The Greatest Play Nobody Saw
Last Sunday, Stefon Diggs made one of the most memorable plays in NFL history, advancing the Minnesota Vikings to NFC Championship.
It's not often you see a walk-off touchdown in regulation, but Diggs did it in fashion.
There's only one problem; not many people saw it live.
The NFL has been in a constant fight to bring their TV ratings up, hoping fans would rush back to their televisions to witness what has been an unpredictable postseason.
Over the last two seasons, the NFL has experienced a decrease in viewers during the regular season and postseason. A year ago they blamed it on everything but a lousy product on the field, and this season it has been worse, just take a look at the remaining quarterbacks. Nick Foles, Blake Bortles, Case Keenum and Tom Brady. A sharp contrast from the 2015 Championship weekend that featured Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Andrew Luck.
Reports show the NFL Divisional weekend viewership was down 16% from last year. 35 million people witnessed the Vikings-Saints go to the wire, 13 million less than the Cowboys-Packers Divisional game last year. That game also came down to the wire, but it ended with a field goal, not a 61-yard reception.
I wrote a piece last year, listing things that were affecting the NFL's viewership but this year it's one thing; trust.
NFL fans, like myself, have lost trust in the NFL. The NFL has shown traits of an untrustworthy company with the handling of CTE, punishing players, and most recently the handling of Colin Kaepernick and the anthem protest. Whether one is for or against the demonstration, the NFL has lost their trust. Some fans are upset because the NFL didn't punish players for PEACEFULLY protesting, while the other side is upset the NFL blackballed the man who first began to kneel during the National Anthem.
And by acting like it was a non-issue, the NFL put themselves in a lose-lose situation, trying to please two sides. And here we are now postseason, with two teams looking to win their first Super Bowl, a team that hasn't won more than five games since 2010, and a coach/quarterback duo aiming to claim it's sixth Super Bowl. The storylines are there, but the viewers aren't.
I haven't watched an NFL game all season, and I've contemplated whether or not I will watch this weekend. As a sports writer, it killed me to witness Diggs play via social media instead of at the moment. Sports fans live for moments like that, the plays where we remember every little detail of our life at that very moment.
The NFL will live thru this because people love football too much and I expect the viewers to come back to their television, hoping to see another upset or game-winning touchdown. After the postseason, where will the NFL focus be, to earn back the trust of the fans or continue down a road of oblivion?