People love to pick on MLB, but NFL has its own share of problems
Posted: Tuesday February 3, 2004 2:08PM; Updated: Tuesday February 3, 2004 4:36PM
By Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated
REACT: Which sport -- MLB or the NFL -- deserves the most criticism?
The next time somebody wants to praise the NFL for being run by marketing geniuses, tell them the league owes its broad-based appeal to the twin vices of violence and gambling, not superior thinking. Just remind them of Super Bowl 38 (this is a Roman numeral-free zone). Imagine if baseball shut down its postseason for two weeks, then held a championship game that lasted four hours and five minutes, and, as if the sport's ultimate contest wasn't enough, gave the night's most uninterrupted stretch of televised action over to an insulting, degrading halftime show in which one guy couldn't keep his hand off his own crotch and another ripped clothing off a woman so as to expose her breast. Talk about the boob tube. Great family entertainment, folks.
And the NFL pretends it's shocked that this is what it gets when it hops into bed with MTV? And with "shows'' like this the league is shocked when selfish players try to one-up each other with even more outlandish, self-promoting end-zone celebrations? Please. It's become chic to slam baseball for any little reason -- as if Barry Bonds admiring a home run as it flies out of the park is even close to Joe I'm-Bigger-Than-The-Team Horn planting a cell phone in a goal post and using it as a prop -- but baseball has never insulted its audience the way the NFL did on Sunday. Hey, but as long as bodies keep crashing into each other and you can lay some money down in your office pool, those NFL guys are so much smarter than the baseball people, aren't they?
Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci covers baseball for the magazine and is a regular contributor to SI.com.