NFL commissioner Roger Goodell might have hit the nail on the head, and I'm sure John Madden would agree.

Since the presidential election, TV ratings for the NFL have rebounded slightly. Before the election, they were down 14 percent from a year ago. Now they're down about 10 percent.

People are paying less attention to politics now and more to the NFL, and all is right with the world. Right?

After all, if your candidate loses the presidency, you have to suffer for four years, at least. If your team loses, you only have to wait a week for revenge.

Still, even Goodell admits that presidential politics can't be blamed for all the NFL's ratings woes. He recently told ESPN that he's concerned the pace of the game has turned some viewers off.

"I'm a big believer that it's about the pace of the game, not the length of the game," Goodell said. "If you have a great game, no one is talking about the game's length. But pace is something we've been working on."

Madden, the Hall of Fame former coach and broadcaster, might take it one steps further. There just aren't enough good teams in the NFL anymore to provide quality games all around the clock.

"What's happened is there are not a lot of good teams, and they have too many windows to put these games in," Madden recently told a Bay Area News Group podcast at the Rose Hotel in his hometown of Pleasanton.

"When you think of an early Sunday window, a late Sunday window, a Sunday night window, a Monday night window, a Thursday night window — they all want good games, and there’s not enough good teams."

Think about it. That's five time slots — six, if you throw in a Saturday night game like there was last week — all looking for marquee matchups.

"It takes two. It’s not just one good team. You have to have two to have a great game, and there’s not a lot of great games. And we’re spreading it out more and more with fewer good teams, which makes it doggone impossible to have good games," Madden said.

Obviously, the NFL would love it if the Dallas Cowboys could play every game since they consistently have the highest ratings of any NFL team. Equally obvious, they can't, thank goodness.

Sorry Dallas fans, but I'd rather watch the Browns and Jaguars every week than the Cowboys.

So, Goodell and his minions will tinker with other pace-changing methods, such as shorter, more frequent commercial messages and instant replay.

The average time spent on replay for each game is about 15 minutes, Goodell said. Now, instead of bringing the official to the sideline, however, the NFL is thinking about using tablets and ear pods to shorten delays.

Now there's a first: somebody thinking it's actually going to help to hand a Surface Pro 4 to a guy in his 50s and say, here, use this. I can't even see the screen on my cell phone outdoors.

John Nelson spent 27 years with the Associated Press in New York, covering sports all over the world, and was the AP's national baseball writer for 10 years. He can be reached at