By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Ratings are down in the NFL, and everybody’s got their theories as to what is the root cause. Some are more valid than others.

But the problem in trying to diagnose the issue is that there is no one answer. No singular catastrophe can be pinpointed as the ground zero for the ratings decline, as it’s more of a blend of multiple factors that really has gone against the NFL through these first two months of the season.

Here is my brief summation.

Over-Saturation
This was inevitable. It had to happen. A sports league can only dominate the ratings so much before it eventually comes down. The gains had to stop at some point.

Arrogance
In some ways, the NFL can’t be faulted for believing it could schedule literally any of the 32 NFL teams for any prime-time matchup and still draw massive ratings. The people at the NFL believed this because we essentially told them it was true. Even a Jags-Titans game in recent years would draw huge ratings, which probably led to some laziness when figuring out that daunting prime-time schedule. This will likely be adjusted next year following this year’s wake-up call.

Thursday Night Football
It’s not good football. If it were good football, the league wouldn’t need to concoct some phony “color rush” gimmick to try to get people to watch. Players are not recovered from Sunday’s bruises. Game plans are simplified. And because every team must play a Thursday game, the matchups often stink. The average margin of victory in Thursday night games this season is 14.4 points. It is — largely — unwatchable.

Deception
While very few people might actually turn off their TVs as a form of protest over DeflateGate or Bountygate or the failures of Roger Goodell and the league office in properly addressing players who commit acts of domestic violence, there is no doubt a mental toll that is taken from so much nonsense constantly surrounding the league. It might only be a small number, but there must be people who (in the middle of a dreadful 49ers-Bills game) start to question why they’re wasting their time watching this league. Team owners can thank Roger Goodell, largely, for the air of deceit that emanates from the league.

Denial
Roger Goodell telling the world on Wednesday that the NFL stands firmly against sports gambling really says everything that needs to be said about the way the NFL operates. The league treats its viewers and consumers as if they’re idiots. It’s a continuation of the way the league ignored concussions for years. Now, player safety is a priority, yet known dirty players get away with dirty play, Cam Newton gets his face bashed in on national TV, and players around the league still drop like flies every week, and nobody from the league says boo. They think you’re dumb. You’re finally starting to prove them wrong.

Everybody Stinks
This problem has been apparent to some of us for a few years, but the issue is that despite the league’s insistence that parity exists, very few teams are actually Super Bowl contenders. It’s the same teams in the mix every year. It’s a Haves/Have Nots league, and the bad teams are bad. Meanwhile in a related story, this week the 1-5 Chicago Bears will play their third prime-time game in a six-week span.

Peyton Manning Is Gone
People liked to watch this guy play football. I haven’t heard his name mentioned much when folks discuss the drop in ratings, but his absence definitely plays a significant role. Networks used to fight every November to get the big Tom Brady-Peyton Manning showdown on their air. Even last year, when he threw with his right arm the same way most NFL quarterbacks would throw with their left arms, people had to tune in. His games had a special feeling about them. Now? Trevor Siemian throwing 5-yard outs in the final minutes of a game while his Broncos trail by two scores is not exactly captivating television.

Tom Brady Was Suspended
TV networks know that in order to sell games to viewers, you need stars. One inhibitor to that goal is when the league spends $10 million and two years trying to paint their biggest star as some sort of criminal over something that never mattered before in the history of sports. Whoops. Fact is, more people seem to hate Tom Brady than love him, but they all can’t help but tune in when he’s on their television screens. At least the country was treated to that rousing Jacoby Brissett vs. Houston Texans experience.

London
The NFL felt that it had perfected its product in the United States so much that it went ahead and started making international plans in England, China and Mexico. It’s necessary only from the perspective of a corporation in a capitalistic society that must always find a way to increase profits, no matter how high those profits might already be. But from a football perspective, it’s completely unnecessary. And it makes little sense to force this complicated, clunky sport onto cultures that don’t care much to embrace it. Yet, the NFL persists and seems intent on setting a team in London permanently.

Personality Suppression
The league has a bad reputation for being a corporation that would prefer its “stars” to be nameless, faceless, and above all, replaceable. Throwing 15-yard penalties for the most harmless of celebrations doesn’t do anything to dispel that perception.

Officials Dictate Too Much
In the very first game of the NFL season, the Carolina Panthers trailed the Denver Broncos by one point in the final minutes. Carolina faced a fourth-and-21. The odds were long, and when Cam Newton threw incomplete, the game was lost. But wait! A flag. A penalty on Chris Harris for giving a shove to a wide receiver resulted in a five-yard penalty and, more importantly, an automatic first down. That is preposterous and it goes against the entire premise of what football is all about. There’s a reason that many sports fans have lost respect and appreciation of the NBA, and it has a lot to do with touch fouls. The NFL at times treats such fouls even softer than the NBA, which should never be the case.

To be sure, there are some other reasons. The car-crash element of the presidential election has certainly stolen some viewers from various games, and there’s no doubt a fringe collection of outspoken flag protectors who are so appalled by Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest that they’ve stopped watching football altogether (even though national anthems are almost never aired on Sunday afternoon games).

But add it all up, and it’s simply been difficult for the average NFL fan to get excited about watching 10 hours of football every Sunday. The league is just having trouble filling up its 15-to-18-hour window every week with captivating programming. Any league would; it’s just a new problem for the NFL.

Realistically, ratings will likely fluctuate a bit going forward this season, with some weeks seeing an increase and others seeing a drop. The NFL is not a sinking ship, and the folks in charge are not running around the deck with buckets of water to try to bail it out. It’s merely taking a hit right now, but the fact is that the multi-billion dollar monolith can withstand it.

What this year’s ratings will do is provide a wake-up call to the NFL that the league is going to need to try harder. The days of blindly putting two teams down on a schedule and setting ratings records are over. But that will, presumably, result in the NFL’s leaders strategizing a plan this coming offseason to map out a better plan of how to maximize viewership and, thus, advertising and TV revenue going forward.

And now, for some quick hit picks on many games you don’t want to watch:

GREEN BAY (-7.5) over Chicago
Los Angeles (+2.5) over New York Giants (London)
Oakland (+1) over JACKSONVILLE
Baltimore(pick ’em) over NEW YORK JETS
Indianapolis (+2.5) over TENNESSEE
PHILADELPHIA (+2.5) over Minnesota
KANSAS CITY (-6.5) over New Orleans
Cleveland (+10) over CINCINNATI
MIAMI (+3) over Buffalo
Washington (+1) over DETROIT
San Diego (+6.5) over ATLANTA
New England (-7.5) over PITTSBURGH
Tampa Bay (-1) over SAN FRANCISCO

Seattle (+2) over ARIZONA
DENVER (-7) over Houston

Last week: 7-6-2
Season: 37-52-1

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

Comments (129)
  1. Katherine says:

    You are such a talented writer and you are always spot on.

    1. freddyJmshadt says:

      Hank Williams Jr. got fired for criticising a President who happened to be black. That day is when the NFL decline began. You cannot survive without “white” people and their money, although im sure you would be more than happy to if you could.

      1. freddyJmshadt says:

        Sorry that comment was meant to be posted to the top, the comment section here is all messed up.

  2. hocuspocus13 says:

    RATINGS DECLINE

    Did you by any chance think that problem of your decline in ratings
    just might be because of certain football players disrespect for the National Anthem?

    Rumor has it that’s the reason

  3. Southpaw says:

    You left out thugs, drugs, domestic violence and murder.

  4. “You are such a talented writer and you are always spot on.”

    Apparently the writer’s mom’s name is Katherine.

  5. Terry Duncan says:

    You left out the excessive and lengthy commercials and the length of games.

    1. Butch Daloia says:

      Bingo. commercials.After I suffer through my hometeams game I am through for the day. Too many commercials. ruins the flow of the game.

  6. JSpicoli says:

    All these things existed for all or most of the past 10+ years.

    One thing changed this year and it is treated like the Emporer’s new clothes by you MSM mediots.

    Everyone I know is miffed at the protests disgracing our flag and the NFL not doing anything, and the networks casting it as some kind of valid protest. It is based on lies.

    1. jmp1970 says:

      I thnk you are, like many media people, underestimating the disapproval of the kneeling stuff. I’m not ‘appalled’ and I don’t think I’m fringe. It turns me off. You think you can use a nationally televised broadcast to promote your controversial views? K. But I don’t have to watch. Enjoy your ‘first amdement rights’ without me paying.

  7. JSpicoli says:

    History will not be kind to this article.

  8. CM13 says:

    I nodded my head on almost every one until “Throwing 15-yard penalties for the most harmless of celebrations” — I’ve always though the celebrations were stupid, unnecessary and childish. You are paid to make great plays. Why do I have so sit through some contrived choreography after every one? Even the touchdown dances are dumb and delay the game. Look like you been there beforeWant to dance? Go on DWTS. I watch football to see football.

  9. grant foles says:

    so, you dont mention the anthem celebration as a reason?

    anyway, besides all mentioned, for me, its the pace of play; all the down time sorting out penalties, spending far too long reviewing instant replays and all the commercial breaks…im either dvr-ing the Eagles game and starting to watch an hour or so in and catching up by the end, or watching the redzone from 3pm to 4:15, though the product has been so bad this year i’ll probably drop redzone after this season, but i equate that with the cost of a ticket im not buying to go watch in person.

  10. JZ says:

    You left out Beyonce and her cop hating thugs jumping up and down trying to pretend they have talent.

  11. Brian says:

    I quit watching for two reasons:

    1. The idiotic and embarrassing hot-dogging that takes place after even routine plays. This has been ongoing for years now. The writer of this column apparently enjoys these displays of childish bravado and showing off. But it simply impresses me as a demonstration of a lack of grace and respect. Sportsmanship is just one more thing that a rapidly declining America has jettisoned.

    2. The Anthem protest. Number one above feeds into this one which is just the final straw. Over-paid semi-literates with an inflated sense of self-importance are now tolerated by the league even when they spit in the faces of the people whose money make the league possible at all. I used to watch to see superior athletes contend against one another in a game of skill and poise. Now all I see is a bunch of poseurs who are making millions from the foundation laid by the giants of the past that made the reputation of the league by their sportsmanship, skill and willingness to, at least publicly, show some appreciation for the fans without whom most of these men would be washing cars, driving trucks or working construction for a living Well, they have made their attitude obvious and I will NOT give them any money or my time to further their foolish antics.

  12. Scott Hafer says:

    The only reason ratings are down, is because of
    the idiots that are kneeling. There is nothing else.

  13. Donato Bombaci says:

    Hard to believe you and the NFL cannot see the primary reason right in front you; over-paid and over-pampered players disrespecting the flag and the country that has made them hugely wealthy … and the NFL does nothing. Although they are fast to act when the Cowboys wanted to honor the fallen Dallas cops with a patch on their uniforms.

  14. St.George says:

    All pro sports leagues are going to decline because they have priced out the average fan from attending games. Tickets are insanely expensive, along with parking and concessions. The effect is that younger people aren’t interested anymore. With video games and other entertainment, the younger crowd could care less about pro sports. It’s catching up to the leagues. Add to this the way the league treats the fans with an arrogant, condescending attitude, it’s no wonder the ratings are down. Over the next decade live game attendance will decline too. All because of the greed of the leagues and pricing average fans out.

  15. Nonsenseyousay says:

    “… there’s no doubt a fringe collection of outspoken flag protectors who are so appalled by Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest that they’ve stopped watching football altogether”

    Yahoo Sports released a survey showing that 40% stopped watching because of the protests. Maybe they aren’t as fringe as you think Michael.

    1. Lonnie Parmenter says:

      The attitude of the writer of this article mirrors that of the MSM regarding we “basket of deplorables”. When you read what these liberals have to say, then you begin to understand the reason for Donald Trump’s popularity with many of us. Mr. Hurley disrespecting our flag does matter to many of us.

  16. Lisa says:

    And nary a word about the Black Lives Matter protestors disrespecting the National Anthem. You must be a Main Stream Media “journalist.”

    1. Jethro says:

      MSM has been replaced. It is now referred to as the SKOS media. Special Kind Of Stupid.

  17. The league treats the fans like Idiots because the players are all Black and they assume the viewers have similar attitudes and values ! Everything touched by America blacks in end is damaged or totally destroyed , no matter what it is.

  18. Joshua says:

    The ONLY reason I stopped watching the NFL is the National Anthem protests. I was born in Nicaragua under the regime of Daniel Ortega and my parents risked it all to come to America and give my brothers and myself an opportunity. I fell in love with this country and it makes me angry when I see this country disrespected. Colin Kaepernick’s protest is the last straw. I’m done with the NFL and in my case – it’s probably for good.

  19. The US flag is on the wrong side of the helmet. This is just another flagrant act of disrespect for our flag.

    This is simply fixed, which means by leaving it how it is, the NFL is sticking a big middle finger at everyone who sees it.

  20. gross says:

    You are to be commended in that you follow orders well. But the fact that you and others lockstep with you choose to ignore the elephant in the room carrying the flag, doesn’t mean we out here are ignoring it.

  21. Nate says:

    Also, people are cutting their cords. The NFL needs to figure out how to let millennials more easily stream NFL games either as a package deal or individually. I know I’d pay 5 or 10 bucks to watch an individual NFL game, even if it isn’t my team playing, over my Xbox. But, I will never have cable again so I will never watch an NFL at my home if only available on cable or streaming on my tiny little laptop. Cut the cord, NFL!

    1. eva burress says:

      Pretty much everyone I know has cut the cord due to the high cost of cable, or has cancelled their premium cable packages including football coverage. As you pointed out without cable you can’t easily watch NFL football games, so people have found other things to do with their time and in doing so have discovered that sitting in front of the TV for hours on end is a bad use of time. The NFL has most likely lost those viewers forever.

      Also, as someone else posted NFL football is becoming less relevant to the newer generation who have other, cheaper things available to entertain them. With wages stagnant and unemployment high thats another demographic that can’t afford NFL tickets or a high priced sports package on cable. Thus, the NFL continues to price out more and more people and in doing so are making themselves less and less relevant.

      I believe that the NFL will eventually drop their hubris and make the games available over the internet for a reasonable cost – but it will only happen when their pain level gets to high.

  22. Mickey says:

    Kaepernick and others that followed, being unchallenged by the league and the teams, did it for me. Sorry, Mr. Hurley, but I suspect there’s a much larger contingent of us than you think :)

  23. Jimmy not THAT jimmy says:

    1. Prison culture: tats & felonious behavior.
    2. Felonious behavior
    3. Felonious arrests and convictions.
    4. Arrogance above levels tolerable for illiterates
    5. Although Americans are entirely forgiving, the camel could suffer only a small additional straw. Kneeling and disrespecting our flag has provided that.
    6. Finding Sundays free: priceless

    1. Cher says:

      Spot on, the values of non white players has polluted the traditional game of blue collar workers.

  24. KipThug says:

    I will not watch any games from teams that protest our great country. I will also avoid buying from any advertisers that are linked to said teams.

  25. U.S. American says:

    Look, the “powers that be” have been slowly and meticulously working to marginalize American football because it must be replaced by soccer as part of the globalization process. Pink accouterments to promote breast cancer “awareness”, slow erosion of quality game play due to over-regulation, bad press for concussion cases and now the biggest nail in the coffin, hyper-politicization thanks to Colin Kaepernick types who have been brainwashed by a false narrative. Football must be brought down because it is (was) a powerful symbol of Americana and like all demonstrations of American exceptionalism it must be neutralized by any means necessary.

  26. Diggsout Forharambe says:

    I stopped watching completely because of Colin K and clowns like him. F them. F CBS too.

  27. Navygatormom says:

    I miss Hank Williams Jr

  28. Tim Daniels says:

    There is such a thing as “know your audience” and the NFL and NBA have forgotten their product is entertainment. When you use an entertainment venue for things like ‘political correctness’, ‘BLM’, ‘Political stance’. You hack people off and they leave.
    I am still hacked off by the Beyonce halftime entertainment from last year, and we continue in the NFL this year with a different agenda.

    Amy Schumer the other day decided to use her venue to go ‘anti-Trump’ and people booed and left. She probably has several thousand less fans this week than she did last week.
    All this comes at a cost. People really don’t want to be force-fed agendas or stances. They will leave and go somewhere else to be entertained.

  29. MikeBee says:

    I watch football games because I want to see the game play out. Announcers who talk about everything BUT the game action; talking with players and reporters on the sidelines instead of showing and calling the game; showing and covering preposterous things like protests as if they are more important than the game action; commercials which run over game action time; ALL of these make me NOT want to watch an NFL game. Show the game action, call the game action (like announcers used to — the ones who came from radio), and leave all the rest of the fluff and crxp out of your production, except for very rarely, to fill dead spaces. This isn’t hard to figure out……

    1. MikeBee says:

      Oh, yeah. And referees who interfere with the game action, in order to make “America’s favorite team” win. And, penalties which interfere with game action. If a QB runs with the ball and gets hit hard, that’s part of game action. I understand penalties for hits when a player is in a compromising position (receivers, etc.). But if a QB becomes a HB, leave it alone, whatever happens. That’s why each team has backup QBs.

  30. James McGill, ESQ says:

    “a fringe collection of outspoken flag protectors who are so appalled by Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest that they’ve stopped watching football altogether (even though national anthems are almost never aired on Sunday afternoon games).”

    What an idiotic statement. So what if anthems aren’t broadcast? The fact that these anti-American a-holes are spitting on the flag is why I’m not watching, not the fact that it’s on or not on TV. But hey you keep believing that the anthem protests have nothing to do with it if it makes you sleep better at night.

  31. Jack Blood says:

    FIRE GOODELL! – his arrogance simply magnifies the owners elitism over their fans. The witch hunt of Tom Brady vs non suspension for Burfect (one example) tells this fan that preferential treatment not only exists, but may be rampant. The “integrity of the game” has never been more in question. Roger has mismanaged the league. Plain and simple. Good article all around though.

  32. tonytiger1 says:

    Howdy! You say only a few people have turned off the games because of disgust, defiance or protest? I know tons of them. Miss Tom Brady? He’s one of the reasons I refuse to watch – the games seem rigged. Just look to last year’s Super Bowl? Really? And Manning lost the Super Bowl to Seattle because they figured out – according to Sherman – what Omaha means??! C’mon. We all know Robert Kraft runs the league and boy has he taken advantage of it. Just look at his team’s valuation. Gambling? I knew the Patriots would win last year’s Super Bowl when sometime late in the game Vegas’ odds went in favor of New England. The blacks look like hood rats – the tats, dreads, etc. They should be ashamed. I could go on and on and on.

  33. James McGill, ESQ says:

    Every excuse you mention has been happening for years. And for years ratings were fine. Then this year, the BLM anti-American anthem protests started. And ratings this year are in a free fall. So what is more likely? That the brand new thing this year caused the ratings decline, or what has been happening for years caused it? Hmmm…..

    Oh and the stupidest excuse has to be the election. Because this is the first time ever in the history of the NFL that we’ve had a presidential election, right? Amazing how ratings didn’t tank in 2012, 2008, 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992, 1988, 1984 or 1980 huh? I guess in 2016 evey NFL fan suddenly realized, OMG there’s an election this year!!!

  34. Ron Lawrence says:

    I was never an ardent NFL fan but I’d watch if it was convenient. Now with the disrespect of the Anthem, the stupid penalties and commercial breaks long enough for me to eat dinner, I’m done. I used to be a big fan, but the players are anonymous, don’t care where they play (no loyalty) and do whatever they want with no fear of the NFL office that I’m just done. The NBA is even worse. I guess they have to crash to learn a lesson

  35. Dad says:

    If the league were mostly white and all the women they abused were black, black men would quit watching.

  36. Joe Campbell says:

    Only suckers support the mostly overpaid thugs of professional athletics!
    Were it not for the game, mos of the players would be on welfare or in jail…

  37. Californiadreamin says:

    I have watched football for years and have switched to college game because:
    a) lesser skills compensated for by greater emotional effort, making for exciting matchups. Blowout games no fun in college or NFL but there are enough choices on a Staurday to avoid the bad games;
    b) respect for anthem and flag is a kind of basic thing tied to football. Once you allow the link between this truly “American” sport and “America” you are going to lose fans. My suspicion is that if an athlete did this at Notre Dame he’d be off the team.
    c) concussions. Enthusiasm for game is decreasing as more info comes out and more parents discourage their sons from participating.
    d) internet
    e) soccer? Seems stupid but girls actual PHYSICAL participation in this sport, numbers wise, is overwhelming. More fathers out with their girls on Sunday at matches, learn the game, and end up learning the sport and watching pro game (English Premier, MLS, women’s league) with their GIRLS and boys who are playing. A small contribution right now, but building. Don’t beleive it? Look at all the pro players kids who play soccer now. And as these girls grow up they will shunt their kids into soccer, the game they know.
    f) the violence. Our PC society looksw down on it more and more, even in sport. On and off field violence is becoming a big turn off. Especially hard to understand how athletes paid so much to play a GAME can be such bad role models, and be so arrogant about their wealth.

    Just some thoughts.

  38. Jimg says:

    I just love how each and every one of you leftist media hacks – to a T – belittle or refuse to acknowledge the reason a lot of people have stopped watching. Including me.

    It’s the anthem protests, boy.

    It’s hitting you right between the eyes, but you’re too wrapped up in your bubble to see it.

    Expand your circle outside of your fellow, leftist jock-sniffers.

  39. Joe Manzo says:

    Perhaps treating PSI of footballs as worse than genocide while simultaneously covering up CTE data and turning a blind eye to continued domestic violence incidents wasn’t the way to go.

  40. jmp1970 says:

    ‘“a fringe collection of outspoken flag protectors who are so appalled by Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest that they’ve stopped watching football altogether (even though national anthems are almost never aired on Sunday afternoon games).”’

  41. jmp1970 says:

    I’m guessing that you think those protests are cool, therefore you make the assumption that anyone who doesn’t think they are cool are ‘fringe’ and ‘so appalled.’ It sounds to me like you’re trying to make those folks look extreme. Sorry, don’t agree. I’m not ‘appalled.’ I’m just turned off by it. I’m also turned off by people saying my being turned off makes me fringe, racist or a bad person. that REALLY turns me off. So, enjoy your little ‘brave protest’ and practicing your ‘first amendment rights,’ but I sure don’t have to waste my day or evening watching the programming allowing it.

  42. I walked away because of the propaganda push. The federal government pays these leagues to push a pro-war and pro-sodomy agenda, which is why all we here is “support the troops” and “support the gays”.

  43. Jimg says:

    And I should add, each time I read an article like this insulting my intelligence? I dig my heels in deeper. There’s a very good chance I’ll never watch again.

    You WILL get it. Even if we have to beat you over the head with it time and time again.

  44. Bart Drennon says:

    The headline would seem to describe the author.

  45. Only a Boston liberal toad would refer to millions of people mad at the NFL’s endorsement of disrespectful BLM B.S. as “fringe.”

    1. And there you have another reason I’m losing interest in sports: the proliferation of feminized, leftist sports “journalists” spreading their PC manure over everything. When they gave Bruce Jenner a standing ovation at the ESPN awards show because he became mentally ill and forgot his actual gender, that was a last straw for me.

  46. Matthew Graff says:

    The game has slowed, the penalties seem to never stop, and I do not connect to the players. Between the 50 beer commercials are a set of downs and 100 replays, with ex jocks having a second career in the booth..

    Quite frankly, they’re boring.

  47. rdlynch says:

    Uh, maybe it has to do with adults outgrowing watching grown men play ball. Watching children play ball is cute; grown men, not so much.

  48. Pavlovian Libtard Narrative says:

    How much did the Ministry of Truth pay you to deliberately leave out the National Anthem protests as the reason why NFL ratings are falling? Because when you ask the fans, they tell you that is the reason. Why won’t you listen to them?

  49. who cares its a game says:

    My interest in Pro football has been declining over the years. Kind of hard to watch people who get paid millions to play “FOOTBALL” for a living, while others make peanuts, off in other countries, defending this country, and these “FOOTBALL” players disrespect this country.

    To many teams thinning the talent, All games on Sunday, except one Monday night game, no week off, Might get my interest, probably not.

    Thinks back to the years I could tell you every thing about it and absolutely no interest today.

    What do you do for a living? “I play Football”, (sorry this is to funny to me) We are going to make him sit out for 4 weeks because he deflated the football. ( awwwwwwwwww, you can’t make this stuff up, are you serious ? ) . NOW entering the Field no 22, “Commentator: “Oh this wife beater is the best line backer to ever play the game”, 20 seconds later no. 23 checks in, Commentator: ” This rapist is a 35 time pro-bowl player, employee of the month, and only one single charge of rape and the best line backer to ever play the game, I am thinking hall of famer, you thinking the same, Mack ?”

    I guess my statement here you all are taking your Football a little to serious!
    As I tell the children, Its a game!

  50. richard says:

    You ARE an idiot if you watch rigged games played by gang banging thug criminals. In fact, having schitte for brains is all that’s required to sit through that kind of garbage. Also, the same clowns probably have an insatiable lust for warm fecal matter in their mouths as well. They’ve been gobbling it down for so long now that they would go into convulsions without their beloved turde sandwiches. IDIOTS!

  51. sjmwilco says:

    when idiots that wear helmets to protect a football make the same wage as men who wear helmets to protect our country, they may be worth watching. until then, they are overpaid, overrated primadonnas.

  52. Wallythedog says:

    I’ve watched the NFL since I was a toddler in the early 1960’s. I went to over a hundred home games when I lived in Dallas & then Indianapolis. I know the NFL has many of the problems mentioned in the article, but when the NFL decide to inject politics, that was the last straw. I haven’t watched a single down this year and I have found the NFL is not missed at all and it’s unlikely I will ever come back.

  53. You lefty hack. Calling people who honestly and sincerely are offended by the likes of Kaepernick and the rest of the country-destroying, liberal types (like yourself, CNN, the Boston Globe, etc.) as “fringe” (you forgot to mention that they are also “deplorables”) makes you unsuitable to write anything trustworthy and honest. Pathetic shill.

  54. Zeke4445 says:

    I have not watched so much as 5 seconds of football this year. Not so much as five seconds.

    I go to sports to get away from politics, not be overdosed with political agendism.

    I am a 40-something sports fan and my sports of choice are, in order — football, baseball, basketball, hockey, then way down on the list, once in awhile golf or tennis or what-have-you. Boxing used to be at the top but that changed a generation ago with the corruption and the obvious reluctance to pit the precious “big names against anyone with a real mean streak.

    My disgust with football really began with Michael Vick, then increased with the Michael Sam obvious agendism, and reached the point it’s at today All this sham leftist BLM politics injected into the sport, has really made it a turn-off.

  55. tonyome says:

    I used to be a very big NFL fan but anymore, it seems boring to me. I am now a bigger fan of college football, which has much more interesting games and personalities. I’m also SICK of the Bradshaws, etc. on the network shows. Maybe it is time to bring in some new talent AFTER the 1970’s? Jesus.

  56. StandingO says:

    Disrespecting the U.S. flag and National Anthem is a far bigger factor than the writer admits. Also, he failed to mention the Ryder Cup at all, which captivated audiences, and is/was ALL about the U.S. flag and anthem.

    1. Guest says:

      You make an excellent point. Look at the characters of the respective athletes. Night and day!

  57. bangbang says:

    …agree with many comments, the game is too boring now and quite frankly do not miss it
    after 50 years

  58. Mary says:

    I’m not sure Kaepernick is the reason for the ratings drop. But I do think he’s the last straw.
    I watch football a lot, but I watch it with the mute button on most of the time. Inane announcers who I PITY for trying to fill the dead time. endless commercials. Good grief. The refs. Who is playing this game anyway? I feel like the refs pick who they want to win and just make it happen. So though I love watching pro football….I can sit right there and NOT WATCH PRO-FOOTBALL. Because it’s mostly not being played.
    Then the wealthy men who should be holding up America as a place where through hard work ANYONE CAN MAKE IT!!!!!!!! GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH!!!!!!
    Use your energy and wealth to try and help those less fortunate–I mean get into their communities, HELP THEM ENCOURAGE THEM INSPIRE THEM. Instead they play politics and make themselves more famous.

  59. Lisa says:

    Football was always my favorite sport, but the watered-down, mincing game being played now is not the football I grew up with, and it is boring. There is way too much stopping to watch replay, because almost every sort of contact seems to be in question now. Why don’t you weenies all play soccer instead? That’s even more boring (and, by the way, is statistically the cause of far more concussions than football is), and I can happily tune that out for the rest of my days, so I won’t see what any spoiled, overpaid athlete is doing during the national anthem.

  60. Frumious says:

    A ‘fringe collection?” Are you high?

    In September, a Yahoo study was done with 1,128 NFL fans polled, and 44% of them said if the protests continued, they’d “give up football.” They seem to have followed through with that threat. The owners, the networks, and the sports media can publicly clutch their pearls and deny it all they like. You can trot out any other absurd excuses you want to delude yourselves with in an attempt to paint over the truth. But people who pay too much money to billionaire owners and millionaire players (who would otherwise be sacking fries somewhere if they weren’t suiting up one day a week) are just plain weary with being told they are a bunch of racists and how deplorable their country is. MLB stopped this stupidity before it could get started, but the NFL didn’t. Now they are reaping what they sowed. And don’t bet too heavily on getting those eyeballs and season ticket buyers back anytime soon, now that fans have found better ways to spend their Sundays and Mondays.

  61. Jerry Smitthers says:

    (1) Public disrespect for our nation. I’m not going to watch millionaires pretending to be oppressed.
    (2) Beyonce and her cop-hate trash show.

  62. John Mode says:

    The author of this article proves how out of touch the mainstream media are with the majority of Americans. Not one mention of the player’s disrespect for our flag and national anthem only proves my point.

  63. Guest says:

    Maybe, just maybe the American public is a bit fatigued of the Thugs in the Thug Football League. You know: Drugs, Crime, Domestic Violence, etc. Maybe America is no longer entertained by the Thugs, including the ones who are disrespectful of the American Flag and for the Republic for which it stands. Maybe, just maybe after the revenue falls through the floor, the Thug Football League will reorganize itself to, I don’t know, focus on those who provide the revenue.

  64. Vespi Die says:

    The game is “watered ” down now compared to what it used to be, but another thing that has nothing to do with the play on the field are the “special interest” stories that sideline reporters (women that are basically eye candy) talk about. Granted this is a network decision, but these “announcers” that the networks employ and essentially contracted by the NFL are a complete turnoff.

  65. Mickey Montana says:

    I fired the NFL a couple of years ago because of the foul stench of PC emanating from my TV whenever a game was on.

  66. Walter Crankencase says:

    This obsession with stopping the action and going over every replay like it’s the Zapruder film from the JFK assassination is a total turn off.

  67. Walter Crankencase says:

    Oh, and moving my team to L.A. and back and now to Vegas sucks big time, too.

  68. wi_hoosier says:

    Besides Krapernick, this is the same league that threatened North Carolina over a law that requires people to use the bathrooms that correspond with their biological sex. It also lambasted Georgia when it considered legislation to ensure that the First Amendment rights of pastors were protected so they would not be forced to participate in same-sex weddings. And it refused to allow the Dallas Cowboys to honor police officers during regular season games.

    Turning on the TV to watch the NFL has become just another episode of political correctness imposed on viewers. Why should anyone be surprised that the respect for players, teams and the league has diminish, and the ratings have disappeared.

  69. sailordude says:

    The writer writes about the NFL in denial, and then denies any mention of the flag protests. Don’t you think whites are kind of fed up with politics in sports? You’re in denial!

  70. Freeland_Dave says:

    And why shouldn’t the league treat their patrons like idiots? They are. A bunch of knuckle dragging, chest thumping, beer guzzling idiots that ignore what is best for their families so they can sit like arm chair quarterbacks on the weekend rooting for their home team. Go to any sports bar when a game is on and you will see exactly what I mean.

    It’s sports fellas, not earth shattering important stuff. Yet you spend gobs of money watching millionaires play a game and happily take your money. Now that is what I call really stupid. Why they will even beat each other to death if their team looses.

  71. Mike Thomas says:

    Maybe this brain surgeon of a writer should check out the latest Yahoo poll. Get out much? It’s black lives matter and their non sports related protests (I.e. Riots) responsible.

  72. SerfCityHereWeCome says:

    Wait, I know how you can win the fans back– force the sale of enough teams to child molesters until they’re fairly represented as the same 75% they comprise of the general population, according to any reliable leftist source… /sarc

  73. Ken Carroll says:

    Really? What’s the biggest, most-reported, NFL-related story of the year? Yeah, that’s right yet you – in your PC strait-jacket – assume the Colin Kaepernick “social justice” protests affects only a “fringe collection” of viewers.

    I’ve watched the Falcons since they were created back in the mid-1960s. I remember Tommy Nobis and Randy Johnson and Norm Van Brocklin’s $100 backfield. I used to care so much about the games that I got splitting headaches when the Falcons lost. That, Michael, is a lot of headaches. I stuck through all of that, yet this year I have not watched one minute of one game. Why not?

    I love my country more than I love a game. That shouldn’t be surprising. The only surprising thing is how easy it was to walk away. Colin Kaepernick has every right to exercise his first amendment rights, but if the NFL had any understanding of its audience then it would tell Mr. Kaepernick he cannot do so while wearing an NFL team’s uniform, at an NFL venue, or while representing the NFL.

    It’s all bread and circuses anyway, isn’t it?

  74. Mister B says:

    Wow – talk about ignoring the elephant in the room. Every reason given except for the obvious one. Idiotd.

  75. Don Morrison says:

    The pure greed of the NFL has caught up with them. Endless commericals, 100 dollar tickets $8 beers. FU.

  76. Robert says:

    I refuse to ever watch another NFL game. Overpaid bunch of sorry excuses of a US citizen…
    The NFL administration is worst than the players!!!

    Former 1/75th Ranger BN, 10th SFGA, 11th SFGA

  77. Moon Pie... says:

    You failed to mention the protest of our National Anthem, the taking a knee, the Black Power fist. What are you people afraid of…That is the reason people are tuning out, oh but that might be Racist huh??? Dumb @s ses.

  78. Jose says:

    I was one of those would watch every games if I could. Even Jags vs.Titans. But enough of these rules already. I slowly tuned away as these rules were implemented.

    – Can’t touch receivers after 5 yd.
    – Can’t touch QB on the head
    – TD celebration may get 15 yd penalty
    – Can’t hit defenseless receivers
    – Can’t hit receivers in the head – how about not allowing WR to duck after a catch so they won’t get hit in the head?
    – Taking away kickoff returns

    Flag protest was the last straw.

  79. Fen Needwood says:

    Everyone here knows the reason for the decline. We know it. You know it. We know you know it. And you know that we know you know it. So why disgrace yourself like this publicly?

  80. Eric R. says:

    Mr. Hurley:

    Why is it that you and the rest of your politically correct, leftist, BLM-loving friends cannot see, or cannot publicly admit, that it is the leftist, anti-American and anti-cop actions of far-left (mostly) black athletes that is driving away right-leaning mostly white fans?

    Seriously, why can you not admit it?

    Are you too blind to see it? Or do you see it, but you share the hatred of white middle class America so much, that like Hillary (who said we’re deplorable and irredeemable) and these leftists taking a knee (and the rest of your MSM colleagues), you do not think that our beliefs and feelings matter? Or would you get fired for admitting that a leftist policy that almost all you far-left MSM “journalists” endorse actually has negative ramifications? We know that folks who stray even minutely from the party line in today’s leftist media become non-persons.

    I read article after article like this by far-left, delusional sports journalists like you, unable to call out the 800-lb. elephant in the room, and I think that I am living inside Orwell’s 1984 and you are the sports section of the Ministry of Truth.

  81. 🇺🇸 Real Americans are boycotting the NFL because of the spoiled brats bashing the country that made them rich. I watch football on Saturdays & I fish on Sundays now. 🇺🇸

  82. muneshadowe says:

    Anthem is number one reason also one other item to consider, when you have a season ticket holder calling you up on a comment line for a radio show and the only rebuttal you have is to invite him somewhere near the stadium so you can kick his a*s to me is not par for the course in replying to an opinion.It tends to upset your base to the point of letting their season tickets go to another sucker. You guys make millions a year and all the tickets do is go up in price and people are tired of the overload in commercials. Yes I gave up watching useless ball sports years ago. I am tired of the arrogance, alternative life styles and anti faith ideology of this and other rancid sports.

  83. Tom says:

    Anthem protest is the reason I am not watching. I don’t want politics in with my sports. It discussed me and no matter what the protestors say, when they kneel they disrespect all that is right with this country. I take it personally. Best part, I don’t miss it.

  84. Reformed Trombonist says:

    > and there’s no doubt a fringe collection of outspoken flag protectors who are so appalled by Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest that they’ve stopped watching football altogether

    “Fringe”? Why, gee, thank you kindly. If you support our country and our flag and our policemen, you’re fringe. Nice.

    But no doubt, the folks who wanted to boycott the entire state of North Carolina because they think men’s rooms are for men and women’s rooms are for women are mainstream.

  85. Ricky Refreakin Cardo says:

    First there’s the players – Obnoxious uneducated loudmouths, cheaters, felons & ex-felons, street thugs, anti white racists, women beaters, bullies, sexists, drug users, tatooed gang members, thieves, perverts, sociopaths, gamblers, and the occasional murderer.

    Then there’s the lousy corrupt officiating, an encyclopedia of idiotic rules, point shaving, out of control fans, dirty players, idiotic announcers, women reporters in locker rooms, the obnoxious superbowl halftime (side)show, and a Napoleon dictator commissioner with his head stuck in his colon.

    Not to mention totally obscene salaries and bonuses, billionaire owners stiffing the public for sky high ticket, parking, and food & drink prices; taxpayers getting stuck for new stadiums, repairs, and upgrades, time outs for annoying multi-million dollar TV commercials, and NFL Products price gouging.

    Which brings us to pretty rich boy Kaepernick who refuses to respect the National Anthem & American flag and wears socks depicting cartoon pigs in police uniforms – because in his words, police “murder minorities” and he won’t stand for “a country that oppresses black people and people of color”.

    Apparently this racist spoon fed multi-millionaire doesn’t get it. The country he hates has done quite a lot for “black people and people of color” (and muslim refugees) – free food, free housing, free health care, free lunches & breakfasts for their kids, free utilities, free cellphones, and free legal representation – all topped off with a monthly check. Then there’s hiring preferences if they to work, school admission preferences & grants if they want to attend college, and guaranteed passing grades.

    In addition to disrespecting police who put their lives on the line to protect and serve, he’s disrespecting veterans who fought & died to provide this kind of general welfare, security, opportunity, and freedom. The punk and every player who emulates him is a juvenile, hate-filled, despicable human being.

    It’s football. It used to be a competitive sport. Now, among other things, we’re subject to incessant marketing, pink “Breast Cancer Awareness”; and we “celebrate” the “gay lifestyle” while gorging on junk food. Uninformed overpaid juveniles making political statements against the country in front of cameras is just about the last nail in the coffin.

    1. Many-Land says:

      BOOM….nice. You are a much better writer than the cowardly hack who wrote this article that for sure.

  86. Stevens says:

    Because of tolerance of Goodell regarding Colon Krappernick, I have not watched any NFL games this season and do not plan to. That factor seems to be downplayed in this article, when it should be listed at the top.

  87. Bill says:

    You forgot two other reasons. 1. 4 seconds of action followed by 45 seconds of standing around…repeat 120 times. 2. Sports analysts that yap incessantly from whistle to snap…sometimes even after. They must be paid by the word…shut up already.

  88. Undergraduate says:

    One simple (call me racist but truth is the ultimate defense) word: BLACKS. They have ruined the game. For the majority of Americans, they have made the game unwatchable.

  89. Namey Name says:

    This writer waits until paragraph 13 to get to the MAIN reason for the ratings drop, according to polls of the actual viewers (Kapernick anti-Americanism). So you could add, an out of touch media to the list of reasons.

  90. Earl Hoffman says:

    Isn’t football, or any aggressive contact sport just the epitome of “toxic masculinity?” So metrosexual and otherwise neutered liberals shouldn’t watch. And the misguided, hypocritical, and self-serving protests during the national anthem means that patriotic conservatives shouldn’t watch. Who’s left? People without a political agenda in mind when making their entertainment choices. So you go and force one (or several) on them. Can’t figure why your ratings are down…

  91. swarfer says:

    At the supermarket I stood in line and couldn’t help overhearing two moms discussing their son’s college plans. One bragged about her son’s full football scholarship to a major state university. The other mom noted that her son didn’t have a scholarship but was staying local and going to study mathematics. A feeling of sickness and revulsion came over me. The end game is to be a sports star which has absolutely no redeeming social value and actually seems detrimental to young people today. I no longer watch any professional sports. I played sports as a kid then I grew up and realized that an awful lot of adults have never have, they’re sitting on the couch watching sports on TV instead of doing something meaningful.

  92. Pita says:

    A simple question that someone might be able to answer: Are there ratings for college games also down this year? I honestly don’t know, but I suspect not. If not then it’s obviously not the saturation of football that is causing the drip in NFL ratings. Could it be something else? Something like over-paid fools turning the game into a SJW three ring circus?

  93. RLABruce says:

    Fans watch football as an escape from reality; now with political causes, drugs and wife abuse being a highly publicized part of the players’ lives, the NFL has injected reality into the game. It is no longer an escape from reality, and so there’s no longer a reason to watch.

  94. Dean says:

    Funny, I keep reading all these articles and they constantly diminish the effects of the protests. Polls have been taken and the number one cause is the protests, but the completely-blinded-by-ideology media continues to ignore facts (as they do in the election coverage too). Amazing! When the league is so strict on things like uniforms and celebrations, but they leave disrespecting our country alone because “players have that right” I’m out. For me, unless the NFL addresses this and discontinues it, I will never watch another NFL game. If it gets any worse, I will be pulling my money from any NFL sponsors as well.

  95. Many-Land says:

    Another “writer” afraid the address the elephant in the room just like the rest of the league with its head buried in the sand. Your blatant omission of the National Anthem protests and other controversial Social Justice grandstanding on the field as a major factor suggests you are either willfully ignorant or too cowardly to address it. Which is it Michael Hurley?

  96. Tooth Neck says:

    When Bill Belichick retires and becomes a color commentator….ratings will soar! :)

  97. bluesdoc70 says:

    LOL…The thing that must not be named…”condoning players wiping their feet on the flag and flipping off the entire nation during the national anthem has NOTHING to do with it.”

  98. Dobro says:

    Gosh, the reason I don’t watch anymore is because the players do not respect the flag, the fans or themselves. But it doesn’t matter. How can you call a ballgame when you cant’s see or don’t want to?

  99. Lyt Tpo says:

    I think it comes down to several factors which include a combination of the anthem protests and the product on the field. The anthem protests are bigger than the media and NFL will lead you to believe. Disrespecting our flag on 911 was it for me. I’m done with the NFL. I might tune in to watch the scores or check out some box scores online, but i’m basically done with it. Even if there were no anthem protests, the quality of the product has been declining year after year. The officials have way too much power to control the outcome of the game. Penalities for the dumbest things slow the game down. Not letting the players celebrate is killing the game. NFL has a huge mess on their hands.

  100. Tina M. says:

    Right now the attention is also on MLB and it is every fall – at least it is around here.

  101. Frank Nyberg says:

    NFL is ignoring the gorilla in the room and that is the disrespect for our country. Patriotism has always been important to those who watch and attend Football, baseball, Hockey and Basketball. Keep on ignoring this at your peril. I have second thoughts about watching or buying tickets. The reason is the disrespect and that did not exist before. I have been given a reason to not watch.

  102. Will says:

    I can ony speak for myself: Don’t put my country down.

  103. Mark says:

    1. I don’t need a bunch of wife beaters preaching to me about hate!
    2. Want to earn my respect Kaepernick? Try doing a little research, do not follow the media narrative!
    3. Try uniting the country unlike our current President! Go talk to someone with a different opinion than yours and try to see things from their perspective – I have and I still do!

  104. Tony The Tank says:

    Where can I start. There are multiple reasons why ratings are down. Let me name a few.

    Number 1. Too many flags and reviews.
    2. Kneeling when the anthem is sung. Disgraceful.
    3. The commissioner
    4. Don’t trust the league. Tom Brady deflate and the commissioner at Kraft’s house as well as the head of officials at Jerry Jones son’s party.
    5. College Football – players are more passionate when they play.
    6. The Presidential race but there is also great TV shows on.
    7. A small portion is actually watching the MLS. Soccer has increased attendance.
    8. Football is not football. Targeting is a joke and hitting a defenseless player. Can’t touch the QB. Turns fans off. Why don’t they wear head gear in boxing or MMA?!
    9. Players move too much which destroys the unity and the overall performance.
    10. Just when you have a home team favorite he moves on and head coaches are fired way too soon.

  105. The writer is a shill for the NFL front office. The ratings decline comes down to three related, cultural-political issues: 1. Kaepernick’s essentially anti-American protest ‘movement’, 2. the Beyonce-KatyPerry-MileyCyrus, etc., race-baiting and degenerate half-time ‘entertainment’ and 3. the NFL’s blatantly ‘progressive,’ pro-Clinton, anti-Trump election year bias.