[To stay on top of the upcoming action: the NFL 2012 Week 15 is being live-blogged and updated throughout the day.]
But before the games start, the National Football League will be holding a moment of silence for the victims of the tragic events in Connecticut on Friday. The events are not being described here because the issue is one for political blogs and religious institutions. We all deeply care about what happened, but for those lucky enough to find escape, even momentarily, in sports, that is what will happen on the gridiron. Narcotics For Leatherheads is about football, so let’s get down to the game of football.
In recent days, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been at the center of a couple of major pieces of football news. Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has concluded his review of of the Saints “Bountygate” suspensions. Mr. Tagliabue is highly respected by both labor and ownership, overseeing twenty years of labor peace and is trusted as an honest broker. It was both risky and wise for Mr. Goodell to appoint him. Mr. Goodell has “power,” but Mr. Tagliabue has “authority,” which brings with it a moral element.
Mr. Tagliabue did end up vacating the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma and the other three Saints players who were suspended. The fines against them were upheld. Some saw this as a slapdown of Commissioner Goodell, but this is totally false.
Mr. Tagliabue concluded that the bounty program did exist. He simply placed the heaviest blame on the coaching staff and not the players, since management put the program in place. More importantly, the players were hoping that Mr. Tagliabue would rule that Mr. Goodell exceeded his power as Commissioner and that the suspensions were unauthorized to begin with. Mr. Tagliabue ruled that the NFL Commissioner absolutely does have the power to mete out such suspensions. This is a major victory for Mr. Goodell.
Yet the other issue being floated by Mr. Goodell this week is not a good one. Mr. Goodell has done an excellent job of cracking down on bad behavior. Tough suspensions are working. Yet despite the obsession with player safety in the wake of concussions and even suicides, Mr. Goodell wants to expand the playoffs from 12 teams to 16.
Roger Goodell is one of the most unfairly maligned executives in sports. He gets a lot right. Yet on this issue, he is wrong. Not only will more playoff games increase the risk of injuries, it will ruin the regular season. When the 7-9 Seahawks made the playoffs in 2010 and won a playoff game, it was a statistical anomaly. If that happened repeatedly, it would devalue the NFL. Basketball and hockey are suffering from too many teams making the playoffs. Baseball has upset fans by doing the same.
The reward for the best records are first round byes. This allows those teams to get healthy and rest stars. Some will say it gives them a competitive advantage, but it is one they earned. The playoffs are exclusive. If everybody makes them, exclusivity is gone.
Worse than all the reasons to be against this, there is nothing about it that increases the quality of the game. It provides the owners more revenue, but this is one idea that should be rejected.
Lastly, get rid of the Thursday night games. Most of them are terrible, and again this comes down to exclusivity. What makes the NFL special is that it is confined to Sundays and Monday nights. The occasional Thursday night game is a treat. Having one every week simply disrupts teams and fans. Hopefully this experiment will be eliminated before next year.
Now for some serious December football. To quote John Randall, “This is when the big dogs come out.”
With that, let’s get down to some football. It’s NFL 2012 Week 15.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian who is obsessed with the National Football League. There is no offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” When not watching football, his only other hobby is Republican, Jewish women. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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