Maybe this is an over-reaction on my part to the news that the NFL has decided to suspend James Harrison for his hit on Colt McCoy, but I believe the NFL has officially passed from being a great game. In my lifetime, it seems that everything that was new and seemed great and interesting eventually grew to the point that it had to change to continue growing. Every new TV channel that I ever found and thought, "Now this is different and worth checking out." has changed until it was like all the other crap that appeals to the masses.
Remember when MTV showed music videos? Remember when Nickelodeon really looked like it was a network run by kids? Remember when AMC only showed "classic" movies and had no commercials? Remember when ESPN was worth watching, and SportsCenter with Dan Patrick and Keith Olberman was awesome?
Ok, maybe it's just me, but each of those were examples of new entertainments that I have found over the years that I loved because they were different than the majority of the pop culture fluff that was prevalent in entertainment. But each of those reached a point in popularity where they couldn't grow any more without changing their images to try to gain more viewers. I think that the NFL has reached that point in the last 5 years. This suspension just seems to be the official tipping point for me. The NFL has reached a point that it is no longer great, in my opinion.
I have seen comments on the Harrison suspension thread that part of the reason for this action is the need to keep players healthy to expand the number of games because of the upcoming TV contract. I think that may play into the thought processes of the league offices, but it also reflect a lack of understanding of what made the NFL great to begin with. The NFL was made great by men who understood that they may be facing debilitating injuries, but they chose to play because they loved the game. The Goodell regime treats them like they're children who must be protected against themselves.
Unfortunately, I think that the beginning of the league's decline is occurring right now. As the physicality is being legislated out of the game, the most loyal fans will begin to look elsewhere for their entertainment (witness the growth of UFC in recent years, which I'm really not a fan of, but I digress). Over time, the majority of NFL fans will be the casual fans, and it won't take much for ratings to plummet, because casual fans aren't that attached and can be easily pulled away by something else.
I may be wrong, but I just don't see it based on the way the league is taking this.
It is also equally infuriating that the rules are so inconsistently applied. If the NFL is so concerned with helmet to helmet hits, they should be a penalty for any player on any other player. Surely, if it's ok to hit a RB in this way, it is not worthy of suspension for hitting a QB helmet to helmet. As others have mentioned, it should apply to Big Ben, Michael Vick and Cam Newton, not just Colt McCoy, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning. It should be a penalty for an OL player to do to Harrison, but the league only cares about certain players. Clearly, they don't care about running backs anymore, the way those guys get run through the meat grinder and cast aside.
Well, this a bunch of rambling, I know, and hopefully it's not totally boring to the rest of BTSC. I'm mainly just disgusted with the league right now, especially Goodell, like the rest of you are.