SBD/Issue 35/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Is Presence Of Bad Teams A Sign NFL Parity A Thing Of The Past?

Parity Not On Display This NFL Season
The NFL's "decades-long effort to produce equality on the playing field is dead and buried," according to Cold Hard Football Facts' Kerry Byrne in a special to Instead of parity, what the league "has these days is something much more frightening: the NFL has a crisis of competition." Byrne listed "six signs that parity is dead" -- the "frightening pace of blowouts;" "last-second thrills and chills are hard to find;" the "horrifying divide in the standings;" the "gruesome disparity on the scoreboard," the "bloodbath on the stat sheets;" and the "haunting specter of elite powers" (, 10/28). In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason writes for a league that "prides itself on its level playing field, the divide between the best and worst teams couldn't be greater." The NFL has "weakened in recent years, confirming its greatest asset is a marketing machine that sells mediocrity or worse" (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/30). In L.A., Sam Farmer writes while it is "clear the league has some very good teams this season," it has "many more bad ones" (L.A. TIMES, 10/30). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Naylor writes four teams -- the Steelers, Patriots, Eagles and Colts -- have had a "remarkable run of dominance over the past decade." Naylor: "In other words, the lack of parity this NFL season isn't as highly unusual as some think" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/30). But in Detroit, John Niyo wrote while it is "easy to say the parity party in pro football is over," it is "probably too easy." Niyo: "After all, we're only eight months removed from Arizona making a Super Bowl appearance" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/29).

GROWING CONCERN? CBS' Phil Simms said the lack of parity in the NFL is a "cause for concern." He added of the disparity between teams, "You've got to pick the right coach, it's about making the right personnel decisions and more now than ever: money." NBC's Cris Collinsworth said stadium deals are "starting to create a little bit of a gap between the haves and the have nots in the league." Collinsworth: "The reason I think it's a concern is going into next year … because if you start thinking about this in terms of no salary cap, now will we begin to see potentially baseball happening to football." CBS' James Brown said the "cumulative effect of all this is having an adverse impact on the product on the field" ("Inside the NFL," Showtime, 10/28). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said the NFL is "our national pastime, and it's based on everyone in the country has a chance. Right now, they don't." Plaschke added NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "needs to look at this and some of these awful franchises and if they need his help or guidance, they need to give it to them," as the "lack of parity is just killing the NFL" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/28). 

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