I’ve been watching this silly game, American football, for many years now. As I become older and wiser, though, questions have started coming to mind. These, I’m sure, are things the NFL doesn’t like you to think about, but that’s their problem.

So here we are… today are the NFC and AFC Championship games… it’s not quite yet, you know, the “world championship” game (presumably labeled as such because the National Football League plays a game in London every year). These are the issues I have with the NFL and the sport it represents:

1) Field Officials dictate the outcome of games. Because of problems in past years, this is the first time the NFL has institutionalized a centralized officiating crew – in New York – to confirm calls. However, the only other time I’ve heard so much noise was when the NFL used replacement officials a couple years ago. The rules are too vague, and officials haven’t given enough time to confirm reviews with the home office. Officiating has been a problem for a long time (see the “Tuck Rule” for an example – inaccurate officiating that surely allowed a team to continue through the playoffs and, ultimately, “win” a Super Bowl).

2) Subdivisions suck. The Panthers – though they put up an impressive game against Arizona – they never should have been in the playoffs to begin with. A team with a losing, regular-season record should NEVER, EVER, EVER be in the playoffs. Currently, far superior teams in some divisions get shut out of the playoffs because of the current system requiring a subdivision winner. An example is that the Panthers (NFC South, 7-8-1 record) made it to the playoffs, while the Eagles (NFC East, 10-6 record) were shut out. In fact, seven non-playoff NFL teams had more regular season wins than the Panthers.

3) Home Field Advantage and Bye Weeks. If you’re a superior football team, why do you get to skip a game AND potentially play all of your playoff games at home? If you’re so awesome, shouldn’t you have to prove, just like any other team, that you belong in the playoffs? Maybe even have all playoffs games at “neutral” sites, and we’ll see who the better teams are.

4) Back to officiating… Playoff officiating crews have proven to be especially awful. No one seems to be able to explain why officiating crews stick together during the regular season and, in the playoffs, hodge-podge crews are thrown together. The regular-season crews learn to trust and understand each other. This year, we’ve seen good calls in the playoffs get overruled because another official saw the play go down a different way. In that case, officials determine the outcome of games when it’s close – not the teams. p.s. What happened to the centralized, New York crew that confirms calls?

5) The games aren’t exciting when you realize how slow-paced they are. You know, I actually get a lot of stuff done when I have the football games on at home. I half pay attention to what’s going on. I don’t subscribe to the NFL Network, I don’t buy football swag. I get crap done and think about how much of a time suck giving full attention to the games would be. It takes, what, 3 or 4 hours to play a game that, on the game clock, officially takes 1 hour 15 minutes? Check it out next time… anytime anything happens, the NFL goes to a commercial – a touchdown, a field goal, a kickoff return, a punt return. They have A LOT of advertisers, make a CRAP-TON of money from them, AND the NFL home office is actually considered to be a NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION…………….

6) NFL IS A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION. I didn’t know about this until grumpy (like me today) sports guy on NPR, Frank Deford, mentioned that the NFL home office falls under the category of non-profit org (listen or read at NPR here). The commissioner, Roger Goodell, made over $44 million last year. I guess it’s “not profit” if the organization is funneling its money to the boss… then it’s just “salary,” right?

Speaking of, I once volunteered to help set up for a Super Bowl, and this is the sort of thing Frank Deford was complaining about. I didn’t think about it then… I was more thinking how it was an awesome thing to be able to put on my college applications (I was in high school then), and how it would be a cool opportunity to see the field being prepared for the game millions of people across the world would watch. Now that Deford taught me a thing or two, the NFL doesn’t need any volunteers at all. They could easily pay every single person that helps out… but they don’t do it because they don’t have to – they “AREN’T IN BUSINESS TO MAKE A PROFIT.” Pfhhhhh.

7) Conflicting Rules #1. For kickoff, the clock doesn’t start until the returner catches the ball and runs it beyond the endzone. Punt the ball, and the clock starts ticking at the start of the play. I don’t get why there’s a difference.

8) Conflicting Rules #2. Kicking the ball out of bounds on kickoff results in a penalty, with the ball then normally being placed at the 40 yard line. Kicking the ball out of bounds for a punt, I guess it’s considered strategic – or a big mistake, and there’s no penalty.

9) Coach’s Challenges. Coaches are limited in the number of challenges they can make during the game (2 per half?). Considering the problem with officiating this season, coach’s should be able to challenge 3 times per half, since they have 3 time outs per half. You’re never gonna be able to convince me that shouldn’t be the case.

10) Overtime rules are stupid. Okay, check this out… two teams duke it out all game long. They’re pretty evenly matched, and the game ends in a tie. Luckily, one team ends up winning the overtime coin toss and chooses to receive a ball. They score a touchdown, like they did throughout the game (and so did the other team), but because they scored THIS touchdown, they win. That’s freakin’ goofy. The game was evenly matched, one team received the ball and scored a touchdown, and that’s it. It just seems weird.

11) I don’t buy into egocentrism/ethnocentrism. Until I stop hearing commentators saying “world champions” (yeah, I’m talking especially to you, Joe Buck) and stop seeing banners in stadiums saying the same, it’s just over-the-top and going to frustrate me. I touched on that a bit earlier, and there is nothing “world” about it. You want to see “world champions?” Watch the WORLD Cup. American football has been growing in popularity for the past few years, but it’s got a long, long way to go to be the world’s most popular sport. In the meantime, stop bringing “world” into it, or maybe show everyone how strongly you feel and call last year’s winning team the “champions of the universe.” I’d like to see how that goes.

For now, I’ve had enough. I really have. I’m turning the TV off at this point. I might come back but, for now, the NFL has a long way to go, in order to make it a legit (more than just a money-printing) operation. In the meantime, I’ll be busy living my life. See ya!

 

 

UPDATE TIME, YAY!

12) Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, has no spine and/or real power on his own. There was the whole Ray Rice fiasco, and the Commish said “Okay, you punched your wife. You can’t play in the NFL ever again.” Some time passed, and an arbitrator said “You can’t do that, Roger,” and Ray Rice was reinstated. He hasn’t played yet, but he’s allowed to. Meanwhile, in the NBA, Adam Silver told not a player, but a billionaire owner, “You’re banned for life, and you have to sell your team,” and the team was sold.

THEN, on the day I wrote the original post, it turned out the Patriots had used deflated footballs, thus breaking game rules for what we assume to be THE ENTIRE GAME. Goodell, who is allegedly a good friend of Patriots owner, Robert Kraft (and a picture of the two hanging out at an event at Kraft’s mansion is on Goodell’s Twitter page), then says “Oh, well, we’ll do an investigation and let you know what we find after the Super Bowl.”

Are you freakin’ kidding me?

Okay, so some people argue “Well, judging by the score, the Colts would have gotten clobbered anyway.” Oh, so you can tell me with a straight face that the Patriots are so terrible at cheating that they’ve broken the rules a total of two times ever (Deflategate and Spygate) and got caught 100% of the time? That organization has a history of controversy, including questionable officiating, giving the team a free pass through the playoffs (see “Tuck Rule” mentioned in point #1 above). It’s much older, but also see “Snowplow Game” if you don’t know anything about it.

So there you have it… the NFL sucks, and that’s why you should stop buying overpriced nick-nacks and put that money towards retirement or a legit charity – not the NFL charity.