LeBron James is the latest person to express concern about the NFL’s current on-field product. Ratings are down, and while many people are trying to figure out why, the fact remains that professional football just isn’t good right now.
James, who is a well-documented fan of the NFL, thinks he has an idea of what’s up. While he stresses that he doesn’t know exactly what the solution is, James thinks people dislike that the league is trying to take the fun out of football.
“I’ve heard some of the comments from some of the players, as far as the game, the fun part of it is kind of being taken away. And I know when I played football, I played it for that reason,” James said after Cavs practice Monday. “For the competition, one, and for the fun of it … I’ve seen a couple of the main guys talk about how the game is not as fun. It’s all political, things of that nature, at this point. You definitely don’t want to take the fun away from the game. That’s why we all fell in love with sports in general is because you have fun with it at the beginning.
“But I’m not the commish. I’m not on the board. I don’t know what [the explanation is]. Football is such a great sport, but I don’t have the answer for why fewer people are watching.”
The whole “NFL stands for No Fun League” thing has been around forever, but this seems like the first year where that’s been cited as a reason why people aren’t watching football. Sure, some cool stuff happens on the field, and dudes like Marquette King manage to have a good time after plays are over, but the league has really cracked down on players having fun. The most obvious example from this season was the league going after Antonio Brown for wearing cleats that paid homage to Muhammad Ali.
James admitted he doesn’t have an answer, but maybe the league would benefit from letting guys have fun more often. How “have fun” is defined is an issue – Higher scoring games? Let dudes celebrate big plays? No ugly Thursday Night Football games where teams play on short rest? – but this is something that the league really needs to address as soon as possible.