The NFL has no chill.
Even in the offseason, a league that owns an entire day (Sunday) and dominates weeknights like Monday and Thursday is trying its best to maintain its dominance by ruling sports headlines during a month that college basketball controls. March is when every other sport takes a back seat to brackets and buzzer-beaters. The NBA gets its shine back after the Final Four, Opening Day usually takes place as college basketball is finishing, and the NFL typically returns to headlines at the end of summer when training camps begin.
That’s how it’s supposed to happen. But not this year.
Despite the sport coming off a weekend in which Duke and North Carolina gave ESPN its most-watched college basketball game in three years, the attention around the sport was gone by Tuesday, due to NFL headlines making it an afterthought.
Atlanta Falcons’ receiver Calvin Ridley got things started when the league announced that he was being suspended for at least the upcoming 2022 season for gambling on football and his own team. After stepping away from the game in October to focus on his mental health, it was discovered that Ridley gambled on NFL games in November. In a league that announced Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel as some of its official sports-betting partners in 2021, the fact that one of its players got caught betting seemed inevitable. And while the league has to make an example out of Ridley in hopes that it will make other players think twice before following his lead, the idea that players gambling threatens the “integrity” of the game is beyond laughable as Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has been accused by Brian Flores of trying to pay him to lose games.
And if that wasn’t enough to distract sports fans from the conference tournaments that are taking place this week on the men’s side, Tuesday showed up and showed out.
After weeks of speculation, we found out that the temper tantrum and theatrics that Aaron Rodgers has put us through for months were all for nothing, as he’s decided to stay in Green Bay. For how long and for how much is still unknown, as a tweet from Rodgers refuted an earlier report that he was signing a four-year deal worth $200 million with $153 million guaranteed. Hours later, the attention on Rodgers shifted west after we found out that Russell Wilson was headed to Denver in a trade.
Two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks were involved in moves that will affect the league. The Seahawks are now officially rebuilding, and the AFC West is now the deepest division in football at the quarterback position with the likes of Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr, and Justin Herbert. For the NFC, it means that the Packers will remain in the mix with the reigning back-to-back MVP on their roster, while every team in the NFC North is mad that Rodgers will be back to torment them.
Between Saturday and Monday, college basketball’s greatest rivalry gave us a historic chapter in their history, Montana State defeated Northern Colorado with a game-winner from the logo, Tulsa knocked off UCF with a last-second heave beyond half-court, and Chattanooga needed a buzzer-beater from just within half-court to beat Furman in the Southern Conference Championship Game to send them to the NCAA Tournament.
But did any of it stick?
No, because we’re too busy talking about football in March — which is madness.