Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Five Unrealistic But Fun NFL Changes

You should know this about me, folks: I'm a dreamer. I dream of a world in which my laundry wins a meaningful game at the end of their season, where professional football actually satisfies the marketplace, and games end on time. So dream a little dream with me, will you?

5) The penalty amnesty flag.

Similar to the replay challenge, this gives coaches the option of one play per half where a flag is picked up and the play is done over. Imagine, if you will, the strategy involved in when you use this -- the holding call in the first quarter, or keep it in your pocket to use on defense late in the half? etc., etc. -- and the fun of having one in hand late in a game, when you can do things like go after a punter or place kicker will full abandon. Either that, or you could actually have a taunting flag wiped off the boards, or a questionable bailout pass interference that doesn't change the whole game. I just made Ravens Fan wildly excited by life, and given Eagle Fan a whole new reason to hate Andy Reid, since he'd use it to counter a delay of game in the first five minutes of the game. The only people that don't love this are coaches, and even they would get into it, if only to tell a ref that last call didn't happen. Do this. With a quickness.

4) No pre-whistle in-game replays.

The single greatest moment of home field advantage occurs in nationally televised games, where teams get the benefit of long commercial breaks and partisan Jumbotrons to overturn plays that they would never think of challenging on the road. And all of that is just adding the worst minutes in sports -- i.e., the time when everyone stares at a middle aged man staring at a sideline peep show -- to just about every single game you watch. No one should spend 2-3 hours a year waiting for a ref to make a replay call, have their team lose a game because they had the poor fortune of playing in front of too many cameras on the road, or give hurry-up offenses even more advantages than they already have. If you aren't throwing a replay challenge flag without seeing a replay, you should not challenge. Next.

3) Split the kickoff difference.

I hated the move from the 30 to the 35 for kickoffs this year, and while it hasn't been as bad as expected -- more returners are just taking the ball out from deeper in their end zone, which has made for some amazing returns and a little more strategy around your personnel -- it's still a situation where more than half of the time, especially at altitude or indoors, you are watching a guy take a knee. Woo. Also, no one can say that this has actually led to fewer concussions, which was the alleged point in the first place. So move the ball back to the 32.5 line, and make the touchback a meaningful accomplishment for the kicker again. It's really not asking for that much.

2) Audio feed freedom.

The NFL is a wildly profitable league that enjoys near complete hegemony over the sporting consciousness. There's a lot of money involved here, a lot of coverage and a huge chunk of the populace that's been following the game for decades now. Also, the fans tend to skew high on income, or at the very least, have a large portion of the audience with people of means. So why, dear God why, does everyone have to put up with the same audio feed?

Think about it; no matter how much or little you make, you are getting Tony Siragusa, Phil Simms, Jon Gruden and a cavalcade of yammering twerps that just can't be avoided. If someone gave you the ability to opt out of that, say for $99 a year, and instead get field level audio, coach chatter and/or an expert level analysis from people who aren't afraid of advanced statistics or explaining what a Cover 2 is... wouldn't you go for that? I'll up the ante; for $199, I'll take commercials out of your mix as well, and won't censor the field audio so that you can hear every curse, scream and insult. I'm sold. And I'm not even a guy who ponies up for NFL Network, or NFL Sunday Ticket.

1) Second and third tier leaugues, year round.

In another ten weeks or so, you won't have any more football until next September. (As an Eagles fan, I'm strangely OK with this.) The NCAA can not be trusted to help satisfy your needs; I don't really know squat about child slave ball, but I do know that there is no playoff and the games next week don't seem to matter, which is all kinds of joyous. There's also clear evidence that people do get better at this game with some time and development; there are any number of QBs that have grown out of minor leagues after not showing much in college, and as the Tebow Experience is showing in Denver, you might not even need to have your QB be able to throw a football to win. (I keed, Tebow Lovers, I keed. Your man is going to be able to do this for the next 20 years, because 22 carries a game from the QB is sustainable, and can't possibly end in multiple concussions. Moving on.)

So... why isn't there a spring league? And a summer league? In small towns and underserved areas, with franchises that are either feeders to existing teams, or entirely as their own entities, with relegation and ascension and year-round fantasy sports goodness and...

OK, I'll stop. But this is a football nation, and it only gets real games for less than half of the year, and for most market, it's more like a third. The market will correct itself. And not with arena stupidity, or games on top of games on top of games (high school and college) all at the same time. The market will correct. So why not sooner, rather than later?

2 comments:

Tracer Bullet said...

We'll never get minor leagues because it's never worked before, there aren't enough QBs to go around now and colleges do the same job without costing the NFL much of anything. I do like the penalty-killing flag though. You'd have to make a few provisions or we'd get guys mauling kickers to prevent game-winning FGs, but the idea of retaining a turnover following a bullshit roughing flag or letting a TD stand after the LT pins a defensive end to the ground? I LIKE IT.

DMtShooter said...

How is guys mailing kickers to prevent game winning FGs a bad thing? Block for the man if you want to prevent it.

And for the record, you wouldn't retain the play; you'd just get a replay down. Which would also be fascinating to see, how many times the refs just drop an FU follow-up flag...

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