Sometimes Batting .500 Isn’t Good Enough

If you had a career batting average of .500, you’d be a certified mortal lock as a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee. However, an NFL Commissioner with a “batting average” for good ideas at the .500 level might just be asked to leave the position after a few years. If various reports are accurate, NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, is in the process of dealing with two “new ideas’ at the moment and he’s got one good one and one bad one. Because today is Friday and I’m looking forward to a nice weekend, I am feeling awash in the milk of human kindness at the moment. So, I’ll start with the “good idea”.

According to a report on and commentary by Jim Rome, the NFL is considering reducing the amount of time that teams have to make their draft selections on draft day. When teams are “on the clock” in the first round of the draft, the proposal calls for the new time limit to be 10 minutes instead of the current 15 minutes. Here’s a short description of how I feel about that idea; the spokesthing for this idea should be Tony the Tiger because this idea is “GrrrEAT!”

After teams have digested scouting reports and combine analyses and personal interviews and mock war room scenario enactments, why do those teams need 15 more minutes to make their pick? In fact, you could ask why they need as many as 10 more minutes, but that time reduction would make the first round of the draft about 30% shorter than it is and that’s a worthwhile improvement. Even the magnificent windpipes on the ESPN stage run out of new things to say and new film clips to show about the players taken in the first round.

      Mr. Commissioner, this is a great idea and you should make it happen as soon as possible.

And the corollary to this new time limit is that the time intervals in the second round of the draft would also be reduced from the current 10-minute level to 7 minutes.

      Once again, Mr. Commissioner, make this happen ASAP and you’ll be a hero.

Now for the bad idea that is roiling around in the Commissioner’s office if not in his brain. Roger Goodell thinks that adding a 17th game to the NFL schedule – probably at the expense of one of the four Exhibition Season Games – is a good idea. So, far, Mr. Commissioner, I’m with you on this one; almost anything to reduce the number of meaningless games in favor of games that actually count in the standings is fine with me. But here’s where I get off the train. Roger Goodell thinks that every team should play that “extra game” somewhere overseas. If this were the old Gong Show, I’d have the mallet in hand and it would be impinging itself on the gong at this very instant.

Playing one regular season game a year overseas is an annoyance that can be spread around the league and retains some novelty for the idea. Playing 16 games a year overseas will saturate the interest in the overseas markets in – at most – two years and probably in less than one. The idea is to pick a few sites and then to play four or five games a year at that site. So the idea would be to have some foreign city (like Kuala Lumpur) have half a home schedule for NFL games while Los Angeles has no games in town. Pardon me, but that makes less sense than trying to patch the hole in the ozone layer with Saran Wrap.

In fact, I’m not sure there are more than a handful of overseas venues where American Football will sustain a large following for games that are not hyped and meaningful – such as the Super Bowl. The NFL Europe experience has been one of losing money just about every year for just about every team; it’s not certain that Tokyo will sell out multiple games in a year since they no longer sell out the Tokyo Bowl meaning the bloom may be off the rose; there’s no evidence that Beijing cares at all about American Football. Where might one play on the continent of Africa – Darfur? Zimbabwe? Timbuktu? While cities in South America such as Rio or Sao Paolo or Buenos Aires might beckon, there is zero tradition of American Football there. I got the answer right here; let’s schedule games in Moscow and be sure to play warm weather teams such as San Diego and Miami there sometime in the second week of December; that should be fun.

Maybe – I said maybe – Mexico City could sustain interest for a while and maybe a city in Australia (Sydney or Melbourne?) could rally around the idea for a while. But I have to say that a trip to Australia just to play one football game is an undertaking that will not sit well with players or coaches for very long.

      Mr. Commissioner, kill off an exhibition game or even two and add a 17th regular season game or even an 18th and you’re a hero; demand that these be played overseas in the name of some fuzzy-minded idea of “globalization of the brand” and you’re a doofus.

While on the subject of NFL doings, Jerry Jones is perfecting his pitch to his fellow owners later this month to land a Super Bowl game at the Cowboys’ new stadium. Even if his first attempt is unsuccessful, the game will land there eventually purely for economic reasons – the place will seat up to 100,000 folks. But Jerry Jones has his eye on even more than that; he wants to use the place for NCAA Final Four Weekend or NCAA Regional Basketball Tournaments at the very least. And he wants to move the Cotton Bowl there and return the Cotton Bowl to the premiere status it held 40 years ago. Don’t think that can’t happen in football crazy north Texas…

Don’t sniff at the idea of NCAA Basketball tournament games there either; Ford Field in Detroit will host the Final Four in 2009; Ford Field seats about 70,000 meaning that for a basketball game, there will be about 50,000 bad seats. Once the NCAA has succumbed to the temptation of big dollars at the gate (at the price of putting 50,000 folks in bad seats), it isn’t such a huge transition to put the game in an even larger football venue and have 70,000 folks in bad seats. If the NCAA felt any shame about this, the games would not be in huge stadium venues in the first place.

If I told you that a football team was charging fans $90 for a seat license that entitles the fans to buy season tickets to see that team play, you might think that was a huge bargain – - if you were thinking this was an NFL team or even a top shelf collegiate program. But that football team is Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas. That’s right; they are charging and getting close to $100 a seat in their stadium from all the folks who want to have season tickets to the Southlake Carroll Dragons’ home games. Cue Barry McGuire:

“And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the Eve of Destruction…”

Finally, a cogent observation from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“The Dolphins are making a slight alteration to their uniforms to make the numbers more distinguishable. Dear Dolphins: Forget the uniforms. How about making the number on the scoreboard more distinguishable?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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