As a whole, the National Football League has not done a whole lot of things wrong in promoting their product. Obviously, a mix of excess vehemence and the viewer's lack of perspective has allowed the NFL to become the most popular sport in the United States.
The Super Bowl has become the sequel to Christmas, and fantasy football has become the most popular game since professional football. If you sweep under the rug the obvious moral issues the NFL possesses--the lack of respect for its elders/players, league-wide apparent greed--the NFL has made it in America.
Their business model is aggressive and sharp. Every TV network, with the monetary ability to do so, pleads for the right to showcase NFL games.
Despite it not being as good in person as it is on TV, the NFL still makes a killing in attendance. Merchandise is more popular than ever to men above the age of 45, and people will still buy $5 hot dogs without much of a fuss.
So how is the NFL messing up an otherwise perfect business plan?
That freaking NFL Thursday Kickoff Game.
I am probably in the minority here, and will likely be lambasted in the comments (see you there!), but I truly believe that the game is just a waste of time.
It doesn't get me any more excited for football, fantasy drafts end up being rushed, and the quality of the game on the field doesn't compare to what you usually see.
Look at the scores for the last five Thursday openers:
|2006||Miami Dolphins 17||Pittsburgh Steelers 28|
|2007||New Orleans Saints 10||Indianapolis Colts 41|
|2008||Washington Redskins 7||New York Giants 13|
|2009||Tennessee Titans 10||Pittsburgh Steelers 13|
|2010||Minnesota Vikings 9||New Orleans Saints 14|
This is a porous agglomeration of blowouts and low-scoring games. You can look at those games and label them as "defensive struggles", but the problem with that theory is, those games were just horrible.
It was more the offensive being horrendous then the defense being dominant. The NFL Kickoff is supposed to be a celebration of the NFL, and supposed to draw new viewers to watch the game on a consistent basis. That is where the "concept" of the Thursday Kickoff falls apart.
I can honestly say that there is a small minority who watches the initial game on Thursday and says "Eh. This football thing isn't for me." or "WOW! Football is neat!"
If you are watching the game on Thursday, you are a lifelong fan who likes football and hates watching whatever crap sandwich the NFL has wheeled out to be the pregame show (more later).
The opening week of the season is always highlighted by a consistent stream of bloopers and sloppy play, so why highlight this by singling one game out? From a marketing perspective and initiating potential merchandisers, I suppose it initially made sense. The ratings are generally high.
But at what cost? So NFL fans can be stripteased by a lackluster game? That really isn't doing the fans justice. The pregame concerts are usually awful, with Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum and Maroon 5 endlessly singing this time (although last year's concert of Taylor Swift and Dave Matthews Band was AWESOME).
This gives me the appearance of a black-hearted cynic. I'm not. But I just feel like the NFL Thursday Kickoff Game sponsored by EA Sports is another instance of the headlining corporation (NFL, not EA Sports) milking its product for all its worth, no matter how.
You see this with the proposed 18-game schedule and total lack for proper player safety and pension planning. You see this with Jerry Richardson's state of being. The NFL is willing to put out a crappy product, as long as they see some fiscal gain.