Is my love affair with the NFL over?

If you read the headline to this post, it looks an awful lot like clickbait. Is my love affair with the NFL over? Click this to find out if it is!

But I’m actually asking the question because I honestly don’t know: Am I heading toward a breakup with the NFL?

The signs are definitely concerning. Sunday was the first time all season I’ve been at home and had a chance to watch the games, since I’m normally on the road at a NASCAR race somewhere.

And yet…I didn’t watch a minute of football on Sunday. Not one. I don’t really have a firm reason why, either.

Before you ask — no, it’s not because of the anthem protests. That has nothing to do with it. And it’s not because I’ve somehow reached a tipping point with CTE/concussions.

But it’s sort of alarming how fast it’s happened, and so I’m trying to figure out why. Football used to be my favorite sport — even above racing. I’ve seen games in 24 of the current NFL stadiums as a fan (my goal was once to see a game in every stadium) and I used to obsess over all things NFL.

Suddenly, though, I just don’t have the same passion for it. Why is that? What happened?

A few theories:

— I cut the cord and no longer have the Red Zone Channel. Now that I watch TV through the DirecTV Now app on my Apple TV, I don’t have access to Red Zone. Maybe I got spoiled by Red Zone, because that’s how I would consume games 90 percent of the time when I had a Sunday at home in recent years. Red Zone had no commercials, the action was constant and it kept things entertaining. Now that I can’t see it, it’s hard to get invested in a normal, three-hour game. Expecting me to sit there and just watch Jets-Chiefs straight through is asking too much.

— I stopped playing fantasy football. I used to run a fantasy football league up until last season, but it got to be too much of a time suck. And since I was on the road at NASCAR races and couldn’t watch the games anyway, I ultimately decided not to play fantasy football. And WOW, does that change things! When I don’t have a player in the Thursday night game or Monday night game or whenever, it removes so much of the reason to watch. And I know there’s always DraftKings, but even that seems pointless without Red Zone or Sunday Ticket.

— My team blows. I’m a huge Denver Broncos fan — that’s the team I care about the most in all of sports — and they suck this year. They’re completely out of it. So there’s no reason to try and find their games on TV or make an effort to follow the AFC West division race, which normally might have kept me interested on a Sunday.

In general, teams aren’t greatAs much as I love parity, it doesn’t make for attractive viewing. After Sunday, 14 teams are within one game of being .500. That’s nearly half the league being incredibly average. And a lot of the “good” teams this year are recently good, which makes it harder to have any feeling toward them. For example: The L.A. Rams are somehow 9-3 and the Vikings are 10-2 (I have no idea how that happened because I haven’t followed it much). A game between a 9-3 team and 10-2 team would normally sound quite interesting — but if they played next week, I probably wouldn’t watch. I’m sorry, but I just don’t really care at the moment.

Check back with me when the playoffs start and I’ll probably care more. Otherwise, there are a lot of other things to do on a Sunday — even if the weather isn’t nice outside — and the NFL just doesn’t have my attention right now for whatever reason.

This all is very surprising to me, because there’s no particular reason I’d suddenly lose the passion for what was my favorite sport. I just don’t feel the NFL is giving me a reason to consume its content. I haven’t been checking scores, watching highlights or following the standings much. I see people make reference to the games on Twitter and post GIFs, but that’s about it.

I’m not bragging about this, because it’s not like I’m happy about it. I’d like to get invested in NFL Sundays again. But the more I think about it, I’m not sure I really miss it.

This is how dumb the NFL is

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is probably relieved today, since — let’s face it — he wanted no part of running a Philadelphia Eagles car next week at Pocono Raceway.

The diehard Washington Redskins fan already tried to plead his case several months ago to boss Rick Hendrick, who basically told him to get over it. After all, major Hendrick Motorsports sponsor Axalta had an important teachers initiative to promote — and this is how it chose to do so.

But now, thanks to a stupid NFL provision, the paint scheme won’t run at all. It’s the kind of policy corporate lawyers come up with just because they’re bored and want to justify their high salaries.

The NFL’s official reasoning, per the Eagles: There rules “states that club marks cannot be used in connection with the promotion or presentation of another sport.”

That seems like a stretch on the NFL’s part. It’s not like the Pocono race is called the “Philadelphia Eagles 400” or something. The logo was going to be on one race car for one race on a broadcast televised by NFL partner FOX Sports — during a time of year when the NFL isn’t even on TV!

The horror!

It’s hilariously sad that some dork in the NFL corporate office actually got upset enough about this to nix the entire thing.

The Eagles are going to be on the most popular NASCAR driver’s car in order to promote teachers who concentrate on STEM education? Send them a cease and desist immediately!

“Without doubt, we are deeply disappointed that the Axalta All-Pro Teachers car will not run,” a statement from Axalta said. “As a primary sponsor of Dale Earnhardt Jr., we were thrilled about plans for him to drive a car that gave the Axalta All-Pro Teachers program and STEM education more visibility by promoting the program on the track.”

The Eagles also said they were bummed.

“Having been reminded of the NFL’s policy, we understand and respect their point of view,” the team said. “While we are disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to increase the visibility of the Axalta All-Pro Teachers program through the Pocono 400 this year, we remain committed to supporting STEM curriculum and the educators who inspire our youth through our relationship with Axalta.”

So lame. The NFL is on top right now, so apparently officials feel they don’t need any additional publicity. But that won’t last forever, and disrespecting $4 billion companies like Axalta might make the journey much more painful on the way down.

UPDATE: Here’s what Earnhardt had to say about the NFL’s decision.

“I was disappointed because the opportunity to honor the teachers was going to be pretty cool learning about that connection that the Eagles have with that was going to be col.  We are still going to have some teachers at the race and some of the Eagles guys are going to come out.  Everything is kind of as is, except for the car.

“I do like the Axalta car we are going to run.  It’s going to look good out there and it’s really just unfortunate for Axalta and a good cross over promotion.  That would be pretty cool even though obviously, we joked around being Redskins fan and all that.  But it was going to be a pretty fun promotion and we are still going to try to maximize what opportunity we can with it.”