Though their effectiveness is a much debated matter of opinion, Roger Goodell has brought about many changes in the NFL since taking over in 2006. Examples include doing more to expand into foreign markets, changing the Personal Conduct Policy, increasing discipline for coaches and players who violate rules, and the list goes on. Even with all of these changes though, there is more that should be done and some things that should be changed back to how they were.
1. Fines, suspensions and punishments need to be given more logically.
Goodell has been criticized on many occasions due to his lack of fairness when it comes to handing out punishments and fines. In the past two years, Adam Jones has had 13 incidents involving police, been suspended twice, started a fight with an NFL employee and has been accused of arranging for a gunman to shoot at three men outside of a night club. He was still allowed to come back from a suspension and play the final four games of the season, even though he should have been banned from the NFL.
Ray Lewis was given a shocking fine of $50,000 for criticizing a referee who made a terrible call. Chances are great that I will be criticized for something that I have written in this article, but the person doing it will not be fined a cent as we are given the right to free speech in America.
Matt Jones was caught in a car with six grams of cocaine, charged with possession and intent to sell, yet he was never punished by the NFL.
Jared Allen was forced to shell out $75,000 for a “dirty hit” that was in no way dirty, but a textbook tackle.
Goodell's system of discipline is bogus and must be changed in the very near future.
2. Players need to stop being punished after making clean hits.
This season was full of huge hits. The majority of these plays were clean and legal, but to the shock of many, the players were given hefty fines and threatened with suspensions. Goodell's idea of a dirty hit is so much different from the actual definition that it has caused many to speak out.
The normally soft-spoken Troy Polamalu was one of the many players to spit criticism at Goodell, saying that the decision was more about the money than the players' safety and even went as far as accusing him of trying to turn professional football into a pansy game.
Steelers chairman Dan Rooney and head coach Mike Tomlin also joined the battle against Goodell after receiver Hines Ward was fined for a hit on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers that left him with a broken jaw. Goodell eventually dropped the fine, but not before much argument and criticism. Previous to this, Ward was given, and forced to pay, two fines he received after games against the Jaguars and Ravens. There is absolutely no reason an WR should be punished for hits on defensive players.
3. Referees should be punished for blowing game-changing calls.
It is understandable when a ref misses a hold or a face mask every now and again, but one of the biggest headlines of this season was the terrible officiating. These terrible calls victimized teams all season long, even as recently as last Sunday's NFC championship game between the Eagles and Cardinals.
On a key fourth down play, Eagles receiver Kevin Curtis was tripped up by a defender causing him to not be able to catch the ball. Had a referee called this blatant act of pass interference, the Eagles would have been given a first down and still had a chance. There is no guarantee that they would have won, but there is no reason anybody should have to wonder what would have happened had the call been made.
Roger Goodell needs to step it up and punish these officials for making these mistakes, especially when they effect the outcome of the game.
4. Players should have to finish out college eligibility before entering the draft.
Earlier I said that I would probably be criticized for something I wrote in this article. If anything this will probably be the reason, but I strongly believe college players should not be allowed to enter the NFL draft early and have to finish out their senior year.
Every year, players leave school early to enter the draft. Some of these players go on to find success. Those who don't either become third-string nobodies, completely go undrafted, or turn out to be huge busts (Ki-Jana Carter anybody?).
If players were forced to finish their eligibility, who knows what could happen. Maybe they would have a breakout season their final year and increase their draft value. Even if they didn't become more of a value, they did gain experience which will help in the NFL and possibly lead to less busts.
5. The Pro Bowl needs to be moved back to after the Super Bowl.
I clearly remember the day it was announced that the Pro Bowl would be played the week before the Super Bowl and moved from Hawaii starting in 2010. I was standing in my kitchen watching ESPN and eating a bowl of Cheerios when I heard the news. It was so shocking that I dropped the bowl of cereal on the ground causing it to shatter and just stared at the TV in disbelief. After hearing it repeated, my mind was so overwhelmed trying to figure out why the NFL did this that I went into a convulsion and fell onto the pile of glass, milk, and cereal and lay there twitching.
Ok, that never happened at all. The only true part is that I was in a state of shock.
Moving the Pro Bowl is a terrible idea, especially to the week before the Super Bowl. The NFL says that this change is going to increase the dwindling popularity of the event. The fact of the matter is that they are just going to make it worse.
Any Pro Bowlers that are also playing in the Super Bowl are going to drop out to avoid injury. The other players whose season is already over are going to be turned off because of location. Half the fun of the Pro Bowl is going down to Hawaii and getting away on a little vacation. Now there really isn't much to look forward to.
Goodell needs to change the Pro Bowl back to how it was, or he might as well just name it the Rookie Bowl because they are the only players who are going to want to waste their time with it.