There is not football every day. That is a crime against Man and Nature, but until it's properly rectified, we have to make do with columns like this one, where we kick around topics both sublime and ridiculous. Want in on the mailbag? Send your questions, quips, comments and queries to email@example.com or find me on Twitter at @jaybusbee . The best questions might just end up on our NBC Sports Network show SportsDash, too.
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Are you reading this at an NFL game? Or in line to get tickets to an NFL game? No? Well, why not? You're just not a loyal enough fan, fella! Let's hear from someone who's more loyal than you, because he's devoted his fandom to Jacksonville, the poor guy:
Whenever anyone wants to talk about teams not selling out or struggling to sell tickets, the Jaguars are the first team to come up. The legendary Steelers sold 2,000 tickets more than us this week and the mighty Bears of that quaint, little town of Chicago sold 3,000 more than we did. I'm not asking anyone outside of Jacksonville to root for the Jags, but give it a rest. We don't have the tradition of Pitt or Chicago or even Miami, who really struggles to broadcast a home game, but we support our team. It's been rough enough the past few years with our GMs working OT to destroy this team through the draft, but to have this constant barrage of outright misrepresentation is just tiresome and irresponsible.
Proud Jaguars fan
First off, Michael, thumbs up for being a Jags fan. And not ironic thumbs, either; support your team, so that when they do make a run in, like, 2104 or whatever, your grandkids can tell their grandkids that Grandpa Michael was a loyal one.
Now, to your point. While it's true that Jacksonville has only sold a few thousand tickets less than the Steelers and Bears for home games, you've got to add some context. Those stadiums are filling up at over 100 percent capacity, while Jacksonville's is only at about 89 percent. In other words, if there were more seats available, those other cities likely would've WAY outsold Jacksonville.
But let's use this as a chance to question the larger issue: how important is attendance? Obviously, gate revenue helps teams with all the elements of their organization, from infrastructure to signing that lunatic free agent who's going to sink the team and carry off $30 million. But given the fact that all NFL teams share in a phenomenally large television pie, attendance isn't the end-all, be-all that it used to be.
The problem, of course, is that attending NFL games can be a serious pain. Parking, concessions, some idiot in a dated jersey picking a fight with anyone around him before puking himself into unconsciousness, plus the fact that you're missing all the other action happening at the same time ... you could buy season tickets, or you could buy a gargantuan HD TV and enough snacks to get you through all 17 weeks, plus playoffs, just fine.
That's why the NFL and teams are trying to lure fans back to the stadium with video screens, food deals, everything up to and including foot rubs. Empty seats are the dented fenders of the NFL; the product may be perfectly healthy, but it looks a little scrappy.
Thing is, it's not your obligation as a fan to get shamed into attending games, not by the team and not by the media. The blackout rule is a horrible one, a Catholic-nun ruler-slap across your knuckles for wanting to enjoy your football Sunday. Don't fall for it. Make 'em make the team better, make 'em make the experience better. Don't be guilted by your own team.
Also, if you have a cool HD TV setup and snacks, invite us over.
#NFL is so desperate to give #NFLNetwork Thursday nite games, but the quick turnaround is hurting the quality of the games $$ @jaybusbee
— HakLove (@haklove) September 20, 2013
Thursday night football is kind of a careful-what-you-wish-for situation. On one hand, you're thinking, "hell yes! More football!" On the other, you're not quite to the weekend yet so you can't go to a sports bar and really cut loose, you're always forgetting to set your fantasy lineups appropriately ... oh, and the games tend to really suck.
Obviously, the teams playing in the game have a significant impact on whether the game itself is any good; as we saw on Monday night, Oakland could have fielded 14 men and wouldn't have been able to hang with Denver. And the Thursday night game features a lot of dog teams because of the necessity of scheduling each team at least once on national TV. Over and above that, though, the fact that teams have to hypercompress their prep and recovery time leads to, well, some unspectacular matchups even between quality teams.
As with everything involving football, though, this toothpaste isn't going back in the tube. A trainwreck of a football game still outdraws pretty much anything else on TV, so check your fantasy lineups right now and just deal with it.
Me, I'm waiting for the time the NFL screws up and schedules one team on a Monday night followed by a Thursday night. They'd stay in game mode for 96 straight hours. They'd have to be locked in a barn somewhere.
Classic commercial break:
Check out Deacon Jones debating a tub of Parkay margarine. Commercials were so innocent back then. You know that if they made this commercial today, somebody would be busting through the ceiling and there'd be a bare-knuckle throwdown with the butter tub. With a soundtrack by Skrillex.
Got a classic commercial you'd like to see here? Hit us up with the link .
Most of us now have big screen, HD TVs. Yet with what do the networks fill the screens during football games? Scroll bars on top, scroll bars on the bottom. Why not give us a full screen of the game so we can enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed?
The PGA Tour figured it out. A little bug in the top corner with some pertinent info, and then let the TV screen be filled with the sport. Take a hint, NFL! More game on screen, fewer scrolls, stats and scores! Use the technology we have to supplement the viewing experience, but let the viewing experience stand on its own.
Well, it's not actually the NFL's decision on how broadcast partners arrange their screens. That's up to the various networks, though you can bet that if all four walls were covered with stats and info, the NFL would have a thing or two to say. (Full disclosure: we're partners with NBC Sports, which airs Sunday Night Football.)
That said: I would love to see what would happen if we could bring forward someone from the past and see what they'd think with the information overload present on every screen. For me, it's almost white noise; I can tune it out until the moment that I need it, although I'm always catching the second half of the score I want to see right as it scrolls off the screen.
For another angle, though, let's take a look back at what a broadcast was like prior to today's hyperconnected days. Here's a game from 1993, when a sprightly young QB by the name of Brett Favre was leading a Green Bay offense against the Los Angeles Rams:
Where's the score? Where's the dancing robots? Where's the fantasy updates? Where's the rest of Mike Holmgren? Man, it's like watching home movies or something. So much information we're missing here.
Can Eli Manning get worse?
"Can [anything] get worse?" is always a dangerous question. Ask the people who had Aaron Hernandez in keeper leagues. But while Eli would lead the list of Football Players Least Likely To Be Associated With Three Homicides (which is a perfect cover! ), it's unlikely his off-field exploits will make much news. On the field, though, it's a crime scene straight out of "Hannibal." Eli is providing Christmas gifts to opposing defenses every single week.
Truth is, though, outside of the interceptions, Manning isn't really that awful of a quarterback. Which is to say, per the NFL's fancy Stats Lab, he's pretty average across the board . Interceptions are backbreakers, but so too is a defense that directs opponents into the end zone with airport flashlights. Still, Eli is the quarterback, Eli is a Manning, and unless and until the Giants turn around, he'll take the heat for New York's sub-sub-substandard play, and he'll deserve almost all of it.
And that'll do it for this week. Want to get in on the action? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter at @jaybusbee . And to kill more time between games, check out our Shutdown Podcast on iTunes right here . Enjoy your Sunday, friends!