Nevius: As much football as anyone could want
Are you getting enough football? As you know, these days there is only one thing to say after a full day of binge-watching football games:
May I have another bowl please?
You may. Take your pick. There are 39 college bowl games this year and I hope everyone got the memo about the Frisco Bowl. It’s in Frisco, Texas, not San Francisco.
And of course, all these overflowing bowls are just the opening act of the NFL tilt-a-whirl. Beginning now, the playoff games are a three-weekend leadup to what our Founding Fathers so astutely decreed a national holiday — Super Bowl Sunday.
Quick question. Isn’t that a lot of football? Surely there is a saturation point somewhere. Isn’t this close?
Actually, no. By the numbers, football is an All-American hit. Sunday Night Football, just to throw out a stat, has been the No. 1 prime-time network show for nine straight years. No other show has been close to that. Ever.
And if you’re wondering, last Sunday night’s game between the 49ers and Seattle had 23.3 million viewers. That’s about three-million more than average. Hello rematch.
The NFL consistently draws huge, profitable numbers. According to John Ourand of Sports Business Daily, “60% of the 100 most-watched shows are NFL games.”
But the colleges, you say. Isn’t that a niche market in the south, like stock car racing?
Nope. The National Football Foundation has numbers that say the 366 televised regular-season games averaged 1.8 million viewers and were seen by “163 million unique fans.”
So football is thriving. If anything, the curve is up. This is the second year in a row that NFL ratings have risen, following disastrous dips in 2016 and 2017.
Front-office types now blame the two-year downturn on the kneeling protests led by Colin Kaepernick and the subsequent hysteria. Little-noticed in all of this is that the networks solved their problem by quietly not televising the national anthem. It kept them out of the mud bath, and, incidentally, gave them another 1:30 to sell ads.
Which is the kind of cold-blooded math that gives you pause about football. Sure, this is about teams. But the teams are made up of players. With partners, wives, kids and family watching their guy on every play, hoping he gets up.
We always say how huge NFL players are, and some are, but I’m always struck by how small some are. Granted, they’re ripped and can probably do one-handed chin-ups, but 180 pounds is not that big.
The New York Times had a stat that said: including the preseason, the odds that any given NFL player would get a concussion is one out of 10. Would you get in a cab that promised you a one-out-of-10 chance of an accident?
I can’t decide if the players are fearless or desperate, but the way they throw their bodies around is beyond reckless.
Of course, the league is going to tell us that concussions are down and there is nothing more important than player safety — right after they announce a 17-game season. Just to be clear, that’s a full game more for the same pay? Spare the compassion.