NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has had a rough few years.
On his watch, the league has faced a host of challenges that threaten the popularity of the game.
And now Goodell just got some more deeply concerning news.
The excitement of the NFL eventually overtook the national pastime of Major League Baseball as America’s most popular sport.
But the NFL’s exponential rise has plateaued, even losing ground in key areas.
The problems facing the league are sundry, each presenting their own challenging solutions.
One problem that has received more scrutiny over the past decade is the number of off-the-field incidents involving players.
Countless players have been arrested for domestic violence, assault, and worse.
Some players continue to get second and third chances, which feeds into the league’s “outlaw” perception cultivated by anti-football activists.
The issue of head trauma also haunts the league.
Youth football has seen a decrease in participation, and brain science hasn’t yet caught up to the demands for a “safe” NFL.
The league has tried to legislate big hits out of an inherently violent game, and the resulting spike in bad penalties has drawn the ire of many fans.
But perhaps the most contentious problem for the NFL was the rise of the anti-American anthem protests started by Colin Kaepernick.
His protest cracked open another door for activists to slip through.
All of a sudden the mainstream media turned the NFL into the epicenter of racial injustice and inequality.
Political strife is like chum in the water for activists on the left.
Leftists tried to turn Kaepernick into a folk hero.
And the media did their best to divide the country on the anthem issue.
The protests caused a massive drop in viewership.
The Raiders’ farewell to Oakland scored the worst Monday Night Football ratings seen since the captivating Trump-Clinton presidential debate of 2016.
The protests reached the height of absurdity in 2017, but have since dwindled.
In light of the shrinking protests, the NFL saw a slight bump in overall television ratings.
But fans still haven’t found their way back to the stadiums.
Attendance was the worst since 2011, per Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily:
Some NFL regular-season attendance notes:
— 67,100 for NFL is lowest average since 2011
— Good story in L.A.: Chargers up NFL-best 29%, while Rams up 14%
— Cowboys have led each season since Jerry World opened in 2009
— Redskins down league-worst 19%; Bucs -9%; Bengals -5%
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) January 2, 2019
A few NFL teams apologized to their season ticket holders for the embarrassing anthem protests, but it hasn’t been enough to reel back the most ardent supporters.
The main reason why is because Goodell has no clear policy on the issue of protests.
Furthermore, the NFL placated the protesting players by giving them $89 million for the activist causes of their choosing.
Some view that as rewarding those who dishonor the flag.
The bottom line is Goodell has done a shaky job managing these crises.
He’s slow to act and often comes up with half measures.
If the NFL wants to see their popularity continue on the uptick, they need to be more proactive about nipping problems in the bud before they fester.