The NFL is a mega billion dollar company that is far from a new thing in society. If you want to see just how far things have come since their humble beginnings, just watch footage of an old game from the 60s era and then watch footage of a recent Super Bowl.
Everything now is glitz and glamour in public, but there are plenty of things that go on behind the scenes that the NFL doesn’t want you to know about. Things that they are responsible for, things they know about, things they don’t want to acknowledge, and things that they don’t want to admit in public.
They are no different from any other major corporation in that regard; as every company has things that they don’t want the public to know. But the NFL is such a public company that they have to work much harder to keep things quiet. That’s especially paramount when you consider that their overall image is contingent on fans, money, off the field issues, and player safety.
The bottom line about the NFL is that they think if they keep certain things quiet, the public will never find out. But the truth always come out eventually, and when it does it usually makes the entity that is hiding it, look even worse. Take the Ray Rice incident for example. The NFL knew all about the entire incident long before they admitted they did, but we’ll get into that more a little later on.
Here are 18 things that the NFL doesn’t want you to know. And some of them they go to great lengths to keep the details a secret.
18. Super Bowl Ticket Prices
If you are a fan of the NFL and your favorite team is lucky enough to get to the Super Bowl, chances are very high that you’ll have to watch it on TV. That’s because the average fan can’t afford a ticket to get into the game. Easy to see why when you consider that the average ticket has a resale value of well over $3,000 for a single ticket. Not to mention that because the Super Bowl rotates from city to city, if a fan wanted to go they would have to include plane fare, hotels, food, and local travel into their budget.
The regular face value of the average ticket is over $1,000, so even if a fan is lucky enough to get a ticket that is not outrageously marked up, they will still have to put out a pretty penny or two.
A ticket for a football game in the regular season is ridiculously high as it is, and the NFL expects you to pay it (and you do). But as the playoffs get deeper, the prices get steeper. Once your team is playing for the championship, the league doesn’t care if you can afford to get in or not, they’ll find someone to pay for the tickets, even if it isn’t a fan.
17. Super Bowl Week Negatively Impacts Businesses
Everyone knows that most people do their online reading and research during regular business hours, after all, why not do that while still on the clock! But during Super Bowl week it’s worse. Everyone is always looking for the latest news about the upcoming game, reading interviews, and reading and hunting for those last little tidbits of information. It’s one of the worst productivity weeks in the year for a business.
Workers also spend many hours setting up betting pools, talking to each other about the game, and putting together office parties. It is estimated that over $1 billion is lost by employers during Super Bowl week due to employees sprinkling in work with their preparations for the Super Bowl.
And then of course you have the Monday after the game. It’s reported that around 6% of the overall American work force calls out sick on the Monday following the Super Bowl.
16. The NFL’s Thoughts On Court
Tom Brady changed the sporting world forever, and not just because he got caught cheating. That’s an entirely different story. But when he was suspended and then took the NFL to court to have the suspension overturned, it changed sports as we know them. You can bet any amount of money that those executive staff members from MLB, the NHL, and the NBA, were following those court hearings very closely. Since sports began it was always just a given that a league could suspend a player and that was final. Tom Brady showed the world otherwise.
The court did indeed end up reversing Brady’s suspension, but the ordeal is still not over as the NFL has tried to appeal the decision. Yet one thing is for sure, every time that the league wants to suspend a player they have to be thinking about what the media may make of it.
The Brady cheating scandal was a major black eye for the NFL and what happened in court was even worse for the leagues image. The league has taken a strong stance recently about the actions of its players both on and off the field. The bottom line though, is that the league is now virtually powerless when handing out suspensions. Maybe it will stick, but maybe the player will go to court and try to have it overturned. This is a major concern not only for the NFL, but now for every sports league around.
15. Real Fans Can’t Go To The Game
Whenever you watch a Super Bowl the stadium is always jam packed. Previously we talked about how the average fan can’t afford to go to the game, and here this is another reason why: There just aren’t tickets available to the casual person! This is another significant reason behind why the tickets are marked up so ridiculously high.
80% of all tickets are sold to NFL corporate sponsors, no matter who is playing in the game. Of the rest of the tickets, a high percentage is given to the participating teams. Then there are some given to the team that is hosting the game, and then a very small percentage is split amongst the rest of the NFL teams. That’s right, even the teams that didn’t make the playoffs get some tickets to the Super Bowl. The NFL itself also takes some of the remaining tickets and sells them. So the amount of tickets that are available for the real fans of the actual teams that are playing in the game is a very small number. It’s not like a regular sporting event that you can walk up to the ticket window and buy them!
It wasn’t always this way though. Previous to the championship game being called the Super Bowl, fans could actually go up to the ticket window and buy tickets for as low as six dollars.
14. Non-Player Entertainers Are Paid Horribly
These would be your team mascots, cheerleaders, etc. The average rate of pay for these types of people is around $3.00 per hour. There have recently been several instances were cheerleaders have filed and actually won some law suits for better pay, but it’s not a league wide thing as of yet. The recent changes towards bettering the work environment for team performers means that eventually this will be fixed across the league, but as of right now it’s still not the best work environment. Only a few teams currently pay their entertainers a fair wage, which is ridiculous when you consider how much money the league brings in.
13. The Super Bowl’s Impact On Next-Day Work Attendance
The day after the Super Bowl, “Black Monday”, is the day that the most amount of people call out sick to work throughout the year. As you now know from above, it’s reported that around 6% of the overall American work force doesn’t report to work the following day. Though this could be because of they really are sick. It’s reported that on Super Bowl Sunday around 8 million tons of guacamole, 4,000 tons of popcorn, and 14,500 tons of chips are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.
Other reasons for not attending work the day after the Super Bowl range from depression from their favorite team losing, over celebration from their team winning, or the game ending too late and they don’t want to get up early. Another major reason is that a person knows several of their fellow employees won’t be going to work that day, and they don’t want to go in and have to pick up the slack. Sounds like a good enough reason to me.
12. The Super Bowl Curse
Every sports fan knows about the Curse of the Bambino. It was said that after the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, that Boston was cursed and would never win another World Series. While they did, it took the Red Sox 86 years and many heartbreaking moments before they were finally able to win their next World Series. Prior to sending Ruth to New York, the team was one of the best in baseball and had won the championship five times.
It may not last as long as the Bambino curse, but the Super Bowl has a similar one as well. Since the 1999 Super Bowl, the team that loses that game has only had a winning record the next season 5 times.
11. Companies Can’t Use The Words “Super Bowl”
It’s a certainty that you have seen commercials for businesses advertising all kinds of supplies, parties etc. for Super Bowl events. And you have most certainly heard all of the silly expressions that they use to talk about the game. Some favorites are “the big game,” the game,” and “the championship game.” Some companies get really creative and come up with some awful phrases to use.
The reason they have to do this is because the NFL owns the trademark for the term “Super Bowl.” On several occasions in the past they have shown that they have no problem sending out cease and desist orders to companies that use it. Now that doesn’t mean that companies can’t get permission to use the term, but they may have to pay a large amount of money to the NFL for the right.
That’s also partially why commercials that run during the Super Bowl cost so much. In 2010 Budweiser signed a 6 Super Bowl contract with the NFL as a major sponsor that was worth $1 billion. Just a regular 30 second commercial during the game can cost over $4 million easily.
So the next time you start seeing those commercials using silly names to describe the Super Bowl, you will know that you are being subject to those stupid names because the NFL is 100% greedy.
10. The NFL Ignored Brain Injuries
The NFL has finally admitted that there is a link between the game and degenerative brain injuries like CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).
Dr. Julian Bailes, a former team doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers, said that “We always knew you could have concussions and it could affect your career, maybe be career ending.”
In public the NFL has denied the link for many years, but just recently admitted that it’s true. They say that they have put many new rules in places to combat this type of long term head injury and they have reported a decrease in concussions over the last few years.
Last year a federal judge approved a class action lawsuit that was brought by several former players against the NFL. The players claim that the league knew of the dangers and hid them from the public and from its players.
Even though the league has just recently admitted the link between the game and the head injuries, it definitely hurts the integrity of the game if they have known about it for a very long time. Especially when you know the league will go to great lengths to prove anyone wrong that says otherwise.
9. The Super Bowl Number Is Wrong
So you think that you watched the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, do you? That’s not really the case.
When the NFL and AFL were beginning their merger they agreed on a championship game that was called the NFL-AFL World Championship Game. That name was used for the first two games. There is some controversy about how the term Super Bowl originated though. Some reports say that the Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt originally coined the term. While others report that the media started it as a take on the college bowl games, this being the biggest game of them all.
The term Super Bowl wasn’t incorporated into the game until the third championship game when the New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts. It was called Super Bowl III but it was actually the first one to use that term. So in reality, Super Bowl 50 isn’t for a couple of more years.
8. NFL Players Have A Shorter Life Span
A player that plays in the NFL has a much shorter life span, especially in comparison to other careers. This can be attributed to all of the injuries that are suffered during a playing career, most prominently injuries to their head. A 1994 report said that the average lifespan of an NFL player was 55 years. With everything that has been put into place over the last several years this number has certainly gone up, but not by a tremendous amount. It’s still a very sad number and it leads to the question, is this job seriously worth the money? Especially when you’re about to find out how many players end up going broke.
7. The NFL Makes LOADS Of Money
The NFL may be one of the biggest sports in the world, but you cannot ignore the fact that it is also a business, and it’s big business. No person that owns an NFL team wants to lose money and they do everything they can to turn a profit, and this is no different from any other business. But the NFL makes enough money to put many larger corporations to shame. The league brings in profits of over $9 billion and they are constantly looking for ways to make that number even higher. It shouldn’t be hard to do when the amount of revenue from a single Super Bowl weekend reaches unbelievable heights in profits when everything is considered.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that he wants the NFL’s profits to reach $25 billion a year in about ten years or so.
But they don’t want people to know that. There are so many things wrong with the league that could easily be fixed by just spending a little money (in terms of $9 billion), that they refuse to do. I can only imagine the public scrutiny that would occur if the exact numbers were ever released.
Better locker room situations, better medical staff training, better off the field training for its players, and taking better care of its retired players are just a few of the things that some of that money could be spent on. And in terms of the leagues profits, what would need to be spent would be pennies on the dollar. But just like any other company, when the NFL faces questions about why this or that hasn’t been done, they always say the same thing: that it’s all about the money. They have plenty of money. They just don’t like spending it on things that would be beneficial.
6. Too Many Players Go Broke
Close to 80% of NFL players that leave the league go bankrupt within five years. Close to 80%, in FIVE years. Another thing the league could clearly spend money on is making better financial planning available to its players.
Too many players spend too much money on giant houses, partying, several cars, and other luxury items. This may be fun but not when they don’t make smart investments, or any investments at all. A small percentage of players are smart with their money, and have smart investments, but sadly that’s not the norm.
When a player is given more money than they have ever seen, for some reason they think that it will last forever. The fact of the matter is that in most cases, their earnings last far less than an average career in other sports. NFL players also have the shortest average career span of all of the major sports, thus the paychecks stop coming in much quicker than other sports. When a player buys a huge house sometimes they will pay cash for it. But what they don’t realize is once their playing career is over, that house still needs to be paid for in terms of taxes and general upkeep, etc. Players spend money foolishly and the people that are closest to them, who should warn them, don’t care because they are also benefitting from the players newfound wealth.
Let me write that one more time. Close to 80% of NFL players are flat broke within five years after their playing career ends. That number has as big of an impact as any tackle.
5. Painkillers Are A Way of Life
In many ways professional wrestling and the NFL are a lot alike. So much so that there are many people that leave football to become professional wrestlers. Both careers have shorter life spans, and sadly, both have serious drug issues within their ranks.
In 2014 the DEA made several surprise inspections at NFL stadiums across the country. The results were pretty much what everyone knew, but the NFL refused to acknowledge: that prescription drug use is running rampant throughout the NFL. When you consider all of the injuries that are suffered and the weekly battle that players put their bodies through, it should be no surprise that players are abusing medication.
There are many former NFL players that have gone public about their battles with prescription addiction. Former quarterback (and we use that word loosely) Ryan Leaf was sentenced to prison after years of painkiller abuse. Leaf got into trouble with the law several times before finally going to prison, and most of those incidents were in some way related to drugs.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Philadelphia Eagle Tom McHale died in 2008 after he overdosed on painkillers. Countless players have also admitted that they have a problem with dependency because of injuries that they suffered while playing in the NFL. Yet the league will never talk about that, because touchdowns are more exciting.
4. NFL Television Blackout Restrictions
The National Football League policies on television blackouts are the strictest in all of sports. When you turn on the TV on a Sunday afternoon to watch your team play, but you can’t find the game, know that it’s the doings of the NFL.
The blackout policy says that any game that is not sold out 72 hours prior to kickoff will not be shown on television within a 75 mile radius of the stadium. If a team is close to selling out the game they can apply for an extension with the league. But for teams that don’t have a good record, all it does is penalize the fans that don’t want to pay the outrageous ticket price to watch a losing squad.
In many cases local broadcast stations will buy up remaining tickets or the team itself will do so, just so the game can be shown in their local market. The purpose for this is to entice fans to actually attend the game at the stadium and support their favorite team in person. But with ticket prices getting higher each year, it’s easy to understand why many people don’t want to pay that amount of money to watch a team that has a losing record.
Teams that can’t sell out games should be allowed to use local television broadcasts to entice fans to come out to the stadium. In doing so, they can show the local fans what type of experience they are missing out on by not attending the game in person.
The simple fact though is that the average person can’t afford to go to an NFL game anymore. That’s not their fault. But if they want to watch the game on TV and still support their team, they should be able to. After all if you can’t afford to attend a game in person, and you can’t watch your team on TV, what’s the point of being a fan?
3. George Preston Marshall and the Redskins
The Washington Redskins have been facing a lot of scrutiny over the last several years because of the team’s name. And when you look back at their history, it’s no surprise that the team was the very last NFL team to allow non white people onto its roster as staff or players. Former owner George Preston Marshall was a very outspoken and proud racist.
NFL teams had been integrated since the Los Angeles Rams allowed it in 1946. But it didn’t happen with the Redskins until 1962. Even then, it didn’t happen until the government stepped in to fix the issue. They threatened federal action if Marshall didn’t change his ways; this was the first time that the government had ever stepped in on this type of matter.
There is no telling what’s going to happen in Washington with the name of the team. Every time it looks like the pressure has got them to a point that it looks like a change is inevitable, still nothing happens. But it can be traced all the way back to those days when Marshall was the owner. And the NFL does everything that it can to avoid that subject.
2. The NFL Knew About The Ray Rice Incident
At this point everyone knows about the Ray Rice incident when he knocked his then girlfriend (now wife) unconscious. The incident happened in an Atlantic City casino elevator in April of 2014. Law enforcement confirmed to the Associated Press that the NFL was sent the entire tape from inside the elevator, in full, of the incident after it happened.
But Rice wasn’t released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended by the NFL until September 8th of that year. They reported that they didn’t have all of the facts and hadn’t seen the tape until that point. But it was proven that the league lied about that fact and as you can imagine, it made them look very bad. They reported that they were conducting an internal investigation into the matter but who knows what that really consisted of. The fact that they knew of the situation for five months before acting on it does nothing to help the leagues overall credibility.
Over the past several years there have been numerous acts of domestic violence carried out by NFL players. The league has brought about changes in terms of its “Personal Conduct Policy” but the policy itself isn’t anywhere close to being the complete solution. Both the press and the public have found many instances where this new policy still doesn’t work as it should, but the NFL just keeps going about its business as if everything is ok.
It’s hard to compare one instance to another and say one is worse than another because they are all disgusting. But just looking into the Greg Hardy situation will tell you that the NFL still doesn’t have this under control, and it’s questionable if they even want to. They lied about the whole Ray Rice deal, so there is no telling what they really know and just ignore. But in the eyes of the public the league knows a lot more than they let people believe they do.
1. The NFL Doesn’t Want To Suspend Star Players
There have been several top players in the NFL that have gotten into trouble over the last few years. One of the most surprising though was the Adrian Peterson case. He was suspended for causing negligent injury to his son. The case itself is still kind of borderline depending on who you ask. He was disciplining his son and the details didn’t look all that bad. But it led to other allegations coming out and everything combined, put enough pressure on the league to take action. There is no doubt that Peterson has been a top star in the NFL for a long time now and he seemed like a pretty good guy, but clearly sometimes the image that we get to see is not the real person.
The public was outraged at the accusations, but after the NFL told the public that he would face a long suspension they calmed down. But then a voicemail to Peterson from NFL Executive Troy Vincent was leaked and things got bad again for the league. Vincent promised Peterson in the voicemail that he would only get a two-game suspension. Once this was leaked the league quickly changed their stance and Peterson missed the rest of the season. But not before President Obama offered his opinion on the NFL’s troubles. He made it clear that he wanted the league to start taking these issues more seriously.
The NFL is a business and having star players like Peterson or Ray Rice not on the field hurts business. So the league will do whatever they have to do to put off handing out a suspension for as long as possible, but you still need to do what is the right and moral thing. And now because of the Tom Brady issue, they have to make sure that they are in the right before doing so. Though that is something that they should have to do anyway.
But the bottom line is that the NFL only cares about one thing and that’s money. You don’t reach over $9 billion in revenue by keeping your star players on the sidelines. Look at the example of Greg Hardy again. There was more than enough proof of what he did to his girlfriend, yet he continued to play and receive support from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Team owners and the NFL itself have only one goal and that’s to make as much revenue as possible. After all, nobody is buying jerseys of a guy that’s not playing for the year.
As far as the NFL is concerned, they don’t care what a player does off the field, as long as he doesn’t get caught and bring bad publicity to the league. But as you know now, there is nothing they care more about then money.