Four Items the Next NFL Commissioner Should Address
If anything has become clear in the wake of the train wreck that has been the last two weeks of news in the NFL, it is that the league needs a new commissioner. The reasons for this have been laid out clearly on this website and elsewhere. The change at the top of the NFL will almost certainly come later rather than sooner, but I expect that someone other than Roger Goodell will be shaking draft picks’ hands at the 2015 draft. There are a number of serious issues that will demand the vast majority of the attention of whomever takes over for Roger Goodell, but I believe that the following four items deserve a spot on the agenda. (I’ll forward this link to Condoleezza as soon as she takes the reins.)
- Figure out a better way to measure field position. I don’t know if it is a chip in the ball, a system of cameras set up to track the ball’s movement during play, a combination of the two, or something else entirely. Whatever the answer is, the farce of a guesstimate spotting of the ball, followed by exacting measurement of the spot by the chain gang needs to end. I can’t think of another example, in sports or elsewhere, where the arbitrary and the specific collide so directly. It’s 2014, and the league is certainly capable of selling a sponsorship for this technology to Garmin – we can fix this.
- Fix the kickoff situation. Obviously, the threat of the onside kick needs to be preserved, so the kickoff needs to continue to exist in some form. That being said, the kickoff has been rendered superfluous by moving the tee up to the 35 yard line. I realize that the league moved to largely eliminate the kick return out of sensitivity to the issue of concussions (-related litigation). If we are going to end up kicking the ball out of the end zone on nearly every kickoff, I propose the following rule: Any kickoff that goes out of bounds (including out of the back of the end zone on the fly), results in the ball being placed on the 40 yard line. If the kicker sends the kick off through the uprights, it’s an additional extra point for his team. Mostly, I think that teams would kick it short and we would get to see more kick returns. That’s great! What would be even better would be a team down by nine late in the game. Touchdown, two-point conversion, and extra-extra-point. Tie game. Madness.
- Appoint me as the league’s Uniform Czar. I’d be happy to speak up for all of us and ensure that our aesthetics are not offended each Sunday. Can you imagine the horror if the Buccaneers were actually a watchable football team? If there were a reason to want to watch Tampa Bay games, I would need a retina transplant by week 10. This was an entirely foreseeable predicament, one that I could have easily put a stop to as the league’s Uniform Czar. I am typically a traditionalist when it comes to a team’s threads, but the new(-ish) Seahawks uniforms have proven that there are good new styles to be developed. The Eagles need to return to kelly green, the Vikings and Bengals need to have their uniforms cleaned up, and many teams’ looks are just boring (the Texans and Broncos are essentially interchangeable, for instance). There’s plenty of work to be done here.
- More Saturday games. The league is actually already moving in the right direction on this one. Two Saturday games will be aired in week 16 this year. I can’t understand why these went away in the first place. College football is basically dead in December, 80% of the country doesn’t want to be outside, and we’re all still two months away from worrying about who is good in college basketball. Saturday games ended up only taking a one season hiatus; the last one having aired in 2012, but I would like to see a full month of Saturday games next year. Putting them back on the schedule at all was a no-brainer (which explains how the NFL “got this one right,” even without my advice).