27 years ago, the series finale of M*A*S*H was viewed by 106 million Americans. At that time, it was considered to be a simply out of this world total.
Fast-forward 26 years. Super Bowl XLIV, featuring the Saints and the Colts, was viewed by an incredible 106.5 million Americans.
That number was impressive, but nothing could have prepared us for this years number of viewers, which was 111 million.
I'll do the math for you. That's an increase of 4.5 MILLION viewers from last year.
That's the same amount of people that live in Wyoming, Washington D.C, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota and Delaware COMBINED.
The match-up between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers had the potential to be one of the greatest match-ups ever. Two of the most storied franchises in NFL history facing off in the Super Bowl.
And with that match-up came money as green as the Packers' uniforms.
If it wasn't official before, it is now. The NFL has never been better.
One can talk about how bad the Pro Bowl is, how dumb some of the rules are, how many problems the league has in general. The reality is, though, that the NFL has never been better.
For the NBA and the MLB, general popularity had declined over the last decade or so. Whether it's because of the recession or the loss of interest, the fact is that it's happening to both leagues.
The NFL? Even through the tough times, the NFL has had absolutely no problem selling out stadiums and bringing in viewers.
"Super Bowl XLV caps what is arguably the most successful season that any sports league has ever had. The number of people watching NFL games has never been higher," said Pat McDonough, senior vice president for insight and analysis at the Nielsen Company.
The average ratings for the NFL jumped about 25% over the course of one year. CBS, FOX, and NBC, the three big stations that televise NFL games, all had a major increase in viewers this year.
So what made this season such a success at the cash register?
Some might say it's because the economy has slowly gotten better, while others might say it's because it might be the last time we see football in a while. It could also be attributed to a newer international audience just learning the game.
I personally believe that NFL teams have become more competitive than ever. Now, it doesn't matter who your root for, they will have a chance of winning every week.
Except for the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos of the league, nearly every NFL team was competitive in this year.
It's no fun when one team dominates every year in sports, *cough* Lakers *cough* Yankees. In the NFL, though, every team has a chance to make the playoffs every year.
Who would've imagined the Seahawks and Chiefs making the playoffs? Who would've thought that the Seahawks could beat the Saints IN the playoffs?
It's these surprises that attract people to the game.
But no matter what the reason is, it'll be very disappointing if the league enters a lockout next year.
A lot of old-timers like to talk about the "glory" days of professional sports. 30 or 40 years from now, THIS will be the glory days of pro football.
Baseball might be America's past time, but football is America's sport. And it always will be.