I get tired of all the “Bold Predictions” that come with sports and the NFL. My background is in molecular biology, a field where emotional conjecture is unwelcome. If you’re going to make a case, have it grounded in fact and replicable pattern, not conventional wisdom and questionable statistical conclusions. Retrospectively, "bold" tends to be a synonym for "dumb."
But whatever—that’s how sports are, and perhaps part of me loves that escape from the confines of 1 + 1 invariably equaling 2.
So let’s go for broke. I’m not going to make Bold Predictions. Or Enormous Predictions. Or Gargantuous Predictions. I’m going to make GARGANTUNORMOUS PREDICTIONS. These hawgs will be based in absolutely nothing but intuition and how the NFL seems to be heading.
In increasing garganunormity…
Someone is going to capture a high-resolution picture of a coach’s play card during a game and tweet it. Within five minutes the shot will be all over the Internet. (I’m actually surprised this hasn’t happened yet.)
Rather than worrying about covering their mouths, coaches will have to keep play cards in a black sheath or some sort of indecipherable code. Camera technology is too good.
This will raise serious questions about whether players and coaches are allowed to have access to their phones or the Internet at all during games.
The helmet cam will become commonplace. They tried them out during Pro Bowl practices (and I vaguely remember some awkward attempts in the past), but we’ll see them in regular season games soon enough. The vantage point is just too amazing.
The biggest knock is that they are unstable and the viewers at home will need barf bags, but with wider angles and better stabilization technology, they’ll become serviceable. Also, the cameras are only going to get smaller, so they’ll be less of an appendage on the helmet.
Though I gotta say, I’m not entirely sure I want to see what happens at the bottom of a pileup or what it looks like to have Patrick Willis closing in...okay, yes I do.
A prominent NFL player will be caught, whether on a date or something further, with another man. A media barrage will ensue, but the event will break the dam for other players to come out of the closet. Other sports will follow suit.
The closeted cases of athletes is perhaps one of the least discussed major topics in sports, yet it is a situation that is so obviously occurring considering the statistical occurrence of homosexuality that in a couple decades we’ll look back on this period of denial with a certain annoyed bemusement.
Whether someone steps or is kicked out of the closet, it’s just a matter of time.
NFL stadiums will be outfitted with lasers on the yard and end-zone lines to take the ambiguity out of ball placement, out of bounds and touchdowns.
Honestly, why are we still having a 60-year-old dude stick his head under a hood and flip through grainy replays? This is the best system a multibillion-dollar league can devise? That’s how people got their film developed in 1988.
Why not deploy some pretty simple technology and take out the guesswork and the obnoxious time it takes to review a play (and show us more commercials)?
We will see a seven foot wide receiver. Yes, when guys get that big they get stilted and awkward and have little place other than the middle of a basketball court. But in the 1960s you could have said, "we'll have 300-pound NFL players," and people might have laughed you out of the building.
Every year we get a draft class that's just a little bigger, faster, stronger. Old-school Harold Carmichael was 6'8"; 2009 draftee Ramses Barden is listed at 6'6". It's only a matter of time before we get "Jump Ball," the wide receiver who has questionable speed and agility yet is a guaranteed six around the end zone.
(Little-known fact: We've already had a seven-foot lineman. Richard Sligh played eight games for the Raiders. In addition, Jared Gaither, Dennis Roland and Demar Dotson all stand 6'9", so it's not a far cry to say seven-foot linemen may be commonplace one day.)
A player will need to be paralyzed (again), severely brain damaged or killed on the field for the NFL to really take action about head traumas.
Preventing concussions requires contentious rule changes that the league doesn’t seem ready to tackle, in part because of the labor dispute and partly because to truly do anything about head injuries, you need to change the parameters of football.
It took Clint Malarchuck’s throat to be slit for hockey goalies to finally cover that last vulnerable part of their body; it took Mike Coolbaugh’s death for base coaches to wear helmets while on the field.
We will see a woman take an NFL snap in our lifetime. She will be a kicker (or punter), and she will be ESPN’s Athlete of the Year. She will be told by many people, cynical or not, that there are better kickers than her; she’s simply on the team to sell tickets. Her hotness will be the most debated topic in bars every Sunday that she plays.
She will represent a final frontier for women’s rights—the physical struggle against men.
Though I am a firm believer in the “never say never” rule, we will never see anyone break Emmitt Smith’s career rushing record of 18,355 yards. That’s 15 seasons averaging 1,224 yards. The position has become too damaging; coaches know it, and that is why more and more teams are splitting time in the backfield.
Sure, the Chris Johnsons and Adrian Petersons will still burst onto the scene and carry fantasy rosters for four or five years. And then they’ll disappear. Or go to another team and split time. LaDanian Tomlinson was the last back with a chance at Emmitt’s record, but all those passes LT caught in San Diego finally, um, caught him.
Unless the NFL lengthens the season or makes major rule changes, this record stands forever. The position is simply too brutal now. Fifteen seasons over 1,200 yards. Fifteen.
There you have it. A eight-pack of GARGANTUNORMOUS PREDICTIONS—all inarguable, so don’t even bother in the comments section...