Narrative Football League?



Fan interest in sports is based on a combination of competition and compelling narratives. This year's NFL season seems heavier on narrative than competition (maybe just my impression). One of the best stories of the year (and many years) is the Dallas Cowboys. Kind of remarkable given the teams success over the last 20 years.


Maybe not so much remarkable as an indication of the power of fandom and brands. The Cowboy brand was built in the 1970s and renewed in the 1990s. They still do very well in my annual fan/brand rankings.


This year the Cowboys made headlines in the pre-season due to Ezekiel Elliott's holdout. And now the headlines are about if (when?) Jason Garrett should be fired. But the constant for every Cowboys story - year after year - is that its all about Jerry Jones. From USA Today


Jerry Jones deserves to watch the playoffs from his couch. Or his yacht.
Wherever. Just so long as it’s not his Jerry World suite.  
Jason Garrett isn’t a great coach, and how he’s held onto his job this long will be one of the NFL’s enduring mysteries. But this dumpster fire of a Dallas Cowboys team? The utter and complete dysfunction on display in a 31-24 loss to the Chicago Bears on Thursday night?
That’s on Jones. Every last bit of it.

Two observations:


1. When the emphasis is on story telling or narrative then its important to have villains. Really important. Fans need to have someone to root against. Not sure who the second biggest villain is in the NFL. Probably someone that works in New England.


2. The problem for the NFL is that the villain needs to win. Jerry Jones is one of the biggest NFL stars. The trick is to keep him relevant.


A final observation is that sports journalism can be painfully formulaic. The "it's all Jerry Jones' fault" article or segment is getting tough to read or watch.


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