Tony Dungy Oct 30, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; NBC Sports commentator and former NFL head coach Tony Dungy on the air before a game between the Buffalo Bills and the Green Bay Packers at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

By all accounts, the NFL is thriving. The season that just wrapped up was the second-most-watched ever. NFL partner CBS had its most-watched season since the league returned to the network in 1998. ‘Monday Night Football’ viewership soared to heights they haven’t seen since 2000. 96 of the top 100 U.S. telecasts of 2023 were NFL games.

Still, in some circles, the myth that the NFL is struggling to connect with audiences persists. Left over from the “the NFL has gone woke” cries of the Trump presidency, there is still a sense to some that the league has erred in some way and alienated a specific kind of viewer.

If so, it certainly doesn’t show up in the data. But that doesn’t stop people from pontificating about what’s “wrong” with the NFL. That’s especially true if you can couple it with the Taylor Swift Effect of the 2023-2024 season, in which the musical megastar became a mainstay of Kansas City Chiefs broadcasts as she cheered on boyfriend Travis Kelce.

Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo was at Thursday’s Hall of Fame banquet before the 78th Hula Bowl in Orlando and he spoke with several NFL luminaries about the state of the game. He spoke with NFL legends like Vince Ferragamo, Tony Dungy, and Rod Woodson, peppering them with discussion topics ranging from Bill Belichick’s Patriots run ending to Gen-Z sports-viewing habits.

While the others were a bit measured in their responses, Dungy seemed to take the bait and dove into why he feels young people may be “disenchanted” with football and the NFL.

“I think we’ll always have sports in some form or fashion. Some people are disenchanted with it,” said Dungy.

The NBC analyst was then asked about “The Taylor Swift Effect” and connected those dots further.

“That’s the thing that’s disenchanting people with sports now,” said Dungy. “There’s so much on the outside coming in. Entertainment value and different things. Taking away from what really happens on the field.”

It’s a bit hard to make sense of what Dungy is trying to get at. Young people don’t enjoy sports because Taylor Swift is involved? That doesn’t make any sense. And if he’s implying that older generations don’t like the way “entertainment” is getting in the way of watching football games, what does that even mean? When was there a time when “entertainment” wasn’t part of the sports-watching experience?

To be fair, Arroyo was clearly trying to get his interview subjects to engage with the topics he broached, but that doesn’t mean you have to play the game. Dungy, however, has long been someone in the sports media willing to yell at clouds.

The good news for Dungy is that if he’s worried about “entertainment” invading NFL broadcasts, that’s certainly not something he’d ever be accused of.

[Fox News]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to