Round 2 of New Year’s Resolutions – but resolutions that are owed to me – are all in honor of the “greatest,” most successful sports organization in the world: The National Football League. I love football. I have been watching, learning, and studying football since I was about 8 years old. Back where I grew up, most people were either a Giants or Jets fan. The Giants were the elder statesmen, like the Yankees of football, while the Jets were the upstart, annoying brother. Considering how annoying I normally appear to most of you, well, I’m sure you can figure out which team I prefer.
Back in the 70’s, the NFL created what was more or less my football Bible. It was called the NFL Playbook. It broke down the basics of football, including offense, defense, special teams, play calling, specialized situations like the “2-minute drill,” and more. It also featured every team, starting line up, coach, and Super Bowl that had been played.
When it was time for me to join freshman football, I believed I had a head start on everyone else because I knew so friggin’ much about the game. In addition to the Playbook, I had also logged hundreds of hours playing Monday Night Football, NFL Strategy, Mattel’s hand held Football (which I still have) and – of course – NFL Electric Football by Tudor. These were the 70’s versions of Madden ’14 or whatever it’s called now.
Fortunately, I had two brothers who loved football as much, if not even more than I did, and that helped increase my knowledge of the game. Unfortunately, I also had a sister who loved the game, and she could hit like a linebacker. That, combined with being only 5’3” and 100 pounds at the time, pushed my football experience back to the indoor version and not so much the actual, on the field version.
This weekend, or this Sunday, is known as Championship Sunday, what I consider the greatest Sunday in football. Yes, better than the Super Bowl because most Super Bowls are boring blowouts with too many interruptions and all those damn commercials that slow the game down. Championship Sunday usually holds better matchups and more competitive games, and you get two of them. It also lends to the anticipation of knowing who is actually going to be in the Super Bowl, which is sometimes enough to know the game is going to suck.
However, after heaping so much praise upon the “league where they play for pay,” I must demand, as part of the New Year’s Resolutions owed to me, that the NFL take immediate action to improve a few things that have gotten annoying.
They’re boring. Boring as hell. I would rather get stomped on 35-3 than lose 23-21 on a 47-yard kick as time expires. I hate the idea that 52 guys are beating the crap out of each other, eating dirt and blood for 59 minutes and 55 seconds, only to watch it all come down to the skinny leg of Euro-Boy who weighs less than his equipment.
I am perfectly okay with eliminating field goals, but at least make this change. The closer you are to the goal line, the more points you get. For example, if the line of scrimmage is anywhere from the 1 to the 19-yard line, you get three points. From the 34 to the 20, you only get 2 points. Anything from the 35 and further out, you only get 1 point. You’ve got to get more of a reward for driving closer before kicking a field goal.
And while you’re at it, don’t be afraid to either make the goalposts more narrow or maybe close the top of the goalpost. Put a bar across the top and make it so you have to kick it inside the box. Kick it too high – no good. Make it more challenging.
2. Eliminate Extra Points
Bill Belichick said it last week. What good is a play that is successful 99.6% of the time? Either kick it from much further out, like maybe the 30, or use the current system for 2 points but you only get the one point as if kicking. No more of these automatic points. Work for it and earn it. Statistically, more than 50% of 2-point conversions are good anyway. That means if you always go for 2, you’re more than likely going to come out ahead.
3. Defenseless Receiver?
What the hell is a “defenseless receiver”? I think it’s a guy who gets hit before he’s ready. So what’s the defense supposed to do? Make an appointment? Isn’t hitting a guy quickly before he has a chance to run a key defensive objective? Isn’t putting your head into his armpit in order to knock the ball into Monday a rather important skill? Are the linebackers supposed to wait until the tight end gives a thumbs up before anyone can drive a shoulder into his gut? Ronnie Lott would be ashamed to play today. Dick Butkus would think he was at the ballet instead of a football game.
4. Get Off Your Knees
Here’s something else I’m sick of seeing. There’s about 30 seconds left in the second quarter and (insert team here) has the ball on their own 35-yard line. What do they do? They take a knee and let the clock run out. Hey, you’ve got a chance. Why waste it? Throw the damn ball down the field, and maybe you’ll catch it, get close enough for a field goal. Maybe there will be a freak tip and you’ll get a touchdown. Why not try? Yeah, it might get intercepted, but so what?? You’ve got a better chance at a completion than giving up a 99-yard return for a touchdown. Just loft the ball downfield, send everyone on a fly pattern, and hope for the best. Try! Just try! Please? I’m tired of teams just giving up when they could run at least two, maybe even three downfield plays.
5. Icing the Kicker
I would like the Elias Sports Bureau to compile a statistic showing the percentages of missed and made field goals after the opposing team tries what is called “icing the kicker.” It’s a term for a useless coach’s move in which you call a time out only seconds before a field goal attempt in order to rattle the kicker in some way. Its effectiveness has never been proven, but my best guess is the opposite. The logic, or illogic, is that the kicker is affected by the extra time they must wait during the time out before the actual kick. I believe the more time you give a kicker the more he can judge the wind or other factors. Many times the ball is snapped and the kick is attempted, even though it does not count because of the time out called. That actually gives the kicker a chance to adjust if he misses or gives him some confidence if he makes it. There is no need for a rule change on this. Just a change in a coach’s thought process.
I’m sure I can come up with a few more if I think about it, but I will leave it here for now. Next week – well – we shall see.
In conclusion, after having praised and then criticized America’s Game, I should congratulate the league for what has been called the first “Cold Weather Super Bowl.” I’m tired of Super Bowl’s in perfect weather of about 75º-80 º and not a cloud in the sky. Football is not a gentlemanly sport. This isn’t golf. This isn’t tennis. This is football. Nobody doesn’t love football when it’s snowing and Uncle Frippy is sparking up the fireplace and Cousin Jerry is sparking up something else. It’s football. We play the most critical NFL games with enough steamy breath to fog up the windows on Air Force 1, so there’s no reason we can’t play the most critical of all games in the same weather.
Some very memorable moments were in cold weather. The Ice Bowl. The Tuck Rule. The Ernest Byner fumble. “The Immaculate Reception.” Colts vs. Giants for the ’59 Championship. Roger Staubach’s “Hail Mary,” the first time Hail Mary was used in football, to beat the Vikings and then face the Steelers in Super Bowl X. “The Drive” by John Elway. Leon Lett’s bonehead play on Thanksgiving. Football is for cold weather. We’re talking about Ben Roethlisberger, not Ben Hogan.
Another reason I don’t like perfect weather football is because it always favors teams that rely on passing. I’m more of a smashmouth, run-oriented, defense-oriented fan. I like the ground game, between the tackles, a few quick tosses, establish the run, keep the secondary honest, and occasionally throw a post, fly, or corner. I’m not into the West Coast offense or the “dink and dunk” stuff. Run the ball. These perfect weather games are only “perfect” for the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. I want something that favors running a trap. As for this year’s actual Super Bowl, if I were still living in my hometown, I could literally walk to the game.
My thanks to whoever runs theunforgettablebuzz.com. Enjoy Championship Sunday, and leave it all on the field. Even the vomit.