3 Stories: The Indestructible NFL, Art Briles' Apology, Paralympics Scheduling

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No matter the countless controversies, the NFL is still as popular as ever. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
No matter the countless controversies, the NFL is still as popular as ever. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The 2016-17 NFL season began on Thursday. Despite the public relations disasters of the past couple years, NFL ratings remain strong. Is there any number of negative headlines that could ever make Americans stop caring about professional football?

That's the first question tackled on the latest edition of “3 Stories You Should Know.”

ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr. and Shira Springer of the Boston Globe joined Bill Littlefield.

1. Will Americans Ever Stop Watching Football?

Earlier this week, Will Leitch published an ariticle in New York Magazine examining how the NFL has survived so many PR nightmares. Again and again, the league has held out, continued business as usual and all but ignored calls for change from the media. And, according to Leitch, this strategy has worked: "The press can call out the NFL all it wants, but until people stop watching football, it won’t make a difference." Don Van Natta Jr. doesn't see a time in the near future where football fades away.

I think 50 to 60 years is the minimum that we'll see an erosion in popularity. As long as the game is hard-wired to the must-see TV culture of the United States, nostalgia, fantasy sports, gambling, even patriotism, I think we'll see the league's revenues and ratings continue to skyrocket. People just love the game, and I don't see any end to the party.

2. Art Briles Admits Mistakes, Vows To Do Better

Former Baylor football coach Art Briles was fired in May in the wake of a review of the university's mishandling of sexual assault allegations -- some of which were made against Briles' players. In his first television interview since the firing, Briles said he was "sorry for what happened under his watch" and that he's going to do better in the future. Bill Littlefield hopes this is a step in the right direction.

He seemed to acknowledge, at least in part, his failure as a leader in that context. And I'm just wondering if maybe Briles is not simply campaigning for another job. Maybe his acknowledgment — "I did wrong" -- indicates a glimmering little bit of a light of progress. I don't know. I like to think so.

3. Should The Paralympics Precede The Olympics?

The Rio Paralympics are now underway. Cuts to venues, transportation and workforce, all the results of financial trouble for the organizing committee, threatened to abbreviate the games. Though the International Paralympic Committee has said the show will go on as originally planned, Shira Springer believes the games deserve better. She thinks the solution is to move the Paralympics ahead of the Olympics.

Why not hold the Paralympics before the Olympics? It makes sense from a practical perspective and from a promotional perspective. On the practical side, there are roughly 6,000 fewer athletes from 40 fewer countries competing in about six fewer sports. So, with the Paralympics first, organizers could see how the venues, the security checkpoints, the transportation, the food supply, signage, etc. all works. On the promotional side, I don't think there's any event in sports that's tougher to follow than the Olympics.

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This segment aired on September 10, 2016.


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