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Fact: NFL TV Ratings are Down Because America Misses Peyton Manning

Dan WetzelNFL television viewership has fallen the past two seasons. … The reasons are myriad. Protesting players. Colin Kaepernick not being signed in 2017. CTE discomfort. President Donald Trump’s rips of the league. There is also the fact that a surge in popularity for daily fantasy in 2015 may have pushed numbers to unsustainable highs. Plus technology has decreased viewership of all television.

It’s any of these things. It’s all of these things.

There is one other reason that has gotten scant attention but may be a bigger contributing factor than most realize.

Peyton Manning. …

Sports Illustrated noted that in 2017, just one regular-season game scored more than a 15.0 rating – the Dec. 17 New England-Pittsburgh game during the late Sunday window on CBS.

In 2015, there were 13 such games. … [I]n his five times on national network broadcasts that year, Denver never scored lower than 21.1 million viewers. The games averaged 22.7 million, which is above even the “Sunday Night Football” average in 2015 and way higher than anything in 2017. There was also an appearance on “MNF” in Week 16 when he returned from injury that drew 15.8 million. It was the only time more than 15 million people watched “MNF.”

In 2014 the viewership was even stronger when Manning and Denver averaged 23.98 million viewers across nine national network broadcasts and 16.03 million in one “MNF” appearance.

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. I don’t have any particular problem with Dan Wetzel, but when I saw the premise to this article, I was ready to put him on missile lock, fire all my weapons and then crash the drone into the bomb crater. Because the last thing the world needs is another fawning, obsequious, Peyton rim job by the media wing of the Manning crime family. But when Wetzel backs it up with actual numbers, what can I say? This is just facts. When he’s right, he’s right.

There is it, America’s hero worship of Peyton in the form of TV ratings. I can’t argue the data. We as a people loved him even more than I ever realized. And still do. Despite being born a celebrity’s kid who had every advantage. Despite being the ultimate overdog, a four-year starter in college. The ugliness of being accused of teabagging the Tennessee Vols trainer. The No. 1 draft pick. The record 13 postseason losses and astonishing NINE one-and-dones. The Al Jazeera HGH story. And capping off his career by shilling for a beer company and kissing notorious, fucking creepshow Papa John the very first thing after winning the Super Bowl:

…nothing matters. Even after it was documented the Mannings sent a goon squad to knock on the door of his HGH accuser and intimidate the tits out of his parents, there’s not a scratch on him. He’s made of the same material as Captain America’s shield. We as a people adore that goober. And his retirement has left a giant, thumbhead-shaped hole in our hearts. There’s no denying it. Facts is facts.

It’s funny how that works. When a sports league takes a star player and promotes him, he becomes more popular. When you celebrate an athlete’s successes instead of calling all everything he’s ever done into question, people want to watch that guy. When you get the public to appreciate they’re witnessing a unique talent instead of wanting to bathe in his blood every time he fails – and getting your “broadcast partners” on board with that – ratings go up. And when you make a nationwide celebration out of a a guy (Manning) setting the all time QB wins record, and then basically ignore it when another guy (this guy) breaks that record, you send the message that the fun is pretty much over. Because your one, true hero is gone and he’s not coming back.

It’s funny how that works, but it’s human nature I guess. The point being that America misses Peyton Manning and is watching less football without him. Which is nobody’s fault but the NFL’s.