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The NFL needs to capture the spirit and enthusiasm of college football to get more viewers

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The NFL has often been called the No Fun League. And that's more evident now than ever, as nobody involved with the league seems very happy these days.

Minnesota Vikings v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Last weekend, I had the good fortune of tuning in to the final moments of the epic college football clash between Florida St. and Miami.

The Hurricanes prevailed on a touchdown pass with six seconds remaining.

Immediately after the winning score, the Miami players rushed into the end zone to swarm their teammate and celebrate; and, since the game was played in Tallahassee, the Seminoles kiddos in the stands did that college fan thing, where they stood with their hands on their heads in disbelief.

It was a great moment and, being that I'm just getting back into watching college football after working Saturdays for 13 years, it’s something I wasn't quite used to.

Those final moments were all about passion, love and emotions (both high and low), and it made me miss the days when my first love—the National Football League—was like that.

Actually, since the NFL is compromised of adults, I'm not so sure it was ever filled with the raw emotions of a college football game, but I know one thing:

Everyone involved with the NFL these days—the owners, players, coaches, media and fans—seems downright miserable.

Seriously, for a league that's so darned popular, nobody seems to be having a good time.

Take the fans for instance.

Sure, their latest beef with the league has to do with the controversial national anthem protests, which have caused a certain segment of the fan base to stop watching.

But it's just that: the latest reason for some fans to be disenchanted with the NFL.

Take the inherent violence of the game, for example.

In the case of CTE, it has caused several fans to question whether or not they should keep watching the NFL. Take a friend of mine, who can't seem to talk about the game of football without it eventually leading to a discussion on CTE and his moral dilemma with continuing to watch.

For those struggling with that, I’ll say this: the difference between even 10 years ago and today is that current players now know the risks. And for every former player struggling with some sort of neurological issue, there must be a dozen who have continued to live normal and highly-functional lives long after their football careers ended (think Dick LeBeau, Tunch Ilkin, Terry Bradshaw, etc.).

On the flip-side, are the fans who have stopped watching because the game has become less violent. "It's like flag football!" they often say.

Flag football, seriously? Have you seen some of the hits in your average NFL game? Have you heard these collisions?

Professional football is a game played by people bigger, stronger and faster than they were 20, 30 and 40 years ago, when it was supposedly much more violent.

Anyway, I guess when it comes to the violence issue, the NFL has taken a hit on both sides (no pun intended).

Then there’s fantasy football.

Ever watch a game at someone's house, and your friend screams "SON OF A BIT**!" during a commercial break?

You're thinking maybe the Steelers gave up a score before the network came back from break. But, instead of that, your friend is miffed because he started Leonard Fournette on his fantasy team, and he was just informed via his smartphone that the rookie running back fumbled at the goal line.

This, predictably, causes your friend great anxiety, and he seems to care more about his contest against First and Ted than he does about Pittsburgh's game against the Chiefs.

On the other side of the fantasy debate, are the people who seem personally offended when you even bring it up.

"It has ruined the game!" they often say.

How? I mean, I can see where it could ruin the enjoyment of the people who play it (worrying more about "their" players than the actual game itself), but if you think head coaches and coordinators game-plan with fantasy numbers in mind, I'd like to know if you'll accept my trade of Chris Boswell for Julio Jones.

I can tell you first-hand, that when you stop playing fantasy football, you stop noticing fantasy football.

Then there's the quality of play issue, and how so many fans think it's dropped over the years.

If you really think that, I challenge you to watch some footage of a game from the 1970's. No, I'm not talking about Super Bowl XIII, between the Steelers and Cowboys, as it may have involved the greatest concentration of talent in the history of the league; I'm talking about your average regular season game on a Sunday afternoon in, say, 1976.

You talk about boring? Yikes!

I guarantee you, you'll be hoping the old 70's commercials weren't edited out, just so you could have something of value to watch in between fullback dives and sloppy turnovers.

Some people blame the lack of elite quarterbacks as a reason for a supposed decline in play.

When has there ever been a surplus of elite passers in the NFL? If every QB was elite, wouldn't they all, then, be average?

If you don't want to view old NFL footage, Google Pro Football Reference and take a look at most quarterback stat-lines from the 60's, 70's, 80's, and even the 90's; believe me, you'll come across more dreadful box scores than exceptional ones—and many more forgotten names than Hall of Famers.

So, am I saying the game of professional football is much better now than it was decades ago? Again, its players are bigger, faster and stronger than they've ever been; as for its quarterbacks, even the non-elite ones are worlds better than they used to be.

So, in other words, yes.

Moving on to the fun, or lack thereof.

It seems that nobody can celebrate a touchdown these days, without it creating a controversy that talk show hosts waste entire segments debating over the course of the following week.

"I wish they would just hand the ball back to the official like they used to do." is something often said when discussing these now common post-touchdown exhibitions.

I've asked this before, and I'll ask it again: how old are you? I'm just wondering, because I'm 45, and in my entire life-time, I've seen a player hand the football back to the official maybe four times (and three of those were after Larry Fitzgerald scored a touchdown).

In other words, wishing for humble touchdown celebrations these days is like wishing the mail was still delivered by The Pony Express.

The owners don't help with this, of course, as they're either tightening or loosening restrictions on touchdown celebrations, depending on which offseason you're talking about; they've loosened them this year, which has led to displays such as the Vikings Duck, Duck, Goose celebration from Week 5. (I'd like to think the league didn't lose any fans over Duck, Duck, Goose, but I wouldn't hold my breath.)

In addition to celebrations, the owners seem hell-bent on making every last second of the game of football accurate, which means we get to spend hours each season watching super-slow-motion replays of knees, toes, elbows, and blades of grass.

But you can't go back.

It might be a cool thing to say, but if you think no-instant replay could ever exist in this crazy social media world we now find ourselves in, well, I have some never-before-seen footage of the Immaculate Reception that I'd like to sell you on ebay.

And if the owners aren't confusing us on celebrations and instant replay, they're threatening to move to another city, if their current town doesn't fork up cash for a lavish, new venue.

Take the Raiders, for example, who currently reside in Oakland, California, and have some of the most vocal and passionate fans in sports (annoying, but true). Yet, in the next half-decade or so, they will move to their lavish, new venue in Las Vegas, Nevada, a city that has traditionally cared more about over/under and backdoor covers, than it has about over-pursuit on the back-end.

Unfortunately, this could happen to any loyal fan base at any time, as evidenced by the Colts defection from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984; and the old Browns defection from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996.

I could go on and on with this rant, but it seems like we're living in an age where NFL owners want more money, as do the players, who also want respect from the fans. The fans, in-turn, want the players to respect them even more now than they ever have before.

As for the coaches, they're as miserable as everyone else, which is the only familiar thing about football these days (coaches are always miserable).

I don't know what the answer is to the NFL misery, and why everyone is so darn angry.

But it is quite evident.

To compound matters, we're living in a time where everyone has a voice, and instead of quietly walking away from football like I'm sure countless people have done throughout history (I mean, not everyone remains a loyal fan forever), they're taking to social media and other platforms to announce their departure from the NFL, as if they're expecting one of those slow claps from Not Another Teen Movie.

All that vocal displeasure is making me miserable, and even I'm having less fun watching the NFL than I have at any point since I fell in-love with football in 1980—and that includes the Steelers 5-11 campaign of 1988.

Everyone needs to sit down and watch some college football.

Maybe it’ll help them remember why they fell for the NFL in the first place.