No guarantees here, because the National Football League has a way of keeping itself on front pages of newspapers and in A blocks of sports television news programs regardless of the circumstances, but we’re now finally entering a two month-long stretch in which the NFL at least isn’t supposed to dominate the world of sports media.
Usually, that stretch is closer to three months. But training camps haven’t budged and the NFL draft fell two weeks later this year. That change and the lingering storylines generated by Johnny Manziel and Michael Sam means the league’s “dark period” will be significantly shorter this year, which was probably by design considering how savvy and aggressive the NFL can be when it comes to marketing itself year-round.
Said dark period technically was underway when the NFL draft came to an end at Radio City Music Hall 11 days ago, but Manziel, Sam and a double murder indictment levied against Aaron Hernandez had the talking heads dishing on football fodder for an extra week and a half.
As I was writing this post this week, only two of the top 11 headlines on ESPN.com’s front page pertained to the NFL — one on Minneapolis being award the 2018 Super Bowl and another on Chip Kelly using a toy car to simulate pre-snap motion during Eagles rookie minicamp.
In that same audit, CBSSports.com was 3-for-11 and Yahoo! Sports was 1-for-10.
On Wednesday night’s 6 PM ET SportsCenter, the NFL was hardly mentioned at all. Only Johnny Manziel (of course), LeSean McCoy, and the Seahawks visiting the White House were given mention along with a quick John Clayton Q&A.
Don’t think this means the NFL is going away for a little while. It’s never, ever going to let that happen. But with Tuesday’s ownership meetings out of the way, there’s nothing of note on the NFL calender between now and the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 3.
There’ll likely be some intriguing roster moves once teams can save cash by cutting players at the start of June, and organized team activities garner a baffling amount of coverage, but not a single player will be on the field for a mandatory or voluntary team practice beyond June 20. At that point, things are expected to go from quiet to dead, with only training camp previews and player arrests finding their way into the sports news cycle.
I live and breathe football, and I’m guessing many of you do as well. But I’m OK with this. In fact, I embrace it. Does it suck coming up with content as a full-time NFL writer when the entire league is on vacation? Sure. But even as a fan I appreciate getting a break. That way, when professional football comes back in a couple months, you’re re-energized.
The league’s PR folks would be smart to recognize how important this annual exposure pause is for paying customers who might otherwise stop appreciating just how great the NFL is. Sometimes stepping away from the 24/7/365 cycle that is the NFL can be a good thing.