Its ratings may be in a free fall, but the National Football League isn’t ready to give up just yet. In a bold bid to reverse a troubling 11 percent drop-off in viewership since last year, the league has announced that, starting this weekend, the Vince Lombardi Trophy will be awarded following every single play.
This could be big. It looks like the NFL is determined to win back its fans.
Under new league policy, the Lombardi Trophy, traditionally awarded once a year to the winning team in the Super Bowl, will instead be awarded in a special ceremony following each play of each game. As soon as the referee blows the whistle to indicate that the play is over, confetti will begin to rain down as a Hall of Fame player walks onto the field carrying the iconic 22-inch-tall trophy to a large podium at midfield, where NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will officially present it to the players, coaches, and ownership of the team that triumphed on the preceding play.
Each recipient of the trophy will then give a speech reflecting on the successful play, after which the grounds crew will break down the podium and sweep the confetti from the field, the referee will place the ball at the line of scrimmage, and play will continue.
Wow. The slumping NFL still generates billions of dollars a year, but the league is proving that it is not content to just sit back and watch its numbers tick down slightly. According to Goodell, the NFL hopes to reignite viewers’ interest by ensuring that the stakes are always as high as they can possibly be.
“All season, football fans dream of seeing their favorite team hoist the coveted Lombardi Trophy,” said Goodell, who noted that following the presentation, the sterling-silver trophy will be engraved with the names of all the participating players and coaches as well as the date, the score at the time of the play, the outcome of the play, and any penalties issued on the play. “Our league will be must-see TV because no matter the situation, no matter the score, your team is constantly a single play away from basking in the glory of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.”
A supplemental press release included the following caveats:
• If there is no clear winner of the play, the Lombardi Trophy will be awarded to both teams.
• If a penalty occurs before the play begins, the Lombardi Trophy will be awarded to the referees.
• The Lombardi Trophy will still be handed out after the Super Bowl as usual.
• When a kicker makes a field goal, he will receive the Lombardi Trophy and a congratulatory phone call from the President of the United States.
• When a kicker misses a field goal, he will be stripped of the most recent Lombardi Trophy that was awarded to him.
• The MVP of each play, as determined by a panel of football writers and broadcasters, will receive an additional trophy and a 2017 Lincoln Navigator.
Wow. Only time will tell if this gambit pays off, but either way, the NFL seems determined to fix what’s wrong with the game. Good luck to the league, and to all 32 teams in their pursuit of the elusive Vince Lombardi Trophy!