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Cory's Corner: Will the NFL lose its luster?

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Cory's Corner: Will the NFL lose its luster?

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve heard from several people that said they would not watch the NFL because of the increased coverage devoted to social stances.

I quickly said “No way!” and walked away each time.

But it has got me thinking. With the Colin Kaepernick chatter not going away and with the protests continuing to swirl around NFL headquarters, are more and more people getting tired of the non-football talk?

A lot of football fans and to a macro level, sports fans, use the forum of sports as an escape. That’s why things like fantasy football is a $18.6 billion market. People use America’s most popular sport as their own personal playground to make themselves money, which in turn has made the NFL even more popular.

I’m not diminishing what Kaepernick did. He is perfectly allowed to protest and conversely, all 32 teams are also allowed to not employ him if they so choose. If a team doesn’t wan to sign a big-ticket free agent, that’s their prerogative. Obviously, Kaepernick isn’t a big-ticket free agent, which means that a team would be bringing in an off-field circus for a backup quarterback.

How much more of the same can people keep hearing before they eventually get tired? If fans aren’t oversaturated by the Thursday, Sunday, Monday of each game week, then this story certainly will.

And remember last season? The NFL was quick to point out that the presidential election caused the TV numbers to dip, but I wonder what the NFL would say if it happened again?   

I understand the activism, but at the same time, it’s tiring. Mainly because I fear that Sunday coverage will be blurred by this throughout the season.

And if that happens, how many casual fans will stay on board throughout the whole thing? What the NFL has going for it is that it is still appointment viewing. Since your team is only on once a week, you can still show up at game time and leave after the gun.

But will it remain appointment viewing for just football fans? This is the year that the NFL will be grateful for gambling and fantasy football because of all of the outside noise.

Can the specter and lore of the Shield be enough for sports fans? We’re about to find out. 


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (41) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bure9620's picture

Interesting points. I think many of those saying they won't watch, actually will. They are counting the seconds until the season starts and once we actually have meaningful games much of the Kaepernick chatter will cease and football will begin. I really don't know why people are adamant about players not protesting or making their by views known. Or the players should just "shup up abd play." Ask yourself, you wanted to bring social awarenes to an issue And had huge platform to do so would you? And if a team chooses not to sign this player because he is bad for business, they can. We seem to be a country incapable listening to one another.

4thand1's picture

Maybe the protests are to peaceful. Throw in some mace, some nasty signs, and a few good ol beatings and the ratings will soar. Its not only one player now, its happening in all sports, should they all be blackballed? I watch football for the football, not the sideshows. People that say they won't watch is their form of protest. People may say they won't watch, but if their team is in the playoff hunt, they will be glued to a TV , probably with a bunch of friends screaming at the top of their lungs.

WKUPackFan's picture

These self-proclaimed "patriots" have been screaming for over a year that they are going to quit watching because of Kaepernick. Interestingly, they keep posting these screeds on websites that are, wait for it, dedicated to the NFL. Just follow the articles on PFT. The same people who claimed that they were quitting last year now say: "Hey, now I'm really going to stop watching".

The truth is that an extremely miniscule number of people may have tuned out. The great majority claiming that they won't watch are liars. They're still watching, and they have other agendas to promote by claiming that they are not.

Handsback's picture

Well I for one have found myself watching less football over the past three years. Unless the Packers are on....I doubt I watch more than a half of a game. FFL tools let me know how my teams are doing so I'm watching until the action let's up and then on to other things.
I blame my lack of interest on multiple issues including announcer quality.

Spock's picture

I watch the same amount of football. That's because I only watch Packer games. I DVR the game and start to watch it about 20 minutes in so I can fast forward through all the pre-game b.s. and zip through the commercials. For me it's all about watching the GAME. I don't care about personal protests, and I can zip past some of those goofy TD celebrations (of course I HAVE to watch the Lambeau leaps). There's just too much political protesting going on. I come to CHTV to read/talk football.

Turophile's picture

In Europe, national anthems are usually reserved for international games.

You could lose the national anthem at the start of every NFL game, which removes that particular platform for personal demonstrations.

As for a possible decline of interest, it might come if the game changes too much due to health issues, because people like the gladiatorial aspect of the game.

A bigger worry (for me) is, for TV viewers, the sheer volume of advertising in games. At some point, it will turn people away from watching live TV.

TV Advertising is a huge factor in NFL revenues. It determines how much TV distribution companies are willing to pay for NFL games, so when you see a big jump in people waiting to watch a game later, so they can skip the ads, then the time for change will be forced upon the NFL.

porupack's picture

Agree with Turophile here. While the policital clutter is increasing, its still relatively small detraction from the game.
The length of game and all the stoppage including advertising is a lot bigger detraction. A more compact and intensive period of action can offset other factors, and few people would really turn it off if the positives outweighed the negatives. So its like an equation....can you make other positives that offset this political clutter. If so, you don't lose fans....and maybe gain fans.

Since '61's picture

The NFL, shield and all, has been losing its luster for years. First the declining quality of the on field product, next the constant domestic violence, abuse, and DUI arrests, then the safety/concussion lies and coverup coupled with the league's shameful and pitiful response and now the national anthem protests as the latest chapter. Kaepernick and the other players have the right to protest but they should not use their owners'/employers' place of business to do so. There are plenty of venues and legitimate opportunities for protest marches, speeches, etc. People, even those who support Kaepenick's cause, do not attend NFL games to see protests. The owners do not want that on their premises and during their games. I know I would not allow it at my company. Of course the NFL has chosen to respond by allowing dancing celebrations after TDs are scored to get a few extra seconds on the highlight reel and evening news programs. That should help the shield. As for Kaepernick, he's not good enough as a player for any owner to sign him and put up with his antics. Since he has been released has he led any protests? Has he done anything to help his cause, maybe, but I haven't heard of it. And the other players who have protested, what do they do off the field to legitimately promote their cause? Why does the cause only matter for a few minutes during the national anthem? NFL popularity will remain high but for the wrong reasons, specifically Fantasy Football and eventually legal sports betting. The majority of casual fans don't know what they are watching anyway. The question isn't whether the NFL has lost its luster, the question is, does the NFL have any luster left? Thanks, Since '61

WKUPackFan's picture

'61 - I respectfully disagree with your owner/employer position. Obviously you have the right to prevent any advocacy at your company, I would not argue with that. However, the NFL is not a normal workplace and the players are not normal employees. Athletes throughout the civil rights movement have conducted demonstrations to raise awareness, the Mexico City Olympics and Ali being just two examples.

The larger issue is that the bigots (again, no reflection on you) are using the "employer time" mantra as a smokescreen to express their prejudice. Again, check out how many times this gets posted on PFT, the home of the knuckle draggers. However, these same people went ballistic a few years ago when stories surfaced that some employers were banning Bibles from desks and employees from wearing crosses. At that time these same people were vociferously claiming that employers had no power to enforce such bans. In other words, these people are trying to have it both ways.

Since '61's picture

WKUP - I appreciate the feedback. Yes, athletes participated in the Civil Rights movement but not during sports events with the exception of the Mexico City Olympics and the Olympics do not have an owner per se. They have their own strange universe. Ali, for the most part, raised awareness outside of the ring and/or after the bouts were over. As I stated, I have no problem with the protests or their cause. In fact, it's a pretty sad commentary about the U.S. that we are still dealing with discrimination, prejudice and hatred of any kind in this nation after all of these years. (See Charlottesville, VA. recently) Having said that Kaepernick has plenty of appropriate venues and forums to protest and create awareness. Also, my point is that if the cause means that much why not protest off the field and during the off-season as well. I'm not sure if Kaepernick and his supporters are as sincere as they need to be. Speaking for myself I have 2 causes that I'm passionate about and I work for those causes year-round and often at my own expense and without disrupting other businesses. As for the "knuckle draggers", you are correct they are trying to have it both ways, but they are desperately searching for relevance and someday, hopefully, they will figure out that they are on the wrong side of history and everything else. Enough for now and back to football. Thanks, Since '61

Since '61's picture

Thanks for the update Jonathan. It's good to know that he is contributing to charities that he supports. To me that is much more effective than kneeling through the national anthem. Since '61

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

"Kaepernick and the other players have the right to protest but they should not use their owners'/employers' place of business to do so."

Conversely, the owner/employer should not force their employees to wear any political pins or participate in any form of political or religious advocacy. Standing at attention for the US National Anthem is a form of political advocacy. I have harshly criticized Kaep for example for some of his comments. I think I could root for GB if Kaep were the QB. But that decision comes from the gut, so it is subject to change.

Kneeling during the anthem really should be a non-issue.

WKUPackFan's picture

tgr - Beautifully stated. My respect for you just increased from its already lofty height.

WKUPackFan's picture

Respect right back to you '61. I find it difficult to muster sympathy for the white supremacists marching in Charlottesville and posting on PFT, but your assessment of their condition is correct.

Meanwhile, I also disagree with removing Confederate statues, mainly because the Civil War involved many issues in addition to slavery. But that's a topic for another day.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Perhaps sympathy is not in order, but mustering some tolerance ought to be. Extreme examples tend to make bad policy. I don't feel I'd be safe if I decided to go to a Ben Shapiro speech. I think if someone started to punch me, 3 police officers standing 5 feet away would just watch it happen, and try to identify the person later. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the police to arrest that person. This leads me to think either the government is impotent to protect me or contemptuous of my rights. Both sentiments are bad for the country, imo, and remind me of historical precedents. No, I don't think I'd go unless I could round up my sons or my nephew, who is a marine, and a few of his fellow marines. If they weren't available, and I still wanted to go, my options are bad, and worse, they are bad for the country. I think we are on that threshold. If you recall, I am an old political theory major. I just watched Noam Chompsky the the Oliver Stone history special on Netflix, which were interesting.

I'd be fine with tearing down every statue of any kind, as long as it was done by elected representatives of the locality, not a mob. It would be nice if the statues were moved to a museum to preserve our history, which after all is sometimes noble, sometimes evil, and sometimes murky. If after a national referendum the vote was to sandblast from Mount Rushmore the faces of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, it would sadden me, but so be it. I am guessing that Teddy Roosevelt would survive since half the people voting would confuse him with FDR.

WKUPackFan's picture

I had forgotten that you have a political theory major. It's interesting how the programs have different titles at different universities. During my time at WKU it was simply a "Government" degree. My son at Transylvania University is working on his PP&E degree (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics).

Much respect to your nephew and his fellow Marines. It's nice to have a real Marine discussed in this thread, as opposed to the fake one below.

porupack's picture

I think the tendency in life is all us old timers are nostalgic for good-ole days. We gripe about the present. But for young fans, just presently getting into the sport...they're enjoying the game innocently as we once did. Most people are casual fans. The ones who are into (and know what they're watching) probably played football in school or college. But that doesn't mean casual fans aren't less important to the base. I think NFL and sports are still ascending, all the more so given the futility of politics. The tougher stance on domestic abuse is a very appropriate defensive tactic. More serious issue to the base is perception of owner greed eschewing fan loyalty such as dumping cities like Chargers did. Teams can minimize the potential platform for politics by controlling the camera. Really, Kaepernick''s symbolic thing is relatively minor and politics haven't had much wiggle room in NFL.

also since 61 by the way.

Since '61's picture

Porupack - Agree that sports are still ascending in total. I think that is due to the variety of sports which are rapidly growing, such as soccer, lacrosse, biking, climbing, etc. Also, thanks to wifi, fans have easy access to follow their respective sports. These are all good things. The best thing about nostalgia is that we were young. Otherwise, the current times are not better or worse, it's just different and it should be. I agree completely with you about the greedy owners who move their teams and I always disagree with it. San Diego has supported the Chargers for over 50 years and the fans are thanked by losing their team. It's just wrong. Same with Oakland and St.Louis (at least twice for them) and other cities that have lost their teams in all sports. But the owners don't can about their fans or even their players, they just want the $$$. Fortunately, the Packers in their existing structure can't move from Green Bay. Let's hope that always the case. Thanks, Since '61

flackcatcher's picture

First thing Jerry Jones tried to do as a new owner was force the Packers out of Green Bay. Cheap back door play to get a new NFL commissioner so he could force games on Friday and Saturdays, and more importantly shove football off over the air. The old line family's came to Green Bay's defense and the then on the commissioner's stance on cable. Jones thought he had the force move in the bag, but Bob Harlan got to the other owners showing what would happen when they would lose shared revenue. Jones little would be coup went down in flames. But the damage had been done, now a whole generation of owners think in terms of short term profit over long term growth. All you have to do is look at NASCAR to see the fruits of that policy. This hard left SJW crap is small beer to the NFL, besides this fascist garbage is burning it self out now that the groups behind it has been exposed for what they are. The NFL's long term problem is the very nature of the game it self. Unless the NFL finds a way to show that they(owners), really care about long term player safety, this league will die.

WKUPackFan's picture

The "hard left" and fascists are about as far apart on the political spectrum as you can get. A little political science knowledge goes a long way. But congratulations on espousing at least two conspiracy theories in a single post. Quite a feat.

flackcatcher's picture

HAHAHA(Jerk) Take your cheap shots somewhere else. You don't even understand the political forces undergriding the country at this moment. I don't use the fascism word lightly. When any movement threatens to destroy the bill of rights and the united states constitution I take their words and actions very seriously. Shall I show you my 'zippers' or talk to the widows of those marines who died in my command. You see WKUPPackFan I got real skin in this game. I not just a chair born warrior. As such, I support your 1st amendment right to act like an utter and complete tool. But if you support violence against your fellow Americans for stating their views, then I will oppose you and any group trying to silence those views, no matter how vile, hateful or down right ugly. And that includes the currently unemployed former QB of the 49ers. (And yes, the social justice movement is burning it self out. Anyone trying to suppress speech opposes the very values this country is built on and will get exactly what is happening to the SJW 'warriors' right now.) This will be my last comment on this. I'm here for the packers, not for whatever political fad ticks the fancy at the moment.

WKUPackFan's picture

Being your last comment on the subject is a good thing, since you're sounding dumber all the time. The only fad involved is your use of "SJW". You forgot to use "virtue signalling", another favorite of your skinhead friends.

On the internet anyone can claim to have been a Marine commander. It's much more likely that actually command title is Grand Wizard, and your uniform includes a white hood.

WKUPackFan's picture

And lying about being in combat is more reprehensible than any political fad. It's also an insult to true veterans like my father.

flackcatcher's picture

I am a Black American you idiot. I don't care what you think about me. Do Not insult the USMC or the young men or women of the United States Military who fought for your right to express your view on this blog. I wasn't going to come back to this, but I will not let your petty insults cover the bigger picture here. Any movement which tries to suppress free speech is a grave danger to the united states constitution regardless of that movements political position. If you support a movement who wears black shirts, covers their faces and uses baseball bats to physically beat reporters, does that make it a free speech movement. Or if you wear brown shirts fly a flag and carry a baseball bat to physically beat others you don't like, does that make it a free speech movement. You know the answer, that's why your so embarrassed you had to resort to the Na- Na- I'm rubber your glue defense. Perhaps you should take a deep breath and look at what you wrote on this thread. Everybody has a right to be heard, and you and no one else his a right to stop them from being heard. You may oppose them, that is also part of rights of the constitution. But neither you, me or any one else gets to suppress their right to voice their opinion. Remember that the next time you decide to try to shut down a different view you don't like.

WKUPackFan's picture

I think you meant to say "African-American" instead of "Black American". And you're the person insulting the USMC by claiming to have been a Marine.

Perhaps you would like to explain how you don't know the difference between Marshall Newhouse and Robert Newhouse, and between Don Barclay and Charles Barkley,

gmeyers1's picture

Players and non players can do what they want during the national anthem as long as they don't break any laws. So stand, sit, or do some other look at me thing. It's your constitutional right. If it causes problems for your employer that could cause employment problems for you.

Savage57's picture

It's easy for fans to get their backs up over something they don't agree with and pick on one guy. Use their disagreement with his position to essentially threaten ownership with boycotts because of 'their strong beliefs' and influence his ability to play pro football.

But notice, Kaep's actions are gaining traction as a message among black, and a trickle of white players now?

When it reaches a point all, or a majority of players join in sending the same message, I only hope those so offended by a player exercising a pretty harmless act of 'civil disobedience', remain faithful to their beliefs and boycott the NFL in whole.

Personally, I think we'll witness the death of outrage over nothing and a tidal wave of hypocrisy.

Ferrari Driver's picture

I lack the enthusiasm I've had years ago to watch pro football, even the Packer games. For a stretch of about 10 years, I only missed one home game. I now live in CA and have to fly back, but did so 2-3 times per year, but did not go last year. I will go to this years Seattle opener, but I am so sick of the antics and the political stuff at an event at which I simply want to root for the Packers, have some fun at the tailgate party with others, and not have political distractions.

porupack's picture

With all sincere respect, might one ask you what really are "all the antics"? Is there really much? And perhaps the follow up question; why let it bother your love of football? A hundred great work-hard, blue collar players at minimum salary, playin their dreams need more cameratime than the showboat Deions. But as a whole, we like the case may be even in presidency.

I'm watching some soccer and all the fake injuries detracts me from enjoying that game. I'll overlook a few antics... if owners can manage their greed and chase for public funds, and they can cut the adverts and game stoppage by about 15 minutes.

Keep bein a fan FD.

carusotrap's picture

While all these issues pose absolutely valid and important questions, the real threat to the NFL is not in national anthems or player protests or health issues - technology will catch up to the last. It is the increasingly fractured access to their product that plays out in weird streaming deals with Twitter and impossible broadcast agreements with DTV and others. When Sunday comes and there are a dozen different ways to access a game, none of which are available without jumping through ridiculous hoops for stupid sums of money, there will come a point when more and more loyal, even rabid fans, will say "screw it."

This is, of course, the monetization of the most popular sports product on the planet, but at some point, when your league and teams are worth north of 50 or 100 billion dollars, you have to stop treating your target audience like the enemy.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

If I can't watch the games, I eventually will lose interest. I am not a fan of the Bucks or Brewers, largely for that reason. I think I can name one player on the Bucks and one on the Brewers. I stayed a baseball and basketball fan for a time by reading about those teams, but almost 10 years ago I got so incensed with the local paper I cancelled my subscription.

I also don't like that the NFL is making the importance of having a good QB so paramount. It reminds me strongly of the NBA and its star system.

Finwiz's picture

10 years ago on the local paper? What took you so long - try 20.
I presume you're speaking of the Milw paper.

Bure9620's picture

If the NFL is losing popularity why is it now an enormous cash cow? Why so profitable? As much as people hate Goodell, the owners love him because revenue has soared from 8 billion to 14 billion under this stewardship. Baseball is losing popularity. Follow the money.

MarkinMadison's picture

I am down to about two NFL games a week, and they generally have to be on different days.

- I'm glad they are addressing the number and timing of commercial breaks.
- The announcers do suck.
-Life is (getting) short(er), there are other things to do with my time

I do worry about the concussion issue. I'm not so convinced that technology will fix the problem, like, at all. The way the NFL handled the issue was to pretty much copy the playbook used by the tobacco industry. Flat out dirty and greedy.

Mr.Bigg's picture

i agree with markinmadison completely. life is getting shorter and an afternoon with my kids outside is more important than football. i get shaky when a head injury occurs and i turn the game off. i cannot blissfully live like i used to without the knowledge of concussion research.

the politics has almost nothing to do with my enjoyment. nobody is hurt in these peaceful (and by mostly respectful gentlemen) silently protesting a cause that is important to them.

my enjoyment is a rather complicated calculus that includes playing outside, house work i need to do, can i make love to my partner in the middle of the day, working on my hobbies, going camping or just getting away from electronic devices, and do my non-sport watching friends want to do something.

A Pickled Packer's picture

If the platform for making statements during the national anthem continues I see a movement in the making, especially if the media keeps paying attention to it. If a player takes a knee they shouldn't show it just keep the camera on the grand ole flag, say nothing about it and get on with the game. Got a feeling this shit is gonna mushroom though, now it's become a group kneel. Well, there is always the mute button.

A Pickled Packer's picture

I've tried watching a taped game but it doesn't give me the same rush a live game does. I don't get the same adrenaline squirts knowing the game already happened. So I use the mute button when ads come on, it's the only defense we have to the constant bombardment. Glad to hear they will eliminate the pause after a TD then kickoff. I guess they head the complaints and threw us a bone.

Dzehren's picture

What I do is DVR the game, turn the game on 45 minutes later & turn social media and internet off.

Them some buddy texts me the score or a play and ruins everything lol

Maybe we need to turn all technology off during games.

But what about my fantasy team???

A Pickled Packer's picture

I've tried watching a taped game but it doesn't give me the same rush a live game does. So I use the mute button when ads come on, it's the only defense we have to the constant bombardment and. Glad to hear they will eliminate the pause after a TD, then kickoff. I guess they heard the complaints and threw us a bone.

Finwiz's picture

I can't DVR and watch later either - not Packer games.
It bothers me too much not knowing what happened, while it's happening.
I do it with Nascar, but not the Packers unless I'm traveling home from the cottage up north or something.

Ferrari Driver's picture


I'm with you on that one. Somehow I feel like my jumping up and down, cursing, and cheering at the TV set makes a difference when the game is on live. My old dog sits right there with me for the entire game, but just doesn't share the same degree of enthusiasm.

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