Friday, December 11, 2009

The Browns victory and the Great Marketing Conspiracy of the NFL

So, everyone is shocked this morning by the Browns' amazing upset victory over the defending world champion Steelers last night. Most experts believe that this constitutes the death blow to the Steelers' title defense. At this point, it would be very difficult for the Steelers to make it into the playoffs. It should be noted that they said the same thing about Philadelphia last year.

All day long, the NFL played odes of love to the Steelers' illustrious history. We saw all 6 (count 'em 6) America's Game episodes on the Steelers: 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005, 2008. You would never have known that this team was skidding on a 4 game loosing streak.

The Steelers showed their love for that mighty send-off by allowing the Browns to lay a Cleveland Steamer on their Super Bowl Rings. The Steeler OL couldn't block, the receivers dropped passes, and the defense couldn't tackle. Wow... 5th loss in a row.

Ad meanwhile the NFL network and ESPN were broadcasting evidence of player-coach divisions in New England. At the same time we still had fools claiming (on HDTV) that the Patriots are in the hunt for the championship.

So, here we have two teams that have won 5 of the 8 Super Bowls played so far this decade. Both are either in danger of getting out, in disarray, and in the midst of loosing streaks. At this very moment in time, the NFL and ESPN are throwing roses and chocolate coins at them. I wonder why this would be? Is this a clear cut case of dynastanalingus? Is this something else?

A friend of mine proposed the following theory: When you have spoiled fans, and a bad season, it is difficult to keep the fans engaged and watching. As a spoiled fan, you can tune out during a botched season real early. God knows I couldn't bear to watch my Rams in the latter stages of 2000 or 2002. It was too painful.

Certainly, with all the bad news in New England, it is difficult to keep the fans engaged. I know a friend of mine from Boston, Joe Morais, has stopped watching NFL football entirely. It hurts him too much. Certainly, now that the Steelers are out of the running, Pittsburgh and that entire region will have less reasons to tune in for the on-going NFL season.

I suspect the NFL network and ESPN both know this. I suspect their marketing data told them this a decade ago. I suspect neither the NFL network nor ESPN would like a reduction in viewership in these two regions. Ergo, you have your paid schills declare that the Patriots are still in the hunt. It is pretty clear that the Steelers are out, so you have to be honest about that. However, the more you can prevaricate about the Patriots, the better for ratings.

Whoa!!! Hold on there David! Are you suggesting that the sports journalists at ESPN and the NFL network are lacking in journalistic integrity? Are you saying that they don't dispassionately seek the truth?

Hell nah! I am saying that they are a bunch of fork-tongued lying assholes who telling wild yarns to keep the audience watching... for money. "Lacking journalistic integrity" or "failing to dispassionately seek the truth" doesn't quite hit the nail on the head. Journalistic integrity? They ain't got none!