Here in North America, we get to enjoy a ton of different things, thanks to the fact that the continent is home to both the music industry, and Hollywood which provides all the best movies and TV shows. In addition to all that, North American citizens are also fortunate to have access to basically every sport imaginable, including football, baseball, hockey, and basketball, all of whom have major sports leagues primarily in Canada and the United States. Those sports leagues are known as the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA, and in terms of their respective sports, they are the biggest and most popular leagues in the world, and although each league makes an absurd amount of money, the NFL dwarfs them all.
The National Football League has been around since the 1920s, and in its present form since 1970, and since then, it has produced the best football players that the world has ever seen, and it has also given the sports world some incredible dynasties. The NFL is more than just a league, it is part of American culture, a statement that cannot be argued, especially since people believe that the championship game is equivalent to a national holiday. Like every other league, the NFL has done a lot of good things, such as supporting great charities, and giving back to local communities in a variety of different ways, but like everything else in life, the league is not perfect. As much as people love NFL football, they have to understand that the league has done, or continues to do, certain things that the public does not know about, things that the league would like to keep secret, and the purpose of this list is to shine a light on 15 of those dirty little secrets.
22 Cheerleaders Don't Make A Lot Of Money
Whether you are watching a game live at the stadium, or at home on your television, your focus is on the athletes actually playing the game, but in reality, they are not the only individuals you will see on the field during a game. Every single NFL team has its own cheerleaders, who happen to be very attractive and athletic women, and considering that they work for the biggest league in the world, you would think that they would get paid fairly well, but that is not really the case. In some instances, cheerleaders would actually get paid around $3 an hour, which prompted quite a few to file successful lawsuits against the league to ensure better pay. Cheerleaders are not the only other on field entertainers who get paid low wages, as most mascots are also paid very little.
21 The Words "Super Bowl" Can't Be Used By Businesses
Aside from the actual game, people watch the Super Bowl in large part to watch the commercials, which in this case are VERY expensive 30 second spots with absurdly high production values. If you want to place an ad during the game, then it will cost you at least $4 million, and if you are Budweiser, it will cost you $1 billion to advertise during the game for six straight years. If you pay that kind of money, you are considered a major NFL sponsor, which in turn gives you the right to use the words "Super Bowl", something that cannot be said about the vast majority of businesses.
The NFL owns the Super Bowl trademark, which is why they allow only companies who pay the league to use the words, and if you do not pay them, the league will indeed send you a cease and desist order.
20 The Redskins' History
When it comes to the NFL, there is still a major debate going on regarding players following in Colin Kaepernick's footsteps, and not standing for the National Anthem. This is a form of protest to bring light to the racial injustice in the country, but it is not the only racially charged issue that the league faces. The Washington Redskins have been around since 1932, and for years now, people have been trying to make the team change its name because it is viewed as being racist towards Native Americans. The NFL has done all it can to keep the name intact, which is strange, considering the team's checkered past, as it was the last team to allow African-Americans on the roster, mostly because the former owner, George Preston Marshall, was a proud and vocal racist.
19 Players On Average Live Less
It goes without saying that a person needs to be incredibly athletic and healthy to be a professional athlete, and NFL players are no different, and you would think that based on how they treat their bodies, they would live fairly long and healthy lives, but that would be a mistake. In the United States, the average life expectancy for a man is roughly 77 years, but when it comes to NFL players, their life expectancy is far lower, as indicated by a study in 1994, which determined that the average NFL player will live until the age of 55. A major reason behind this low number, is the amount of injuries players sustain during their careers, particularity to the head, and although the NFL has taken steps to make the game safer, player life expectancy has barely improved, as the average player can now live to the age of 59.
18 The Amount Of Money The League Makes
Every single North American sports league is a billion-dollar enterprise, with the NFL sitting atop the mountain, with the league pulling in over $13 billion in revenue last season alone. You would think that the league and the owners would be happy with that kind of money, but seeing as football is just another business, they want to make even more, which is why the commissioner has a decade-long plan to make league revenue reach the $25 billion mark. With that being said though, the NFL does not actually want people to know just how much money the league makes, because it goes to show that the owners are not willing to spend more where it counts. For example, most teams need better locker rooms, as well as better trained medical staff, and based on everything that transpires off the field, the league could spend a couple million to better train players on how to act, and they could also provide more aid to struggling retired players.
17 Many Players Go Broke
Terrell Owens, Vince Young, Lawrence Taylor, Warren Sapp, and Jamarcus Russell, these are the names of just a few fairly known football players who found themselves playing in the NFL for a number of years. Each and every one of them were fortunate enough to make millions of dollars over the course of their playing careers, but they all have something else in common: the fact that they all ended up going broke. Most of their money was spent on excessive parties, enormous houses, and very expensive cars and luxury items like jewelry, leaving them with little to fall back on when it was time to call it quits. The players listed above are not unique cases though, because as it turns out, roughly 80% of NFL players go broke/bankrupt within five years of retirement.
15 Ticket Prices For The Big Game
Each and every year, football fans go into the NFL season knowing that only two teams will make it to the Super Bowl, and if one of those teams happens to be the one you root for, then the significance of the game is greatly magnified. If your team is in the big game, then it stands to reason that you would want to go watch them play live, but when you actually go to try and get tickets, you will come to realize that it will be a lot cheaper to just stay home. Ticket prices for regular season games are fairly high to begin with, but with the Super Bowl, the prices jump considerably, with the average ticket price being $1,000 or more, which is why each ticket tends to have a resale value of over $3,000.
14 The Impact The Super Bowl Has On Work Attendance
In the United States, Super Bowl Sunday is essentially a national holiday, and like all other holidays, there tends to be a lot of drinking and partying going on throughout the day, so much so, that a lot of people chose to skip work the next day. The day after the Super Bowl is known as "Black Monday," because it is believed that roughly 6% of the American work force does not come into work, partly because some people do in fact get sick from all the food they ate the day before. There are other contributing factors to this absentee work force though, such as people being depressed as a result of their team losing the big game, while others celebrated far too much after their team won the championship. There are also many people who do not go into work because they believe others will call in sick, forcing them to have to do extra work.
13 The League Knew What Ray Rice Did
On February 15, 2014, the sporting world went into a frenzy when it was announced that All-Star running back, Ray Rice was arrested and charged with assault following a physical altercation with his wife at an Atlantic City Casino. What made this incident explode, was the fact that video emerged of Rice knocking out his then fiancee, and dragging her out of the elevator while she was unconscious, which eventually led to Rice being suspended by the league, and released by the Baltimore Ravens in September of that year. It actually took the NFL more than five months to suspend Rice for what he did, and the league even said that they were simply getting all the facts since they had not seen the full video yet, which turned out to be a complete lie, because law enforcement later revealed that they had indeed sent the NFL the tape when the investigation began.
11 The Super Bowl Curse
If a team reaches the Super Bowl, it generally means that they are one of the two best teams in all of football for that year, and although making it to the game is a huge accomplishment, there is an apparent downside if you happen to be the team who loses the game. Obviously it sucks to lose the Super Bowl, especially after putting in all that hard work, but if you are the losing team, the loss seems to stick with you for a while, which is why most losing teams seem to go on to have a subpar season the following year. This is known as the Super Bowl Curse, and the evidence behind it is pretty hard to ignore, because since 1999, the team that has lost the Super Bowl has gone on to have a winning record the following season just five times.
9 Blackout Restrictions
Every now and then, fans who are eager to watch their favorite team play, will be met with what is known as a blackout, an event that ensures that a scheduled program is not aired in a specific media market. Every sport has blackouts, and in almost all those cases, it is done to protect local broadcasters from the competition provided by out-of-market stations, but when it comes to the NFL, blackouts are used for a rather different reason. The league does not like to see visibly empty seats during one of their games, so to keep people from thinking that the game, or a specific team is not doing well, they will blackout an entire game within a 75-mile radius if the game is not sold out three days before kickoff, a move that simply punishes fans who were unable to buy tickets to the game.
8 It Is Really Hard To Get Tickets For The Super Bowl
A few entries ago, we learned that ticket prices for the Super Bowl are incredibly high, so high in fact that the prices tend to keep a lot of die-hard fans from actually going to the game, but price is actually not the biggest issue. In truth, there are actually very few Super Bowl tickets available for the public to buy, as at least 80% of the tickets are sold to the league's corporate sponsors. You read that right, the NFL gives a majority of its Super Bowl tickets to its sponsors, but they also hand out a large number of the remaining tickets to the teams playing in the game, with some tickets also going to the team hosting the game, and a small percentage going to all the other teams not in the Super Bowl, leaving very few tickets for actual fans.
7 The League Did Not Care About Brain Injuries
A big reason why people love football is because of all the physicality involved, and although we have all enjoyed watching big hits in the past, we now enjoy them far less, as we now know that players likely sustain very serious head injuries from those hits. Studies have shown that there is a link between football and degenerative brain injuries like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), and according to the former team doctor of the Pittsburgh Steelers, league doctors have known about the connection for years. The doctors knew about these risks, but their findings were never made public, because the NFL wanted to keep the whole thing quiet to protect the league's integrity. Recently, the league has finally admitted the connection between the game and head injuries, which prompted former players to sue the league, as the league never informed them about those health risks during their playing days.
6 The Super Bowl Number Is Not Correct
The record books will say that the New England Patriots won Super Bowl 51, but what many people might not realize is the fact that they actually won the 49th Super Bowl. The NFL will not admit this, but the Super Bowl number is wrong, and it has been wrong since 1969, when the New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts to win what was actually the first Super Bowl. Prior to the NFL and AFL officially merging into a single league, both sides agreed to play a championship game, which at the time was called the NFL-AFL Championship Game, and when the merger was complete, the game was renamed the Super Bowl, allegedly by the media who believed that the game was far more superior than the college Bowl games. This name stuck with the newly formed NFL, however instead of calling the 1969 game the first Super Bowl, which it was, they called it the third.
1 The Fans Don't Really Matter
It does not matter what the sport is, a league will not be able to survive without the support of fans, people who are willing to give their own money to buy tickets, television packages, and merchandise. The NFL is no different, and it has the luxury of being the biggest and most profitable league in the world, which is something that the league and its owners owe entirely to the fans. Unfortunately, the fans do not really matter anymore, as evidenced by the fact that the league greatly overcharges for tickets, limiting the number of fans who can afford to go to games. The league also does not care about moving teams to other cities, not because of fans not going to games or the team losing money, but because the owners want taxpayers to pay for brand new billion dollar stadiums, which goes to show that the NFL cares more about money than the fans who make the league thrive.