It’s that time of year again — the Super Bowl is over, and there’re no more football games for another 6 months. We know, it sucks.
But before we spend our nights scrolling through that Netflix backlog, let’s take one last look back at the NFL season.
The games themselves were EPIC. More games (57%) were won by 8 points or fewer than in any other season in NFL history. And six of the eight divisions had a new winner — only New England and Houston repeated their 2015 runs.
What’s more, the games themselves left us with some pretty great memories. Check out these top 20 moments of the season.
We won’t soon forget the most exciting Super Bowl EVER, with its first-ever overtime and an epic comeback by the Patriots led by Tom Brady. Major congrats to Brady for not only becoming the winningest quarterback ever earlier this season, but also for clinching five Super Bowl titles — also a new QB record. Major kudos, too, to the Falcons, who surprised us all with their killer offense to top the NFC and nearly take the Vince Lombardi Trophy themselves.
Another good thing? The falling number of concussions. We care about player safety and follow the concussion crisis closely, so we’re heartened to see that concussions dropped by 11% this season. In 2015, there were 275 concussions. This past year? 244. And while that’s still too many (more on this below), the increased scrutiny of (and awareness about) the impacts of concussions may be helping players, teams, and the league wake up to the serious issue. And that’s a good thing.
So what didn’t go well? A lot. Declining ratings. The continuing failure of Thursday Night Football. The league's tone-deaf handling of ongoing issues like domestic violence and punishing player celebrations — let alone Goodell’s heavy-handed focus on “Deflategate.” There’s a lot of room for improvement.
One more thing that’s bad: Concussions. Yeah, while the number of concussions this season dropped from 2015, there were still at least 244 serious brain injuries — and that’s assuming every concussion went reported, which is incredibly unlikely. We still need more research on brain injuries and how we can better prevent them from happening. The league must do better in protecting its players than it’s done in the past. Period.
The ugly truth is that we’re beginning to wonder: Do fans even matter to the NFL any more?
Greedy owners are taking away their teams — OUR teams — without any consideration of fans. Stan Kroenke took the Rams back to Los Angeles. The Chargers owners are abandoning San Diego, also for L.A. And the saga of what’s next for the Oakland Raiders continues. (Can NFL owners take a look at their NBA counterparts in Utah, please?)
This is all on top of the rising price of attending games, which screws over fans and puts more profits in the pockets of billionaire owners. The average cost of an NFL game this past season for a family of four was $503 — and that’s just the average, with some of the most expensive areas (Chicago, Washington, New England) costing fans $650 or more! Being a football fan should NOT be this expensive.
One bright spot? The Falcons’ owners announced that next year their prices will be lower — by a LOT — the year after the team made the Super Bowl. At least one team is putting fans first.
So that was the 2016 season, with all its ups and downs. We’ll have to wait and see where this takes us next — hopefully, to some more great games of football when the air gets crisp. And whatever happens, we’ll keep standing up to the NFL when they deserve it — and being a voice for fans everywhere.