Did I just blow your mind with that title? Before continuing reading, please recover your discarded brain matter off the ground. I’ll wait for you to return from surgery to continue with this article.
Oh, good! You’re back! And it only took 12 hours. (I do not really know how long brain surgery takes. I highly doubt it only takes 12 hours.) Now that you have finally returned, and I am done with my nap, I can get to my point. The NFL needs to be changed. It is the number one sport in America, and seems to have infinite popularity potential (Potential is a weird word to describe the NFL’s success, considering it has been around for 40 years, not including the 40 before when there was no “Super Bowl”. But the NFL is ever growing.), but it needs to be fixed. I am not going to comment on the labor struggle that seems to be dooming the 2011 NFL Season (Let’s be honest, an NFL strike was eminent. For a league that once had two strikes in the ‘80s, we were long overdue. It is like that supervolcano that is 60,000 years overdue that sits underneath Yellowstone National Park. It is going to happen eventually.) I am, however, going to be commenting on the asinine divisions, the idiotic playoff format, and the lack of concern over head injuries. When the NFL says they are attempting to make progress on these things, they really are not. Hopefully, they will find this article one day, before it is too late. By too late, I mean when football becomes outlawed by Congress, Teddy Roosevelt style, for having too many players die before the age of 50.
1) Get Rid of the AFC & NFC North, for God’s sake.
I have nothing against the two northern divisions. In fact, they may be two of the better divisions in football. Hell, the AFC North is even home to my favorite team (the Steelers). But they are not necessary. You could make the same argument about the AFC and NFC South. What kind of sadistic league has four divisions? They need to disband the North and South, and combine them into a Central. Of course, having a eight team division would be even dumber then the first scenario. Get rid of four teams from both Central’s, and sprinkle two into the AFC/NFC West, and two into the AFC/NFC East. God knows the West’s need new teams. If I have to sit through one more week knowing that the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, and St. Louis Rams are all either tied or hold sole possession of first place, I may lose faith in humanity all together.
AFC East: Ravens, Jets, Patriots, Browns, Jaguars
AFC Central: Dolphins, Bills, Steelers, Broncos, Bengals, Colts
AFC West: Titans, Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Texans
NFC East: Giants, Eagles, Panthers, Falcons, Buccaneers
NFC Central: Rams, Redskins, Packers, Saints, Lions, Bears
NFC West: Cowboys, Cardinals, Niners, Seahawks, Vikings
See! Extreme Parity!
2) Please, No 18 Game Schedule
Now, I know this is not in place yet, but the NFL is way too obsessed with this idea to ignore it. This will do a few things. For starters, the players will be exhausted for the playoffs. In case the owners have not noticed (and they have not) football is a really, really tough game to play. For one team to possibly play 22 games a season is absolutely crazy and too much to ask. Getting rid of two preseason games will do nothing, since a majority of starters play one series, then sit on the bench doing various things, like playing with the giant cooling fans like Chris Farley in Tommy Boy. The players will be drained come playoff time. That is just what the NFL wants, right? Running backs running right into the line of scrimmage, then toppling over when the come in contact with a defensive player? Linemen keeling over in pain as all four chambers of their heart collapse? No one wants that.
My other argument against this is in number 8. My solution is…
3) One-Game Playoff!
You may think this is crazy, but hear me out. Think of how crazy this one weekend would be. You would have probably about 8 teams combined playing, for only the two playoff spots, one for each conference. Instead of having a one 9-7 team make it over another, because they beat them back in Week 2 when their star linebacker was injured, you now have a fair way to decide who makes the postseason. Baseball has done this for years, and some of baseball’s most famous moments come from one-game playoffs. Bobby Thompson’s Shot Heard Round the World in 1951. Bucky Dent’s home run off of Al Torrez in 1978. The Rockies winning in 13 innings in 2007. Nothing is more dramatic than having the entire fate of your season ride on one game. In the NFL, you have these absurd playoff scenarios, where you need mathematicians from MIT to decipher all the different ways a team can get in. Why add two idiotic games, when you can one extra game at the end of the season that really mean something.
By now, you may have found the flaw in my plan. You are going to need two weeks to decide this, if there are 8 teams into the equation. The only real solution(s) to this would be to either:
a) Only allow 4 teams in, and eliminate the excess by using tiebreakers
b) Play another week
I would have to edge with A here. Sure, there are still tiebreakers, but there are not as many. If you do not have enough in the tiebreakers to even make the play-in game, why should you be in the playoffs? There would still be confusing tiebreakers, but they would seem a lot more there than previously.
4) Electoral College Playoffs
We have a division this year, the NFC West, where every team may not finish over .500. And still make the playoffs. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. It is like in the NBA Playoffs, where the 8 seed from the Eastern Conference goes 38-44 and makes the playoffs. But that is different. There are no teams that are better than the 8 seed, and do not make the playoffs. That does not happen in the gratuitous playoff system that is the NBA. We could easily see a team this year go 9-7 in the NFC, and not make it because the Seahawks managed to go 7-9. My solution?
If you do not win more than 8 games during the regular season, you do not make the playoffs.
Sounds fair, right? Do it the way America does it. If you do not get 270 electoral votes, you are not our damn President. If you are one of those wishy-washy types, and says “Maybe the division they played in was so hard, they could barely get to .500.” (Which is not the case in the NFC West), we could tweak the rule so that you must go at least 3-5 out of your division. I do not want to see Alex Smith be a playoff quarterback. This rule can prevent that. USA! USA! USA!
The owners were in the right direction when they made the new overtime rule for the postseason, in this past offseason. The new rule is still awful, but not as horrific as the previous overtime rule was. Currently, the regular season is still the same as it always was: Whoever scores first, wins! The postseason, however, is a little different. If you score a field goal on your first possession, you do not win. The only way you can win is by scoring a touchdown. This idea is still extremely dumb. We are still going to have a situation where coaches want to protect their jobs, by pulling up for the field goal. (Say a team scores a field goal on the initial kickoff. The opposing team will then drive to the 30 yard line, then proceed to run three one-yard running plays in a row. It is not going to change.) There are going to do this no matter what, unless you implement the college football system AKA the only overtime system that works (Shootouts are dumb, hockey and soccer). I have always been all for the college system, at least since the 2003 Fiesta Bowl where Ohio State and Miami duked it out in overtime (This is also the game where Willis McGahee’s knee exploded).
6) More Mascots v. Children Half-time Games.
There is nothing funnier than seeing a “grown” man in a 7 foot jaguar costume face masking a nine-year-old kid. Watch:
7) CBS Should Not be Allowed to Broadcast Games
I love the duo of Nantz and Sims. I love the clearness of CBS HD. But for the love of God, if I see one more commercial for The Defenders, I am going to throw my remote into the TV. CBS leads all of America in advertising during football games. It has gotten to the point, where I am waiting to see the commercials overtake the game in the title on my TV Guide.
Sunday 1-4 PM Advertising (Sponsored by GMC, Mike Rowe, 60 Minutes and Cialis)
Every kickoff, every turnover, every challenge, injury, timeout, injury timeout, all deserve a commercial break. It is beyond frustrating. What is the point of TV timeouts, if CBS tries to jam in an advertisment for Hawaii 5-0 in between the kickoff and the opening play? (All while missing the first and seconds plays, mind you). This insanity needs to end.
8) Concussion Problem
My solution: Make every player where the helmet Troy Polamalu wears. By my rough estimate, Polamalu has suffered 47 concussions during is career. The only thing that keeps him alive on the football field, is that giant, semi-obnoxious helmet he wears. Sure he looks like a bobblehead doll, or a mascot, but he is trying to preserve his life. The NFL is facing a huge current problem, where a wave of retired players are dying young and suffering from disease that they should not be having until at least 40 years down the road. The concussion is a big issue.
Making a new helmet is key in this. The helmets have not changed since 1975 (not a real fact), and seem to be made by random scrap metal. If everyone wore the helmet Polamalu wears, concussions would drop drastically. Another, more radical idea, is that players are forced to retire after their 7th concussion. Obviously, this idea would never happen, but it is an interesting thing to consider. Can you imagine a player, in the prime of his career, being forced to retire? Polamalu would have been gone 4 years ago. But the NFL will consider this idea down the line. They need to protect their players, and if the recent lawsuits are any indication, this issue is not going away.
Jacksonville v. BUFFALO
New York Giants v. HOUSTON
Kansas City v. INDIANAPOLIS
Tampa Bay v. CINCINNATI
GREEN BAY v. Washington
St. Louis v. DETROIT
CHICAGO v. Carolina
ATLANTA v. Cleveland
Denver v. BALTIMORE
NEW ORLEANS v. Arizona
Tennessee v. DALLAS
SAN DIEGO v. Oakland
Philadelphia v. SAN FRANCISCO
MINNESOTA v. New York Jets
My picks against the spread: Pigskin Pick Em
After a 8-6 non-spread and a 7-7 spread week, I am 34-28 in both categories.
Till next week.