The NFL season came to a close Sunday night with a powerhouse matchup between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
Well, a powerhouse matchup on paper.
If not for the extensive marketing and branding of the game, casual fans could have easily mistaken the biggest game of the year for a regular-season game.
And a boring one at that.
In the lowest-scoring Super Bowl game of all time, neither team could get much going on offense, resulting in a final score of 13-3 and a sixth team championship for New England.
Total viewership of Super Bowl LIII topped 100 million viewers on Sunday, according to the Washington Post.
While this is a significant number of people, it represents a decline from last season’s clash between the Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.
And, let’s be honest, millions of those people attended Super Bowl parties and devoured buffalo chicken dip while the Patriots and Rams punted the ball all night long.
But, the game wasn’t predicted to be such a stingy affair, so why the decline in viewership?
Some of it surely has to do with longtime Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a hero in New England but a villain just about everywhere else.
Outside of the Patriots’ Deflategate scandal in 2015 and Brady’s subsequent suspension and the Patriots ninth Super Bowl appearance in modern history (more than any other team in NFL history) a Super Bowl featuring New England just does not excite the NFL faithful.
People can only watch Brady hoist the Lombardi Trophy so many times before resentment sets in.
Additionally, many shunned this year’s game following the questionable officiating in the NFC championship game between the Rams and the New Orleans Saints.
A botched pass-interference call led to a Saints loss, leaving many to believe that New Orleans belonged in the Super Bowl over Los Angeles.
Furthermore, let’s not forget that the NFL continues to grapple with the fallout from many fans as a result of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests of racism and police brutality.
Some of Kaepernick’s detractors have denounced the NFL due to the league’s handling of what they perceived as a disrespectful act toward U.S. veterans and the flag.
On the other side, supporters of Kaepernick resent the league owners for their alleged blackballing of the quarterback due to the controversy.
Others still choose to abstain from NFL viewing amidst growing concern over injuries, concussions and CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain condition tied to repeated blows to the head.
Football injuries are well-documented and often accepted as a part of the game, but some find it difficult to support a sport in which permanent brain trauma is so likely to occur.
Perhaps the declining ratings are onto something.
Although Super Bowl LIII still attracted over 100 million fans, shrinking viewership seems to suggest that people are content to spend Super Bowl Sunday diverting their attention elsewhere.
The arguments for tuning out the NFL are certainly compelling, and it may behoove the rest of us to find something else to watch.
After all, do we really need to watch Brady win a seventh championship? How much different can it be from the first six?