State of the NFL: The Labor Situation Is Not the Only Problem with the League
There is a saying that people can't ever leave well enough alone. Someone forgot to mention that to the NFL Competition Committee. Every year the Committee enacts new rules because of knee-jerk reactions to events that occurred the previous season.
This year the Committee decided to move the spot where kick offs are taken from the 30 yard line to the 35 yard line. While this might seem like a relatively minor change, it could possibly reduce kick off returns by up to fifty percent. There was even talk of removing kick offs from the game entirely, which surely would not have gone over well with the numerous players who make a living on special teams nor the fans who get excited watching players bring back kicks for touchdowns.
The rule was supposedly enacted for player safety, yet many of the members of the Competition Committee are owners who are proposing an 18 game schedule. Hypocrisy is the only word that comes to mind in this scenario.
Everyone should want the players to be as safe as possible, but they still play a contact sport. Injuries can and will happen. There are ways to help prevent them but eliminating key parts of the game is only going to make the product worse.
Last year was the changes to the overtime rules, which while necessary was not executed properly. The year before that it was the rule which prevents players on the ground from going anywhere near a quarterback's legs. It was a good idea in concept but has continued to make QBs all but untouchable in the NFL. There have been numerous other decisions made for reasons most rationale fans can only guess at.
Worse than the Competition Committee for the future of the NFL is Roger Goodell. Known as a hard line leader who commands respect, he is actually nothing more than a spotlight seeking dictator. Many of his decisions have clearly come from a man who relishes his power.
Trying to instill fear into the players so that they don't get into bad situations, the commissioner demands that troublemakers meet with him. Instead of quietly calling players to deliver his speech, instead every meeting is announced days in advance for the world to know about. Information will be leaked eventually, but the Commissioner's office should have a duty to keep such interactions as private as possible.
As with Big Ben and others, he has become judge and jury when dealing out punishments for players. Fairness does not seem to be a word in his vocabulary while attempting to clean up the sport. Whether a player is guilty of a crime or has been proven to do anything wrong is something he cares nothing about.
One can only imagine that Goodell is upset that he cannot lay down the law on players during the lockout. As players such as Dez Bryant and Aqib Talib face legal woes, the commissioner is helpless to do anything about it. While it should never be acceptable when players get in trouble, it should not solely be up to Goodell to handle the situation.
Roger Goodell's influence does not stop with trouble off the field. He is also the one to levy fines against players for what are deemed illegal hits. No matter that some of the fines given last year were clearly not dirty hits, he still took money from players without warning.
The biggest problem with the whole situation is that there is not an unbiased authority for players to appeal to. If a player dislikes the commissioner's rulings they can only go to him to change it. There needs to be some other power to ultimately decide on Goodell's punishments.
The lockout is not the only issue the NFL is dealing with these days. While their position as the top sport in America is secure, should they not be careful it will not last as long as those in power hope. No one wants to see the mighty fall, but it is possible the National Football League is heading down that path.
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