This has been a very interesting year at all levels of football, beginning with the NFL.

The most successful sports league in the country is showing a less than attractive side. Controversies have been many and varied. We spent the entire preseason and the first half of the regular season drawing attention to our National Anthem.

Ezekiel Elliott, one of the top three backs in the league, has played a cat and mouse game the entire season to avoid a six-game suspension. The legal game ended just after the Chiefs played Dallas. America’s team (so-called by Jerry and the boys) will be really challenged to make the playoffs without him for the stretch run through November and December.

Injuries to many star players has lessened interest in a lot of games. NFL television rankings have declined for two straight years. Thursday Night games have come under question by players who have stated that it is too difficult to play on a Sunday and again on a Thursday. The dilemma for players is that they receive a 48 percent cut of television revenue in a contract worth almost a billion dollars to player salaries. No Thursday Night football would result in a hefty loss in pay for the players.

Jerry Jones, the infamous Dallas Cowboys owner, wants to get rid of Commissioner Roger Goodell because of the way he has handled Elliott’s suspension. This is right after the league came off the controversial “Deflate Gate” debacle. The NFL has turned into a weekly political circus. More action seems to be off the field than on the field.

Last Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants may have been one of the worst overtime games in the history of the NFL. Even as a loyal Chiefs or Giants fan, the game was pathetic. The NFL is a huge business that seems to show signs of shooting itself in the foot.

The owners are noticing a loss of fan interest that has been locked up by the NFL for the past 30 years. If football is going to remain at the top of the mountain, the leaders need to look what is occurring at lower levels of football. High school football participation is rapidly dropping off. In Kansas City alone the biggest and best programs are declining in numbers by about 20-30 kids a year. Successful programs need large numbers of players participating in the sport.

While attending the Class 6 State Championship game, I spoke with several key high school leaders in the state of Missouri. All of them voiced concern about the future of the sport. Most feel the primary reason for the decline is fear of injury. Parents and young athletes are choosing to pursue sports activities with less risk of injury. It is a valid point that is hard to argue.

The danger and seriousness of concussion is very real. Physical injury is not the only problem. The overall interest in high school football is down. All you need to do is attend a game between two great teams and the crowds in attendance are almost cut in half.

Football should be okay for the time-being but could be in real trouble in the next 10 years of this trend continues. The NFL cannot make their big money without an endless supply to talented players. The league has laid a golden egg for the past 30 years, but they need to assess the facts in front of them. Football may think it is ahead in the game of change but would do well to look toward the future. The present business model has been a great success, but outside factors that have not shown the best face of the game could quickly become a threat.

Football is a great team game. It takes all eleven players to be in sync on every play for the team to be successful. Let’s hope that going forward lessons learned (both good and bad) can be used to create an even better game of football for the future.

I cannot find a single Mizzou fan that is on the fire-Barry-Odom bandwagon after the coach has won five games in a row and helped his team qualify for their first Bowl appearance since 2014.

A football program takes time to build. Unlike basketball, you are not able to recruit three good players and become good overnight. Football takes a lot of people rowing the boat in the same direction to be successful. Sometimes that takes patience.

My quote of the week comes from Hall of Fame Coach Tom Landry, “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan. The key is discipline. Without it, there is no morale.”

Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.