Two Minutes To Midnight – For The NFL

For those not attentively glued to a Bitcoin™ price chart, there was some other noteworthy news making headlines over the last week. One was made on Thursday when the official Doomsday Clock had its hands moved 30 seconds forward to now show “It Is 2 Minutes To Midnight.” i.e., Nuclear Armageddon is all but here.

As concerning as the above is for all of humanity. It pales in comparison for attention value, as well as immediate annihilation of something far more closer to home. e.g., The NFL®.

On Tuesday of last week the NFL rolled out a new initiative that began the same week (on Thursday) during its NFL Total Access venue. This is now an ongoing campaign that will play out across multiple outlets and has been named, “Let’s Listen Together.” Here are a few pull quotes directly from the NFL. To wit:

As part of its ongoing work to support its players, the NFL today announced a joint player and ownership commitment focused on social justice. The campaign, Let’s Listen Together, launches today and includes a multi-layered roll-out including digital content and brand spots highlighting the player-led work on social and racial equality. The platform will also include social media support, as well as individual letters from players and owners sharing their stories and personal reasons for making social justice a priority.

The above sound innocuous enough at first glance, and in many ways seems like an amenable solution to what has become an almost irreconcilable situation. At least on digit paper that is.

However, the problem here shows just how this is all going to play out over the foreseeable future in the following text. Again, to wit:

“We are pleased to have developed a new initiative that focuses on creating meaningful solutions to improve our communities,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “In developing this plan, we have taken the lead from our players and are honored to join them in this work. Their work has deepened our understanding of the unique platform we have to help advance progress in a profound and unifying way.”

Translation: We going to get the players to stop kneeling so they can now stand up and tell you all about their political stances as you tune in. Or said differently – As you try to take a momentary reprieve from the everyday political strife as to enjoy a few hours of pure sports entertainment played at the highest levels. We’re now going to directly insert that political into and across our entire brand and outlets for it. Hey, it’s better than kneeling, right? That’s what you’re upset about, right? So, pleeeeeease come back. Oh, and did we mention seating prices for game days are on-sale?!

The rollout for this initiative both in it’s timing, along with what it appears is going to be the viewing vehicle (i.e., across the entire NFL) is, in my opinion: One of the most tone-deaf, ill-advised, PR debacles that may do far more damage to both the NFL, along with its players and causes, than anything I’ve seen over my business career.

Many a game has been won or lost in the final two minutes. As a matter of fact, so important are those final minutes that entire game winning or saving strategies are built upon them. e.g., “The 2 minute drill.” Yet there’s a caveat that goes along with that strategy that’s paramount for the “saving” aspect which is this: You never play those minutes via a “not too lose” strategy and tactics. Once you do – you’re all but assured to do just that – and lose.

The NFL I’ll assert – is doing just that, and will.

I’ll also add the following: as their clock moved in unison with the nuclear, the outcome for the NFL might be far more predictable than the Ph.D inspired.

Ratings, ticket sales, ad sales and more might go into a complete meltdown after this season ends. And the moment for all of it is now in play, with the clock continuing to move till the “Big Game” hits next weekend. The moment these “messages” begin appearing either before or during, will be the moment fans across the globe hit their own button with the ratings equivalent of Armageddon. e.g., The OFF button on the remote.

I made the case prior on what I believed should be the path for the NFL , its players, as well as their concerns back in October of last year. One of them is the following. To wit:

  • There needs to be a short and concise message aired by the team owners and player representatives before each of remaining games. i.e., The owners of that games teams and their player representatives whether they be the team captains or such.

Both the owners, along with player representatives should make a televised public announcement before each game stating they are all in favor of removing politics from the field of play during game time. And are.

They both (owners and players) need to make the point, and make it forcefully, that “this stage” is for sports, not politics.

They can state that doesn’t mean that they don’t have views which they firmly believe in. But (and it’s a very big but) during the game is not the place for it. i.e., Say something to the effect: “We know why you’re here, and it’s to see our game, not our opinion of politics. And we respect that. And we will show our respect for you by not protesting the political during games. There are other venues for that outside, where we can make our voices heard, along with yours should the need arise. So let us start by saying, thank you for being a fan. And we want to give you what fans like you truly deserve – the best game, at the highest level of athleticism and sportsmanship we can deliver. Again, thank you, and enjoy the game.”

It can all be worded and shot in a 60 second venue. Less is more.

Again, that was back in the early part of the season where, if implemented, might have stunted the ever-increasing carnage of ticket sales, attendance, and more importantly: the now calcified reaction to even the remotest possibility of anything political happening within the game.

The increase of people not tuning in to begin with out of an outright abhorrent disgust to the insertion of the political into their once deemed reprieve or sanctuary as a sports fan for escapism is rising, and fast. Personally, I haven’t watched a game in I don’t know how long. And I was an avid fan. Not any more, and I know I’m not (and far from) alone.

This will be (not out of spite but out of the political in general) the second Super Bowl® in a row I not only won’t watch, but don’t care. Especially, since it’s now been announced I’m going to have some type of “Let’s listen together” political argument stuffed down my throat, whether I agree or not. All because this is what “The commissioner” believes is good for the sport, its players, and fans. Hint: It won’t.

This is a pure political remedy to a purely political problem via a venue which demand politics not be any part of it. The remedy could not be any clearer unless one is either “Out of their league” signaling incompetence. Or, “Out of their league” and want’s to bring that league (e.g., politics) into the business spectrum. Both are detrimental, if not existential to the sports business.

The only way this so-called “remedy” gets brought forth to begin with is if the current top management of the NFL thinks its in the business of political sports, rather than the sports business. Which was why I also made another assertion back in October where this unfolding fiasco had the chance to be, at the least – alleviated.

That assertion?

Fire: not re-sign, bonus, re-negotiate, contract extend, _________(fill in the blank) the current commissioner. Even if it could have cost the league $Millions for what ever the legal ramifications in contract law. It would have been money well spent and minuscule in comparison to what will be lost in future revenues going forward.

Now the league has all but guaranteed his salary for the next five years: As the entire franchise clock clicks off to what could be future TV ratings, ad sales, attendance, Armageddon.

What a complete and utter tone-deaf reaction and “solution” to a once laudable franchise.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr