The NFL’s deep struggles continue.
A league that once could seemingly do no wrong is now constantly stepping on rakes.
Now the NFL is contemplating a rule change that would do even more harm to the game.
For a while, the NFL seemed indestructible.
What was once considered the safest brand in all of professional sports is now fissuring.
The NFL still flirts with plans to expand London and Mexico City, but those plans seem to be on hold for now for various reasons.
Fan interest in London simply doesn’t exist.
Soccer reigns supreme in Europe with football receiving, at best, middling interest.
Mexico City provides other problems.
First, crime in Mexico is on the rise.
Several politicians have recently been assassinated, and some visiting sports teams have been on advisories not to venture far from their hotel when traveling to the country.
Second, playing in Mexico presents a big logistics problem.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said preparing for a game in Mexico City was a total disaster.
Last year, a Los Angeles Rams game scheduled for Mexico City was moved to L.A. because Aztec Stadium’s field conditions were so porous.
Some players refused to play on the field due to safety concerns.
Also, due to a series of follies, the NFL didn’t have a single franchise in Los Angeles—the second largest U.S. market—for 20 years.
Now Los Angeles has two teams, and both of them are struggling to win over fans.
The L.A. Chargers even drew worse attendance numbers than the San Antonio Commanders of the fledgling AAF.
The NFL, under the stewardship of Commissioner Roger Goodell, has foolishly chased expansion while neglecting more urgent problems.
The anti-American anthem protests and the concussion issues have not been adequately addressed.
Many season ticket holders revolted in response to so many players disrespecting the flag, and the fear of head trauma is causing a drop in youth football participation.
Instead, the NFL is focusing on a non-problem: touchdown celebrations.
The league is considering flagging teams 15 yards for celebrations if players leave the sidelines to join in.
The past few seasons have seen creative end zone dances that have energized and entertained the crowd.
The NFL is already losing younger fans, so penalizing teams for fun end zone celebrations is not a good strategy for winning them back.
The NFL was once considered the “no fun league,” and apparently some are looking to bring that back.
Even Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that the excessive penalties hurt the game, and turn off fans.
A recent survey showed that over-officiating was one of chief reasons for fans losing interest in the NFL.
The NFL needs to be looking for ways to win back former fans, not alienate even more.
Penalizing teams for having fun is a clumsy step in the wrong direction.