“Just the strength of that product and fan loyalty and fan interest is so great that it’s really kind of bulletproof at this point,” said Michael Lewis, a marketing professor at Emory University who specializes in sports.
Ahead of the league’s biggest game, attention has shifted to whether the pass-happy New England Patriots intentionally deflated game balls in order to gain a competitive advantage in Sunday’s AFC championship victory. The story follows Commissioner Roger Goodell facing backlash throughout the fall for his discipline—or lack of it—of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was charged with assault, but avoided trial, after he struck his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City casino last year.
The NFL faced more media scrutiny this fall than at any time in recent memory, David Carter, a professor of sports business at the University of Southern California, said in an email to CNBC. The fervor of a 24-hour news cycle intensified questions about the NFL’s integrity, leaving the league under a constant microscope.