The New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions after a 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in what is widely being called the most boring Super Bowl of all time. It's the sporting extravaganza that is supposed to act as the culmination of a football season that captivates a nation. Instead, social media spent hours bashing everything from the quality of the game, the boredom with the Patriots winning again, the mediocrity that was the halftime show and the continued blackballing of Colin Kaepernick. Boredom allowed for fans to vent all of their problems with the NFL for five uninterrupted hours. The optics were horrible, and the NFL has only its poor, sometimes vindictive, decisions to blame.
The NFL has tried to rectify many of its officiating controversies, but it may have been too little, too late, as they waited until 2017 to employ any referees full-time. By then, the league had seen so many prime-time blown calls that the stench of bad calls are all over any mistake, big or small. But that missed pass interference is just the tip of the iceberg. The other, bigger issues with the Super Bowl stem from years of stubborn choices.
The Super Bowl halftime show is usually where the country can come together, regardless of team alliances, and enjoy the entertainment. This year was different. The NFL came under fire for its halftime selection of Maroon 5, a mostly white pop act with no ties to the booming city of Atlanta and its hip-hop connection. The Super Bowl halftime show has been a point of racial contention since Janet Jackson was herself blackballed after her top was exposed on live television. In the years since, the halftime show veered older and whiter. Picking Maroon 5 only furthered that perception.
The nation watched a Rams quarterback who was incapable of scoring a touchdown, begging the question: 'You mean, Colin Kaepernick couldn’t do that?'
The Super Bowl was a perfect storm of all of the NFL’s bad decisions coming home to roost—as an added bonus, the MVP, Julian Edelman, was suspended earlier in the year for performance-enhancing drugs. The result? The lowest-rated Super Bowl since 2009.
The NFL has thrived for years despite a groundswell of anti-NFL sentiment and the league’s misguided decisions and hubris. They’ll still rake in money, and the Super Bowl will always exist as some sort of singular American event. But at some point, the league will have to reckon with the choices it’s made that got us to this point: with an entire country of viewers (New England fans aside, probably) spending hours expressing disdain for the entire NFL product.