Anyway, I believe the NFL is juggling more “second conversations” right now than any league in the history of professional sports. In no particular order …
2. An undeniable change in the way the game is being played
3. An undeniable decline in the quality of play in September and October
4. The commissioner’s serial abuse of his power
5. Conflicting policies regarding painkillers, HGH, steroids, and marijuana
6. A looming free fall in youth football participation numbers
7. A lack of under-30 superstars who resonate with fans
8. National anthem protests (and whether it affects certain fan bases)
9. Billionaire owners repeatedly extorting their fans to pay for new stadiums
10. Millennials and cord-cutters gravitating more to the NBA and soccer
11. An oversaturation of TV games because of shameless greed
12. That pre-election decline in ratings, and whether it should be considered an aberration or something more
No mention of how the name of one of the teams (Washington) is a racial slur? We’ve got a battle going on at Standing Rock where the sovereignty and rights of Native Americans are being violated daily for the enrichment of an oil company, and we have the NFL normalizing racism against Native Americans by literally having a racial slur as one of the team names. This is reason #1 why I don’t watch the NFL, and I doubt I’m the only one. I simply cannot support that kind of product.
You ask about the future of the NFL, but it is clear the NFL has no future. As your list of “second conversations,” and how having a team name be a racial slur, indicate, it hasn’t even caught up with the present, so it has no hope of any kind of future. It will continue to be mired in the past, entirely devoid of ethics on every level, until it is so anachronistic as to be utterly unmarketable.
The question isn’t whether it will happen, but how quickly it will happen for football to be relegated to the same level of relevance in American culture as jousting at Renaissance festivals — an amusing glimpse at a bygone era.