An Open Letter to the NFL

Bill StellContributor IJanuary 26, 2009

To: Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Players' Union, NFL Owners and the NFL Officiating Crews

Re:  Improvements to the League

To whom it may concern:

The NFL is the most popular sport in the world. We have the most dedicated fans of any sport and will pay almost any sum to watch our favorite team play.

That being said, there are several areas where improvement would help the league now and in the long term, ensuring that it remains the fans' top sports choice.

1. Hold players accountable for their actions. I appreciate the job you are doing in this area, commissioner, but more can be done. How many chances does a player get before you ban him for life? Remember that tens of thousands of young boys dream of playing in this league and look up to those that do. What kind of example does it give when a player can get arrested numerous times and doesn't lose his job? Try that in the real world and you're fired pretty fast. At the very least, institute a "three strikes and you're gone" rule and stand by it.

2. Place a cap on rookie contracts. The simplest way would be to cap a rookie's pay at league minimum for the first two years with a clause to renegotiate at that time. This saves the owners upfront money for someone who may or may not work out in the NFL but gives the rookies an incentive to work hard and prove themselves. This would also help keep some college players in school until they graduate.

3. Stop booth reviews in the last two minutes except for scores and change of possession. Let the officials call it like they see it.

4. Speaking of officials, institute a fine/suspension rule for official. Every year, it seems more and more calls are blown by the officiating crew. I understand that with multiple camera angles, instant replay and the like it is easier to spot bad calls, but when you can watch the play in real time with no slow motion and see that the official got it wrong, something needs to happen. This fine could be only for calls that change the outcome of the game, maybe, but the officials should have some type of regulation to make them get it right the first time.

5. Owners, leave your front offices alone! Al Davis, William Clay Ford, and their ilk are running their beloved teams into the ground by thinking they are better talent scouts then the people who do it for a living. If you never played in the NFL, don't try to coach/manage your team. Go sit in your luxury box and let the professionals put together a winner. It will not happen overnight, but give them at least three years to work it before you fire them.

6. Players, remember who pays your bills—the fans. Give us your best on every play and act like upstanding citizens when off the field and we will part with our hard-earned money to support you. Slack off, play like you don't care, complain and whine, or break the laws the rest of us have to obey and we will turn our collective backs on you—and you'll have to work a nine-to-five like everyone else for a normal salary.

Thank you for your time.


An NFL Fan