CANTON, OH – AUGUST 9: Charles Johnson #12 of the Minnesota Vikings tries to break a tackle in the first quarter of the NFL Hall of Fame Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on August 9, 2015 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

If anyone out there still had any doubts about the insatiable appetite for football, the ratings for Sunday’s NFL Hall of Fame Game telecast should settle such misgivings decisively. And if there was any thought that the DeflateGate scandal might have turned some people off from pro football, well, the numbers certainly don’t indicate such a sentiment.

According to NBC, Sunday’s preseason game between the Steelers and Vikings (a 14-3 Minnesota victory) averaged 11.0 million viewers, resulting in the largest audience for a NFL preseason contest since the Bengals-Cowboys Hall of Fame game in 2010 (which averaged 11.4 million viewers).

That number marks a 29 percent increase over last year’s Giants-Bills preseason opener and was the most-watched sporting event since the Women’s World Cup Final and the victorious U.S. squad, which averaged 22.3 million viewers on Fox.

Before the final viewership numbers came in, the overnight ratings made abundantly clear just how popular the NFL is. (Again, as if there was any doubt.) Rather than sour fans on the sport, the DeflateGate saga may have actually made people more eager to see some actual football being played after a six-month hiatus, instead of constant talk about deflated footballs, destroyed cell phones and suspensions.

And we should most certainly not discount any curiosity for what Al Michaels and colleagues might say about former partner and football broadcasting institution Frank Gifford, who passed away on Sunday.

The Hall of Fame Game drew a 6.9 overnight rating. ProFootballTalk put that into perspective by comparing that number to other recent big sporting events. Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final earned a 5.6 rating, for example. The 6.9 rating also outdrew Game 1 of the NBA’s Eastern and Western Conference Finals, the Indianapolis 500, and the first game of the AL and NL championship series. We’re talking about a NFL preseason game versus a championship clincher in the NHL and playoff openers in the NBA and MLB, not to mention perhaps the signature event in auto racing.

Somewhere, Roger Goodell and his supporters are probably smiling. And NBC might be wishing it had another preseason game to televise sooner than Aug. 30, its next scheduled NFL broadcast.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.