While sports fans everywhere are seeking refuge from the final stages of the Mock Draft Hysteria, the NFL calmly revealed its schedule for 2018 leading to a small eddy of listicles along the lines of “The Five Most Important Games For The Patriots In 2018”. Obviously, no one can know that sort of thing in April, so I tend to relegate such commentary to the same bin as the Mock Drafts. What I noticed was the array of international games that the NFL will display this year:
- Mexico City will host a game again this year; it will be a Monday Night Football game featuring the Chiefs and the Rams on November 19.
- London will host 3 games in 2018. The Seahawks and the Raiders will play on October 14 in the new Tottenham Stadium. A week later, the Titans and Chargers will meet in Wembley Stadium and a week after that the Eagles and Jags will face off in Wembley Stadium.
That is a solid menu of “overseas games”. The Rams are currently co-favorites to win the NFC Championship according to Vegasinsider.com and the Chiefs are going to contend in the AFC West. The Seahawks and Raiders have a longstanding rivalry dating back to the time when Seattle was in the AFC West. The Titans/Chargers matchup has one playoff team from last year; but, truth be told, it is the plain vanilla game on this menu. And the Eagles/Jags game features the reigning Super Bowl champs against a division winner from last year; I do not recall a London Game of that magnitude in the past.
The other interesting thing for me is that the NFL will play in London on 3 consecutive weekends. If the league were ever to consider putting a franchise there, they would need to be convinced that fan interest in London is sustainable. By playing on 3 consecutive weekends, the NFL pooh-bahs can get an indication of such sustainability.
Since I mentioned MNF in passing above, ESPN seems to be taking its sweet time naming a color analyst to replace Jon Gruden for next year. Reports say that Peyton Manning turned down the job and that Brett Favre “flunked” an audition. Then, Kurt Warner’s name surfaced as a leading candidate. I know that the NFL is a copycat league but do the networks that cover the NFL have to behave in the same way? I know that the top-shelf color analyst on FOX is Troy Aikman and that Tony Romo was a big success for CBS last year, but does that mean that ESPN has to find a QB to fill their slot?
Having been an NFL QB does not mean the individual will be a great color analyst. To make my point let me offer two words:
- Joe … Theismann
I will now proceed to contradict myself and tell you whom I would want in that job. I think that Steve Young – – already employed by ESPN don’t you know – – would be an excellent color analyst. There is only one minor problem with my choice. Steve Young has already said he is not interested in taking that job. Too bad…
Last week, I mentioned an NCAA rule change that was a solution in search of a problem. There is another rule change that has caused agita in a segment of college football fandom. Here is what Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot had to say about it:
“There’s already been bellyaching about the new college football kickoff rule. Players will be allowed to fair-catch kickoffs anywhere inside the 25-yard line and the ball will be placed at the 25 as if it were a touchback. It’s being done with safety in mind by trying to reduce the number of violent kickoff coverage collisions. Hardcore football fans will really hate this when it goes into effect. But so what? Whatever the rules, we’re still talking football. People can’t quit it.”
Professor Molinaro has it right. It is not difficult to find college football fan sites where this bellyaching is loud and prominent, and it takes the predictable path asserting that the next rule change will dress up the players in tutus. Notwithstanding the anger/disgust expressed there, this is bellyaching and nothing more. Once the rule in in effect, people will focus on the games and the rivalries and merely note the new kickoff rule as the way the game is now played.
Finally, here is a comment from syndicated columnist, Norman Chad, regarding some other NFL-related television programming:
“The Smithsonian Institute has petitioned CBS for the network’s library of ‘The NFL Today’ broadcasts for its ‘longest running worst programming’ exhibit at the National Museum of American History.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………