Last week we discussed which rules or in-game changes we would like to see the NFL Competition Committee change or adjust in the first installment of our "What Would You Change" series.
It is now time to thrash out those changes we'd like to see made at the NFL corporate level. While the Competition Committee typically addresses those rules that affect or govern in-game play, NFL Corporate regulates policies and plans all events and movements NFL-related. This group is the wizard behind the curtain.
Below, we'll discuss what things you or I would like to change, as well as a few innovations that may improve the product. Next week's final installment will tackle all issues governed by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
Feel free to add your changes or innovations in the comment section below. I'd like to hear what's on your mind.
1. Pro Bowl - The Pro Bowl is a very flawed entity. From how players are selected to when and where the game is played, does anyone really take it seriously? I'd like to change how a player is selected. Should fans have a vote? I don't mind, but limit it to one vote per I.P. address and devalue the strength of the fan vote.
Here's how it should be: every coach - position, coordinator and head coach - each general manager and every team's pro personnel director (or specifically their top veteran player scout) should all have votes. Their combined vote should count as 50%. Players themselves should count as 35% and the fan's vote should count for 15%. This makes it less of a popularity contest and ensures those who know how to evaluate play do so; it isn't always about quantifiable statistics.
2. Pro Bowl (2) - The Pro Bowl should never be played before the Super Bowl. If you want to guarantee better television ratings while not taking away from the culmination of a Super Bowl, then have it in the middle of the off-season when fans are starving for football. Or just do away with the game and have skills competitions for every position. Wouldn't you like to see an Oklahoma drill with Ngata or Suh running the ball?
3. Associated Press Voting - I love the AP writers. I hate that they are the ones who decide things like NFL MVP, Rookie of the Year, Hall of Fame, All-Pro and other honors. Just as I believe the Pro Bowl should be decided by those who know what to evaluate, so should all these other honors and awards. The panel should consist of nothing but current and former coaches and GM's and long tenured players. AP writers have reputations to maintain. How many times does the most deserving guy get the award in a close race against the most popular guy? AP writers have opinions in ink that are pretty much foregone conclusions no matter the evidence suggesting otherwise. Not many will go out on a limb to buck the popular pick, even if they truly believe another is more deserving.
4. Hall of Fame - The voting process for the HOF should consist of the same type of panel discussed above. Another category for contributors should be added. It doesn't have to be an every year addition - perhaps every other year. Simply put, there is no way to quantify Dick Lebeau or Ed Sabol or Al Davis' contributions to the game and decide how that translates against the contributions of Willie Roaf or Curtis Martin. It is difficult enough deciding amongst players from this era and the last. Let's compare apples to apples.
5. NFL Draft - In a rush to try and screw television for every possible penny it will give, the NFL recently changed the format of the draft. Round one happens on a Thursday Night (prime time!), Rounds two and three occur on a Friday, while Rounds 4-7 occur on a Saturday. I've no problem with a three day span, but by all means, start it on a Friday. In my household, this was a celebration that came in third to opening kick-off and the Super Bowl. It is too hard for grown-ups with families and responsibilities to get together and party for Round one on a Thursday night.
6. Presentation - Have you ever seen ESPN 360 or similar broadcasts of NFL or college games on your computer? With its Sunday ticket package, or separately through the internet, the NFL should give the fan live action camera angles to choose from. Specifically, the overhead end-zone shot that coaches and players normally use when "watching film." And since we're talking about cameras, I don't care which game is prime time and which is not. Every game should have cameras on every goal line. How many questionable scores have you seen where the camera was in the corner of the end zone instead of on the goal line? Make camera placement uniform in all stadiums for all games.
7. Prices - We get it, you like money Mr. NFL. Apparently no amount is enough. Do you have to be that greedy? I've bought a customized jersey with my name on it from the NFL for $260 (only once). I got the NFL's knock-off version (replica) for $120. Their cheapest version as well as the official replica really lack in quality. I can spend $22 for a jersey from China made with better materials and quality than the NFL's official replica. I can spend $88 for an overseas customized version with my name on the back. Everything is sewed on. The material isn't as thick or durable as the real deal, but it is worth the bargain. I'd love to give my money to the NFL, but I'd love the NFL to be a little more reasonable with their prices. $8 for one beer is ridiculous. If you total up travel, parking, concessions, merchandise and tickets, the NFL has priced out its average fan. How many families can afford to go to a game, much less season tickets?
8. Game Day Experience - If the prices aren't bad enough (and I didn't even mention PSL's), now you have to sit in one uncomfortable seat for four hours, without leg room, without your laptop (if you like fantasy football) and without the ability to pause or rewind on demand. The NFL can do plenty when it comes to improving the game day experience at each stadium. Nothing replaces "being there," but many fans are choosing their own personal VIP suites - complete with home cooked food, beer that costs what it should, family and friends a-plenty, HD-TV with DVR, Wi-Fi internet and plush leather recliners - all without leaving home. If the NFL wants to compete with that, they better make some changes.
9. Tutorials - Do any of you have Sirius/XM satellite radio? There's an NFL channel that talks about NFL football exclusively, 24/7. My favorite show is "Moving The Chains" with Pat Kirwin and Tim Ryan. Their vision for the show is to educate fans about every aspect of the NFL. They patiently explain the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense. Or what a "3 technique NT" is. Or why it's important to note the personnel packages.
They make football an experience akin to baseball - filling out your lineup cards and seeing the strategy involved in each change. I wish this show, or one with a similar concept, was on the NFL Network the way Mike and Mike is on ESPN. Every show could be a class teaching the casual fan what to look for. One show could be called Football 101," the following show could be aimed at teaching a more knowledgeable fan how to break down film. A real hunger exists amongst a great number of fans to know and be more intimately involved in learning and understanding more than just what happens with the ball. (You guys need to check out Pat Kirwin's "Take Your Eye Off The Ball").
10. Innovations - Want to find out if the ball crossed the goal line or picked up that first down? Put a sensor in the ball. The technology is there; it's been done in soccer. It can be linked up in real time 3-D view so you know if the ball crossed before a runner was down or after. The NFL hasn't shied away from technology; I'd argue they've embraced it. I just look forward to seeing more of it make its way into the game.
11. Equipment - With player safety at its height in awareness, now is the time for the NFL to mandate that all players must wear all pads. Furthermore, all helmets should be fitted by a professional. It won't be popular, but if you have dreads that add three inches to your skull, your helmet does not fit properly - therefore you need a haircut