This is the first Sunday without football since Sept. 11, 2021. Feels a little strange, right?
Isn’t the Super Bowl the best-of-three? Shouldn’t Game Two be played tonight?
Sundays are our days, football days, created by the almighty National Football League for our viewing pleasure.
Football is ingrained into fans’ DNA. Our weeks are centered around when our favorite team is playing. We don’t miss the night games.
Football is part of American culture. We enjoy the competition, the violence, the remarkable skill of the players. For its complexity, football can be simple to understand, which is why its popularity grows.
Fans don’t need a master’s degree in Football Proficiency to be knowledgeable and opinionated.
Football is king in America. The sport is beloved. From colleges on Saturdays to the NFL, from heated rivalries, to placing a bet on a sure thing, football provides entertainment and conflict simply not found in many other pursuits.
In Philly, football is devotion. Sure, Philly fans cheer on the Phillies, Sixers and Flyers. But that love tends to rise and fall somewhat with their success. The die-hards are always there. The show-me fans not so much.
That isn’t the case with the Eagles. That passion burns 365 days a year. Whether the Eagles are good or bad, their fans live and die with their team. The NFL has turned itself into a year-round avocation and in Philly, it has willing participants.
When the season ends, Eagles fans especially miss football, and especially this year.
FOOTBALL ON TV
Football is the sport watched by the most Americans. And that’s *not* just the mammoth television audience for the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl Sunday has become an American holiday with family and friends, watch parties, plenty of food and drink, plus friendly wagers. It’s kinda like Thanksgiving but with a good football game to watch instead of the Lions.
The Eagles-Chiefs Super Bowl averaged 113 million television viewers, according to Nielsen, the ratings people. That means an average 113 million viewers watched at any given moment in the game — an audience large enough to warrant the $7 million price tag for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial.
This was the third largest American television audience in *history*. The first two also were Super Bowl games — the 2015 Patriots-Seahawks game (114.4 million) and 2017 Patriots-Falcons game (113.7 million.)
Fox, which broadcast the game, said it was the most watched Super Bowl digitally with about 7 million streams.
In total, 183 million viewers watched any part of the telecast. Fox reported that 119 million viewers watched Rihanna’s halftime show.
The NFL’s popularity goes beyond Super Sunday. In 2022, 82 of the top 100 American television shows were NFL games, according to Nielsen. The previous record was set in 2021, when 75 NFL games were in the top 100.
The NFL had 19 of the top 20 shows in 2022, President Biden’s State of the Union address being the exception at No. 7.
FUTURE IS BRIGHT
The NFL just completed another successful season. Playoff races were lively and competitive and must-see TV.
At the game’s most glamorous position, there is plenty of skill, guts and personalities.
As Tom Brady retires and Aaron Rodgers is getting there, the league has a lineup of outstanding young quarterbacks to fill the void.
People already are talking about Patrick Mahomes as one of the greatest ever. Right behind him, in no particular order, are Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen.
This year’s Super Bowl was considered one of the best ever, a real showcase for the sport.
Even the league’s worst moment — the collapse and near-death of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin — turned into a tale of heroism and hope.
Bills medical personnel on the field that night in Cincinnati performed CPR on Hamlin for a reported nine minutes. Hamlin was hospitalized for nearly two weeks before returning home.
Hamlin continues to make a miraculous recovery. There are whispers he might play again. Hamlin attended the Super Bowl and sat with commissioner Roger Goodell, a public celebration borne out of a near-tragedy.
COUNTDOWN TO SEPTEMBER
Other American sports just can’t match the NFL. The NBA is popular but not on football’s scale. Baseball fans follow *their* team, rabidly so if their team is any good. Witness the Phillies last fall.
Sunday night baseball games on ESPN averaged 1.4 million viewers. The Eagles-Packers Sunday night game in November averaged 16.2 million viewers.
For now, we’re in a football desert. I love football but I’m more than willing to skip watching the USFL and XFL and any other FL I missed. I’ll watch college football all day and the same with the NFL.
Eagles fans, always impatient for the season to start, believe they will have a Super Bowl contender in 2023, this time with a debt to pay. They can’t wait.
It’s a long run until September. How long? Try 200 days until the Chiefs kick off the season on Thursday night, Sept. 7.
Relax, that’s only 4,800 hours away.