Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Commissioner for a Day: National Football League

(HT: The Great Peter King)

In case you're wondering, I'm not going to take over golf, NASCAR, or the NBA during this series.

Reader Trent e-mailed yesterday to ask how many of "those stupid Commissioner things" I'm going to do.

Monday - Baseball
Tuesday - College football
Wednesday - NFL
Thursday - NHL
Friday - College hockey

There's your answer, Trent. Only three more of these stupid things to go.

I love the NFL. It is a made-for-television spectacle, and they have mastered the "marketing and promotions" side of sports. Most of my serious issues with the NFL involve the morons that are hired to cover the game on television, but the NFL can't be to blame for the fact that ESPN continues to pay Sean Salisbury for his oft-illogical opinions.

There are some on-field imperfections, though.

1. That damn overtime thing again.

Reader Jeff commented on the college football post Tuesday, saying that the NFL's overtime system is actually worse than the one used in college football. I disagree. The NFL at least forces teams to earn their points in overtime.

But it's still not good enough.

Either force teams to score seven points to win the game, or guarantee each team at least one possession. As a more extreme alternative, I would go back to the old World League plan in 1974, which I discussed Tuesday. But I do agree with Jeff that sudden death sucks. Thank goodness no Super Bowl has ever gone to it.

2. Penalize receivers who put their arm out and signal for a flag on an incomplete pass.

It's rampant in the NFL today.

Quarterback throws ball. Receiver doesn't catch ball. Receiver runs to the official flailing around and flapping his hand in a "throw a flag" motion.

And, sometimes, it works.

It needs to stop, and the only way to stop it is to start penalizing repeat offenders for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Do officials run around mimicking the players when they screw up? Ever see an umpire pretend to be catching a ball, only to drop it because he was afraid to be plowed over by Kenoy Kennedy? That would be funny, and completely unprofessional. That's why the officials don't do that, and the players shouldn't be allowed to, either.

3. Speaking of penalizing players, start taking points off the board for unsportsmanlike conduct in the end zone.

I know it's technically a "dead ball" foul, but it seems to me to be the best deterrent. A selfish player isn't going to care if you push the extra point or kickoff back 15 yards. He will care if you take the touchdown he just scored off the board.

So the next time Terrell Owens is found to be taunting in the end zone after a touchdown, penalize his team 15 yards from the spot of the foul (the end zone), and make the team play from there. Then watch Bill Parcells break Terrell Owens in half on the sideline.

4. Ban the TV networks from taking a commercial break after a kickoff.

From my time in TV and radio, I know this is hard. The NFL allows for a total of 19 television timeouts per game (five in each of the first three quarters, and four in the fourth), plus one TV timeout at the end of each quarter.

To get all these breaks in without overlapping quarters, the networks are basically required to take as many chances as they are given to get those breaks in, so any time there is a score or a change of possession in the first eight minutes of a quarter, they need to cut to a break. Football isn't like baseball, where you know that the inning will eventually end, and it isn't like basketball or hockey, where media timeouts are taken when play stops at a certain point in a period/quarter/half.

But nothing is more annoying than when a team scores, and the network cuts to a break, followed by the kickoff, and another break. That's three minutes of commercial break time with about fifteen seconds of actual game action in the middle.

Here's the solution. Take a break away each quarter, and make three breaks in each quarter two minutes each. That way, the networks don't lose any actual ad time, and most people won't notice an extra 30 seconds tacked on to a commercial break.

5. Ban cut-blocking.

Yes, I realize that Green Bay will be employing this tactic this year. But I still hate it.

Cut-blocking, even when done properly, is dangerous and unnecessary. Block the guy straight up, man to man, and don't cut him down from behind or the blindside like a coward.

Are there any Denver fans out there that want to help me cope with the use of this tactic by my favorite team? Please feel free to clue me in on this one.

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