NFL always provides something to talk about, good, bad or indifferent, | News Coverage from USA

NFL always provides something to talk about, good, bad or indifferent,

The debate over whether the New Orleans Saints were robbed of a win will rage forever.

Irrefutable is that the appeal of the NFL remains undefeated.

You couldn’t go anywhere Monday without hearing or seeing something about the Saints not getting a pass interference call in the last two minutes of the NFC Championship, a penalty that might have allowed them to hang on for a win over the Los Angeles Rams and a trip to the Super Bowl. Saints owner Gayle Benson promised to push for rules changes. At least one lawsuit was filed. Clever headlines were shared on social media. Billboards became vehicles for outrage.

Those not obsessing about the Saints were pondering the width of the neutral zone and analyzing the replay of Chris Jones’ hit on Tom Brady like it was the Zapruder film.

Mariano Rivera’s chances of becoming the first unanimous inductee into baseball’s Hall of Fame? Giannis Antetokounmpo and brother Kostas squaring off for the first time in the NBA? The government shutdown even?

Meh. But let’s argue more about why the Saints really lost, that no-call or Sean Payton’s decision to throw on first down of that critical drive, and whether expanded replay would have made a difference.

More: Angry Saints fan buys billboards for Atlanta area: ‘Saints got robbed,’ ‘NFL bleaux it’

More: From St. Louis struggles to living large in Los Angeles, Les Snead helped build Super Bowl-bound Rams into contenders

No doubt the NFL cringes at these types of embarrassments, especially when they involve officiating. The NFL has the technology to determine Tom Brady’s air yards if he were playing on the moon, but it still isn’t sure what a catch is.

Yet there’s no denying these controversies are part of what make the NFL the country’s favorite and most intoxicating soap opera. For better or worse, the league always gives us something to argue and debate, a reason why, even if we wanted to, we cannot quit the game.

Purists and diehard fans see the raging criticism as a blemish on the game. That, in this case, it detracts from the Super Bowl. But this is always a quieter week because of the two-week gap between the conference championships and the Super Bowl.

Unless there’s an injury or a major lineup change, most of the attention is centralized in the cities with the Super Bowl teams. Oh, there might be the occasional big-picture story that gets national attention. By and large, though, the country takes a breather until the teams arrive at the site.

Not this year. The NFL has yet to address the officiating errors or their impacts. When it does, that will dominate the news cycle for another day or so. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has thoughts about anything and everything related to the NFL, so expect him to weigh in at some point this week.

More commentary: Read more columns from Nancy Armour

And on and on it will go. Before you know it, the AirKraft will be touching down in Atlanta, and we’ll begin arguing whether the Patriots can really be underdogs if they’re in a third consecutive Super Bowl and why the Cincinnati Bengals were stupid to pass on Sean McVay’s next-door neighbor’s cousin’s brother’s first-grade classmate as their next head coach.

This is the kind of saturation other leagues, corporations and entertainment companies would die for. In fact, they spend millions on consultants to advise them how to expand their reach and insert themselves into the national conversation.

And the NFL does it without even trying.

Despite a season lasting only five months, the NFL has become our year-round obsession. Good, bad or indifferent, anything — everything — it does captures our attention. At a time when choices are endless and attention spans are limited, that’s a win for the league.  

About that, there can be no debate.

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Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour. 

 

 

 

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