As a general, non-season ticket holding NFL fan, I decided to list what I felt the best random invention introductions have been in the last 40 years since the 1970 merger, the most debatable ones, and three alterations I think should be made.
Let me know your thoughts at the end and what you think the best and worst NFL changes or inventions are!
Best (Random) NFL Inventions Introduced since the 1970 Merger
6. Emphasis on Mouth Guards and Helmet Bars
Because hockey players lose enough teeth for players in every sport. Besides, can you imagine how much worse that facial hit on Anquan Boldin would have been last year had there not been protective bars on his helmet?
5. The 3-4 Defense
The new trend of teams switching from 4-3 to 3-4 aside, the 3-4 Defense just seems to infer dominance . . . with a slight side course of arrogance. I think the era should be called “The Rise of the Linebackers.”
4. The Replay
This is debatable, I know. But it was a great invention, even if we have no clue on the best way to use it yet.
3. Recording Sack Counts
Passing record, win-loss record, blah blah blah. I want to know how many times my guys smashed your quarterback into the ground.
Seriously, I’m speechless trying to express exactly how much more rewarding, exciting and understandable a game is when the picture is so crisp and clear.
1. That yellow line on the TV indicating where the 1st down marker is.
I don’t know about any of you, but I grew up watching football with my father and wondering why a quarterback's long passes only registered for about two-yard gains.
Of course the intricacies of looking for the first-down on-field markers eluded me at the time, but still, that tiny yellow line (and corresponding blue line, which while handy, is not nearly as valuable as its counterpart) makes the game so much easier to follow.
Debatable Inventions since the Merger
5. The fine for excessive force with no prior corresponding penalty on the field
I understand the desire by the NFL to deter behaviors in the future which they find objectionable. But I do not find it logical to punish somebody retroactively for something that was not a problem at the time.
If the hit is legal and not called on the field, how can the NFL later punish a player for what he knew to be legitimately within the rules? Change the rule first, then fine him if he does it again.
4. Icing-the-Kicker Strategy
Really, for as often as it fails, it does not seem efficient. does it?
3. The Tuck Rule
There are so many inaccuracies associated with this and they all stem from human fallibility: whether the referee on the field thought the ball was in motion; what was the ball doing—going forward, backward, or tucked; what do the replay booth guys think, and so on and so forth.
There is such a likelihood of human error and it is such a matter of personal perception that I doubt consistency can ever be established with this rule.
2. Overtime Rules
Should they stay the way they are? Should they switch to college overtime rules? Should there be a hybrid? Should each team get one kickoff, and then let it be a free-for-all? I have a feeling this debate will never end.
1. The Replay
It is a great invention when the referees decide that yes, your player did in fact intercept that pass, and a frustrating invention when they rule he didn’t and you know that if the referees didn’t have the chance to replay it, the on-field referee would have called it an interception without knowing any better.
Why Hasn’t the NFL Done This Yet?
3. The Personal Responsibility Class for rookies and veterans.
So I get that these players are young and rich and want to go out. But with all of the incidents of drunkenness, fighting and weapons (cough Burress cough), I feel the players sometimes forget they must also take personal responsibility in their actions and choices.
NFL players are recognizable, and if, for example, they cover themselves in diamonds and designer apparel while voluntarily entering into chaotic situations which could breed drunkenness, greed, jealously, or worse, I would hope they understand that something might happen to them and the people around them.
It is their right as citizens to engage in those activities, yet they must realize there is no corresponding right to place fellow citizens in danger by bringing [illegal] weapons in to "protect" themselves from situations which they voluntarily placed themselves in to begin with.
Growing up in middle class suburbia, I learned various lessons like this. For instance, I like book-hunting at Goodwill because it’s fun—but there is no way I would wear my Grandmother’s jewelry there.
Why draw unnecessary attention to myself or put myself in a position that would make it irresistible for somebody to accost me? Ah, the Middle-Class Suburban Rules for Girls. Maybe that should be the name of the class…
Anyway, I realize the NFL has rookie seminars for dealing with money and more, but they do not necessarily seem to be working wonderfully, do they? Not with all of the arrests and incidents that seem to happen. It all goes back to personal responsibility.
(2) Sensors in the Football and at the Goal Line
Steelers fan here, and I must say I am tired of everybody questioning whether a play was or was not a touchdown. After all of the goal-line drama last year it must be asked, why isn’t there a sensor in the football connecting it to the goal line like they do with hockey pucks?
It is not like the whole stadium must light up if the football breaks the plane—considering any pass in the end-zone could then make a stadium go wild unnecessarily—but they could arrange it so there is a sensor attached to the official replay booth. Maybe a small red light could blink or something when the ball breaks the plane.
Then if the referees on the field have a problem (like with the now-infamous Santonio Holmes catch in the December 2008 Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore game), they could check with the replay booth, who could say “yes, it crossed the plane.”
After which the referees could continue to determine whether a knee was down before the goal line, whether a player's feet were in bounds, and so on.
But of course, since we already have basic issues with how and when to use replay capability, adding a nice little flashing light for the booth officials to keep track of would probably distract them and make them even more bumfuzzled.
(1) Bringing the First-Down Chains Technology into this century
If anybody watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics last summer, they witnessed dancers on a massive LCD screen the size of a football field who created a design on the screen by where they touched it.
So why on earth are we still using 10-yard markers connected by slack chains and subject to human error? This drives me crazy.
I mean, there are not even any rungs alongside the field, for example, for the markers to latch onto to ensure that the markers stay exactly 10 yards apart from their last placement!
You can tweet to me from across the globe that you feel like burping and yet if the guy moving the chains shifts his weight accidentally it is the difference between a first-down and fourth-down?
I don’t know about you, but I wince every time I see the referees call for the Chain guys (do they even have titles?) to come onto the field to measure a potential first down and while they jog onto the field the chains are slack.
How the heck do they know where the correct spot of the original marker should be?
That field is 53 1/3 yards wide and they just jog so straight that they know where exactly in the middle the spot should be to within an inch? Yeah, no.
I’m not saying we should put an LCD screen under the grass and have it light up and show us where the first down should be. But really, is it too much to ask to get a slightly more advanced form of measurement and accuracy down on the field?
Let me know what you think the best, worst, debatable, and the should-be-done inventions are! I would love to hear your thoughts.