Officially Confirmed: The 2022 Monday Night Football season was the worst ever

Well, it is finally official: The 2022 Monday Night Football season was the worst season of Monday Night Football in the recorded history of Monday Night Football. We here at ALDLAND were on this early, and, in a report published on December 6, 2022, disclosed the preliminary and then-conclusive findings derived from our proprietary MNF Index: “This has been the worst slate of Monday-night games in NFL history….Monday Night Football never has been less worthy of its billing than in 2022.” Today, ALDLAND updates and confirms that conclusive conclusion conclusively for the now-completed 2022 NFL season.

As a reminder:

Unlike Monday Night Football’s ascendant sibling, Sunday Night Football, or its soon-to-be-terminated cousin, SEC on CBS, all MNF matchups must be chosen well before the season starts. This means that the NFL and its media partners have to make significant, long-range predictions based on minimal data when they are setting all of the pairings for their premier weekly showcase. How well do they do this?

To answer this question, the MNF Index evaluates the quality of Monday Night Football games immediately prior to kickoff to present a quality score illustrating the schedule-makers’ degree of success at presenting enticing games likely to live up to the expectations of a nationally televised, Monday-night event. The MNF Index therefore does not consider any in-game performance data.

Looking ahead from that early December vantage point, we wondered whether the three remaining Monday-night games– Rams at Packers, Chargers at Colts, and Bills at Bengals– might offer a meaningful chance at redemption. They did not. Indeed, Rams-Packers (Week 15) was, according to the ALDLAND MNF Index, the worst MNF game of the season. And although the no-doubt quality matchup between the Bills and Bengals (Week 17) would have been the best MNF game ever, the game (a) correctly was canceled due to Damar Hamlin’s frightening, serious injury and (b) would not remotely have altered the ultimate conclusion that there has been no worse season of Monday Night Football than the just-completed 2022 season of Monday Night Football had it been played.

Some good news: Not only does ALDLAND’s MNF Index generate results, but it also gets results. Beginning in the 2023 NFL season, Monday Night Football will be subject to flex scheduling. This option should allow ESPN to buoy the quality of its flagging showcase and, if executed effectively on an ongoing basis, could cement the 2022 MNF season as the worst-ever MNF season ever.

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This is probably the end of probably the best weekly NFL column of the past two years

yrNo, I’m not talking about any of the various aborted (but sure to return!) attempts at weekly football columns on this site. I’m talking about Alex Pappademas’ “I Suck at Football” column, which ran on Grantland’s sports blog, The Triangle, on a weekly basis during the 2012 and 2013 NFL seasons.

I still remember reading Pappademas’ first column in the then-unnamed series. On September 24, 2012, he published the first post, entitled “Nuclear Physics, Bloody Marys, and Bengals: A First Trip to a Sports Bar.” On Monday of this week, he posted what’s likely– though unconfirmed– to be the final entry: “I Suck at Football, Week 18: The Barrel-of-Fun Room.”

The column’s basic tenets emerge in the inaugural article:

On Sunday my friend Richard Feynman took me out to drink and watch football at 10 in the morning. My friend Richard Feynman’s name isn’t really Richard Feynman, but I’ve decided to give every real person in my I Suck At Liking Football journal the name of a famous theoretical physicist, because this sport is still basically quantum mechanics to me. So on Sunday Richard Feynman’s wife took their son to choir practice and (metaphors!) Richard Feynman and I went to football-church, in a sports bar on Vermont Avenue.

Not only did Pappademas not have a favorite football team, he hardly understood the sport itself, or even how to be a fan of it (as evidenced by the originally named “I Suck At Liking Football journal”). By the end of the opening offering, he has picked a favorite team– the Cincinnati Bengals– and begun to deal with the unfamiliar challenges of existing in a sports bar, Ye Rustic, at 10:00 am on a Sunday.

“I Suck at Football” is a crude name for an elegant collection of writing. Every week offered an unpredictable mix of unanticipated portions of life and football. For you, the beauty of this is that, if you’re hearing about this column for the first time, you haven’t missed out: these articles aren’t game really recaps, and you probably didn’t watch the Bengals that week anyway.

Somewhere along the line, I can’t find where now, Pappademas appeared to suggest that this journal would be a two-season affair, and this week’s post has an air of finality to it:

I sat awake by the fire and realized my emotions didn’t really exist. They were just something my brain happened to be doing at that moment. Brain-weather. I was the one deciding to let them consume me. And I should have known that, because watching bad Bengals football taught me that lesson over and over. I felt frustration, anger, disappointment — and then I could stop feeling it, because it was just a TV show, and whether Dalton threw three interceptions or 300 changed nothing about my life outside Ye Rustic.

Thanks to the website redesign Grantland undertook sometime in the past twenty-four hours, there isn’t an easy way to view this series in one place. For now, your best bet may be to cycle through Pappademas’ full-site author archive, which contains a bunch of other stuff too. It’s worth the effort.

Tuesday Afternoon Inside Linebacker

tailALDLAND’s weekly football roundup is back following week three of college football and week two of the NFL.

College Football

Pregame:

  • I caught snippets of ESPN College Gameday and Fox Sports 1’s college football pregame shows. Gameday remains the leader of the pack, but I’d like more time to see how FS1’s show develops. In the meantime, I’ll join FS1’s Joel Klatt in sending good wishes to the folks in Colorado dealing with major flooding right now.

The games — excitement building:

  • With a couple East Carolina fans in town, we watched the Pirates hang with Virginia Tech for about three quarters. The Hokies did all they could, including badly missing a bunch of close kicks, to hand ECU the game. Frank Beamer looked like he wanted to puke, but his team managed to hold it together in the end. Virginia Tech 15, East Carolina 10.
  • We were flipping between that game and UCLA-Nebraska. When I first checked in on this one, Nebraska had a 21-3 lead, and it looked like the best early game of the day would not materialize into a competitive affair. That turned out to be sort of true, but not in the way I expected. UCLA scored thirty-eight unanswered points to beat the now-mythological blackshirt defense in Lincoln 41-21.
  • The game of the day belonged to Alabama and Texas A&M, and it lived up to the hype. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies started very hot, jumping out to a 14-0 lead and choking the Tide’s early drives. A&M scored touchdowns on its first two drives, which averaged 71.5 yards and 2:06 off the clock. Alabama responded, though, methodically amassing thirty-five temporarily unanswered points and carried a 42-21 lead into the fourth quarter. The Aggie defense had yielded to The System, but Manziel wasn’t through, although twenty-one fourth-quarter points wouldn’t be enough to top Alabama. The Crimson Tide remain undefeated, winning 49-42, but Manziel unequivocally proved that he is must-see football every time he plays, and his cohort, receiver Mike Evans, deserves some credit too.     Continue reading