In marketing terms, there is no question that I would fall into the category of being labeled as an “NFL super-fan.” Furthermore, having a year-round addiction to a sport played over a five-month span does leave me with a lot of down time. Each season, there is a bit of sadness after the Super Bowl when the NFL is about to go into hibernation mode, otherwise known as the NFL offseason.
This season, for reasons I have yet to completely comprehend, the marketing geniuses in the the NFL decided to push the draft back two weeks from it’s regularly scheduled time, usually around the end of April. Why on earth did they decide to do this?
Don’t they know this completely throws a monkey wrench in the ‘well oiled’ off-season machine of fans that have their biorhythms set to celebrate a draft party before Cinco de Mayo? The Bills scouting staff took a week off before Easter, because the team is ready for the draft. As Whaley said yesterday, “Study long, study wrong.”
So in the midst of this ‘suspended animation’ time, the NFL also released 2014-2015 season schedule this week. The NFL Network rolled out a Rose Bowl level of coverage with all sorts of pageantry surrounding the release of the schedule. Led by Rich Eisen, this all-star cast of characters dissected, analyzed, and otherwise beat to death every nuance of the upcoming season.
There were analysts sent to NFL cities to interview fans regarding their opinion about the schedule. Next year I fully expect this to be an event broadcasted from Radio City Music Hall. Perhaps they might even extend the release of the schedule to make it a two-day event. They could release the first half of the schedule on one day, and the last half the next. They could even bring in a performance or two by a popular rock band (note to Bon Jovi… please don’t wait for a call).
In the classic chicken or egg argument model, one might want to consider who created this monster that is going from a seasonal pastime to a full blown year round obsession? Is the NFL to blame for pushing the envelope of stupidity to a level where we are now tailgating the release of the season schedule? Or are we as fans to blame because we can no longer walk away from the sport for a few months and direct our energies and attention elsewhere? Are we victims of unrelenting slick marketing, or perpetrators of creating an environment where ridiculous amounts of attention are paid to one very ordinary part of every season; the release of the next season’s schedule?
When the schedule was officially released in prime time on the NFL Network a few days ago, the discussion focused almost completely on the television broadcast schedule. Which teams are playing on Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights? As an individual fan watching the announcement of the schedule, the only thing I was interested in seeing at that moment was the schedule for the Buffalo Bills. It made me wonder if the game of football itself is still the priority to the NFL over the importance of television ratings.
To further illustrate how the NFL is slowly trying to keep us ensnared during the off-season, Roger Goodell stated this week that the NFL is looking at the possibility of extending the draft next year from three days to four. So we have gone from a time when there were twice as many rounds done in less than half the time to adding yet another day to the process?
At what point do our loved ones who are not football fans completely meltdown and beg for mercy? Does the NFL realize how they are pushing the envelope already by pushing the draft into a May weekend? Oh, and not just any May weekend, but Mother’s Day weekend? This ill-conceived idea needs to go away fast, or the NFL is going to risk making Mama mad. Even the NFL should know better than to mess with Mama.
The bottom line is that even a terminally obsessed fan like myself can see that there is a limit to how much is too much regarding the amount of time spent on a pastime or hobby. When the NFL begins encroaching on taking over Mother’s Day weekend, they have gone too far.
Moving the draft weekend was a bone headed move in the first place, which could only be made worse if they decided to extend the draft another day and actually draft players on Mother’s Day next year. You better watch it Mr. Goodell. You don’t want to make Mama mad.