I Love Football, But…

17 11 2014

Google-NFL-Field

“When I meet a European, the first thing I say is, ‘I’d much rather watch football than football.’ But I’m just teasing them, and they know I’d really rather watch football than football.” ~ Jarod Kintz

One may assume that because my Eagles got pounded yesterday that I am down on football and ripe for a rant. Au contraire! These issues have been eating at me for some time. But maybe the Packers have given me a push…

In case you didn’t know, I’m a big soccer fan… I’ll put it right out there! I live, sleep, eat and breathe it. But that love has only been around for less than twenty years, dating back to when my son started to play. Before that I preferred – in order – hockey, football, golf, baseball and basketball.

I still watch these sports, just not as religiously as before. There are only 24 hours in a day!! I do watch every Eagles game, a lot of Flyers games (all of the playoffs), and a lot of Phillies games, too. And I still love them all.

In any sport, there are things that could be better for the good of the game. I’m not a big fan of fighting in hockey, and I think there are just too many baseball games to make the season interesting beginning to end. But that’s just me, one opinion.

No other sport causes me as much consternation as football, especially the NFL. Don’t get me wrong… I’d love to love football. I just don’t have the patience for the rule inconsistencies, slow game play, and the prima donnas and thugs that populate the NFL rosters.

So… my opinion on what is wrong with NFL football, and some things I’d like to see changed. For what it’s worth…

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  • The Plane – The rule that a player is deemed in bounds on the sideline and back of the end zone according to the position of his feet – but deemed “in” the end zone based on the ball breaking the plane of the goal line – is strangely inconsistent and makes no sense. Everything else – touchdowns, first downs, field goals, touchbacks – are decided by the position of the ball relative to a line. Please change the sideline rule…
  • Moving The Kickoff – The league mandated that the kickoff spot would be moved forward to increase the amount of touchbacks, therefore decreasing the amount of violent hits that can cause concussions.  The stats have confirmed that there has been a reduction of injuries on kickoffs. But if the NFL is serious about eliminating concussions, remove the kick off altogether. Each team starts at the 20 yard line.
  • Charlie_Brown_Lucy_Moves_Football-1LGIcing The Kicker – The practice of calling a timeout seconds before the ball is snapped on a field goal is bush league. It very rarely works, but I do laugh riotously when it backfires on a coach. Come on, guys… grow the hell up!
  • My Time Has Value – In 2013, NFL television broadcasts ran an average of 3 hours and 10 minutes. In that time, only 11 minutes consisted of actual football plays… kickoffs, punts and plays from scrimmage. To me, that is a stunning number. One hour of the time was used for commercials, but I can live with that – I go to the bathroom much more these days.  But 17 minutes of the time was devoted to instant replays of those 11 minutes of play. Add as many as 75 minutes for shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just doing nothing between snaps. And that means I am watching people standing around doing nothing. Not the best use of my time…
  • 100514-THROW-THE-FLAG-PI-CHOfficials – There are seven officials on the field during an NFL game. SEVEN!!! It’s amazing to me how they aren’t tripping over some of the 22 players on the field!!! I do not think that officials are bad, but I do believe that instant replay has reduced their effectiveness. Nothing is sadder than watching the play end and the obvious uncertainty on the face of the officials, afraid to commit to a call. While I’m all for accuracy and getting the call right, the current system is a detriment to the flow of the game and needs a major overhaul to be a workable solution. And why does the ref have a microphone when a hand signal should explain everything (as in every sport on the planet)? And another thing… yellow flags are stupid.
  • Screen-Shot-2014-09-15-at-12.27.08-AMPriorities  – I won’t add much to the debate and outrage about the behavior of a small number of NFL players, other than my sadness that the chart on the right exists (click to enlarge). But for the good of the game for the long run, discipline needs to be taken out of the hands of people who can experience financial gain or loss as a result of such action. The furor over Ray Rice not being suspended immediately by the Ravens is a prime example. It was argued on one side that any team action was premature in that he was not charged or found guilty, while the other side called for immediate dismissal from the team.

    Cutting the bullshit… it was purely a business decision. How would the team or league be affected financially by doing something, or nothing? Weigh all of the scenarios and make a conclusion. Forget what’s right and what’s wrong… the question is always about dollars. It has nothing to do with the rights of players, and certainly not their victims.

The reality is that most of the rule changes enacted by the NFL over the past twenty years have not improved the game, but have added significant time to the game day experience. But the good news is that profits are up in the stratosphere from licensing and advertising revenue, so these are wonderful days for the NFL. And clearly the league rolls on, impervious to bad press.

Their shortsightedness will be costly as the kids raised on technology enabling immediate returns will state, by their disinterest, that they don’t have hours or dollars to waste an entire Sunday afternoon.

But that’s not me because I’m no kid, and I like football. I would just like to love it again.

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