A chops-busting blog network colleague, upon reading my "Commish for a day" piece lamenting 10 a.m. PT kickoffs for West Coast teams, expressed mock concern for "all the NFC West wusses who don't get enough of a pregame beauty nap the night before early East Coast games."
My reply: Let's have a staff meeting to discuss the matter one of these nights at, say, 10 p.m. PT.
I've gone through all our suggestions and liked a few in particular:
Create a minor league: Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. envisions a minor-league system much like the one in place for baseball. Williamson: "It would be a fantastic place to cultivate young talent -- especially at quarterback. Players would get valuable game experience. It would be a breeding ground for young coaches and scouts as well. Practice squads and game-day inactives would be a thing of the past, and the major league team could send players up and down as it wished." I like the idea, but this league would have to play its games during the NFL regular season, making it potentially tougher to draw crowds. Perhaps the minor-league teams could operate outside their parent team's immediate markets. The comments section of Williamson's item included solid feedback, including jimmycyo's suggestion to have the minor-league season run 8-10 games and end about two-thirds of the way through the NFL regular season. The minor-league teams would run the same schemes. NFL rosters would expand late in the season, allowing select minor-league prospects to assimilate.
Abolish the Pro Bowl: Paul Kuharsky is right on when he says there's no sense in playing the game itself. There would still be Pro Bowl honors for players. Kuharsky: "Guys who make the team still get pineapples with the year on them in their media guide bios. They still get a week in Hawaii -- the week AFTER the Super Bowl. Rather than practices, they participate in clinics and charity events. Then, rather than the game, there is a live skills competition Sunday afternoon. Quarterback target practice. A skill position race to establish the league’s fastest man. A linemen lift to find the strongest." The dynamics that make football compelling simply aren't there during all-star games. Kuharsky is on the right track.
Concussion prevention: Kevin Seifert would push for uniform safety standards on the helmets players wear, building upon the research Gregg Easterbrook cited at Virginia Tech. Seifert: "There should be no mystery, in public or private, about the latest and best innovations for preventing concussions. To me, head injuries are the biggest long-term threat to professional football. As we learn more about their causes and symptoms, and observe the long-term effects, I wonder if prospective players won't reach a tipping point on tolerable risk and if fans will begin disassociating with the game as a result." Easterbrook nailed it when he wrote, "The belief that trying to act regarding helmet safety would only create liability for the NFL seems deeply seated in the league's thinking." It's time to move past that thinking.
Check out all the commish-for-a-day pieces here.
What changes would you enact as NFL commissioner?