Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Complaints With The NFL

Something definitely has changed with the NFL. It's just not as interesting as it has been. For the first time in my life, I didn't even watch a single game over Thanksgiving. But why? Well, I've given it some thought and here are the things that are bothering me.

1) There are too many games. I don't have time in my life for Thursday night games or Sunday morning London games. Three on Sunday and then one on Monday is already stretching things. Moreover, many of these are gimmicky, like the Thursday night onesie battles.

2) Parity. The NFL wants everyone to feel they have a chance. So the schedules are generic and devoid of classic rivalries. Everyone plays on Thursday and Sunday night even if they aren't good games. And the league treats Jacksonville v. Tennessee just the same as if it were Denver v. New England. This is wrong. They should promote the best and bury the rest.

3) Too many games get decided by referees. The vagueness of the rules mean that on any play, the referees can call holding, defensive holding and (on any deep play) pass interference. These penalties change the outcome of the game. It's the rare offense that isn't forced to punt when there is a holding call. Defensive holding gives offenses four new shots, often for meaningless infractions away from the play. Pass interference lets refs move offenses to the one yard line late in games. This is the perfect cocktail of too much discretion and too much power for a sport meant to be solved on the field.

4) Too many commercials. The NFL has crammed in an amazing amount of commercials. They've invented new breaks. They now sell time that used to be used for analysis. TD... commercial break... replay of touchdown, mention of review... commercial break... extra point... commercial break... kickoff... commercial break. Give me a (noncommercial) break! It is now more likely than not, when switching between games on the NFL package that the majority of games will be at commercial at any given random time. How can you build interest when you aren't interested in showing the game?

5) Announcers suck. In the old days, the announcers were professional broadcasters who could report what they saw and spin it into a compelling story. These days, they are ex-players who barely know the rules, spew only conventional wisdom, and couldn't tell a story if their lives depended on it. The NFL wants to wow you with fame, when they should be looking for talent.

6) Too many injuries. Every game, some star goes down for half the season. It's not fun to keep seeing the game's stars taken away hurt. Half the teams even scapegoat their failures on injuries. The uptick in injuries seems to be the result of less conditioning practice resulting from the last collective bargaining agreement.

7) Bad play. Lack of talent creates sloppy plays, especially among the offensive line. The lack of development of quarterbacks means most teams don't have a legitimate shot. Even worse, there seems to be a sense that teams quit when things go wrong because they take the approach of "there are enough games that each one doesn't matter."

8) Fake stars. The NFL is letting players use sticky gloves that make average receivers into great receivers. They celebrate guys who have three or four good games as the second coming before they fade away again. They celebrate big fantasy numbers earned in garbage time.

9) No stars. Who are the NFL's stars right now? Tom Brady, who is as much a villain. Russell Wilson, who gets written off as too white. Von Miller who isn't well known outside of the AFC West yet. Ezekiel Elliot, who just arrived. Failing Andrew Luck. Failed Johnny Manzeil. Failing RGIII. Failing Aaron Rogers. Injured J.J. Watt. Injured abuser Arian Peterson. Their most bankable star right now is retried Peyton Manning. The NFL rushes to make stars. When it thinks it has one, it clings to them to the exclusion of all others. They need to cast a broader net.

10) Too political. Kapernick and his band of forty whiners hurt the game. But they weren't alone. The bureaucratic process for handling misconduct... the after-the-fact fines each week... the concussion industry... the spouse abuse games... the constant investigations and the legal maneuvering of union and owners alike. It strips the game of its fun factor and replaces it with the sense that you are watching a regulated product.

11) The No Fun League. I get that the NFL wants its players to promote good sportsmanship, but it needs to let the players have fun. The only "fun" they are left to have right now seems to be brutal hits, which feels wrong honestly.



LL said...

I stopped watching. I don't care anymore.

Anthony said...

I'm not really a sports guy so I have nothing substantial to add, but as someone who lives right outside of DC I am unhappy the Redskins lost to the Cowboys.

BevfromNYC said...

Aaawwww, arh we a wee bit jeawhous that Dallas has won 11 in a row?? ;-D

Real Stars...Dak Prescott! And props to Tony Romo for accepting Dak with grace and dignity. Go Dallas!!!!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Dak is becoming a star, but right now a lot of the NFL people are dismissing him because of the presence of Elliot and their strong offensive line.

But even if you add him to the list, think of how small it is compared to the lists of the past. I would estimate that in most "eras" the NFL had 15-20 stars. Right now, there are only a couple and they are either too old, too hurt or questionable.

BevfromNYC said...

And why is the NFL playing in London?? If they want to go "international" why not annex the Canadian league like they do in Baseball?

And there's ALWAYS been too many commercials and analysis for me. But too many games? There's only 16-ish! Baseball, a sport mainly about watching grass grow IMHO, has hundreds of never seems to end...the season goes on and on and on. And don't get me started about basketball.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, The other thing is that these guys made themselves stars in the past. These days, the NFL doesn't allow that. You have to go through the NFL machine to become a star.

That means the stars in the past were more "organic," for lack of a better word, and had more staying power because their stardom came about from their personalities and activities rather than an NFL generated image.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, They want to plant a team in London, Mexico, Germany and China eventually because they want to do worldwide expansion. Frankly, their smartest move would be Mexico first, but they want London.

The number of commercials has gone up noticeably and it's at the expense of things they used to show and talk over.

The problem in terms of number of games is that you only need to win 9-10 to get into the playoffs typically. The players know that, so most teams don't care if they lose 2,3,4 or 5 games. Hence, when it looks like winning a particular game is unlikely, they quit and move on. The great teams don't do this, but the majority do. I think this is the result of the game becoming more of a business and the NFL not cultivating rivalries anymore.

In college, they don't do that because every win matters, as does strength of win.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, You should check out Pittsburgh. When they lose, the locals fly the flag at half mast!

AndrewPrice said...

LL, I think the NFL crossed some line because they've apparently lost a lot of people.

AndrewPrice said...

As an aside, Von Miller does seem like a genuine star in the making. He's a great player, isn't dirty, and he's got a compelling television premise. He's also a super nice guy. Believe it or not, he just sent a bottle of wine and a thank you note to every other player in the AFC West including the practice squad players thanking them for making the game great. Cool.

His biggest obstacle to becoming a star will be that the NFL machine doesn't much like the Broncos. It prefers "large market" teams: New England, New York Jet/Giants, Phili, and San Francisco, and teams with a national following: Dallas, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Oakland. Screw the rest of you backwaters.

Critch said...

I quit watching pro-football when the Cardinals left St Louis....never did care for the Rams.

Rustbelt said...

I cannot put my finger on it, but at some point in the last decade, it just felt that the NFL got too big for its own good. There's too much emphasis on pageantry, analysis and commercials.
And the football is bland and generic. It's so pass happy (screw you, Bill Walsh), that it's been reduced to a shootout. I mean, defenses can do absolutely nothing because they're not allowed to do anything. More points! More points! More points!
It's times like this I'm glad to be a hockey fan, because at least in that sport, every goal means something.
Anyway, Andrew, here are some notes:

1. Agreed. Overexposure.
2. Can't agree more. Keeping teams on an even keel means players are constantly moving around. You can't get behind a good player because once the contract comes up, they put on somebody else's shirt. It's also means players can't work together long enough to gel as a team to look good.
3. Please see my intro.
4. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
5. This is also the result of media power players falling in love with players and giving their now-retired buddies a job. What other explanation is there for Chris Collinsworth, Joe Montana, Jim Kelly, Jon Madden (don't get me started on much my family members hated him), Shannon Sharp, and Mike Milbury? (OK, NHL example, but the point is made.)
And tonight on Fox, the college table featured...Matt Leinert and Brady Quinn?!?! It's not just former players, but rock-bottom, failed former players!
6. Well, that's the nature of the game. Chuck Noll would tell you to deal with it.
7. Please see above.
8. I blame guys like Mel Kiper for this. Morons who randomly guess which college guys will be good for the pros and keep shilling despite all evidence to the contrary.
9. True. Similar to point #8. However, regarding your Prescott/Elliott example, well, I have to side with the experts to an extent. A good RB takes pressure off a new QB. In fact, I'd say that's where many new QB's fail. They have no run support in this pass-only league and no time to learn the pro-level trade. Bettis did as much for Roethlisberger. (Admitted bias: since Zeke and I share the same school, college loyalties seep through. In fact, many of my college friends say they've actually found themselves good to say about Dallas for the first time in their lives.)
10. Whenever i talk with people about the NFL's drop in popularity, this is always what comes up. The only thing worse is the moron media types- I'm lookin' at you, a**hat Kornheiser and ultimate coward Wilbon- who are doing everything they can do dismiss it. Well, they are Obama's golfing buddies...
11. Back in the day, I thought Chad Johnson went too far. But today it's nuts. And it's not parity at all! the Steelers' Antonio Brown has been flagged several times for a post-TD dance. Yet, the Broncos' Emmanuel Sanders has done the same thing and never been flagged. (It's been quite the talk on the radio around here.) Maybe Denver's lack of attention has an upside..?

FYI: Lowering the flag after a Steeler loss is the least that happens here. It's the only thing anyone will talk about for 72 hours and the city feels like a massive funeral parlor the morning after.

Koshcat said...

I think the primary problems are the amount of penalties, the clock, and the huge increase in commercials which all slow the game unnecessarily. The penalties have too much effect on the outcome. It is so prevalent that when the other team doesn't get called for a blatant penalty, we are upset. I don't mind reviewing each turnover and score as these are incredibly large situations that effect the game but it needs to be done in a more timely fashion. Basically 30 sec from time goal is called and the extra point kicked.

The other problem is the way the clock works especially the snap clock. It is unnecessary to have 35 sec for the next play. If the offense wants to take longer to snap, I don't care. They can still have delay of game at the discretion of the referee like when it is clear the offense is dogging it. Also the clock is stopped for everything. Keep that thing moving. You could set up that it stops with an injury at the discretion of the referee. If the injury seems relatively mild, get 'ur but off the field ASAP. And nothing drives me more crazy when they stop the clock, look at the reply, have a mid-field meeting and then come out and say "please put 7 sec back on the clock". Really? We just lost 10 min of our life for 7 secs?

If they are worried about losing ad revenue, put the ads on the uniforms. Seems to work for soccer. I think there must be somewhere around 5000 ads during the game but in reality it is the same 10 commercials shown over and over.

The reason the colon commentators are so boring is that they don't have the experience or talent to fill in empty time unlike baseball. Make the game more continuous and they will spend more time calling the game. In addition, with a running clock, the amount of replays will be limited to a limited situation.

Tennessee Jed said...

Those are all good comments. When I was a kid (said the old geezer) there were 12 teams in the NFL. There was no ESPN or Direct TV Sunday ticket. You saw your home team's away games, and the home games only if the seats were sold out by Thursday. All games were Sunday afternoon. The NFL championship game was between the winner of the western conference and the winner of te eastern conference. That game was late December. Lots of home games had to be heard on radio. No instant replay or review. One of the hall of farmers, Chuck Bednaril was 6'3 and 235 lbs. and played 60 minutes as the center and middle linebacker. Now most college I backs are bigger than that. My point is, it had very little of what you dislike. 12 games, compact season, best players, best team all season gets to play for the championship, good announcers, very few commercials. Lack of free agency meant the players stuck around more. Guys were interesting .... Jim Brown, Joe Kapp, Alex Karan's, Dick Butkus. Anyway, all good points. And no asshole politics.

Tennessee Jed said...

Oh, btw, to truly date myself, when I first became an NFL fan, the Cardinals were one of two teams from .... Chicago. Te Cardinals were eastern conference and the Bears west. Eastern teams were: Giants, Eagles, Redskins, Steelers, Cardinals, Browns. Western teams were the 49ers, Rams, Packers, Lions, Bears, Baltimore Colts.. How times change. My greatest thrill was going to see the Eagles defeat Vince Lombardi and the Packers at Franklin field on December 26, 1960.

AndrewPrice said...

Hi Jed! I started watching when Tampa came into the league. So for me, most of the teams are "originals." Not all though.

I agree with you about the games of the past. Few ads, less referee involvement, more importance to games, and great announcers. I still recall guys like Merlin Olsen (player) and Dick Endberg and Howard Cosell and a half dozen others. Those were guys who knew the game, knew how to broadcast games, knew how to tell stories, and knew how to make the action more interesting. The guys these days are just there to say "he do good" and "he not do good" and then throw out a cliche or two they've been taught.

AndrewPrice said...

Today's games, BTW, were pretty much all uninteresting again. Even when they weren't blow outs, the end result was obvious throughout or the game felt random rather like a contest of quality teams.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, It's funny you should mention baseball. I remember about a decade ago, when NBC had the World Series, they had a couple amazing announcers. One in particular turned every game into a Master's Class in the art and history of baseball. Fox's announcers today are more for the ADD set and don't know much. That said though, even Fox's baseball announcers are MILES ahead of their football guys. These guys spew cliches, nonsense and pointless conventional wisdom. It really is sad.

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, The Rams never seemed very interesting in St. Louis either. That said, I did like the Cardinals in St. Louis. Their games were always fun.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, It's all self-inflicted wounds. As you note, players move so much that it's rare you feel much loyalty to the players. The injury thing really does seem to be growing because of less training under the CBA. The sports media LIVES to savage the NFL on issue after issue. That doesn't help. And I'm tired of the political crap.

Speaking of that, Kapernick went 1-4 for 25 yards today after three quarters! Couldn't happen to a bigger a-hole!

Post a Comment