The NFL Owners’ Annual Meeting Next Week

The NFL owners’ Annual Meeting will take place in Orlando, FL next week.  The owners will consider some rule changes proposed by the Competition Committee but according to reports the owners will not vote on the proposed sale of a minority interest in the Raiders to Tom Brady.  That proposed deal has already drawn a ton of attention by the league moguls:

  • The NFL instituted a rule that barred owners from giving an equity stake in the franchise to employees of the franchise.  It was widely assumed that Mark Davis was using that ploy as a way to sign Brady as a free agent.
  • The current deal has Brady “buying in” at a reported “deep discount” and some owners don’t like that as a precedent or as something that might devalue their franchise.

[Aside:  The existence of the rule barring employees having a stake in the team tells me that Caleb Williams’ “demands” for a stake in whatever team drafts him is dead on arrival.]

I think there is a bigger problem than a player or a coach or a GM having an ownership stake in the team at work with the “Brady Deal”.  Unless plans change dramatically, starting in less than 6 months, Tom Brady will be the color analyst on the #1 broadcast team for the NFL on FOX.  Maybe that is not an actual “conflict of interest” but given the current proclivities in the US to conjure up conspiracy theories, that situation could easily be portrayed as such.  And that is a potential problem the NFL needs to stay well away from.

About a hundred years ago, the fledgling NFL survived by selling tickets to folks who came to see the games.  The league added revenue streams like radio broadcasts and selling hot chocolate to fans in attendance.  Today, the NFL revenues from tickets and concessions and even parking are almost relegated to “rounding-off error”; in 2024, the NFL exists in the financial condition it enjoys because it is an ongoing TV series enjoyed weekly by millions – – if not tens of millions – – of viewers.

If I owned an NFL franchise worth several billion dollars, I would be triply cautious to avoid anything that had even a remote possibility of alienating even a part of that TV audience.  Obviously, I do not know the thinking of any NFL owner on this matter; but I would worry more about Tom Brady as an “owner/TV analyst” than I would about Tom Brady buying in at a “deep discount”.

There are ten rule changes that should come up for a vote next week.  The most dramatic change proposal is to the kickoff; the proposed rule simply takes too long to summarize so go to where the proposed new kickoff rule is explained and dissected in depth.

The more important rule change proposal from my perspective is the proposed prohibition of the “hip-drop tackle”.  Here is the proposed definition of what would become a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down if the rule proposal is approved by 24 of the 32 NFL owners:

“It is a foul if a player uses the following technique to bring a runner to the ground: (a) grabs the runner with both hands or wraps the runner with both arms; and (b) unweights himself by swiveling and dropping his hips and/or lower body, landing on and trapping the runner’s leg(s) at or below the knee.”

This rule change is motivated by player safety akin to the ban on the horse collar tackle.  According to some folks, the hip-drop technique gained favor in the coaching ranks as a means to reduce contact by the helmet during tackling which was also banned in the name of player safety.  What I find interesting about this issue is that the NFLPA is not fully on board here because the union believes – – probably correctly – – that the league will not be able to ban the practice with a rule definition that officials can reliably call consistently.

If you want an example of the union’s skepticism, just re-read the definition above and see if you think you could call it correctly more than 90% of the time.  [As you do the re-reading, focus on the phraseology “unweights himself” and wonder how Sir Issac Newton might have described what is going on there.]  Nevertheless, I don’t understand the union stance from this perspective:

  • If the hip-drop tackle – – however one defines is – – is deemed to be dangerous to player health, why would the union be against something that is imperfect but partially advantageous to player safety?

Sir Winston Churchill said that perfection is the enemy of progress.  Unless I am missing something here, it seems that the NFLPA should heed the words of Sir Winston…

Before I wrap this up today and plant myself in front of a TV set to watch March Madness, let me predict my Final Four:

  • West Bracket = Baylor.  Scott Drew is a really good coach.
  • East Bracket = Auburn.  Charles Barkley hopes I am correct.
  • South Bracket = Duke.  #2 son hopes I am correct.
  • Midwest Bracket = Tennessee.  Not a difficult draw for the Vols here.

In case you did not notice, I do not have any #1 seeds in the four brackets reaching the Final Four this year.  Let the games begin …

Finally, since I mentioned Sir Winston Churchill above, let me close with two other pithy observations by him:

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings.  The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

And …

“Truth in incontrovertible.  Panic may resent it.  Ignorance may deride it.  Malice may distort it.  But there it is.”

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



One thought on “The NFL Owners’ Annual Meeting Next Week”

  1. I’ll try: A horse collar is observable–as is a late hit out of bounds, a chop block, a face mask, a late quarterback hit, and pass interference. Now, imagine Derrick Henry running full blast in the middle of field on his way toward the endzone. You want to introduce a rule as to how a safety or cornerback attempts to bring a raging buffalo down? Bo Jackson had his illustrious career ended in 1991 in a playoff game that was no longer in doubt. I have never and would never say that was an illegal tackle.

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