Mike Francesa took a call on Monday in which the caller was griping about excessive touchdown celebrations, kind of agreed with it, and then turned it into a soliloquy about everything that is wrong with the NFL.
“The league is in a state of panic right now,” he said. “They’re playing in front of stadiums that they can’t believe have empty seats in them. Their ratings are not any good. The quality of play is lousy.”
He said that even Sunday night’s game, a Super Bowl rematch between the Falcons and Patriots, was “a bore.”
“No one has been a closer follower of the league over the past 40 years than I have been,” he continued. “I’ve done it my whole life as an adult. This league is in a lot of trouble right now. You got a ton of soft players on the shelf. You got great star quarterbacks on the shelf. You got a major issue with the national anthem. You got expensive tickets you didn’t need to give as you gouge fans all the time — in most cases gouge them — charge them personal seat licenses, gouge them for tickets, and then you’re gonna have them go there and watch people disrespect the flag and think a lot of them are gonna like that? This league has problems right now and they don’t know how to get out of the way of them.”
Francesa noted that ratings are down 15% over two years, CBS and Disney stocks are down, and that he got home on Sunday after playing golf only to find himself not interested in any of the games. “They’re still massively ahead of everyone else — no one’s saying they’re not — but they didn’t want to reach a point where they stopped growing,” he said.
Another caller brought up Roger Goodell, and let’s just say Francesa’s not a fan. “That’s all Goodell cares about is protecting the shield and growing the revenues,” Francesa said. “It’s been a chase to $25 billion in revenues, that’s all he cares about. He’s taken all the charm out of the league, he’s taken all the history out of the league. The league is just not the league anymore. He’s done a terrible job with this league. As a front person for this league he’s been awful. He’s been good for the [owners’ money]. He’s beaten the players down enormously economically. He settled a lawsuit that should’ve cost them a couple more billion dollars.”
Francesa also added that Goodell has been good with the networks but from the standpoint of marketing and growing the game Goodell has done an “awful awful job.”
I won’t say I listen to Francesa every hour or even every day, but I’ve been listening to him for 25+ years and I’ve never heard him this down on the NFL.