I am 23 years old. I have never held any position of status for any sports-related business in my life. I thought about this list for approximately 11 minutes, yet I feel I have solved more problems than Goodell, the owners, and the NFLPA have in a decade.
I have categorized this list into three distinct categories: The Honestly How Have We Not Done This Yet?, the Reasonable Request’s, and the Okay, This Might Be A Stretch, But Is It??
Honestly How Have We Not Done This Yet?
Two Bye Weeks
One more week a season for players to rest their bodies, plus one more week of football for all the degenerate football fans out there who want more. Not to mention the added revenue of ticket sales/concessions/tv money/advertising that comes with an extra week. Who loses?
No More Kickoffs
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the inherent danger that lies in kickoffs. It is the only time in a game where two teams sprint toward each other from opposite ends of the field using their heads as spears.
In 2016, the NFL adjusted the touchback rule in an attempt to reduce kickoff-related injuries, letting teams get the ball at the 25-yard line instead of the 20. This resulted in a 2 per cent increase in touchbacks last season. In other words, not enough. Patriots coach Bill Belichick mentioned that concussions still happen on touchbacks because players still sprint and block as if the returner is going to bring the ball out of the end zone.
The exhilaration of a kickoff return for a touchdown does not compensate for the brutal consequences of a high-speed collision. One team scores, cut to commercial, and start the next drive at the 25-yard line. Come on, folks, this is easy.
Goodbye Pro Bowl, Hello Skills Competition
When is the last time anyone watched the Pro Bowl, heard a relevant story (besides someone getting injured) regarding the Pro Bowl, or heard the words “Awesome,” “Fun,” “Entertaining,” or “Cool,” and “Pro Bowl” in the same sentence?
Each year, this painfully insignificant event attempts to fill the football void between conference championships and the Super Bowl. The actual game, however, littered with All-Stars (players looking for an easy paycheck), offers no level of competition. The stakes are so low that players often play at half speed, ease up on tackles, and avoid diving catches. And why shouldn’t they? Why risk spending the few months of offseason you have recovering from a pointless injury?
MY SOLUTION: The First Annual NFL Skills Competition
Let’s gather the freak athletes we love and adore, and pit them against each other gameshow style? This can take place over a full weekend, like the NBA and MLB All-Star weekends, and will feature marquee events such as The Quarterback Catch, where QBs must run routes and catch passes from other quarterbacks. Bonus round, you can only use one hand! There will also be The 50 Yard Sprint, where the league’s fastest players are matched up in a bragging rights showdown. Position Swap, where QBs become the wide receivers/cornerbacks and wide receivers become quarterbacks in 2-on-2 mini games. Das Boot, where kickers prove who can kick a 70-yarder. 3-on-3, where three players from each team play a pickup basketball game to 11. Have them play Flip Cup, Jeopardy, go on freaking Chopped, I don’t care. The possibilities are endless!
No More Overtime (except for playoffs)
Four quarters of pounding helmets like bumper cars is long enough. The NFL has reduced the run of overtime from 15 minutes to 10, but yet again the results are negligible.
Plus, by cancelling overtime, there is potential for much more drama/horrible clock mismanagement at the end of the fourth quarter. Get ready for a lot more Hail Marys and 30-second drills, and a lot less kneeling with 18 seconds left to force overtime on 1st-and-10 when the score is 17-17.
Allow PED Use For Recovery
For years players have been pleading for a rule change regarding the prohibition of PEDs. Yes, using PEDs without regulation is inherently dangerous and unfair. But it is time the NFL recognizes the benefits of PED use to help athletes recover more efficiently. Under a doctor’s guidance, with proper dosage, strictly for the purpose of healing, our favorite players would be back in the game we love to watch them play.
In the 1930s, football players were smashing heads wearing leather helmets and long-sleeve t-shirts. Now, players are equipped with shock absorbent helmets and pads, superglue gloves and hyper-traction cleats. Why must we ignore the advancements in medicine if we have acknowledged the advancements in everything else?
Okay, This Might Be A Stretch, But Is It??
Every Healthy Player from Every Team Must Sit for One Game a Season
Initially, this sounds ludicrous. “Sit Russell Wilson when he’s healthy? That’s not football!” If, for a second, we imagine all the rule changes I have suggested above are implemented in the 2018 season, including this one, each NFL player will now be given three weeks of rest out of 18. Think about it.
Let’s take Pittsburgh’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. In the 2018 season, under these new rules, let’s say the Steelers have a bye in Week 5 and Week 11. In Week 14, Pittsburgh has a matchup with the putrid Browns and they decide to rest Ben and give their backup a shot. That gives Ben three weeks of rest in a 10-week span, while only really missing one game from a fan’s perspective (something he has done 11 out of 14 seasons). Isn’t forcing Ben to sit one game worth risking him missing a handful (Ben has missed at least three games five separate times in his career)? Not only does this give an unprecedented amount of time for rest and recovery to the athletes, which almost guarantees higher performance and longer careers, but imagine all the added drama into figuring out when is the best time to sit your superstar. Do you rest all your starters in one game when you play the Jets and hope for a win? Or do you sit one or two players each week? A Brady-less/Gronk-less Patriots versus the Jets in Week 6? Things just got a lot more interesting!