Just over one third of respondents (35%) are very or completely satisfied with the National Football League, while a quarter (24%) are not at all satisfied or only slightly satisfied.

Comments as to why fans are or aren’t satisfied with the NFL:

  • “After viewing the movie Concussion, I believe the NFL is a slightly appalling organization that should do much more in the community and the world.”
  • “I feel like NFL is more concerned about making money and that it is more focused on the business aspect of the sport rather than playing for the love of the game. For example, college players put their blood, sweat, and tears on the field and don’t earn one penny, but they do it because they love what they do. The NFL is run more like a business with less emphasis on the passion for the sport.”
  • “As a fan, I think of all the money that is put into the game, players and teams. The league does not perform at the highest-level management-wise. I feel the League is unfair and unjust. I feel that fines and suspensions are not handled correctly. Also, the officiating of games: no one seems to know the rules and there are so many questionable game-deciding calls that are blown more often then not. I believe more should be done for the quality of the game itself. Make it about the game not about the NFL.”
  • “I believe the NFL is an owner’s first league. It’s all about the business side of thing, which shuts out many of the true fans. the game is still a beautiful thing to watch. But many of the scandals are bringing the league down.”
  • “Because they are responsible for entrapping college players in a form of indentured servitude, then overinflating a few pro players’ salaries, while encouraging brain and serious bodily damage in the majority of their players, some who make very little money in a lifetime. Moreover, they encourage violence, homophobia, and enable criminals. They also do nothing help players learn to manage their money. They also fix games, and focus on profit at the expense of safety, morals, national culture, equality, etc., etc…. Is there anything good about the NFL?”



Respondents were most satisfied with the entertainment value of games (66% were very or completely satisfied), the competitive parity of the teams (57% very or completely satisfied), and the rules of the game in general (41%). As one respondent said, “I find it very entertaining, and competitive. The games are usually very close and exciting. The athletic ability of the football players is impressive.”


Despite the NFL’s recent announcement that the St. Louis Rams are moving back to Los Angeles, 32% of consumers were very or completely satisfied with the NFL’s treatment of local markets. Only 31% were not at all satisfied or slightly satisfied. Their comments:

  • “Thanks for taking the NFL away from St. Louis, NFL.”
  • “I do not like the politics involved in the NFL. It is riddled with poor referees. I am also a Chargers fan and the NFL has not been on the fans’ side.”
  • “I believe their status as a union is terrible as is charging taxpayers for stadiums.”


Dissatisfaction was highest with a number of issues that have generated negative publicity for the league:

  • 35% were not at all satisfied with the NFL’s handling of “Deflategate”:
    • “Deflategate was a total exaggeration that wasted a lot of time and money.”
    • “As a Patriots fan, the handling of Deflategate was extremely disappointing on several fronts. First, a lot of inflammatory information was clearly leaked to the press. Next, Goodell has never been reprimanded in any public way for his mishandling of the situation, and he encourages rumors to fly. He’s even continuing with the case! I hope Peyton Manning does not suffer the same fate over these HGH allegations. As a woman, the fact that Tom Brady was persecuted over PSI in footballs and Ray Rice was barely slapped on the wrist, I’m appalled.”
    • “ESPN’s coverage of Deflategate was awful. I refuse to visit their website anymore. I saw that they just ranked TB12 the number one SB QB of all time but that is not enough.”
  • 26% were not at all satisfied with the NFL’s handling of off-field issues:”
    • “They don’t pay enough attention to the welfare and off-field behavior of their players.”
    • “They need to demand that as public figures, their players act in a respectable manner at all times. Any involvement with police problems should be a lifetime ban.”
  • 20% were unhappy with the NFL’s care for player safety:
    • “The NFL’s dishonesty regarding the concussion scandal is truly disgusting.”
    • “I think the NFL is dishonest and corrupt with regards to the concussion scandal.”
  • 11% were not at all satisfied with officiating:
    • “Sometimes its really frustrating. It seems as though certain teams have different outcomes on a flag.”
    • “Sometimes the refs call stupid plays and also when a team or player cheats they do not suspend them long enough and they are not fined.”
    • “I think it’s ok at times. I think the refs are ‘bought’ but that’s my own personal opinion.”
    • “I think some refs are crooked in it.”


The superstitious are more satisfied with the NFL than the unsuperstitious: 45% of the superstitious are very or completely satisfied with the league, compared to only 30% of the unsuperstitious.

This is an excerpt from the free Researchscape white paper, “Sports Superstitions & The Big Game”. Download your own copy now:

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Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.