What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This post is all about questions, not the least of which is why the hell does Roger Goodell care which team I support? The answer to that is a bit more complex than you might think, and to get you there means seeing a few more questions.
How do we know Kommissar Goodell wants you to be a New York Jets fan? Why else are the New York Jets on national television 3 times in this upcoming season? Because Kommissar Goodell wants you to be a New York Jets fan. Maybe he doesn’t care specifically about you, but there’s really no doubting the NFL wants to give the Jets as much exposure as they can.
Why does the NFL want to expose the Jets as much as they can to a national audience? The magic word is “television.” To be specific, this is about the numbers of people watching the NFL on television. The dirty little secret is the NFL is rapidly approaching maximum capacity for television viewership, which is exactly why Kommissar Goodell and the rest of the NFL Politburo are constantly beating the bushes for ways to grow the NFL’s television market. This is why we keep seeing silliness like games in foreign countries and the expansion of Thursday Night Football.
But the dirty BIG secret about the NFL is that its hold as the most popular sport in this country is tenuous at best. Nobody at NFL headquarters wants to admit this, but the NFL really isn’t the most popular sport all across this country; it’s appeal it’s actually quite regional. There’s no doubt the NFL is king in the south, Texas and the non-California west. But in California, mid-western cities like St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati, and the northeast, there’s no question that baseball is as strong as it ever was.
Why does that matter? Because the NFL sees itself as being in competition with baseball, and therefore thinks that in order to gain viewers, it needs to take territory away from baseball. Let’s look at what that means.
The fact that Los Angeles has been without an NFL franchise for over two decades should tell you all you need to know about the popularity of the NFL in this country’s second-largest city. Every once in a while, we all get some smoke blown up our collective ass about somebody is finally going to build a stadium; there will finally be a return of the NFL to the Southland. But it never happens, and worse yet, when it finally does, it more than likely will just be a return of the sorry-ass Rams or Raiders. Not to mention, the real obstacle isn’t a stadium, it is no owners really want an existing franchise to move; they want to get what may be a $2 billion expansion fee from a new team. In other words, believe football in Los Angeles when you see it.
Let’s look at those mid-western cities I mentioned. It’s been 30 years since the NFL had a team in any of them that really mattered. Two of those cities I listed were even deserted by the NFL in that time. No matter what they do, the Bears will never be the cultural phenomenon in Chicago that the Cubs have become, and over the past 50 years, the Lions may very well be the worst franchise in the league.
As I mentioned, the NFL rules the south, but the league already has franchises in every city below the Mason-Dixon line that feasibly could support one, and several of those have some serious viability issues. Jacksonville is always on the short list when the subject of relocating franchises is discussed, Atlanta is the capitol of “fair-weather” fandom, and another of the NFL’s dirty little secrets lives in New Orleans. While the Crescent City became America’s favorite pity-party after Hurricane Katrina, that same storm dramatically shortened the life-span of the Superdome. Consider we are nine years past Katrina and there are still wide swaths of that city which are still fucked up. Consider that one of the big reasons why Saints owner Tom Benson didn’t bolt was that the state of Louisiana is paying him not to leave. Consider that eventually those payments are going to stop, and there is going to be a political problem getting state money for a stadium when you still have people living in FEMA trailers, and the Saints look to be another team in line for the NFL’s next game of “musical chairs.”
Hit the sub-total key on the adding machine, and the tape that spits out says the NFL is more dependent on the northeast for a big chunk of its television ratings than it is comfortable admitting. When I break down exactly what that means, the picture becomes even clearer.
First of all, let me define what I mean by “northeast.” In terms of the NFL, I am talking about three specific teams; the New York Giants, the New England Patriots, and your new favorite team, the New York Jets. Keep that in mind when you think that the population of this country is basically in five regional clumps; California, Texas, Florida, the mid-western states around the Great Lakes, and the northeast. As mentioned, California and the mid-west belong to baseball, Texas is solidly football country, as is the south, even though it really isn’t helping to pay the freight. That means the northeast is up for grabs, and nobody knows that better than Kommissar Goodell.
Think about it. In baseball, both Yankees and the Red Sox are headed into a down cycle, and the Mets are years away from being a factor in the International League, let alone the bigs. All sports are dependent on having teams with “star” power in order to keep fans tuning in, and in the northeast, baseball is now more vulnerable than the big-titted girl in the special education class. While that is good news for the NFL, the problem is that if this were a poker game, Kommissar Goodell is all in with a pair of sixes.
As far as the three NFL teams I include in the “northeast,” the Patriots are the Cadillac of this class. New England is still part of the NFL elite, but we all know the Patriots are a high-mileage car that is going to drop its transmission in the driveway any day now. Then there’s the New York Giants. Watching “Big Blue” this season could be like enduring live coverage of the Bataan Death March. The same luck that won Eli Manning two Super Bowls has turned, and now he’s gets to play that warped horseshoe behind a make-shift offensive line, no running game worth mention, and a receiving corps purchased off a peg hook at Wal-Mart.
That leaves the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. If the NFL has any hope of keeping the northeast in its “electoral” map, its hopes are firmly on the big, green shoulders of the “other” team who calls Met Life Stadium home. That’s why the Jets will be on national television in an amount incredibly disproportionate to a mediocre, non-playoff team. That’s also why the Jets will get an inordinate amount of coverage on the NFL Network.
That’s why Roger Goodell wants you to become a New York Jets fan.