Why the NFL and its fans have short memories about big controversies | You Pod to Win the Game

Yahoo Sports Senior NFL Writer Charles Robinson and co-host of Peacock’s 'Brother From Another’ Michael Smith discuss how the NFLbenefits from the overwhelming popularity of its on-field product shortening the news cycle of controversial and possibly damaging stories involving the league. Hear the full conversation on the 'You Pod to Win the Game' podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.

Video Transcript


MICHAEL SMITH: The league's punishment is always temporary. You know this. You know, and they've operated that from a place of power or a place of being Teflon, knowing that once 1:00 on Sunday comes, everybody's gonna be worried about is their lineup set. And the storylines will take it from there.


MICHAEL SMITH: Who won, who lost will take over the general-- it's not gonna hurt ratings. It's not gonna hurt their bottom lines. It may be embarrassing for a minute. But I just don't know that the league, absent some incredible controversy, is ever going to lose its foothold on our public-- in our public consciousness. You know, like--


MICHAEL SMITH: --if Colin Kaepernick-- and, again, they kept that discovery from being-- they kept that from being in discovery by selling his collusion case. If Colin Kaepernick, especially given the so-called racial reckoning that this country and this league want to be a part of-- because it takes all of us, and we've got to end racism, and we've got to inspire change, right?

If none of that hypocrisy, OK, dented the NFL's image, if none of the domestic violence controversies dented the NFL's image, none of the player misconduct issues that the NFL's image, I'm just not sure that this is gonna stick.

Again, notwithstanding what may come out of these court cases, which you laid out. I'm just not sure this is gonna stick or hurt the NFL enough to really matter beyond people like us who are invested in the reporting, in how the sausage is made. Concussions didn't take this league down.


MICHAEL SMITH: You know? It just feels like, Jon Gruden being homophobic or sexist-- let's be honest about something, man. Got a lot of homophobic, sexist people out there, racist people out there that could give two [BLEEP]s about Jon Gruden's emails.

CHARLES ROBINSON: Right, yeah. Well, I mean, it's-- definitely I'm not looking at it from--

MICHAEL SMITH: Or the Washington Football Team's toxic environment. All they care about is, is Washington Football Team gonna cover?


MICHAEL SMITH: Should I start Terry McLaurin this week?

CHARLES ROBINSON: Why is the defense so bad?

MICHAEL SMITH: Right. You know what I mean?


MICHAEL SMITH: And like, yeah, some people will care, but I just don't think it's enough to matter.

CHARLES ROBINSON: I definitely believe--

MICHAEL SMITH: Maybe I'm pessimistic there.

CHARLES ROBINSON: No, I think the-- I mean, the product. The product is the product. It's been-- it is, like you-- the word Teflon is perfect. Because it really is. The product's absolutely-- it's gone over every little wave like it's a speedboat. I mean, it's not even a-- it keeps going.

And you're right, there is an element of the cycle of the season where storylines get flushed out pretty quack-- pretty quick, and we all move forward. And, you know, at some point we're gonna stop talking about Jon Gruden. At some point, we're gonna stop talking about the Washington Football investigation, just like we did after the news dropped right before July 4th.

You know, eventually we move-- we got-- what happened? We got the camp, and then once we were at camp, we were like, oh, what about, you know-- then at that point it was like Deshaun Watson, and it was Aaron Rodgers. And it was, you know, all these other things. So yeah--

MICHAEL SMITH: The NBA tips off Tuesday. Major League Baseball has got the playoffs going on. The NHL. There's so many distractions--


MICHAEL SMITH: --until I just wonder-- I mean, there will be intrepid reporters like yourself who will be on top of this. But I just think our country's collective attention span is just so short, I just don't see the NFL-- again, you're right about what could come out.

But is it gonna affect the product, or is it gonna be a situation where it's just, you know, some people-- some other people got to take the falls. Maybe it's some owners. Maybe it's some owners that have to end up selling their team. You know, maybe it's some executives that lose their jobs. But the show is gonna go on.