INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Blue and yellow confetti rained down on the subject right after the final whistle blew in the Super Bowl on Sunday night time as the Los Angeles Rams concluded off the upstart Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20. It was the Rams’ initially Super Bowl title as a California group and a fitting capstone to the N.F.L.’s long journey back again to Los Angeles.
The recreation, and its veneer of fireworks, flyovers and significant-fives — viewed by additional than 100 million lovers — also affirmed an N.F.L. axiom still once more: The motion on the subject trumps the league’s countless parade of scandals, controversies and debates.
Days prior to Sunday’s activity, N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell, at his pregame information conference, fought off questions about discriminatory choosing methods and the allegations of sexual harassment towards a workforce operator that led the league to begin nonetheless another investigation into how the Washington football franchise is run.
Goodell pivoted away from the uncomfortable inquisition by leaning on a pillar of the league’s extended-phrase growth method, enlargement abroad: He introduced that the N.F.L. planned to participate in 4 game titles in Germany in the coming several years.
The league’s transformation into a multimedia juggernaut, one that is able to steamroll any controversy, was on entire screen in Super Bowl LVI, held adjacent to the nation’s entertainment cash, with nary a point out of the troubles that have roiled pro football of late.
The sport was performed at SoFi Stadium, a $5 billion digital palace constructed by just one of the wealthiest adult men in athletics, the staff owner E. Stanley Kroenke, who moved the Rams franchise to Los Angeles six decades ago with the blessing of the N.F.L. After staying sued by the metropolis and county of St. Louis for violating their personal relocation guidelines, the Rams and the N.F.L. in November agreed to shell out $790 million to settle the circumstance. Not to worry: The value of his group has approximately quadrupled due to the fact it returned to California in 2016.
Kroenke’s stadium, which opened in September 2020 and is also household to the Los Angeles Chargers, is symbolic of the place the league is headed. The very last time the Super Bowl was performed in the Los Angeles region, in 1993, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the N.F.L. was by now the nation’s greatest and most worthwhile league. But its revenues were being however a element of an analog environment in which selling tickets and beer ended up a important focus.
Given that then, the N.F.L. has grown into a $16 billion behemoth that digitally distributes its major item, football game titles, so they can be viewed on telephones, game consoles and Television screens at any put and any time. Those same games have also turn out to be the fuel for online video online games, fantasy soccer leagues and, most just lately, authorized sports activities gambling, which all pour cash into the league through its lucrative licensing specials.
Soccer-related material and games are now so ubiquitous that quite a few football fans under no circumstances attend a activity. The 70,048 admirers at Sunday’s championship game employed digital tickets that came with a commemorative non-fungible token, or N.F.T.
As Phil de Picciotto, the president of Octagon, a around the globe sporting activities and leisure agency, stated in an job interview on Friday: “The N.F.L. is fundamentally the market that everybody will come to and all people fulfills at, irrespective of whether it’s physically or digitally.”
Place an additional way, the N.F.L.’s online games are now primarily intellectual property to slice, dice and resell.
This isn’t by incident. The remarkable cultural pull of football has produced games the past communal, dwell desired destination programming for broadcasters, a substantial draw for media platforms wanting to create their streaming audiences. The vast majority of TV’s major 100 most-seen programs each individual 12 months are football online games. In a fractured media landscape, the N.F.L. stands on your own like Goliath.
In the months right before the Super Bowl, the retirement of Tom Brady, the league’s most significant attract more than a 22-time vocation, and news that a previous mentor, Brian Flores, was suing the N.F.L. for discrimination overshadowed conversations about how the two Super Bowl groups would match up. People headlines, huge as they were, experienced very little on the most essential function to the N.F.L.’s base line, a offer that went mostly unnoticed among the enthusiasts when it was declared very last March.
The league negotiated new broadcast agreements with NBC, CBS, ESPN, Fox and Amazon really worth about $110 billion about 11 many years, almost double the worth of its former contracts and around four situations much more than the N.B.A. at the moment receives.
The media revenue rolling in is so huge that just about every N.F.L. team turns a income even ahead of it turns on the lights.
Those people outsize revenue are a massive rationale that in the coming months the Denver Broncos are projected to promote for around $4 billion, practically twice as a lot as what David Tepper compensated in 2018 for the Carolina Panthers, the final N.F.L. group to adjust hands.
Mindful of the league’s spotty report on range and that just about just about every group proprietor is white, Goodell, at his news convention, mentioned he would “love to see a diverse owner” of the Broncos.
Have an understanding of the N.F.L.’s New Controversies
A wave of scrutiny. The most well-liked sporting activities league in The us is experiencing criticism and legal issues on a number of fronts, ranging from discrimination to athletes’ injuries. Here’s a look at some of the latest controversies confronting the N.F.L., its executives and teams:
With unparalleled cultural get to and methods, the league absorbs criticism for how it treats the men and women who are at the heart of its intensely commodified products. With his lawsuit, Flores, who is a Black Hispanic coach, shined an awkward mild on the sideline of a league where by practically 60 p.c of the gamers are Black yet only a handful of head coaches are of color. On Sunday, even President Biden stated in an job interview that the N.F.L. need to hire extra coaches of colour as “a necessity I consider of some just generic decency.”
Goodell is also striving to overhaul the league’s much-scrutinized file on the remedy of women of all ages, which was sparked anew by a former personnel of the Washington Commanders telling a Congressional spherical desk that the group operator Daniel Snyder had sexually harassed her.
The N.F.L. mentioned Flores’s match was “without merit,” and Snyder identified as the accusations “lies.” But Goodell declared two new investigations, just one of Snyder and the other of the league’s selecting history.
The scandals will dent but not diminish the N.F.L.’s most up-to-date Hollywood moment, which was many years in the producing. When the Rams and the Raiders abandoned Southern California right after the 1994 year, the N.F.L. tried using to entice one more crew to go to the country’s next-premier metropolitan region. For a long time, no a single could come across a way to build a new stadium.
Whilst it waited to find the suitable combination of teams and venues, the N.F.L. designed web sites and cell telephone apps commenced N.F.L. Sunday Ticket, a broadcast company that exhibits people each individual out-of-market game and Video game Move, which does the exact same thing on a computer system.
In 2003, the league started out NFL Network, a 24-hour cable channel centered in the Los Angeles place devoted to soccer.
“It’s just snowballed as media has ongoing to maximize and proliferate with the quantity of screens and amount of platforms,” reported Hans Schroeder, the chief functioning officer at N.F.L. Media.
In the virtual realm, the Madden online video recreation franchise became more innovative and ubiquitous. Right after some hesitation, the league embraced fantasy football, which turned a precursor to the league embracing legalized sports gambling after some hesitation.
Fred Gaudelli, the producer of “Sunday Night time Football” at NBC Sports, sees small letup in this melding of soccer as leisure: “It’s a machine that keeps finding fed, and it feeds its followers,” he explained.
Emmanuel Morgan contributed reporting.