Sports Stars and TV ratings

Last night, the Golden State Warriors swept the Portland Trailblazers out of the NBA playoffs and will appear in their fifth straight NBA Finals soon.  As champions for three of the past four seasons, Golden State’s championship team should be quite familiar to the American television viewers by now.

However, television ratings for the NBA playoffs are down by about ten percent from previous years. 

What gives?

Could it be that LeBron James is missing from the NBA playoffs this year for the first time since 2005 and after playing in the last eight NBA Finals?

Maybe.  I guess the “LeBron factor” was higher than the NBA expected. 

Could it really be that hundreds of thousands of basketball fans will tune-in ONLY when America’s longest reigning basketball star is playing on television? 

Apparently so.

Last weekend, golf’s second major of the season, the PGA Championship, played to one of the smallest television viewing audiences in the past twenty years.   The venue was Bethpage State Park’s Black course, which is as difficult of a layout as you can ask for.

The winner of the event, Brooks Koepka, is the hottest golfer on the planet after winning for the fourth time in the past eight majors.  So, why did the ratings drop by 36% from last year’s PGA Championship?

Could the problem have been that Tiger Woods missed the cut and wasn’t participating this weekend in the final rounds? 

Could it really be that hundreds of thousands of golf fans ONLY tune-in when America’s longest reigning golf star is playing on television?

Apparently so.

Can you imagine what will happen to the NFL television ratings if the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints fail to make the playoffs this fall?  If that were to happen (but it probably won’t), there would be no Tom Brady or Drew Brees on television during the playoffs.

The NFL television ratings would definitely take a big hit.

Are there that many casual sports fans who only know (or like) LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees and won’t tune in to watch the sport without them?

Apparently so.

Let’s do a little test.  I’ll make you a SwampSwami unofficial wager – right now.

Assuming that Zion Williamson is drafted as the #1 overall pick in June’s NBA draft, I’ll wager that you will see the New Orleans Pelicans (or whichever team Zion ends up playing for) on ESPN and TNT more than times next season than you will see the Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Detroit Pistons on national television.

All four of those teams failed to make the playoffs this season, and all of them will add draft picks this June to help improve their squads.    

Why Zion?  The media has made “Zion” into a household name the past season.  Of course, the young man has loads of talent, a high energy, a winning smile, and a memorable first name.

But then again, so does Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.  Same for Montrezl Harrell of the Los Angeles Clippers.     

Sorry, Draymond and Montrezl.  Though you played at well-known colleges (Michigan State and Louisville) and had solid college careers, you were both second round picks in the NBA draft. 

Zion, though, went to Duke, had nearly all of his basketball games shown by ESPN this season, and has been touted for the past year as the next “LeBron James”.

Maybe Zion will become a terrific professional basketball player.  However, Draymond Green already has three championship rings with the Warriors and Montrezl Harrell is in the running for the NBA’s “Sixth Man of the Year” for coming off the bench to average nearly 17 points per game  and 7 rebounds per game for the Clippers. 

You certainly cannot fault Zion Williamson for the hype and media adulation.  He is a talented basketball player who will make millions of dollars even if he rarely hits the floor in an NBA game. 

It is hard to define the so-called “It” factor in sports, but other successful athletes also don’t have to deal with the constant scrutiny of the media, either. 

Welcome into the very exclusive and select group called the “Television Sports Stars” club, Zion! 

NFL Week 1 – Haven’t we seen this before?

The National Football League’s first week of football is now in the books.  Fortunately for all, the initial weekend of the season was mostly about the games and not about the pregame sidelines antics.

There were a few positive surprises in Week 1.  The New York Jets won their game 48-17 against Detroit’s Matthew “Poppin’ Fresh” Stafford and The Four Turnovers.  I’m not ready to jump on the Sam Darnold bandwagon just yet, but the J-E-T-S fans deserve a season opening cheer for a change.

Ditto for the Baltimore Ravens as they absolutely demolished the Buffalo Bills 47-3 on Sunday.  Though I’m not a believer in the Ravens just yet either, Buffalo should stock-up on brown paper bags for the fans who attend home games this season.  The Bills’ offense featured a total of 98 yards passing and 86 rushing yards.  With this Sunday’s home opener in Buffalo, the Bills may want to serve a Five Hour energy drink to the team before the game and give freebies to the fans who stay for the second half before they start falling asleep.

Looking around the league, not much has changed for some teams since the end of last year.

The New Orleans Saints still have a terrific offense featuring ageless quarterback Drew Brees and elusive running back Alvin Kamara.  When you score 40 points in a game played in your home stadium, I would think you should win 99% of the time.  Unless you have the Saints’ “Bless you, Boys” holey defense, that is.  The Popes seen in attendance at the Superdome Sunday might be better at covering-up dirty little secrets than the Saints’ defensive backs were at covering receivers as Tampa Bay outscored New Orleans, 48-40.  Sean Payton’s teams are always great on offense and, at best, marginal on defense.  Same ol’ same ol’.

Then there are the Houston Texans and New England Patriots.  Coach Bill O’Brien’s sleepy Texanzzzz offense continue to waste a fabulous young quarterback and talented wide receiver as the offensive play calling in Houston is truly offensive.  Atrocious.  This stale and tepid offense has stunk every year since O’Brien was handed the keys in Houston.  Could someone tell me why did this man receive a four-year contract extension after going 4-12 last season?

Meanwhile, the Patriots won the game 27-20 in a final score that wasn’t as close as it seemed.  Tom Brady is 41 years young and throws touchdown passes to unheralded players such as Colts’ cast-off wide receiver, Phillip Dorsett (not related to Tony Dorsett).  The Patriots are a machine on offense and defense with a coach who never seems to flinch.  He just wins.

On the flip side, there are the Cleveland Browns.  Lovable losers of 17 straight games before Sunday, the Brownies thrilled the home faithful with a fourth quarter rally to take the sleep-walking Pittsburgh Steelers into overtime at 21 points apiece.  And, in true Browns fashion, the home team dashed the hopes of the faithful Dawg Pound by missing a game winning field goal on the last play of overtime. Only a die-hard Browns fan would be happy ending the losing streak – with a tie.

As for Steelers fans, it’s time to find another coach.  I am convinced that Mike Tomlin may, indeed, be just be a statue who is planted on the sidelines for every game.  Captain Clueless seems to be satisfied with another under-performing Pittsburgh team that is loaded with talent again this season.  Hello, Bill Cowher?

Finally, there is quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.  When Rodgers went down with a leg injury Sunday night against the Chicago Bears and the 2018 Monster$ of the Midway defense led by newly acquired Khalil Mack, it looked like all was lost as Chicago led 17-0 at the half.  As Aaron Rodgers limped out on the field in the third quarter to the thunderous roar of Packers fans, you just knew that he would find a way to zip and lob passes down the field to make it a game.  The Pack came back and da’feated da’ Bears 24-23 in a terrific opener for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.  Bears fans have seen it before.

Though a few things may have changed since last season, the NFL’s opening weekend seemed more like the movie Groundhog Day again as certain NFL teams, players, and coaches have become just as predictable as Bill Murray’s alarm clock.



Want to win the Super Bowl? Get a Hall-of-Fame Quarterback!

If your favorite NFL team wants to win a Super Bowl, your best chance of winning should include having an NFL Hall-of-Fame caliber quarterback at the helm.  It’s true, and I have the statistics below to back-up my claim.

By every Super Bowl decade, your team will have its best chance to win with a Hall-of-Fame level quarterback running the offense.  In the first 10 Super Bowls, every winning quarterback eventually became an NFL Hall-of-Famer.  In subsequent Super Bowl Roman Numeral decades, a team with a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback won at least 60% of the time.  Out of 51 Super Bowl games played, an NFL Hall-of-Fame quarterback has led the winning team 68.63% of the time.

For the most recent decade, I have made a few assumptions:

  1.  Tom Brady = a virtual lock for Hall-of-Fame, so I have indicated him as a Hall-of-Famer
  2.  Peyton Manning = ditto
  3.  Drew Brees – based on his career NFL records/stats and 1 Super Bowl win, he’s likely in.
  4.  Aaron Rodgers – same as Brees above, but just a little bit less likely due to injuries, bad TV commercials, etc.

I’m currently NOT including 2-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger as a “lock” nor the NY Giants 2-time SB winner, Eli Manning, as future Hall-of-Famers.  Winning 2 Super Bowls during your career does not guarantee that you will be inducted into the NFL’s Hall-of-Fame (see also: Jim Plunkett).  Seattle’s Russell Wilson is certainly moving up the potential Hall-of-Fame chart every year and, with another Super Bowl win, could likely position himself for entry into the golden circle once his career ends.

Given Ben’s off-the-field issues several years ago, Eli’s great years/terrible years at quarterback, and Russell’s relative youth, I had to draw the line somewhere.

The moral of this story?  As the playoff season nears, and your team has a quarterback named Brady, Brees, or Rodgers running the show, your statistical chances of hoisting the championship trophy are higher than the other teams without a Hall-of-Fame level quarterback.

Here is the complete list of all 51 Super Bowl winning quarterbacks and whether they made (or should soon make) the NFL Hall-of Fame.


S.Bowl Winning QB Winning Team H-O-Fame?
1 Bart Starr Green Bay 1
2 Bart Starr Green Bay 1
3 Joe Namath NY Jets 1
4 Len Dawson Kansas City 1
5 Johnny Unitas Baltimore 1
6 Roger Staubach Dallas 1
7 Bob Griese Miami 1
8 Bob Griese Miami 1
9 Terry Bradshaw Pittsburgh 1
10 Terry Bradshaw Pittsburgh 1
11 Ken Stabler Oakland 1
12 Roger Staubach Dallas 1
13 Terry Bradshaw Pittsburgh 1
14 Terry Bradshaw Pittsburgh 1
15 Jim Plunkett Oakland
16 Joe Montana San Francisco 1
17 Joe Theismann Washington
18 Jim Plunkett Oakland
19 Joe Montana San Francisco 1
20 Jim McMahon Chicago
21 Phil Simms New York Giants
22 Doug Williams Tampa Bay
23 Joe Montana San Francisco 1
24 Joe Montana San Francisco 1
25 Jeff Hostetler New York Giants
26 Mark Rypien Washington
27 Troy Aikman Dallas 1
28 Troy Aikman Dallas 1
29 Steve Young San Francisco 1
30 Troy Aikman Dallas 1
31 Brett Favre Green Bay 1
32 John Elway Denver 1
33 John Elway Denver 1
34 Kurt Warner St. Louis 1
35 Trent Dilfer Baltimore
36 Tom Brady New England 1
37 Brad Johnson New York Giants
38 Tom Brady New England 1
39 Tom Brady New England 1
40 Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh
41 Peyton Manning Indianapolis 1
42 Eli Manning New York Giants
43 Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh
44 Drew Brees New Orleans 1
45 Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 1
46 Eli Manning New York Giants
47 Joe Flacco Baltimore
48 Russell Wilson Seattle
49 Tom Brady New England 1
50 Peyton Manning Denver 1
51 Tom Brady New England 1