Despite the NFL’s many problems, some of us can’t resist watching the Super Bowl

OPINION: Acknowledging the conflicts that pro football embodies, Deron Snyder has made peace with it and watches without guilt — like many of you. 

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Are you ready for some football? From the league that just went 1-for-9 in hiring Black coaches for the top job?

If so, you’re ready for Super Bowl Sunday, which has morphed into an unofficial holiday, with mounting calls to make Monday an actual day off. Cincinnati Public Schools went ahead and canceled classes for the day. Whether they revel after the Bengals play the Los Angeles Rams, it’s a good bet that almost everyone in “The Queen City” will watch the game.

But for others, the league contains too much distraction to focus on the action.

Former San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick and former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores aren’t the only Black folks who have sacrificed and taken a stand. There are fans (including personal acquaintances) who once loved to watch football but became disgusted and quit when the NFL stiff-armed Kaep. Flores’ recent lawsuit against the league merely strengthens their resolve. For good measure, they can point to scandals involving Washington owner Dan Snyder, former Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden and the NFL’s racist policy on concussions

Clearly, it’s a league worthy to be scorned.

Interestingly, despite the strict partisanship fracturing this country, the NFL is a “both sides” offender. While we argue that the efforts against racism and sexism aren’t enough, others contend that the league has gone overboard. Cultural grievance is one area where the NFL can boast about equal opportunity.

Just Google “woke NFL” and read the hilarious complaints from critics likening the league to radical leftists. 

Helmets of the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals sit in front of the Lombardi Trophy on the SoFi Stadium campus in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Whereas we feel gaslit by “End Racism” stencils in end zones, they feel accused of being racist. While we rail against hiring practices that keep Blacks from head coaching jobs, they complain that anything else equals reverse discrimination. We see Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers as an anti-vaxxer who got caught in a lie; they see him as a champion in their crusade against “cancel culture.”

And don’t even mention Sunday’s upcoming performance during intermission. The lineup of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar represents the Blackest Super Bowl halftime show ever, which thrills our side and riles the other.

I’m not sure which faction has the largest number of protesters actually boycotting the NFL. But this much is certain: The league isn’t hurting.

Pro football remains the undisputed champion of televised entertainment. Regular-season games accounted for 48 of the top 50 and 91 of the 100 most-watched telecasts last year. The historical dominance is equally apparent. Only the series finale of M*A*S*H (No. 9) and the Leon Spinks-Muhammad Ali rematch (No. 22) prevent Super Bowls from sweeping the country’s Top 30 most-watched broadcasts of all time.

Last March, the NFL signed an 11-year media rights deal worth $110 billion. Regular-season ratings increased 10% over the 2020 season and the 2021 playoffs have drawn blockbuster numbers. If Sunday’s game follows current and historical trends, well more than half of U.S. TV households will tune in. Multitudes will consume the product at gatherings, in private or public locations.

Simply put, America is hooked on football and the Super Bowl is the greatest fix. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan who lives and dies with the sport each week or a partygoer who doesn’t know the difference between first downs and touchdowns. The game will be the top news story on Monday.

The matchup features juicy storylines, including starting quarterbacks drafted No. 1 overall (L.A.’s Matthew Stafford and Cincy’s Joe Burrow), an odd couple pair of wide receivers (Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr.) and Cincinnati’s first Super Bowl appearance since the 1989 season. There’s also an all-time great defender — the Rams’ Aaron Donald — taking his second stab at a ring, plus a promising receiver — Ja’Marr Chase — coming off an all-time great rookie season.

Acknowledging the conflicts that NFL football embodies, I’ve made peace and watch without guilt — like many of you. Others won‘t and/or can’t make a distinction between viewing games and supporting the league. That’s cool, too. We each must decide our position and I have much respect for everyone who says, “Nah, I’m out.”

As for the rest of y’all, it says here that the Rams will win but don’t bet on it. For those seeking an alternative to watching the game, plenty exist. Just do your best to enjoy Sunday — no matter what you choose — because it’s back to work on Monday.

Unless, you know…cough cough.


Deron Snyder thegrio.com

An award-winning columnist and a principal of BlackDoor Ventures, Inc., Deron Snyder is a veteran journalist, stratcomm professional, author and adjunct professor. A native of Brooklyn and an Alpha from H.U. — You Know — he resides in metropolitan D.C. with his wife, Vanessa, mother of their daughters, Sierra and Sequoia. To learn more, please visit blackdoorventures.com/deron.

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