“Mr. Commissioner, I have some suggestions….”
By: Elias McMillan
During the NFL season and even during the offseason, things happen on and off the field in a certain way that makes fans, players, and employees want a change. The NFL makes subtle and sometimes drastic changes from year to year. This offseason, a lot of people thought that even more changes were coming. Some would of been popular. Others, not so much. It seems like the two issues that have been brought up the most has been TD celebrations and the use of racial slurs. Based on that, I’m thinking that the decision makers are having a hard time thinking of other topics or that they are all too busy counting money (the NFL grosses about 9 Billion dollars annually, btw). But I guess its hard to think about what to change in the NFL so I attempted to make my own list of what I would change about the NFL if I was the commissioner. I originally started out with a Top Ten list but I didn’t like two of my ideas enough to include them in this list. So, here’s my top EIGHT changes that the NFL should consider.
8. A Minor League System? – There have been many different minor professional football leagues and they all usually end up failing. One football league has been able to achieve staying power without stepping on the toes of the NFL giant. I wouldn’t exactly call the Canadian Football League a “minor” league but it is compared to the NFL. The CFL doesn’t play the same style of football that the NFL plays but its still pretty close. And you watch their games during the summer (which I do), you would find out that it is actually a very entertaining league. The NFL doesn’t really have a need for a minor league system but a partnership with the NFL could provide a way to bring even more attention to the CFL and bring in some of the better talent from the college ranks that couldn’t either cut it in the NFL or that are trying to work their way up through the ranks. So maybe the NFL and the CFL could form a sort of partnership where certain divisions would be able to send players to an assigned team. This would mainly help NFL teams to keep the rights to players who don’t end up making the 53-man roster in early September. The scheduling of my idea would be tricky since the CFL season starts in June and the NFL roster cuts down happened til September. So, maybe this isn’t such a good idea. That’s okay. I’m just throwing out some stuff. Not everything is a million dollar idea.
7. Bring back Celebrations – The NFL began to crack down on celebrations once they became to be over done and outlandish. But now, I think it is safe to say that the era of the Terrell Owens’, Chad Johnson’s and Joe Horn’s of the league is over. Its time to revisit and change some the ridiculous sanctions on celebrations after plays. Football is an emotional game and yes, I agree that most professionals should be able to just move on to the next play without drawing attention to them selves. But unfortunately, people are not robots and it is refreshing to see these guys act out and re-generate their fans and the team by celebrating a job well done. So yes, spike the ball extra hard after scoring, dance after sacking the QB, and Jimmy Graham should be allowed to dunk the ball over the goal post after scoring. I want to see the St. Louis Rams bring back the “Bob N’ Weave” celebration. I am not saying that all celebrations should be allowed. Showing up the opponent should be deemed unnecessary (Looking at you, Richard Sherman). Anything with props should still be flagged. No Sharpies, cell phones, or pylons used as putters. Celebrating with your teammates and with the fans is something that shouldn’t be punished.
6. Bring Back Throwback Helmets – If you know me, you know that I am a nerd when it comes to uniforms and logos in sports. Last season, the decision was brought down from the NFL safety committee that teams would no longer be allowed to wear “throwback” helmet designs because it would mean they would have to change and wear a different helmet than the usually one. The change was made over concussion concerns that could arise when wearing a different helmet than what the player was already used to. I’m not sure if that is a legit reason for the rule because the “throwback” helmets have all the latest protection qualities that the regular helmets have. The “throwback” helmets and uniforms are just a way for teams to honor the past and for the fans to enjoy the nostalgia. But Goodell and the “No Fun League” struck again and have killed the throwback designs for now. Basically my plan would to be to bring back the throwback designs as long as the teams agreed to do so. I mean, how many college teams change helmets every other week in the NCAA. And where is the research that backs the NFL’s decision. This was just another dumb rule that needs to go away.
5. End the Boring Super Bowl Logos – For the most part, the official Super Bowl logos have been bright colorful and a reflection of the host city. Not really important but it was something that definitely added to pageantry of the Big Game. Since 2010, starting with Super Bowl XLV, the league started to adopt a bland silver and gray, cookie cutter logo package for each Super Bowl. It’s really boring and plus, it also looks horrible on the jerseys. Once again, I know that this might be a very minor issue to most but if I was the commissioner I would tell the marketing department behind designing these logos to bring back the host city inspired logos. Plus, you would probably be more likely to sell more Super Bowl related merchandise with the new logos than with the same old standardized logo.
4. End the NFL “Honors” Show – Sports award shows are stupid. Period. With a capital S. This all started with ESPN and the ESPYs awards show which airs on the one day on the sports calendar where there isn’t any games going on. For the NFL, back in the day they would just announce the post-season awards with little to no fan fare. Now, they have an entire production of the awards announcements called “NFL Honors”. It is a full on replica of the ESPYs complete with some awful comedian/actor attempting to make good on some football/sports related humor. It’s a giant waste of time that needs to be over and done with. Though I will admit that the event does make a lot of sense for the league. It creates another event that can be broadcasted and that would win in the ratings in a weekend where there is no football being played. But once I get rid of the awards show, that would open up some more possibilities for events to happen in between the time from the Conference Championship games and Super Bowl. I’ll exaggerate on this later.
3. Let’s Really make the Pro Bowl cool again – The way the league is currently doing the Pro Bowl is a total mess and if I was commissioner, I will make multiple changes to make Pro Bowl a lot more enjoyable and a weeklong event. Number one, I would switch up the end of season schedule a bit. I’ll keep the Super Bowl two weeks away from Conference Championship Sunday but I’ll have the Pro Bowl played after the Super Bowl; the way it was for years before recently. That makes the most sense to me. The Pro Bowl is supposed to have the best players in the league every year. But recently because the game is scheduled before the Super Bowl, the fans of Hawaii don’t really get to see the very best of the NFL and you end up with some players who really have no business calling them selves “All-Pros”. Also if you remember up until 2007, the Pro Bowl would have a weeklong event in Hawaii, which included a skills competition. This was probably as fun to watch as the actual game as many NFL stars competed in such events as the 40-yard dash, bench press, obstacle courses, kicking for distance and throwing for accuracy and distance. Having these events crowning the NFLs fastest and strongest would make Pro Bowl week better and plus, it would give the NFL victories in the ratings for the entire week. That’s another thing that bugs me. People complain about how the Pro Bowl doesn’t matter and no one cares about it but it still kills in the ratings every year. And the NFL is like, “Let’s make dramatic changes because the people are obviously NOT watching!” It’s ridiculous. But I digress. The Pro Bowl is ultimately for the players anyways. It a glorified league sponsored paid vacation. The NFL shouldn’t have ever cared what critics said about it the first place. Because obviously, they are still all tuning in.
2. Let’s give more BUT see less of Pink October – I’ll start by saying this: I’m all for the NFL supporting Breast Cancer Awareness month. Susan B. Komen is an awesome charity that raises millions upon millions every year. In 2008, the NFL announced that they would start to support Breast Cancer Awareness month with a number of different activities. Most notably, all 32 teams would start wearing pick apparel along with their regular uniforms like gloves, socks, mouthpieces, ribbons, etc. Along with that, all 32 stadiums would have the pink breast cancer ribbon on the field. Of course the Pink NFL apparel was available for purchase with a portion of the proceeds going to Breast Cancer Research. The first couple of the seasons of this, I didn’t really mind at all. You don’t really see pink on a football field if ever at all but it was all for a great cause so most football fans were for all the awareness. However, the NFL’s Pink movement has gotten really, really old with a lot of fans recently. Overkill would be the best way to describe it as last season’s Pink October hit a boiling point when officials threw pink flags and the TV coverage of the games starting using pink first down markers on the field. Both of those things were scrapped after one week btw. But I think the real thing that made the NFL Pink movement go sour was once it was realized that the portion donated from the sales of the NFL Pink merchandise was really, really small. LINK. I mean, it was in the millions but you can do the math: the NFL makes about 9 Billion (with a b) annually while only about 5 Million has been donated to the cause SINCE (key word: since) 2009. I’m not looking to do away with Pink October totally. Here would be my suggestion to the commissioner: less on the field merchandise & just donate more money. No more pink gloves, towels, hats, whistles, shoes, etc. on the field. Pink ribbons painted on the field? Sure. On jerseys? Yes. Worn by the coaches? Absolutely. But all that other stuff has become really unnecessary. Asking to “just donate more money” is easier said than done, I know. But consider that the league has only donated about 5 million since 2009 and lets say if each team (32) donated a half a million. I’m just saying though it is mighty easy for me to talk about what to do with money that isn’t mine.
1. Keep Regular Season games in America – The NFL’s International Series has grown in a big way since its debut in 2007. But the league’s history of playing games outside of the USA actually started in the 1980s with the American Bowl which included a preseason match up in many different cities like Mexico City, Toronto, Vancouver, & Tokyo to just name a few. Currently, the International Series “takes” away a “home” game to the designated “home” team in the game. So in reality, it is a home game for one of the teams but its really being played in London. Season ticket holders are given the option to pay for the 9 home games now with the 1 other game being played in London. Even though they don’t have to pay for the ticket in London, this is still a pretty mess up for the NFL to make extra money at the expense of the ticket holders. I mean, if you were willing to pay for the 10 games but you had the option to lose one of those games, you would obviously be more willing to part with the pre season game. Right? Taking away a home REGULAR season game from fans that care more about the game and sport just for the sake of making a big payday is just ridiculous to me. Instead the league should take away a preseason game and play that overseas. Bring back the American Bowl. It’s not like the international crowd wont show up to the stadium. They will still be able to pack the stadiums overseas and the season ticket holders will be able to see 8 regular season games. Plus, the idea of placing a franchise overseas is just beyond stupid. I mean, I get that Goodell is trying to run a business and create new cash flow but good luck finding coaches and players who will be willing relocate so far away. It’s called “American football” for a reason.