The State Of The NFL
The NFL has gone through a series of controversial off-seasons that have been riddled with accusations of cheating, domestic violence, suspensions and a serious revamping of the player conduct policy. Case after case continues to come forward that further shrouds the NFL in negative attention. That being said, it needs to be understood where the NFL stands from a social standpoint, and from a product standpoint, because the two differ greatly.
Socially speaking, the NFL may never be in a worse place than it is now. The list of controversies goes on and on: domestic violence, deflategate, spygate, bountygate, Greg Hardy, Ray Rice. These are just a few of the most outstanding examples of improper conduct put forward by the NFL. Not to mention, Roger Goodell has looked like a completely misguided leader by focusing his efforts on inflating footballs rather than trying to establish a simple punishment system that will make players never even think about laying a finger on their wives or girlfriends.
Also, the league is receiving intense resistance from multiple groups surrounding the short suspension of Ray Rice and the Redskins' name. On top of this the NFL is currently dealing with a class-action suit brought against the league by former players. Think about that if you're just an average person trying to choose a league to be a fan of: some of the best players in the game's history are suing the league because it doesn't take care of its players properly.
Needless to say, from a public eye, the NFL is beginning to drift away from integrity. The NFL has been generally tainted in the public eye in a way that will take years of damage-control to fix. That being said, the product is impeccable, and that's what saves the league and makes it America's sport.
The NFL may struggle from a public perspective, but the key to the success of the league is that it has gained more fans than it has lost and retained the great majority of its existing fan base. Fans of the NFL are simply too captivated by the on-field product to let the social hits the league has taken actually deter their viewership. In fact, since 1990, Super Bowl viewership has increased 17 different times when compared to the number of viewers from the years prior, according to statista.com.
The regular season is also filled with the drama of broken records and career accolades. Peyton Manning broke the single-season and career record for passing touchdowns in back-to-back seasons, which completely distracts from other amazing players and feats. JJ Watt, a defensive player, was ranked as the best player in the league by his peers, which is astounding because Chiefs' linebacker Justin Houston was one sack away from breaking the record for a season with 23.
Rodgers and Brady continue to set new quarterbacking standards while the athletic boundaries of NFL players continue to be surpassed by the likes of Dez Bryant, Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson. It is clear that the NFL has never seen a better level of athleticism or play in its 90-year history, which allows the league to continue to stand tall as the most patriotic sport this country has to offer.
The NFL is at a complicated crossroads. The growth of the league has led to the NFL being the main source of sports entertainment for most of America, which means all of the warts and negative aspects of the league have been prominently put on display. The state of the NFL is not good right now. The league looks somewhat foolish and the public has lost plenty of respect for the integrity of the game. However, it is undeniable that the football being played is the best that has ever been seen, and that looks to be enough to fight back public controversies... for now.