September 17, 2002

How to Fix Football : The Washington Post's Leonard Shapiro has some suggestions for improving football:

  1. Limit Instant Replay
  2. Boot the Extra Point
  3. Alter Free Agency
  4. Postpone Sudden Death
  5. Hang Up the Headsets
  6. Take Off the Gloves
  7. Reward Long FGs
  8. Cut the Funny Business
  9. Banish the Owners
  10. Fete the Fans

posted by kirkaracha to football at 08:18 AM - 8 comments

I don't think football's broken, so I don't think it needs to be fixed.

  1. Limit Instant Replay: Replay's fine the way it is.
  2. Boot the Extra Point: His argument is that they're routine, therefore unnecessary. Since the Vikings lost this week because their kicker missed two extra points, I don't agree.
  3. Alter Free Agency: No comment.
  4. Postpone Sudden Death: "If each team had at least one overtime possession, far less emphasis would be placed on winning the coin toss. Football is a team game, so why should an offense be penalized for its defense's shortcomings or vice versa?" Because it's a team game. The defense should be able to stop the opponent's offense, and the harshness of sudden death is the penalty for not winning the game during regulation.
  5. Hang Up the Headsets: Whatever.
  6. Take Off the Gloves: OK.
  7. Reward Long FGs: Assigning field goal points based on distance is a little too BASEketball.
  8. Cut the Funny Business: Definitely agree. Especially about showboating after a good play when you're getting crushed.
  9. Banish the Owners: They're annoying, but I don't know that they change the game all that much.
  10. Fete the Fans: A bunch of nice ideas that will never happen.

posted by kirkaracha at 08:28 AM on September 17, 2002

Ehh I don't really agree with any of these except for #10. Instant replay is a good thing. I know it slows down the game, but I think the only thing that should be added to it is that refs should stick to reviewing the play for only 30 seconds and make their call. Getting rid of the extra point is dumb. Sure it was stopped only 19 times last year, but that makes those 19 very significant! It can change the outcome of the game. I totally disagree with his field goal rule changes (I get penalized for marching my team further down field??) I could maybe agree with changing sudden death overtime. Letting them play a full 15 minute quarter would be better maybe. The thing is, none of his suggestions are ones that would increase TV viewership, which he sees as the problem. The NFL is the most popular game in the land because of a few simple things: the salary cap and the fact that every game is important.

posted by elsoltano at 08:29 AM on September 17, 2002

I disagree with all of those. Football is great because nearly every team has a shot at the superbowl every year (except the Bengals, sorry Mick). The only thing I would change would be the overtime period, I'd make it just like it is in college football, each team gets the ball on their opponents' 25 yard-line, 1st and 10. The offense keeps the ball until they score, commit a turnover, or run out of downs. Each team gets an equal number of possessions and the game continues until the score is no longer tied. Much more exciting that one team winning the coin toss, completing 3 or so passes, then kicking a long field goal.

posted by corpse at 08:45 AM on September 17, 2002

I think American Football could be best served by trying to speed the games up. Minnesota-Buffalo didn't finish until 1:15am in the UK. 4 hours is just far too long. 2 hours 30 minutes would be much better. This could be achieved in the following ways: 1) Reduce the play clock to 30 seconds. 2) Remove all time outs 3) Remove instant replay 4) No ad breaks except between quarters 5) Keep the clock running on incomplete passes I know these are pretty radical, but I'm convinced the game would be better for it. Quarterbacks would have to call more of their plays, there would be more no-huddle offence, and less chance for defensive substitution. Linebackers and linemen would have to be better athletes - more stamina and less explosiveness. Is there any reason for time-outs? If you mess up a play, you mess up a play. Soccer manages to go 45 minutes at a time without ad breaks, so American football can. It might mean players would have to accept a slightly less astronomic salary, but that would just be a lucky bye-product. Fatigue would be more of a factor, as it should be. 6) Limit squads to 35 players. This will force players to be less specialist. It's ridiculous to have a player who only returns kicks, or only comes in on 3rd and long against a dime defence. 7) Remove the 1 point conversion, or make the snap from the 20 yard line. A 99% success rate is dumb. 37 yard PATs would be more like 75%, and make things more interesting. 8) Allow both teams a possesion in overtime. If the main game can be finished in less than 150 minutes by my previous suggestions, there is time to give each team a go at possession. 9) Widen the hash marks to college football widths. This will increase the variety of plays, as they have to cope with a long side and a short side occasionally, instead of two equally spaced sides. I don't like the idea of more points for longer field goals. You're rewarding the offence for making less progress.

posted by salmacis at 09:47 AM on September 17, 2002

I agree that football games are way too long, if you plan on watching one it takes over a serious chunk of time.

posted by elsoltano at 09:50 AM on September 17, 2002

Add me to the list of people who think football is just fine. I absolutely love the NFL, even the shoddy replay officiating. If there is any one problem, it seems that every referee in the league has a different and far-too-often disputable interpretation of "indisputable evidence", which makes for problems.

Otherwise, the NFL is far and away the most healthy American sport and is the real national pastime. I mean, I'll watch ANY game of the NFL, no matter who is playing. How many people would watch a random Pirates-Astros game, a Grizzlies-Warriors or Oilers-Coyotes contest? Yet, millions will tune in for this Sunday Night's Bengals-Flacons tilt.

posted by Conquistador at 10:18 AM on September 17, 2002

It's funny, when I first saw the title "How to Fix Football", I immediately thought of bribing refs to influence the outcome of the games, which reminds me did anyone notice all the crappy calls in the Rams-Giants game? That being said, this article is bushwah. 1. Instant replay doesn't work. I don't like coaches challenges or some replay official deciding when plays are reviewed. Why not just let the referee review a play if he wants to? 2. Why screw with the extra point? 3. "At the very least, allow a team to match any offer made to one of its players by another team, making everyone with at least four years' experience an unrestricted free agent." Teams actually *do* have this right. If what he's saying is exempt these signings from the salary cap, then he's really suggesting is doing away with the salary cap, and I think the NFL can make a pretty good case that the salary cap has improved competitive balance. This is a covert attempt to restrict the player movement in absence of a contract, and would last about as long as the first lawsuit. 4. "Football is a team game, so why should an offense be penalized for its defense's shortcomings or vice versa?" The answer to this question is already in the question. Offenses should be punished for their defense's shortcomings and vice versa precisely because it is a team game. 5. QB's can and do call their own plays in lots of offenses. Helmet mikes facilitate the no huddle, and speed up the game (only by 5 seconds per play, which saves about 10 minutes) 6. Stupid silly nonsense. If we get rid of the helmets they can play like Bronko Nagurski!! 7. Even worse! So then holders will start moving back an extra couple of yards to get the 4 pointer? I can't wait for the first instant replay review of the spot of the kick. 8. Just what we need--More Penalties! 9. I'd rather banish the sideline reporters. 10. There's bad stadiums and good stadiums with good policies toward fans and bad ones too, I'll wager. This is the kind of windbag sports punditry that I just hate. All he's doing is filling up his column inches, as if the NFL can do anything about the price of a hotdog.

posted by pastepotpete at 11:55 AM on September 17, 2002

1: he's wrong about limiting instant replay. but only because it should be eliminated entirely. horrible, gutwrenching and incorrect calls are part what makes sports great. 2: the extra point is just fine. now the nfl allows teams to try for a two-pointer, there isn't an real argument. 3: the solution isn't quite right, but the problem is very real. i have a solution in mind, but i'm saving it for a column. (yea, right) 4. the sudden death format is perfect. i can't agree with corpse about the college rule. for pete's sake, they line up on the 25 and the points they score count in the record book. total and complete bs. they should give the winner of a college overtime 1 official point. 5: i used to care a little, but now i don't. 6: i never cared and still don't. 7: what problem is he trying to solve here? i don't get it. if more long field goal attempts are what you want, reverse the rule so the defense takes over from the line of scrimmage instead of the spot of the kick, when one is missed. 8: this just lets me identify who the real idiots are. hint: stopping a runner after a 7 yard gain on 1st down, and then pounding your chest at your sideline is one way. 9: i'd rather see the owners down there, than up in their luxury box. heck, maybe one of them will get a knee rolled up on when a play drifts out of bounds. 10: that's what college football, especially the smaller schools, is for. go see northeast [your state here] tech play next weekend. you'll probably enjoy it. i thought salmacis ideas were much better. not for the nfl, mind you. but i could easily see a pro league of some sort adopt those ideas.

posted by lescour at 11:21 AM on September 18, 2002

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