I was reading the Florida boards and apparently he's been playing at being a thug for many years, now he gets to live the life for real.
So, when do these kinds of stories start to affect the number of people that watch and follow the NFL? If this were an NBA player, this would be seen as an indictment of the league and would turn people off to it. But, I don't get the feeling that this is putting the NFL in a similar position. The NFL shield is truly Teflon.
A couple of big reasons why the NFL is so popular is that most of the games are on Sunday - where most people have the day off - and there are only 16 regular season games. So every game is important and you have a week's buildup to the next one. Plus the NFL had a huge head start on the NBA not just in longevity but in presence on television. The NFL's been around since the 1920s while the NBA didn't begin till the late 40s. For the NFL, the TV watershed moment for them was the 1958 championship game. That didn't happen for the NBA till the 80s. If you said to a 17 year old kid that once upon a time, the NBA finals were televised on a tape delay they would think you were pulling their leg. About the only thing that would sink the popularity of the NFL is some radical rule change where it would literally become touch football. People like the violence on the field.
They also like living vicariously through these people. We can go down to the gym and play pickup hoops with our friends. Certainly not anywhere in the same universe as the NBA but we can make a jump shot or get a layup or a rebound or even in some instances, dunk. We can go out on the softball field and get a hit or catch a ball. We can go out on a golf course and sink a 20 foot putt or hit a long drive down the middle like the pros do. We can go out and play a game of tennis and have long rallies and make drop shots and hit aces. We just don't do it as well or consistently enough as the pros do. You don't see guys lining up and playing tackle football for recreation. You may go out and play flag or touch football and maybe the touch becomes a little rougher than that but very few people suit up in full pads and get 10 other guys to play full contact football recreationally. Even if you are playing flag football and you complete a pass to your buddy, you know it's not the same as what Tom Brady and Peyton Manning do. We admire people who can do things we can't.
In the NFL, most people cheer for (or against) a team or set of teams, rarely do they care about the specific players on the team (other than their ability to win/lose games). How many people in Indy were opening up a brand new Manning Broncos jersey this past christmas???? I'm assuming a very small % to the number of people opening up their brand new Andrew Luck jersey. How many people in Ohio picked up a new Lebron Heat jersey in the last couple of season vs the number that picked up a new Cavelier Irving jersey?
The NFL career is so short, so many go from superstar to afterthought in the blink of an eye, that we only care about what they're doing today, not what they did yesterday. As bucksfan states, the NFL is largely a faceless league, the NBA is driven by their stars. Its why Jordan had a jersey retired in Miami despite never playing for that franchise. Think that would ever happen in football or baseball (aside from the Jackie Robinson situation?)
I also think we live in a different time than when the NBA was at their peak in thugishness. Go back 20-25 years, and athletes getting in trouble (at least publicly) was a new(er) thing. Prior, many transgressions were swept under the rug; the 24 hour new cycle was in its infancy, something happened in california, doesn't mean you automatically hear about it in ohio. At first there was a lot of shock/outrage at the things high profile athletes were getting in trouble for. Then flash forward and its almost the norm. My mother in law used to love tiger, and now dispises him, she asked how I could still root for the guy. to me, its easy, I'm rooting for the performance on the course, I've long since got past the notion that these guys are angels off the field. Sadly, while the vast majority of them are great citizens/role models, there are far too many that are something less that they overshadow those that are doing things "right"
I understand everything that you guys are saying. The NFL is certainly the easiest sport to consume and the general anonymity of the players makes it easier to forget them, but it does seem like you have to continue more and more to put your head in the sand to watch the game. I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I can't see someone take a big hit and think, "how much did that take off their lifespan?" I dont know if there is any connection between the violence of football and the continued violence off the field, but that is constantly creeping into my mind when I watch now.
How stupid is Hernandez to even get this close to a murder? Look at the life he's living. He's got a lot to lose. Why risk it all for that?