Good intentions, good ideas—same general principles, right?
The NFL has come up with a ton of great ideas that you see in practice today. Moving the goalposts back? Great idea. Lengthening the season from 14 games to 16? Outstanding (but don't push it by expanding it to 18 games; that's not a great idea).
Adding the two-point conversion? Excellent—now eight-point deficits can be made up in one possession instead of two, and they make two-minute drills that much more interesting.
Merging with the AFL and creating the Super Bowl? Probably the best idea in North American sports history.
But not all good or great ideas pay off. Sometimes they turn into absolute stinkers.
That's the trial and error factor that accompanies any idea. Some ideas turn into gold—others wind up D.O.A.
We're going to be discussing the latter in this piece.
The NFL has come up with many great ideas that seemed fine in theory but in practice would turn out to be disasters.
Let's take a look at seven such ideas.
Freeman McNeil, who wound up being partly responsible for the NFL we see today.
In February 1989, the NFL instituted Plan B free agency.
This was a specific type of free agency where a team was allowed to protect up to 37 players. If a protected player was a free agent, then he would not be able to sign with another team without providing his old team the first opportunity to re-sign him.
The NFL instituted this because at the time there was no free agency: Players were bound to the teams that drafted them until they were traded or released.
For owners in every sport, this is something they would love. Surprising that the NBA owners haven't suggested converting to a system like this.
Actually, it's not surprising, and there's a reason why you don't see Plan B free agency around in any sport anymore.
During an antitrust lawsuit filed by eight players—called the Freeman McNeil case, as the former Jets running back was one of the plaintiffs—the jury found that Plan B free agency was illegal and awarded four of the plaintiffs with damages totaling $1,629,000.
The trial would also lead to the NFL bringing in true free agency, but with a salary cap and franchise tags; without it, we wouldn't have the NFL that we have today.
Plan B was a good idea if you were an owner, and if you were a decent player who was deemed not important enough on your original team to protect, you had the freedom to sign elsewhere, but in the end it was an idea so bad that a jury found it illegal.
Can you include an idea that never really got off the ground on this list?
I say you can, which leads us to the China Bowl.
The China Bowl was a preseason game to be played on Aug. 8, 2007 between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. The game was to take place at Workers Stadium in Beijing.
For the NFL it was a chance to broaden its audience into China, as it would be the first NFL game held there. The New England Patriots were participants because at the time they had a base of operations in Beijing.
For China, this game was to begin a yearlong countdown to the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games, which looking at it now doesn't make any sense since American football isn't an Olympic sport. If they wanted an Olympic sport exhibition to kick off the countdown to the Olympics, wouldn't a charity basketball game with NBA players have been more suitable since most of those participants would've likely been Olympians?
On April 2, 2007, the NFL cancelled the game to focus more on its London regular season game and rescheduled the game for 2009. Both teams still expressed interest in playing the game, which would've been moved to Beijing National Stadium, which you might remember as the Bird's Nest from the 2008 Olympics.
That game too would wind up not being played. The Patriots closed their Beijing base of operations in 2008 due to the recession, and the game wound up being cancelled.
Currently, there aren't any plans to hold any NFL games in China, but with the success of the London NFL games, don't be too surprised if this idea is revisited by the NFL sometime in the future.
Teams playing one regular season game a year in an adjacent market isn't new to the NFL.
From 1933 until 1994, the Green Bay Packers would play one or two games per year in nearby Milwaukee, at the old County Stadium.
You would figure that the Buffalo Bills playing one regular season game in Toronto per year would be a good fit.
Toronto is only 85 miles away from Buffalo and is considered a part of the Bills' territory. It is also the third-biggest North American city without a National Football League team, although part of that has to do with the Canadian Football League and the Toronto Argonauts.
In 2005 Toronto businessmen Ted Rogers—then the head of Canadian media conglomerate Rogers Communications, which owns the Rogers Centre and the Toronto Blue Jays—and Larry Tanenbaum—head of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Air Canada Centre, Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors—held a press conference where they announced their intentions to bring an NFL franchise to Toronto.
Wilson would take a proactive step and in 2007 petitioned the NFL to allow the Bills to play one home game in Toronto per year.
The NFL approved Wilson's plan, and the Bills signed a contract with Rogers Communications that allowed the Bills to play eight games in Toronto from 2008 to 2012—five regular season games, one every season, and three preseason games, one every two years.
Since then, the Bills have gone 1-3 in Toronto, with their first win up there coming earlier this season against the Washington Redskins.
The games themselves have been financial successes; however, attendance has been lower than expected despite the fact that 15 to 20 percent of attendees at Bills home games in Buffalo are from Southern Ontario. For their 2010 game against the Chicago Bears, there were still 15,000 seats available at kickoff.
Scene from Thursday night's game between the Broncos and Jets. Picture chosen to get at least one Tim Tebow reference into this article.
Expanding some NFL games to Thursday night is a fine idea that has been tried in the past.
Until 2006, these games would air either on ABC—the former home of Monday Night Football—or on ESPN.
But in 2006, the NFL's own network—called the NFL Network, but I'm sure you knew that already—started to air a slate of eight regular season Thursday Night Football towards the end of the season.
At first, Comcast-owned OLN—now called Versus until Jan. 2, when it becomes NBC Sports Network—bid $450 million for the package. Other cable networks like TNT and ESPN were also interested in the package, but the NFL decided to forgo a rights fee and air the package itself on the NFL Network.
Now the idea of Thursday night football is a great one. The only reason why this is a great idea gone bad is because of the controversy surrounding the NFL Network, as well as the fact that the majority of Americans do not receive the NFL Network.
Unlike ESPN or other cable networks, the NFL Network doesn't get the same wide distribution on cable. On some systems like Comcast, you need to upgrade to a sports package in order to get the network, while on other systems such as Time Warner Cable or Bright House Networks, you won't get NFL Network at all.
This, of course, would lead to a December 2007 matchup—and eventual Super Bowl XLII preview—between the New York Giants and New England Patriots being broadcast not only on NFL Network, but on NBC and CBS as well.
While the NFL has been profitable on Thursday nights and had to attempt this experiment, it was the fans who wound up getting hurt. Fans of the teams playing in each Thursday night game are able to view the game via local television, but if you don't live in your favorite team's city and your favorite team is playing on Thursday night, you might have a problem being able to watch the game.
On top of that, the NFL can make more money opening up the Thursday night package for bids from other networks and not incur any of the costs of producing the game.
The weirdest Super Bowl ever had to be Super Bowl XXXVIII.
You had a first quarter where it felt like absolutely nothing happened. It really seemed like both teams' offenses were hung over at the start of the game. Neither team would score until the last two minutes of the second quarter, the longest stretch in any Super Bowl that remained scoreless. In those final two minutes, though, the teams combined to score 24 points with New England leading 14-10.
Then came halftime—more on that later. No one outside of New England really discusses the game itself anymore, which is a shame because it was a great Super Bowl, so let me have another paragraph or two to discuss it before we get to the halftime show.
There was also a streaker—Mark Roberts, a Brit who is famous for streaking at sporting events—who took the field dressed as a referee prior to the beginning of the second half while smoke and haze from the halftime show's pyrotechnics still lingered in Reliant Stadium, which had its roof closed for the game. Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham wound up tackling him to the ground, and the streaker was then arrested and fined $1,000 for the act.
In the second half, both teams would again go scoreless throughout the duration of the third quarter, but on the second play of the final period, New England's Antowain Smith would score a touchdown to put New England ahead 21-10. The fourth quarter would see another scoring explosion, as both teams scored a combined 37 points.
In the end, thanks to usually reliable Panthers kicker John Kasay kicking the ball out of bounds with the score tied at 29 with 1:08 to play, New England would get the ball at its own 40.
Brady would then lead the Patriots down to the Carolina 23. Then with a last minute 41-yard field goal, Adam Vinatieri won the game for the Patriots by the final score of 32-29.
But again, outside of New England, a game that could've been considered one of the greatest played in NFL history became a footnote to a wardrobe malfunction.
At the time both CBS and MTV were co-owned by Viacom. Since MTV still featured some music at the time, CBS and the NFL thought it would be a good idea to have MTV produce the halftime show. MTV was able to sign superstars Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, Nelly, P. Diddy and Kid Rock to perform with a special appearance by Jessica Simpson.
Timberlake and Jackson were the finale of the show, and we all know how that turned out: wardrobe malfunction, apologies, complaints to the FCC, fines from the FCC—which would be voided years later—and an impact that was felt throughout the entertainment world—there's a good chance Howard Stern doesn't move to Sirius Satellite Radio if the FCC doesn't crack down on indecency following this incident.
From that point forward, MTV would never produce another halftime show—thank God for that, though, since MTV doesn't even play music.
The incident would become the most replayed incident on TiVo and likely also expanded sales of DVRs.
Now, I was never against the incident itself. At the time I was 20 years old, so of course I'm all for any wardrobe malfunctions. Even today, it's not something that offends my sensibilities. It's just a nipple; there are far worse things that are discussed on television daily.
What I was against was the FCC's overreaction, as well as the reaction from all of these parents groups that want the government to help raise their kids.
I'm understanding that it's football and you don't want to see nudity, and I do respect that it offends some people and that it shouldn't have happened—the airwaves are for all. While I'm usually the type who would say, "You don't like, then don't watch," this was a different situation.
This is very different from people who complain about Family Guy's tasteless jokes, Dexter's violence, or South Park's crude language; people were caught off guard by this, so I'm somewhat sympathetic to that.
But I'm only somewhat sympathetic. I hated what this did to television and radio because of everyone's overreaction, especially the Parents Television Council (Motto: We make up your mind on what your kids can watch so you don't have to, and forget everyone else).
It was really made out to be a bigger deal than what it was and was used by those in power to restrict the First Amendment.
Now I don't want to go on a rant here, but Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football wasn't as bad as everyone seemed to think.
I mean, the guy knew what he was talking about when it came to football, and while he'll never be confused with Amos Alonzo Stagg when it comes to knowledge of the game of football, he did show that he had some chops and was somewhat proficient in the booth.
The only problem he had was some of his more obscure references, which went over about as well as me trying to write an article about how Keynesian economic policies could work in the NFL versus the Austrian School of Economics here on Bleacher Report—much like you read Bleacher Report to read about Tom Brady, Tim Tebow, Aaron Rodgers and Brian Urlacher and not Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman.
But Dennis Miller would often weave in these obscure references during his rants during the games. Yes, he ranted during the games and would pepper in obscure references. ABC even dedicated a website to explaining them, because that's exactly what you want to do while watching a football game: read a site that's not dedicated to your fantasy football team.
Miller's time would seem as short as Pope Sisinnius' papacy in 708 A.D. ABC would let Miller go to bring in John Madden, which is a smart decision since he knows football and his vocabulary usually begins and ends with boom.
Next time they consider a comedian for the broadcast booth of a football game, a more down-to-earth guy like Kevin James or Jim Belushi would be more acceptable. Those are guys that other football fans can identify with, unlike Miller, who many football fans felt fit in about as well on Monday Night Football as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins taking communion at a Sunday mass.
But that's just my opinion—I could be wrong.
Super Bowl week is supposed to be a fun-filled week filled with parties and events that stimulate the local economy of the city that hosts the game.
Prior to 2005, Jacksonville was the only NFL city in Florida that had yet to host a Super Bowl. Its fellow Floridian cities Miami and Tampa had hosted the big game a combined 11 times and have combined to host the game three more times after the game was held in Jacksonville.
But there's a reason why Tampa and Miami are usually considered favorites to host the big game. Both cities are warm-weather locales that can handle big events like the Super Bowl and have plenty of fun things to do around both metropolitan areas.
The same can't be said for Jacksonville.
Jacksonville may be in the state of Florida, but its climate in the winter, when the Super Bowl is usually held, is closer to that of Georgia's. While not as cold as other Super Bowl sites like Houston, Detroit and New Orleans or future Super Bowl sites Indianapolis and the Meadowlands, it's still pretty chilly compared to Miami, Tampa or Southern California, especially for an outdoor game.
This caused many people who attended the Super Bowl, both the press and the fans, to complain.
Another source of complaints was the size and inability to get around the city of Jacksonville. In terms of land area it is the biggest city in the United States. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that cruise ships had to be brought in to be used as floating hotels because there weren't enough available hotels on land, and the city is pretty difficult for someone to get around when they're not from there and don't have a car.
Then there's the question of what to do in Jacksonville. While there are plenty of golf courses around the Jacksonville area, in the city itself it's practically dead.
See, Jacksonville is different from other Florida cities like Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Orlando in the sense that while those cities rely on tourism and cater to tourists, Jacksonville is more of an industrial town mixed with a naval town. The U.S. military is actually Jacksonville's biggest employer, with a total impact of $6.1 billion per year. Jacksonville boasts the third-largest naval presence in the United States; only Norfolk, Va. and San Diego, Calif. are bigger.
Nothing against any of that, and Jacksonville, a city I've been to a few times, is a nice place to live and work.
But as far as hosting a Super Bowl? Sorry. I doubt the NFL will return its premier game to the First Coast anytime soon. It's too difficult to get around, and there's just not a lot to do when the Jaguars aren't playing.
Considering this is the Super Bowl we're talking about, it's very doubtful the Jaguars will be playing.
So could you think of some ideas that were good on paper for the NFL but turned out badly? Leave it in a comment. I know I left out plenty.
In the meantime, thank you for reading. I can't think of a music video to end this article with, so instead I'll just leave you with this picture of Carrie Underwood. Can Tony Romo losing her be considered a good idea gone bad? No, it was just a bad idea from the start.