Originally Posted by improbus
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.
I understand what you're saying. You also have to remember that the actions of one individual is not going to dissuade someone from watching a sport they enjoy. If Aaron Hernandez did this as an NBA player it may turn people off to it. However, those people weren't big NBA fans to begin with. The NFL is way more popular than the NBA. Let's say you have 100 million people in this country who call themselves NFL fans. Then let's say you have 50 million people who call themselves NBA fans. If 100 thousand people decided to stop following those leagues, a greater percentage of fans would no longer be NBA fans because there are fewer NBA fans. Sure you are going to have mediots who will bloviate about how the NBA isn't popular anymore and is a thug league but that's not the reality.
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.