) He still sounds too much like Lou from Framingham, alas, and doesn’t really have… let’s say the “gravitas” for radio.
      (b) I thought Rob Bradford (poor radio voice notwithstanding) was actually, on the whole, more insightful. Lou only wins in the player’s experience anecdote category.
      (c) My understanding (correct me if I’m wrong) is that Joe Castig’s contract calls for him to do (or limits him to doing) only 6 innings of pbp per game. So whomever is in the booth with him has to be competent at play by play… which, having done it myself at the college radio level, is HARD. I’m not sure Lou’s there yet.

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