Is The NFL on The Verge of Sucking?

Confessions of a Sports Nut Is The NFL on The Verge of Sucking?

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I’m not writing this today because of the epic collapse the Ravens authored on Sunday vs. San Diego. Not in the least. The calls that went against them at the end of the game were fine by me. If that doofus Elvis Dumervil is going to line up offsides with the game on the line, he should get flagged. The penalty on Levine was justified.

I’m always leery of product-player bashing after a loss because it appears to be sour grapes. In this case, with the season now entering its final month, some pressing questions are finally starting to be answered.

I’ll start with attendance. Has anyone else noticed more and more empty seats in the stadium — in Baltimore — this season? I’m not talking about “Jacksonville’ish empty seats”, obviously. That’s a half-empty stadium. I’m just saying there seems to be small pockets of visible empty seats with each passing game and I simply don’t remember seeing that many in previous years. This isn’t a scientific research effort, admittedly. There’s no data to back up my claim, just my eyes to support the theory that a handful of folks (a thousand or so) are simply not showing up on Sunday in Baltimore.

I’m able to indirectly make a connection with “open seats” by looking at my Facebook page and seeing daily messages from folks looking to peddle their seats for the upcoming home game. Last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, there were 21 messages of public display from Facebook friends of mine looking for someone to take their tickets for Sunday’s game with the Chargers. Most, if not all of them, appeared to be season ticket holders looking to ditch their tickets. Perhaps it was just the Thanksgiving weekend that led folks to try and unload those seats. I’ll buy that, I suppose. But how does that explain virtually every other home game this season when my Facebook page has been littered with the same sort of “tickets for sale” status messages?

My small conclusion to all of this? People in Baltimore aren’t losing interest in the Ravens, per-se. They’re losing interest in the NFL. Why? Because the league is really getting close to “sucks” stage with the way the game is officiated and administrated. I’m not saying the NFL sucks — but if we were playing horse, the NFL has S-U-C at least.

Instead of speaking for others, I’ll just tell you what I see and feel. They’ve severely damaged the game, the league and the owners have, by not allowing the players to actually play football. I know this doesn’t fall under earth-shattering news, but the games are becoming incredibly boring with this sort of play-by-play going on:

  • 1st and 10 — Ravens run for 4 yards (Forsett)
  • 2nd and 6 — Flacco pass incomplete (S. Smith), Chargers called for pass interference (Wright).
  • 1st and 10 — Ravens run for 3 yards, fumble (Forsett). — Play reviewed and overturned by replay official.
  • 2nd and 7 — Flacco pass incomplete (T. Smith), Chargers called for illegal contact (Weddle)

You get the picture. You know the picture, in fact, because you watch it play out every Sunday. What you (and I) hope for, of course, is that your team is the one that doesn’t get jobbed in the end. It’s a crap shoot every single weekend.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the fault of the referees. They’re simply administering the rules as they’ve been handed to them. This year, pass interference is “this” — next year, pass interference is “this” — and so on and so on. They can’t develop any consistency from year to year because the rules change every September.

The smart fans know exactly what’s going on. The league wants scoring, for starters, because that keeps teams in games and people glued to their TV sets. And this, the over-officiating, over-protective form of the NFL we’re seeing now, is also a tip of the cap to the retired players who have long complained about the game being “too physical” and suing the league for $700 million. How do you avoid another one of those lawsuits in 2030? Easy. Play flag football in 2014, which is essentially what they’re doing these days.

The league, unfortunately, has ruined itself, or is awfully close to doing so, in my opinion.

The single most reliable play in the NFL today is the 40-yard pass. I’d almost guarantee you that if the offensive team throws five 40-yard passes on any one series, they’re getting some sort of penalty in the secondary out of one of them. Defensive players are no longer allowed to touch anyone. How can you defend a pass if you’re not allowed to physically engage your opponent? Answer: You can’t.

And when are they going to stop with this archaic, asinine “spot of the foul” rule for defensive pass interference? It’s absurd that you can be on your 35 yard line, throw a ball down to the 10, get a penalty, and suddenly be on the doorstep of the end zone. How to fix it? Easy. It’s a 20-yard penalty for pass interference AND — here’s the kicker — to stop a guy from just pulling a dude down every single time he’s in the end zone and about to catch a TD, if you get two of those in a game, you’re ejected. Two pass interference calls in the end zone sends you to the showers, three P.I.’s in the game (anywhere on the field) also gets you an early dismissal.

I watch the games like everyone else and more times than not, I’m infuriated (no matter which team I want to see win) with the way the game is called, not by the calls that are made, per-se.

You can almost predict it as it’s happening. How many of you sat there on Sunday in the final two minutes of that game and said to your friends, “Well, you know at some point here we’re getting a pass interference call against us”? I know I did. I’m sure you did as well. You knew it was coming. It’s as predictable as the sun rising in the East.

When the Orioles were busy taking everyone’s money in the mid 2000’s and intentionally not trying to win — but still charging full price for their watered-down product — I railed on them for cheating the city.

I would often say this: “I don’t hate the Orioles. I just hate what they’ve become.”

The same, now, can be said for the NFL.

I don’t hate the NFL. I just hate what it’s become.

And, based on how many folks I see these days trying to get rid of their tickets a few days before a key home game on what turned out to be a lovely late November day, I’m wondering if others with a vested interest in the product aren’t slowly coming to the same conclusion?

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Drew Forrester

About Drew Forrester

A Maryland native since birth, Drew was born in the same hospital (Easton Memorial) as Harold Baines, attended the same high school (Glen Burnie) as Brandon Albert of the Dolphins and once drove the par-4 16th hole at Mountain Branch only to see former Orioles 2nd baseman Bill Ripken on the green with his brother, Cal. As Drew approached the green, Bill yelled out, “Hey man, watch it! That ball went through my legs up here.” Embarrassed and apologetic, but never one to miss a chance at a classic dig, Drew barked back, “Just like the old days at Memorial Stadium!” Let’s hope his time at RSR is error-free, as Drew brings “Confessions of a Sports Nut” exclusively to Russell Street Report.

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