Is the NFL the Most Unwatchable League?

Andrew MasonCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2008

The NFL is the most unwatchable league of the four major sports.

Now before you all come at me with torches and pitchforks and burn me at the stake, hear me out.

It seems to me the NFL is now designed for people with ADD.  Each play is only a few seconds long.  The famous sack escape by Eli Manning and the pass to David Tyree in the Super Bowl against the Patriots, which seemed to be forever, was only a paltry nine seconds long.

Now you all are going to tell me Major League Baseball is worse and can take forever.  Well, you are wrong.  Baseball has new rules to make the game go faster. The games are getting shorter than football by over an hour most of the time.  The game can get slow, especially if the pitcher keeps throwing pick-off throws. However, even though there is no current ball in play, there are still things going on. 

In the NFL, the sequence of events could be, a run for a three yards lasting three seconds, huddle for 30 seconds, incomplete pass, huddle for 30 seconds again. Complete a pass for only three yards, then huddle for 40 seconds while the punt team comes out.  Then comes a punt, fair catch, five seconds, then a TV timeout for three minutes.  Not that much fun now when you break the NFL down like that right?

Sure there are the occasional fantastic plays, like the picture I included of Reggie Bush making that Washington player look foolish trying to tackle him.  But how many times do you see that in the NFL?  Almost never.

What about the NBA?  For most of the game, unless there are fouls, the clock keeps moving and the game keeps going.  When the final two minutes comes every timeout, which at six per team, seems to be used.  Every break seems to be an excuse for a TV timeout.

And the NHL?  Very rarely are there any TV timeouts during the games.  After stoppages of play, they have the away team and then the home team make line changes if they need a switch.  If either team is too slow to change, tough luck, they have to wait until they can change on the fly or another stoppage.

Unless they are trying to score quickly, which only happens right before halftime or in the last few minutes of the game, each team can use up to 45 seconds to choose a play lineup and hike the ball in football.  Say there are 120 plays in one game, 60 on each side.  If each team takes 20 seconds to lineup and each play lasts seven seconds, that means there is 40 minutes of teams huddling, choosing a play, and hiking the ball.  This would be compared to just 14 minutes of actual playing time. 

Of course that math is going to be fuzzy because it's based just on the amount of plays.  It does not take into account timeouts teams call when the offense gets confused or the defense doesn't have the right personnel on the field.  Also missing is how much time actually runs off if the clock keeps running, etc.

The NFL is different compared to the NBA and NHL.  When the players are on the ice or court, it means they are actually playing, not standing around.  Time does not keep going after plays except in the NBA after scoring.  That being said, all the players have to get either in their offensive or defensive set almost immediately while NFL players can take the time if they need to.

Again, my opinion is that the NFL is designed so people do not have to focus for any more than a few seconds.  Don't believe me?  Watch an NFL game this year and actually count how many seconds it takes them to huddle up, choose a play, line up, and snap the ball.  Then compare that to how many seconds that play actually lasts.