Fixing What Is Not Broken: NFL Changes
The NFL is NOT broken. Sure, college football is the Confidential’s favorite, for a variety of reasons. But the NFL is the sports king and prints money. Listening to Ryan Clark on ESPN Radio yesterday, he had a very good point, however, about the inconsistency between legislating the physicality out of the game (to protect players), but then scheduling more and more Thursday night games (inconsistent with protecting players). And the “byes” are an annoying feature of the game also. Is there a way to make it all work??? Recognizing that the NFL is far broken, consider this proposal…
Problem #1–players being forced to play on 3 days rest with Thursday games.
Solution #1: Require that all Thursday games be AFTER a bye week. Give the players 10 days to rest up before a Thursday game and 10 days after.
Of course, solution #1 leads to Problem #2–how do you schedule that?
Solution #2: Lengthen the season to 18 weeks. Keep the season at 16 games. Add a second Thursday game. Expand by 4 teams to 36 teams, so that there can be 4 teams having a bye each of the 18 weeks. Now you can double the number of Thursday games. Bye weeks throughout the year, weeks 1 through 18.
Problem #3, expand?
Solution #3: Heck, yes. Do not tell me that there is not enough talent to go around. We see more teams fielding good teams with no-name QBs (Nick Foles, anyone?) and good systems… running backs are no longer a wise first round pick… and so on. Plenty of good college players never find a home. Four more teams protects the existing franchises. It will reduce some of the owners’ leverage with respect to stadium issues as potential move sites are eliminated, but it will be a short-term injection of funds via franchise rights that few would turn down. Plus, the extra Thursday game means another revenue source.
Problem #4, expand where?
Solution #4: Los Angeles. The highest population state can handle a fourth pro football team. San Antonio. Football crazy Texas can support a third team. Orlando. Growing state and football crazy Florida can support a fourth team in the home of Disney. Toronto. This city can support American football and is the first step towards an inevitable International flavor for the NFL.
Problem #5, what are the divisions?
Solution #5: Some simple rearrangement. 36 teams equals 6 divisions of 6 teams. Reconfigure broadly to promote regionality. Each team has a logical pair within each division, to lessen the blow of the radical realignment. But think about sports’ best rivalries–almost all are fueled by proximity… Duke/UNC, Alabama/Auburn, Pitt/WVU, Texas/A&M, all in-state rivalries, Red Sox/Yankees, and so on. Losing Dallas-Washington would stink, but gaining Dallas-Houston would pay off in the long run. So try these divisions out:
- AFC East: Jets v Giants, Buffalo v Toronto, Indy v New England
- AFC Central: Pittsburgh v Philly, Cleveland v Cincinnati, Baltimore v Washington
- AFC South: Dallas v Phoenix, Houston v San Antonio, New Orleans v Atlanta
- NFC Southeast: Miami v Tampa Bay, Orlando v Jacksonville, Tennessee v Carolina
- NFC North: Detroit v Chicago, Minnesota v Green Bay, KC v St. Louis
- NFC West: LA v San Diego, Oakland v San Francisco, Seattle v Denver
See all those regional rivalries and matchups?
Problem #6, how does the schedule work?
Solution #6: You play your division twice (10 games), plus one other division. See every team in five years. Fewer matchups means fewer rematches in the playoffs means more exciting playoffs.
Problem #7, how do the playoffs work?
Solution #7, the NFL is already going to 7 playoff teams. Just make each overall division champ the “bye” team, and then take the 2 other champions, plus the next four best teams in the conference. Not all that different.
Problem #8, the players would never go for it.
Solution #8, ever see a players union turn down expansion? Not happening. The biggest obstacle would be losing a complete week off, in exchange for the 4 10-day gaps. Maybe an issue. But who is to say that 4 10-day gaps between games is not healthier? How many injuries occur from taking a complete week off mid-season, and then starting back up? Someone needs to study that before definitely ruling. Plus, the Thursday games would mean 4 weekends with family during the season (often, anyway)–a perk today’s players do not get.
Problem #9, the owners would never go for it.
Solution #9, why this would not make the owners more money in the short and long-term? New franchise fees. Expansion fees. More games. More Thursday games. The increased regionality would mean more attendance. How many Miami Dolphins fans go to Buffalo? One would suspect that more Jets and Giants fans in upper New York would go to those road games. Buffalo/Toronto would have cross attendance. Regionality promotes attendance.
Problem #10, fans would not let historical rivalries die.
Solution #10, fans are tolerating the loss of Missouri/Kansas, Pitt/WVU, Texas/Texas A&M. Moreover, the conference loyalties have diminished somewhat. Is there still the same vitriol between teams when the rosters completely churn over every 4 years? The free agency has diminished this somewhat in all sports. Did Yankees fans hate Johnny Damon and Roger Clemens enough to not want those guys? Heck, no. These things come and go.
YOUR TURN… CRITICIZE AWAY! OR IMPROVE/PRAISE… YOUR CHOICE.