As time passes, change is needed. It is needed for the better. If you are running a business, you need to be caught up with the times. The NFL is that business and it’s success thus far is determined by it’s ability to change with the times. Now these 5 examples are the most beneficial to the NFL which helped it go from a sport barely watched to the number 1 most watched sporting event in America.
5. NFL Films
Ed Sabol and Steve Sabol were onto something when this film production was created. In 1962, NFL Films was created as a way to show the NFL as never seen before. With their use of slow motion, wiring players and coaches, and the production of “Follies” films made them legendary.
Football was viewed through a different lens. Starting with the film, “They Call It Pro Football”, NFL Films-produced thousands of hours of content that projected football in a poetic and fluid way. On their “about us” page, NFL Films states, “It has been called, “the ‘Citizen Kane’ of sports films.” A little piece of cinema that combines sweeping images of stadium pageantry, stirring music, sync-sound footage, and dramatic script lines like, “It starts with a whistle, and ends with a gun,” narrated by the great John Facenda.” I used to love watching NFL Football Follies and seeing Steve Sabol as host. His voice, charisma, and timely humor went well with the players making themselves look like fools.
NFL Films Presents was a weekly show during the season that would show the NFL in a movie-like way with interviews from players and coaches. Stories outside of the box, for instance, the video, “NFL Players Re-Live Their Welcome to the NFL Moment”. We got to see what actually goes through the mind when the first whistle blows in their first game action. It’s unique and entertaining. NFL Films has supplied football fans with thousands of programs to watch. Some of these include NFL Top 10, NFL Films Presents, Football Follies, NFL Top 100, A Football Life, and much more. NFL Films isn’t just legendary for football, but for the sports world.
4. Instant Replay
One of the best innovations to enter professional football. The opportunity to look at close or controversial calls to decide the real outcome is a thing of beauty. This can right the wrong of an on-field decision.
One of the best examples of why instant replay is so important is the 1979 AFC Championship game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Oilers. Mike Renfro made a catch in the back corner of the end zone and it was close if he was in bounds or out of bounds. Renfro was clearly in. The officials could not make a decision. Instant replay wasn’t around at the time but if you were a fan watching the game, the broadcast was playing it over and over. The officials would decide he was not in bounds and the Oilers went on to lose the game. Some Oilers fans say they could have beaten the Steel Curtain Steelers with that touchdown because it would have given them momentum. The NFL took notice of this and had talks of instant replay being used.
Talks of instant replay began in 1976 when Art McNally, the director of football operations, wanted to find out how long a video review would delay the game. Then from 1985 on, the NFL began to make a push for instant replay. It wasn’t the best starting off like any new idea, but it would grow into what we have today. There are now challenges and mandatory reviews after a score or turnover. Now coaches like John Gruden and Pete Carroll dislike the instant replay system but if we are being honest, if a call is missed in a pivotal game then they would be complaining that there was no replay.
3. Free Agency
The power to the players. Free agency is a major key to not just football but the entire sports world. This innovation made it possible for players to join new teams at the end of their contracts. This seems crazy as how free agency wasn’t even a thing. It was unheard of to just leave your team and join another unless that player was traded or retired. Players weren’t bound to one team if they were not satisfied or wanted more money. We saw a great example of this when Kirk Cousins signed a three year, $84 million dollars to sign with the Minnesota Vikings. Free agency isn’t just beneficial to the players but to the fans. When big name players decide to change teams, it has us sports fans on the edge of our seats. Names like Jerry Rice, Peyton Manning, and Rod Woodson were the excitement the NFL needed to boost ratings and to get fans interested. Free agency also opens up door for the worst decisions ever to be made i.e Albert Haynesworth, Scott Mitchell, or Nnamdi Asomugha. One of the best ideas that have evolved throughout NFL history and continues to entice us fans every day.
October 22, 1939, would start what the NFL is today. What day is this you ask? This was the first televised game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Brooklyn Dodgers. NBC was the first to televise a pro football game using two cameras and 8 people on staff. Games today now feature 12 to 20 cameras and 150 to 200 people on staff. This monumental day would launch NFL football into the public eye and become the number 1 sport in America. Football being televised opened up new avenues of understanding the game.
We see how its played, officiated and operated. Hundreds of shows pre-game and post-game now give us a look inside the minds and facilities of these franchises. Players are now seen as celebrities and are role models that inspire young kids across America to one day be in their shoes. NFL games dominate weekly ratings in the fall and the revenue
1. The Super Bowl
This is perhaps the most important innovation the NFL needed to become the number one sport in America. The Super Bowl is the most watched television broadcast in American history. Throughout the 1960s, the NFL and AFL were battling to become the number one football league in America. Prior to the 1966 season, the NFL and AFL agreed to a merger and that the champions of the two leagues would play in a championship game until the merger was completed in 1970. Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt was the first to coin the term “Super Bowl” after he says his children play with a super ball toy.
The first game would be in 1967 between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs bringing in over 20 million views. Now the Super Bowl is being watched by over 100 million people across the United States. The most being in 2015 for Super Bowl XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. That game brought in 114.4 million viewers and had the best finish to a football game period. The revenue brought in by the Super Bowl is astronomical by its commercials and sponsors. Commercials are always a highlight with its goofy creativity and high cost to air. The halftime show brings in major celebrity performances.
The NFL brings in the biggest of stars. The show helps widen the audience by bringing in non-football fans with acts like Beyonce, Katy Perry, and Madonna. The Super Bowl is an amazing pop culture spectacle that the NFL needed and always will as it provides great play on the field and commercial appeal.