We’ve been waiting to do this post for quite some time. Unfortunately, it would have been useless to publish changes we’d like to see in the world of professional football while the future of the league as we knew it was in flux. But now that the t’s have been crossed and the i’s have been dotted and the new collective bargaining agreement has been ratified, we have 12 changes we’d still like the NFL to adopt.
1. More prime-time games: The NFL’s biggest problem? The majority of the games are played at the exact same time. That just isn’t right when every game is so crucial. More exposure can’t seem to hurt this league, and they’d make added revenue by selling more games in prime time slots. Play on Thursday nights throughout the year and give us more Monday night doubleheaders.
2. Expanded playoffs: Add one or two playoff spots to each conference and eliminate bye weeks. More teams would be in the mix in December, which would result in fewer meaningless games. Plus, more teams would feel successful, thus making us all a little happier.
3. Teams in Los Angeles and Toronto: Both markets will survive without pro football, but the league has simply outgrown Jacksonville and Buffalo. Time to move on to markets that will draw more fans and more money.
4. Playoff overtime format should be applied to the regular season: We’ve yet to see the new system, which is inexplicably being tested in the postseason first. It’s utterly farcical that a field goal on the first possession of overtime still decides the winner of regular-season games.
5. A new penalty structure for pass interference: Allow trained officials to use their discretion. If it’s a blatant infraction that prevented a clear shot at a catch, it’s a spot foul. If it’s a little tug or arm bar interrupting a receiver’s attempt, it’s probably safer and smarter to limit the penalty to 10 or 15 yards.
6. Unlimited challenges until you get one wrong: The league fears this will lengthen games, but getting it right is more important. Why should a coach be penalized if he keeps successfully having bad calls overturned?
7. Fewer TV timeouts: Obviously this is never going to happen, but I wonder how many fans tune out of so-so games when they’re faced with having to deal with commercial breaks before and after a kickoff. Instead of complaining that increased challenges will slow the speed of the game, cut down on those TV timeouts. Charge more for spots, make them more valuable or simply take a small revenue hit. That’ll be easier to swallow once profits grow from more prime-time games, more playoff games and having teams in L.A. and Toronto.
8. More motion: You want more points? The No. 1 reason the CFL has more scoring than the NFL is that all offensive players can be moving as the ball is snapped. And if you aren’t on the line of scrimmage, you can even run forward pre-snap. It looks awesome, it puts points on the board and it makes the game more fun. Unless you’re a defender.
9. Looser sideline catch rules: Bring back the force-out rule and adopt the NCAA’s policy that requires receivers to get only one foot down in bounds. Juggling the ball? So long as it doesn’t completely leave the dude’s hands, who cares…
10. Fewer talking heads: Does anyone actually sit in their family room and listen to Deion Sanders or Michael Irvin or Warren Sapp or Shannon Sharpe or Tony Siragusa or Michael Strahan or Jimmy Johnson or Keyshawn Johnson or Cris Carter and give any credence to their words? None of the “analysts” on NFL pregame shows actually add anything to the conversation. The majority of them are loudmouth attention whores who aren’t ready to depart from the public eye.
11. Get rid of the Pro Bowl: Nobody watches, nobody cares. Football doesn’t work as an exhibition sport.
12. Adoption of the rouge: Just kidding. I only had 11, but 12 sounds better.