Make no mistake, the NFL is “America’s Game.” It is the top show on five television networks and generates over $1 billion a year in revenue. However, I am a born skeptic and nothing is perfect. So, here are five changes I would make to the NFL right now.
No more international games
I understand wanting to grow the game on a global scale and am all for it, until it starts hurting the game here at home. My family are Bengals season-ticket holders. Cincinnati is losing a home game to London this coming year. My family is still being charged for eight home games. I do not blame Bengals management at all. Someone has to be designated as the home team. They do not make that call. It does not change the fact that charging fans for a “home game” that they must get on a boat or plane to attend is a joke. This is one of those unintended consequences of holding games overseas. Given the NFL’s greedy nature though, I am not sure how unintended it really is. Hearing that the league is looking at holding games in China and has scheduled a return to Mexico this year only makes me shake my head harder.
Take away automatic first downs on five yard illegal contact penalties
The fact is pro football is officiated much differently in tighter than it was decades ago. Fans just have to accept that, and I have. That being said, it is ridiculous when a team gets bailed out of a third and long situation because a wide receiver had their jersey grabbed by a defender away from the ball. It happens every week. I am fine with the yardage penalty, but an automatic first down is too much of a game changer.
Make it illegal for assistant coaches on playoff teams to interview for head coaching gigs while their current team is still in contention
It boggles my mind that this is not a rule already. Does it not scream conflict of interest? I can think of two recent instances where the candidate’s current team was affected negatively. First, there is the Bengals from last season. Both coordinators interviewed for head jobs the week of their wild-card playoff game against Pittsburgh, which they lost. Two years ago Denver had both of its coordinators interview with other teams during their playoff bye week. The Broncos fell in the divisional round to Indianapolis. Look, no excuses the teams that got beat got beat, but the obvious added distractions could not have helped matters.
Move the Super Bowl to Saturday
This will never happen, but we can certainly dream. Everyone enjoys something about the Super Bowl. It may be the game, the halftime show, the commercials, or even the Puppy Bowl. There really is something for everyone. It has become an unofficial national holiday. The only thing that sucks for most people is having to get up and go to work or school the next morning. Fans could enjoy the game even more if it were on Saturday. Despite that, the game breaks ratings records every year. Thus, the league sees no need to make a change. If the fans were truly the NFL’s number one priority, the league would at least explore the idea.
To me, this idea is obvious, the execution is less so. The refs miss calls every week and always will. However, I would suggest such instances would be less frequent if they did not have to have second jobs during the week to pay the bills. There are NFL officials who are lawyers and basketball refs during the week. Almost all of them have some other profession. How this would work in the off season, I have no clue. There must be some way for these guys to get better at their craft and learn from their mistakes when game are not being played. No one is perfect, but this would certainly help the on field product.
I would love to hear what improvements fellow fans would make to what I consider the greatest game in the world.