The NFL’s brand has taken a beating over the past few years.
League commissioner Roger Goodell has poorly juggled one controversy after another.
And one NFL legend ripped apart the league with four blistering words.
The NFL has witnessed a decline in popularity over the past few years for several reasons.
The anti-American anthem protests and the embrace of the Marxist Black Lives Matter organization were giant mistakes for the league.
But legendary middle linebacker Ray Lewis has a different issue with the game.
“I can’t watch it,” said Lewis when discussing the rule changes and penalties that have made defense nearly impossible.
“It’s a league that makes it hard to watch from a defensive player. The art of why the game started, you know, tackling, you know, the big hit, the change in the course of a game, changing the way players from the offensive side think about the defensive side when you got to attack Dick Butkus or Mike Singletary…the essence of the game is leaving.”
On every third down when a pass is incomplete, fans are holding their breath for a ticky-tack pass interference call.
Wide receivers constantly whine and mimic referees pulling flags from their waists, and probably get the call half the time.
Quarterbacks are also protected to the point where they might as well be put in bubble wrap.
All of the rule changes heavily favor the offensive side of the ball.
Prior to 2011, only one quarterback had thrown for 5,000 yards in a season (Dan Marino with 5,084 in 1984).
Since 2011, the feat has been accomplished 11 times by seven different players, and other passing and scoring numbers have also been obliterated.
Lewis also said that gambling and fantasy football are keeping the league afloat:
“The only thing to me…that’s saving the game or making the game, you know, the ratings, so high is fantasy, right? The gambling. Like there’s no loyalty in sports. The game used to be about loyalty.”
Salary cap structure has made it rare for teams to stay together for any meaningful amount of time.
Rosters get turned over every three years, so natural rivalries aren’t quite what they used to be.
The league also isn’t doing the game any favors by adding a 17th regular season game.
Lewis said on the topic:
“The body is not a car. You just can’t [say] screw it on and make it go. The body needs rest and it needs proper recovery…That’s just a long, long, long season. So I don’t know…”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has a lot of challenges to handle, and the league seems to be trending in the wrong direction.
It certainly doesn’t help when the league polarizes the fanbase by taking on divisive political issues.
Lewis isn’t alone in his frustration about the trajectory of the league.