Nike and the “new age” of NFL asthetics

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When it was announced in 2010 that Nike was taking over as the NFL’s uniform provider, it prvoked many reactions amongst fans, players, and the media. Many people envisioned uniforms like this for the league:

I'm still unsure why grey is a part of the scheme....... http://cdn.bleacherreport.net

It was not a bad assumption to make at time because Oregon was not the only team attempting to provide wild and whacky looks with Nike threads. The University of Virginia altered their uniforms for the 2010 season:

The University of Maryland also tried to go the “Oregon Duck” way with their uniforms:

Naturally the notion of NFL teams going this route made fans either really excited or very worried. Some fans went so far as to create their own concepts. However, with last week’s unveiling, all of the worries and speculations were put to rest for now. None of the teams really changed their look aside from the Seattle Seahawks (more on that bellow).

The only real changes were to the fabric. Nike apparently has lighter fabrics that help make players faster. Whether that is scientifically true is something for Sports Science to figure out. For the layman, it made last Tuesday exceptionally boring.

But this should not have been a surprise to anyone. This is due to the fact that all changes to uniforms must be approved by the league as well as the team. In addition, a rule is currently in place that prevents a team from changing its uniform within a five-year period. Teams within that rule currently include the Lions, Bills, and Jaguars.

Casual fans have to understand, the NFL is conservative business. This means that, because they are so popular, they will not change . It is rare to see changes like when the Denver Broncos completely changed their look and logo for the 1997 season. By the way, the uniform provider back then was also Nike.

From a business standpoint, they need the logos of teams to stay consistent. In addition, having uniforms that stay consistent helps the league maintain its image. This is why changes like what the Seattle Seahawks just underwent are unlikely to happen to other teams for a while:

I wish they would ditch the neon green. http://cdn.bleacherreport.net

In my eyes, those uniforms look like they belong in Arena Football or the UFL and not the NFL. But that is a manner of opinion. Such hype over uniform changes (or lack thereof) should not exist. This is one time when I will stick with established sports cliches: what matters is the play on the field.

Speaking of which, the NFL’s schedule is rumored to be slated for release on April 17. That is one week from today. And it is really something worth getting excited over because it is one step closer to actual football being played.

Grey Area Politics

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At 12:51 p.m. yesterday, the NFL.com reported the NFL’s announcement of the punishment for the New Orleans Saints regarding the bounty system they had. The Punishments are as follows:

  • Head coach Sean Payton suspended for one season without pay.
  • An indefinite ban on former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
  • Loss of the teams’ second round draft pick in this year’s as well as next year’s draft.
  • Assistant head coach Joe Vitt has been suspended for six games
  • GM Mickey Loomis has been banned for the first eight games of 2012
  • The team has been fined $500,000

Yeah. These bounties were totally worth it...... http://cdn.bleacherreport.net

It is an incredible bit of news for the NFL. It means Sean Payton is now the first head coach to be suspended. For anything. And NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t even done there. According to several sources, 22 of the 27 Saints defensive players were in on the bounty system. What Goodell will do with these players remains to be seen.

A good majority of fans, players, and media types are quite upset over this news. And it is not for reasons related to how justly or unjustly the Saints were treated. A good majority in that clump of people believe this confirms that the 2006/2007 Patriots got off easy for cheating in the Super Bowl.

There really is no more despicable act outside of cheating. http://sijoeposnanski.files.wordpress.com

While I will not argue with anyone that says the Patriots got off easy, I will not say the Saints penalty should be lessened because of it. Let us not forget what they are being punished for. The team had a bounty system that reward players (with money) for hurting opposing players. There have been rumors of bounty systems for years and this is time a team actually got caught.

Having a bounty system goes against everything football is about. Yes I know it is a violent sport, but the objective is not to hurt the opposing player. On defense, it is to prevent the other team from scoring. The second reason this goes against sports is the notion of taking players out of the game.

From my perspective, I want my teams to beat their rivals when they are at their best. It feels better and most of the time it results in a better game. A good example is the last two times the Steelers have beaten the New England Patriots. The first of those two came in their Super Bowl run of 2008. Tom Brady was out with a season-ending knee injury and the Steelers cruised to a 33-14 win in Foxboro.

This past season, the Steelers once again prevailed 25-17 at home against the Patriots. This time Brady was playing and as a  result, the game was closer. As a fan that felt a whole lot more satisfying.

If you are purposefully taking or attempting to take another teams’ QB or what have you out of the game, then you are cheating everyone: yourself, your team, fans, and the game. It is about as despicable an act as I have ever seen in the NFL or sports in general. That is why I am in full support of these actions by the league.

That being said, I would be lying if I said I did not feel the league should be more consistent with punishments. The Patriots got off lucky an they know it. A  It is part of the reason they were able to make that Super Bowl run in 2007. The NFL should have come up with similar sanctions for the Patriots.

Instead, what did the league do? They destroyed the evidence. We all know that, of course, but it still makes one wonder what was on those tapes (it couldn’t have been good).

Business man first, Commissioner second. http://www.thesportsbank.net

I am not sure what kind of advantage it gave the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI, but the footage had to help in some way. Goodell enjoys handing out massive fines for repeat offenders of “illegal” hits. Yet, when a huge scandal such as cheating comes about, the league goes all Nixon on everyone. A little consistency would go a long way, Mr. Goodell.

However, in a league that is more worried about TV ratings than transparency, it is clear that this kind of horse manure will continue. As for the Saints, they have a long road to recovery. Make no mistake, they will feel the effects both this year and beyond. For once, the punishment fits the crime, but that does not erase years of inconsistency.

Franchise Monday

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Today’s 5pm deadline for franchising players has brought a  whole slew of activity from various teams from around the league. Franchising a player means a player is slapped with the franchise tag. It gives the team essentially one year to wait to go into further contract negotiations. It is a guaranteed amount of money for the player. It is a win-win situation. Some of the key franchise tag uses of the day include:

  • According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Colts used their franchise tag on DE Robert Mathis. Mathis is a huge part of that vaunted Colts passrush. If the Colts are to successfully rebuild their team, then they will need veterans like Mathis to guide younger talent.
  • Lost in the talk of heroes from Super Bowl XLVI is Giants punter Steve Weatherford. Weatherford’s punting was nothing short of phenomenal on Super sunday. He consistently put the Patriots in bad field position. That forced the Pats to go the length of the field to score rather than quick strikes. It was his first quarter punt that helped lead to the first points of the game, a safety.
  • Another key special teamer getting the tag is Broncos kicker Matt Prater. The fifth-year kicker might have the strongest leg in the league. He was instrumental in some of the comeback wins for the Broncos and maybe does not get his due credit. I don’t see why after all of the game winning or tying kicks he made this season. Might I also add that those kicks were not chip-shots either. The Broncos just ensured themselves a clutch boot for at least another season.
  • Speaking of the Super Bowl the Patriots just gave Super Bowl goat  veteran WR Wes Welker the franchise tag. It is apparently worth over $9 million dollars. Welker is one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets and bringing him back made too much sense. It gives Welker another chance at a dropped pass Super Bowl championship.

This deadline also brought with it some key free agent signings. The big signing of the day is, of course, the Texans resigning star RB Arian Foster. To say that Foster has been a pleasant surprise would be an understatement. Foster was a beast in only 13 games last year where he piled up 1,224 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Fantasy owners in the Houston area are rejoicing.

The deal is for five years and is worth $43.5 million overall; $20.75 million of that is guaranteed. Beyond the obvious of this giving the Texans a chance at repeat postseason appearance, this signing (as well as one other) may have implications for other big-name free agents. The other signing is Bills WR Steve Johnson getting a five year, $36.25 million contract.

The player most likely affected by these deals in Pittsburgh WR Mike Wallace. The Steelers did not give the franchise tag to Wallace. that puts them in a big hole for resigning the young wideout. Wallace will most likely demand more money than what Johnson received from the Bills. That is not money that the Steelers can pay. It entirely possible that no team will try for Wallace.

Although not likely.....

It is also possible, with the Pats tagging Welker, that they are trying to keep room open for Mike Wallace. Wallace would the Patriots a scary group of targets for Brady and something they have not had in while: a deep threat. The Bengals are also another team that may have interest. Since the Steelers are only putting a franchise tender on Wallace, that gives these teams an opportunity to go after the speedster (did I mention that he’s fast?).

The Steelers are only $10 million under the cap limit thanks to the plethora of cuts they have made in the last week. Even with that kind of money it is not a given that the Steelers can compete with the Bengals or Patriots in a bidding war over Wallace. Time will tell, but the hits may be far from over for the Steelers organization.

Bounty Hunters

I know that there has been a lot of talk in recent days about the New Orleans Saints and their bounty program. Believe me I will be covering it. I am just soaking in the details and waiting for me concrete details to come out. If it is true then its truly one of the more despicable things to come out of the NFL in recent years.

The concept of paying a player extra money to injure someone goes against everything sports should stand for. I will not speculate in this blog what potential repercussions should be for the Saints. But I will say this: if the allegations are true (and it looks like they are) then the Saints need a clean house. Now.

I will be posting more on this in the coming days. And yes, ESPN, this is worse than Spy Gate. I would rather see a team cheat then do this. But more on that later. Until then, have a happy Monday everyone!

A frustrating game of “wait and see”

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The March 13th deadline to sign players looms like an ominous thunder storm. Over the past few weeks a few players have attracted more attention than others. I posted a blog about one of those players the other week. Another name has garnered a bit of attention: Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace. Why has Wallace gotten so much attention recently? Well, for one thing, he is fast.

Another big aspect of the Mike Wallace situation is its uniqueness. Wallace’s rookie contract is up this year making him a restricted free agent. In the past, that would mean the Steelers could sign Wallace with limited to no interruptions from other teams. Under the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the rules have changed.

Could the Bengals steal one from their rivals?

Essentially, a team can offer Wallace any amount of money they wish. If the Steelers cannot match that offer, then Wallace goes to that team and Steelers get compensated with a high draft pick. In the case of Wallace that might mean a first round choice. But as this past Friday, the Ravens GM Ossie Newsome effectively took the Ravens out of the Wallace Sweepstake. To be fair, the Ravens have a solid group of receivers.

So if the Ravens do not feel like punching their rivals in the gut, who will? The Cincinnati Bengals may have vested interest in the Pittsburgh wideout. For one, they have the third most money to spend in free agency. More importantly, the team has two first round draft picks to spare. The question for the Bengals is whether or not they want to give up a first round choice for Wallace.

The Bengals are currently trying to rebuild their franchise and getting rid of a first round pick may deter that. They could spend that that pick solidifying a running game that will be missing Cedric Benson. For the Steelers, the extra first round pick would help mend their current offensive and defensive line problems.

The Steelers are ancient along the defensive line and this year’s draft looks deep for both lines. But looking more immediate, the Steelers have to remedy a major cap problem. The Steelers were $25 million over the salary cap when this offseason started. A process of cuts and contract restructurings have brought that number down, but they still need to just break even by March 8th (when free agency begins).

If the Steelers cannot find cap room to match offers for Mike Wallace, then some other team will cash in on the youngster’s talents. If the Steelers are to sign Wallace, then that will mean cutting ties with such veterans as Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, and maybe even James Harrison. There are a lot of questions in Pittsburgh and none of them will be quick fixes for Kevin Colbert.

Colbert has some tough choices to make in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, things have gotten messy on the end of Peyton Manning. For the most part, it is still a game of he said/she said, but the Chiefs have made thing interesting. Romeo Crennel ignited an apparent fire when he expressed interest in Manning last week in a press conference. According to league rules, that is tampering.

It's wrong to speak your mind, Romeo.

According to pro football talk, the Colts do not appear to be interested in pressing charges (surprise, surprise). Meanwhile the league has been silent so far. Like most offseason issues, fans will just have to wait and see what happens to the Chiefs.

Personally, this is such a futile matter that it is almost laughable. This is part of what makes the offseason so humorous sometimes. Media outlets seem to look to fill gaps when nothing is there and fodder like this is just not really worthy of several reports. Reporting happenings at Pro Days and the Combine, for example, is worth reporting.

Moving on to other news, according to several reports, it appears that Mario Manningham is done with the Giants. Manningham had a huge post season which included a fantastic Super Bowl performance. This is a sight all too familiar to those that closely follow the NFL. Players have had big Super Bowls before and gone on to less than stellar careers with other teams.

Desmond Howard and Larry Brown are two names that jump out here. Brown had two huge interceptions in Super Bowl XXX. The Raiders signed him to a fat contract after the 1995/96 season and Brown went on to a pretty pedestrian career after that. I am not saying that Manningham is headed for that, be he may be over-stating his value.

According to the NFL.com article, Manningham just wants to see more passes thrown his way. The question is whether or not Manningham is ready to be a leading man yet. He had a very mediocre 523 yards this season in the regular season and only hauled in three touchdowns. Part of the reason for those number may be teams keying on him as well as the emergence of Victor Cruz.

Ah yes. The catch that changed it all.

Whatever the case was for his drop off in production, it raises a lot of questions about his status as the number one wideout on another team. There are a good number of teams out there that would love a receiver as talented as Manningham. The Bears are certainly a team that stands out and the Browns have lacked a number one receiver for years.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the clock is ticking to March 13th. One big factor that may deter teams from signing free agents is the draft. Teams like the Bears may decide to take a chance on one of the fresh young bucks in the drafter rather than signing a free agent. The draft is over 58 days away which is a ton of time for teams to sign, trade, or release players.

What is best for the franchise

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Peyton Manning will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Hands down. But like most veterans, he may not get to choose where and when that ending is. Perhaps you have heard some of the chatter of the last two or three weeks regarding his status as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

According to a report from Don Banks of Sports Illustrated, Manning had four (not three) neck surgeries in the past year. That is a huge piece of information regarding his potential status. According to that report, the Colts fear that Manning’s condition may be chronic. Banks also points to the fact the Peyton’s older brother, Cooper had a spinal condition that kept him

Irsay is facing the toughest situation of his career. http://cdn1.sbnation.com

Colts owner Jim Irsay continually fights the notion that Manning is done in Indy. According to pro football talk yesterday, Manning and the Colts are already in contract negotiations. However, according to a new report today, Irsay and Manning have NOT had talks yet. The whole news cycle revolving his status has been dizzying and it seems to get worse by the hour.

The Colts would have to pay him $28 million if they want to keep him. The Colts most likely do not want to drop $28 million on a veteran. Irsay claims he wants Manning back as a Colt, but only if Manning restructures his contract. Whatever the case is, it appears they are about to draft Andrew Luck.

Could this man be leading the Colts soon? http://a.espncdn.com

In addition, there is even more uncertainty revolving Manning following this report of a fourth surgery. In the sports illustrated article, Don Banks said that league sources are reporting that Manning has developed bone spurs where his neck was fused. This may lead to further surgeries to repair that area of his neck (hence the fear of chronic problems).

Even more troubling is how Manning attempted to play before his neck was fully healed. He could hardly throw 25 yards, but was willing to play a red-zone-only role in the Colts late-season game against the Houston Texans. While this is primarily ludicrous from a health stand point, this is also mind numbing in terms of football sense.

It is clearly not a situation like baseball where you can just bring in a closer off of the bench. Momentum and execution of the players matter a great deal more in football. Having Manning simply come in and throw passes in the red-zone could lead to less points. Those points would bcome critical for a team that is only playing for pride.

No matter what happens, Manning would be the latest in a slew of veterans and elite players who have had to either restructure their deals  or be cut loose in the past week. Behind thhealth factors, the key question here is: will he be willing to restructure? The deal the Colts does not even guarantee him a spot on the Colts rosters for 2013.

Adding to the Colts’ delimma is the fact that teams are currently drooling at the prospects of Manning becoming an unrestricted free agent. Despite his health factors, there would be teams willing to drop cash for Manning. Think of a coach like Ken Whisenhunt out in Arizona who may have to fight for his job soon.

"Whiz" has been looking for a repeat.....but has fallen a bit short. http://www.cardinalsgab.com

Sure he has coached the Cardinals to two postseason trips in his tenure, but his last trip came in the 2009-2010 playoffs. The NFL is all about “what have you done for me lately?” And the Cardinals have struggled to a total record of 13-19 since losing horribly to the Saints in January of 2010. They would love a veteran like Manning.

The last thing that Jim Irsay wants as an owner is to see his beloved, future Hall of Fame quarterback go to another team and win a championship. Outside of Arizona, there will be plenty of suitors licking their chops. This is where Andrew Luck comes into play.

The Colts currently have the number one overall pick in this April’s draft. All signals are indicating that the Colts will take Luck. It seems like the only choice the team has with that pick. Watching Luck play in the Fiesta Bowl, he seemed an awful lot like a young Peyton Manning. It was not a perfect performance, but there are aspects of his game that appear professional.

The thing that separates Luck from other college quarterbacks is that this: when he comes to the line of scrimmage, he has three calls in the huddle he can audible to. That is trait that Peyton Manning had when Tom Moore was his OC. Now, Bruce Arians is the new offensive coordinator and that brings in ideas he used while he was in Pittsburgh.

Arians likes to spread things out and use a variety of formations. Luck appears to have no problem grasping that concept. Luck can also throw a mean bubble screen, which is no doubt going to excite Arians.

In the coming weeks, what the Colts end up doing with Manning will determine what happens once they draft Luck. Here are the two options the Colts have on the table:

  • Keep Manning and draft Luck
  • Release Manning and draft Luck

The first option appears to be the safest one on paper. But there are far too many unknowns with that choice. What if Luck decides to pull a John Elway and skip town for another team? That happened when the Colts tried to draft Elway in 1983. Of course Elway went on to win two Super Bowls with the Broncos and the Colts struggled to one AFC title game appearance in that time.

But it was a very close call......

I am not saying that history would repeat itself exactly in the manner. After all, Denver is still hung-up on Tebowmania. But what I am saying is this: if Manning ever heals fully, then he still has mileage left in tank. Luck is young and may not want to sit behind a legend for 3-4 years. Unless, of course, Manning plans on mentoring the young gun.

But no legend who values their starting job has ever really done that. Joe Montana didn’t hold Steve Young’s hand while he developed under him. Brett Favre scoffed at the idea of mentoring a young Aaron Rodgers. the comforting thing for Andrew Luck is that both situations worked out pretty well for both backups.

If it turns out that Luck is impatient, then Colts would have no choice but to let Manning enter free agency. Doing this would ensure that new head coach Chuck Pagano and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians get “their guy.”  They could shape and mold Luck however they choose without worrying about him being stuck behind a veteran.

For Manning, it would be strange territory. Seeing him in anything but a Colts’ blue uniform would be a weird site. But the NFL is a business and Colts’ owner Jim Irsay must do what he feels is right for his team. This is a team that has more problems than just at QB. The performance of Joseph Addai has dropped off due to injuries. In his place, Donald Brown was not much better either.

Part of this has to do with an offensive line that was not very good. On top of that, the Colts defense this past season was not much better. It may take a few years for the Colts to rebuild what was once a model for regular season consistency. A promising first-round QB draft pick is not going to help all of those problems. If anything, it was Manning’s presence under center that masked those flaws all these years.

One thing is very clear here: no matter what decision the Colts make, Manning’s health will be the key. This applies to teams interested in Manning as a free agent as well. Teams like Arizona and Washington will be bidding for like no tomorrow if he hits the market. The clock is ticking and the Colts have until March 8th to make a choice.

What is your take on the Manning drama? Should the Colts keep him or cut him? Post your comments below.

Random Notes

  • Randy Moss is officially trying to come back to the NFL. He joins Terrell Owens as two once-great-but-old receivers trying to make a comeback. The funny part is how few team seems to be interested in either receiver. It might have something to do with age, but most likely with how big of a lockerroom liability both are. Moss is the laziest receiver who will ever get into the Hall of Fame. But hey at least an IFL franchise has extended an offer.
  • Speaking of players trying to comeback, ESPN is reporting that former Redskins’ back Clinton Portis is trying to do what Moss and Owens are (or aren’t?). Portis is an older back and it is not clear how effective he can be.
  • Hines Ward’s career in Pittsburgh may be over pretty soon. According to rumors floating around, the franchise plans to cut ties with the Super Bowl XL MVP wideout. Talk about a business. Ward is one of the most beloved players in the history of the franchise. While it will be sad for many to see him go, the Steelers have plenty of talent at wide receiver. If they can somehow keep the three-headed monster of Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders, then new OC Todd Haley will have a lot of toys to play with.
  • Ron Jaworski has been let go from the ESPN Monday Night Football broadcasting booth. Jaws was one of the more reliable analysts on that staff and his insight will be missed. On the other hand, Jon Gruden has proved himself to be a potent analyst. This will be the first time in 15 years that MNF has had a two-person broadcast team. The Tirico-Gruden combination does not have the ring, the résumé, or the name that Michaels-Madden had back in the day. Time will tell on this one, but it appears to be a very risky move.

And so it begins……the search for answers……..

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When Tom Brady’s last-gasp Hail Mary fell incomplete, the 2012 NFL offseason began. Super Bowl XLVI will go down as a very good installment in the greatest sporting event on the American Sports calendar. With the beginning of the offseason comes slew of rumors, heresay,, and oddball news. The shocker of the past week goes to Roger Goodell for talking about closing down operations for the Pro Bowl.

In this Pro Football Talk post,  it says the Goodell met with DeMaurie Smith to talk about closing it down. This is a very usrpring move, if it is done, by a league that is headed down the path of high TV and flag football a more passive style of play. The rules in recent years have been adjusted so that:

  1. Quaterbacks are well protected. These are priceless commodities and the NFL simply cannot have guys like Brady, Brees, and/or Rogers go down like the older Manning brother did.
  2. Offenses could score a boatload of points. The new way of NFL fans love high-scoring games. A lot. Which is funny because the NFL playoffs this season featured one game in which both teams were in the 30s in points.

Now the NFL is nowhere close to ending the Pro Bowl.  Even still, what is the big deal if the NFL All-Star game is a bust? It is only a pointless football game played between the Super Bowl and Conference Championship Sunday. But that might be one of the game’s current downfalls. No matter what game or games are in that two week gape before the super Bowl, the focus will always be on the Super Bowl.

Or a member of the Manning family (more on this later). http://blogcertified.com

More to the point: the ratings were up for the Pro Bowl this season. According this article, the ratings were the higest of any program on TV that night and day. this is due largely to the popularity of the NFL and not the interest of the game. Fans are still excited to see some of the games super stars . The problem is that some of the stars fans want to see are in the Super Bowl.

If the game already means nothing, then moving it . There are only two options moving forward for the NFL: make it matter or make it fun. The fun aspect is probably the more important of the two. I do not see a way for the NFL to make it matter in terms of post season play. Beyond just conference pride and money, there is not much there.

Although the game is not going anywhere any time soon, here are some things I believe would improve the quality of the game:

Move it to the end of the season

The NFL is one of the few sports that has its all-star game at or near the end of the season. Moving it back to the week after the Super Bowl gives the season a nice fun closing act. It reinstates players who would normally miss due to the Super Bowl. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are two names this seasons Pro Bowl desperately needed. Not only do these players provide better entertainment but they are bigger names.

No offense to Andy Dalton, but he is not biggest draw in the world. What he did as a rookie was phenomenal, but he has a ways to go in terms of Marketabilitiy. The point of an all-star game is to conceivably have all the good eggs in one basket. Although ratings have been good, if every player the fans voted in played, then TV ratings might just rise.

Pay these men

I know it is their job to play football and that some players have contract clauses with Pro Bowl benefits. I get that. But sometimes it seems like the players are lolly gagging out there. Aaron Rogers blasted his NFC teammates for their lack of effort. If that is the case, then there need to be added incentives outside of just conference pride. These men need a payday.

the NFL is a billion dollar franchise that can throw money at teams for a new stadium. I think they can provide money to get the effort of players up. But in case that does not work……

Insert some real football rules

Having real football being played is a key. The game has just gone too vanilla with simple plays that even the dumbest coach would not call during a preseason game. The current rules take any intensity out of the game. Let the defensive players run wild and hit people. After all that is their job and why they were selected.

Let them play! Let them play! Let them play! http://media.sacbee.com

People still talk about the hit that Sean Taylor (may he rest in peace) put on former bills punter Brian Moorman. It was a vicious hit and (while yes it was on a punter) it is something this game needs.I know it kills some of the more intense players like Patrick Willis and James Harrison that the game has gotten soft.

While player safety is important, so is their right to play. They know full and well what it could mean to their health to to play this game. So in that case, just let them go out there and play. They do not need to loosen up the rules to playoff level, but do not make it so we are one unnecessary roughness away from touch football. That is no fun.

Keep it in Hawaii and broadcast it on ESPN

When people think of the Pro Bowl, I can almost garauntee that the first image that pops into their head is Alhoa Stadium in Hawaii:

It is simply a beautiful venue for a sporting event. The weather is almost always perfect down (unless there’s a hurricane). So why would the NFL change it to where the game is being played at the same site of the Super Bowl? For marketing purposes alone, the NFL just needs to keep it in Hawaii.

However, the NFL is once again messing with the location. Pro Football Talk is reporting that the game is in talks to be held in New Orleans, the site of Super Bowl XLVII. changing sites like this is a bad idea when the appeal of Hawaii is so much greater.

If they do not stick with one site, then they need to stick with on broadcast station: ESPN. Look at the last time the game was on ESPN. It set a ten year record for the Pro Bowl. MLB and the NBA both use ESPN as an outlet to broadcast their respective all-star games from. It is time for ESPN to buy the exclusive rights of that game. The fact that ESPN’s one-year stint as the game’s outlet should have sent a huge signal to the NFL.

Instead they kept experimenting with different locations, times, andgimmicks. I mean what was having players tweet from computer kiosks supposed to do? It is not like we were likely to see Megatron tweet something outrageous. This was a lame attempt at connecting with an audience the NFL thinks it is bound to lose.

I'm sure fans were dying to know what players had to say........ http://media.whosay.com

They will not lose them if they make the experience fun for the fans. Think of the MLB and NBA all-star games once more. Major League Baseball has the Homerun Durby and the Celebrity All-Star Game. The NBA has the Dunk and Three-point contests. That is exactly what the NFL should be doing.

Fun and creative events and challenges during the week leading up to the game

Why exactly did the NFL get rid of the strongest man contest again? I thought fans loved that stuff. where is the NFL’s version of the Homerun Derby? They should be pitting Maurice Jones-Drew against Clay Matthews in an Oklahoma drill with no blockers. They should be having foot races between Devon Hester, Mike Wallace, and DeSean Jackson. They should be having Brees, Rodgers, and Brady go head-to-head in passing competitions.

Alas, they are not doing these things to engage fans. They sit and watch while the game’s popularity and positive PR goes out the window. If the NFL really cared about this game, then it would be exerting every creative juice it has to make it better. It is a profitabe product and if they insert some of these modifications, it might make it better. One can only hope.

P.S.: I also hope that the competition committee will consider revoking the defensive rules put in place last year. But that won’t happen.

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