When it comes to NFL ratings, everyone is entitled to their own opinion as to why they are slightly down. And one can’t even say people aren’t entitled to their own facts because the numbers can be skewed to suggest anything that fits the preferred narrative. The most ham-handed and discussed cause driving the effect is liberal political creep and kneeling players.
And while I don’t discount the idea that some actual professional football fans are so incensed by the action that they’ve decided to spend fall Sundays apple picking instead, perhaps there’s a more obvious reason flying under the radar.
Season-shortening or season-ending injuries to the biggest talent in the league. Megawatt superstars going dim in the blink of an eye and zapping the energy out of the building and couches across the country. Consider this piece from August looking at the contenders for new Face of the NFL after Tom Brady retires.
Aaron Rodgers, leader in the clubhouse for the mantle, is out until at least Week 15 with a broken collarbone. Odell Beckham, his main contender, is out for the year with a fractured ankle. Both lead perennial ratings draws in New York and Green Bay. The Giants appear hapless and lifeless. The Packers have a tough uphill climb to remain in playoff contention.
J.J. Watt, fifth on the list, is also gone for the season with a devastating injury. It could be argued that, if Brady’s included, the NFL has lost 50 percent of six biggest names in the league already. One does not have to be an expert to know this will have an impact on the bottom line.
The others mentioned haven’t exactly been compelling either. Cam Newton has been shaky on the field and contentious off of it. Derek Carr missed time with injury and the Oakland Raiders don’t appear too fearsome. Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson have done the best so far, but both aren’t turning in transcendent performances week in and week out.
As an aside, that’s why the coronation of Carson Wentz after last night’s masterpiece may not be too knee-jerk. There was already a dearth of marquee talent in the league and the widespread injuries have decimated that thin unit.
The point is, if we’re all going to champion our pet causes to explain the ratings dip — no matter how small or large — give me the obvious one. Losing the best players in the league at breakneck speed can’t be good for business.