Saying Baseball is still “America’s past-time” is almost as dumb as saying the Dallas Cowboys are still “America’s team”. Baseball’s popularity is incomparable to football’s at this point for plenty of reasons. The NFL has 16 games and just 4 post-season games yet the football fan base seems to be extremely larger than baseball these days. Maybe the blame is on my generation and that we enjoy excitement and baseball is a long, slow game. Football games are long but it is exciting with the hard hitting defenses and explosive offenses.
After a weekend like this past one it is hard to say the NFL is not the best sports league and that football is the best sport. Unlike the NBA the NFL is very unpredictable, there have only been 6 NBA champions since 2000 while there have been 9 NFL champions since 2000. The Los Angeles Lakers have had 31 NBA Finals appearances and won 16 championships, the Boston Celtics have had 21 NBA Finals appearances and have won 17 championships, while in the NFL the teams with the most Superbowl appearances are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys with 8 appearances. The Steelers won 6 Superbowls, and the Cowboys won 5. Albeit the NBA Finals have been around 17 years longer than the Superbowl that is still a big discrepancy of uncertainty between both leagues. It is easy to say in the preseason that the Miami Heat or the Oklahoma City Thunder will be the NBA champions and you’ll probably be right but no one was predicting that the reigning Superbowl champions, the New York Giants, would completely miss the playoffs and that 3 rookie quarterbacks will make the playoffs.
The NFL is the epitome of what I want from a sport, I want unexpected excitement, I want upsets and Cinderella teams. The MLB will give you a few Cinderella teams but lack the excitement, the NBA will give you excitement but lack the surprise of a Cinderella team, but the NFL gives you both.
In this NFL season we have seen the two leading MVP candidates also be the two leading Comeback Player of the Year candidates, one recovering from multiple neck surgeries at the age of 36, the other recovering from a torn ACL and rushing for 2,000 yards. We have seen the reigning champions miss the playoffs, we have seen a backup quarterback become a starter and take his team to the NFC championship game, we are seeing a 37 year old linebacker overcome injury to motivate his injury-ridden team to the AFC championship game, and we have witnessed 3 Rookie of the Year candidates take sub-.500 teams to the playoffs. These kinds of story lines are just not present in any other sport or league.