As of this writing the countdown on to the NFL season is about 48:00 hours until kickoff. I'm getting jacked and pumped Pete Carroll style to see if the Patriots can pull off the rare feat of back to back Super Bowl champions.
The Tom Brady smear campaign turned me off to non-Patriots games, but I realized I wanted to reconcile with the league. It was like NFL and I are old friends and I wanted to get past our fight.
For a while I couldn't put my finger on it, but it hit me like a ton of bricks after I saw Do Your Job 2. The NFL just needs to make a few tweaks to win me back. I'd put the chances of these being enacted at 0.0001 percent, but here's what I'd do if I were in charge.
(1) Eliminate Thursday Night Football! A game three days after Monday Night Football goes against the modern day gladiator this goes against the gladiator nature of the sport. Strategically I think the league was trying to make the game daily, but it's backfired on them. The games haven't been fun and it's diluted the product. Let's build anticipation through the week so come game time eyeballs will be glued to the NFL. Tradition comes into play for me here. Let's keep Thursday games to a Thanksgiving only tradition.
(2) Trim the pre-season. Fans are fair minded people. It wouldn’t be realistic to eliminate the entire pre-season and I don't expect that. Let's compromise and trim it back to 2 games? I understand Head Coaches need these pseudo-games to see which rookies can play, who is washed up, if any vets are still productive and perhaps if there are any undiscovered gems. Can we trim it to 2 games? I'll settle for 3.
(3) Whoever is in charge of NFL scheduling needs to be fired. Let's spread the good SNF matchups to MNF so both games are fun to watch. Monday night games should be like an amazing desert to cap off a great steak dinner. It feels like the NFL stuck ESPN with UGH matchups between two 1-15 games. MNF used to be an amazing cultural event. Now whenever I tune into Sean McDonough and Gruden all I think is nice A GAME IS ON! Hopefully it will be fun, but over the past 3-4 MNF games are anti-climactic and UGH in comparison to SNF.
(4) The zebras need looser rules to work under. Games are now spent explaining obscure rules and confirming borderline calls that can legit go either way. The league has tried so hard to be 100% right but it's killed the flow of games. Let's have a slight market correction so the rules aren't bend so in favor of offense. Ever since 2004 it feels like teams try to chuck it deep and hopefully draw a PI. I'd order the officials to call PI when its (1) clear the DB is hounding the WR (2) Let go of incidental bumps that are bound to happen when two guys are fighting for the ball and (3) if it's PI just make it a 15 yard penalty.
(5) Dump Goodell. Get a new guy who doesn’t brazenly lie to our faces and act like a power mad dictator any time something controversial pops up.
(6) Make some whole sale changes to the way the league handles disciplinary issues. Ezekiel Elliott's case is eerily similar to Tom Brady, Starcaps and Adrian Peterson's. The player asks for a legit independent 3rd party to hear the appeal, and it ends up being an underling of the league. Reps for the accused player ask for witnesses and all info made available in the discovery process. The league appointed flunky denies the request. Sympathetic league media outlets perpetuate false premises and factually inaccurate statements which unfairly shape public opinion. No real evidence is presented to make you think the person is guilty, but their suspension is wildly disproportionate to the alleged offense. Requests to make the transcripts public get denied.
Abuse of power, denial of due process, relevant facts and right to a fair trial don't matter. It's disgusting the owners back such a corrupt liar and give him insane power when it helps their business interests. Let's do a revision to the disciplinary process NOW. To see a guy abuse his power and get away with it is revolting. Even if he loses in court the owners don't cut him loose. Goodell isn't going anywhere so you think the hell with the NFL. I still love the Patriots, but it’s the principle that matters. I can't watch games after the way they abuse their power like this.
Support Erik's Column!! <- Purchase your Amazon, Walmart, Target of Ali Express Products here and thank you so much for your loyal readership!
Erik Manzelli - Senior Sports Columnist