NFL ratings, fans and bad calls up

A blown pass interference call destroyed the New Orleans Saints dream to make this year’s Super Bowl.

As the city of Atlanta gears up for the 53rd Super Bowl, featuring the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams, bars in New York City have begun to stock up on beer, fried foods and NFL advertisements and decorations. But the biggest question these bars will have to answer, is will fans come for the big game?

For Brian Dodd a manager at the 13th Step, a Lower East Side bar, NFL fans presence for the Super Bowl has remained steady.

“I think it’s stayed the same,” Dodd said as he poured a customer a beer.

“I mean we’re a sports bar so we always show the Super Bowl, but I definitely haven’t seen a decline or a rise in viewership.”

Dodd is one of many NFL fans who has watched the sport religiously throughout the season. While 2017 left the NFL riddled with controversy, thanks in part to President Trump’s bashing of NFL players kneeling and the contention surrounding former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, 2018 held an upswing for the sport.

Colin Kapernick

The league brought back celebrations, allowed players to be more expressive and after a two year decline in viewership, the league’s TV numbers in 2018 rose 5%. Over 15.8 million viewers watched the NFL this season, with a ratings increase for each of the NFL’s TV partners.  

What was once nicknamed “the No Fun League” was back on the rise, that is, until an egregious missed call in last week’s playoff game between the New Orleans and now Super Bowl bound Los Angeles Rams.

“(It was) ridiculous – the hit was blatant and everyone in the stadium and watching on TV could have seen that it was pass interference,” said Tejas Jain, 23, of Manhattan and a lifelong Jacksonville Jaguars fan. “The player himself admitted that he committed the penalty!”

The play involved a missed penalty by the referees of a pass interference call. It would have put the New Orleans Saints in winning position, but instead lost them their chance to go to their second ever Super Bowl.

As a fan Jain understands that mistakes can happen, especially in real-time game situations, but this missed call was “shocking.”

“That call altered the outcome of the game and the referees should be able to throw a flag for a penalty after a discussion,” Jain said shaking his head. “The same thing happened in last year’s AFC championship, but I won’t get into that.”

Michael Kilmer, 32 of Queens, does not watch the NFL and will be going to a food festival instead of watching the Super Bowl. But even he agreed that the missed call was appalling.
“I only watch because it’s part of my job and I think [the missed call] was definitely bullshit,” Kilmer said. “I don’t agree with it at all and I think it may even set a bad precedent for future NFL fans.”

Kilmer said he was largely turned off from watching football mostly due to the Kaepernick controversy. He believes that the NFL did Kaepernick a major disservice and continues to dig itself deeper when it comes to player issues.  

Jain said despite last weeks misstep, he will still be watching the Super Bowl and he believes it won’t affect viewership. Dodd, who is also going to be watching the Super Bowl agreed, pointing out that this missed call wasn’t the first.

“I don’t think there will be a difference in viewership. There were terrible missed calls all season long,” Dodd said. “People are only discussing this one because it happened during the playoffs.”