August 19th, 2019

The NFL is Great, But it Could Be Better


I watch NFL football every week. It’s what Americans do. I love it.


But I don’t think it’s perfect. NFL games are too long, with too many unnecessary breaks in the action. I have come up with four ways to make games shorter and faster-moving.


Here they are:




Get Rid of Instant Replay.


Most challenges go the same way: The coach throws the red flag. Then we watch three minutes of commercials. Then we watch two minutes of replays of the disputed play in super slow motion from multiple angles. Then the referee says “the call on the field stands.” What a waste of time.




Don’t Cut to Commercial After Kick-off Returns.


I don’t remember whether it was always like this, but standard procedure these days is for there to be a commercial break after a score. Then one play – the kick off, which is usually a boring touchback. Then ANOTHER commercial break.


It is outrageously greedy of the NFL to make us sit through basically six straight minutes of commercials between plays. No wonder I instinctually grab my iPad after a touchdown and start playing Clash of Clans and Words With Friends.




There Can Be Fewer Injury Time-outs.


How many times have you seen this? A player is writhing in pain on the ground, the medical staff rushes onto the field to help him, CBS cuts to commercial, and then – two plays later – the injured guy is back in the game like nothing happened.


Sorry to be insensitive here, but it seems to me that the player wasn’t really all that hurt to begin with and almost certainly could have gotten off the field under his own power.


I am not saying that there shouldn’t be any injury time-outs. I am saying, however, that if the entire game has to stop for your injury, you shouldn’t be able to return to the game. Simple as that. If you make 15 million people suffer through a “Two Broke Girls” promo and another insipid Cialis ad, you forfeit your right to play again that day.




There Can Be Fewer Penalty Flags.


America is a country made by lawyers, for lawyers. It is no coincidence that our national sport is the most complicated and litigious sport on the planet. But the NFL has gone too far. It feels like there is a flag thrown on half the plays. All those penalties slow the game down.


I definitely understand the necessity for holding penalties and pass interference calls. But I’m pretty sure we could live without the penalties for Ineligible Receiver (why shouldn’t the right tackle be allowed to catch a pass?), Illegal Formation (who cares if the tight end isn’t lined up right on the line of scrimmage?), and Ineligible Member of the Kicking Team Downfield (what does that even mean?).


Above all, if the NFL stopped calling False Start penalties, the whole sport would change for the better. In twenty years, you’ll tell your grandson: “back in my day, if the center flinched a teensy little bit before the snap, the refs would throw a flag and stop the action for a minute.” Your grandson won’t even believe you because the rule is so nonsensical and unnecessary.




I think these are all reasonable ideas to change the NFL for the better. But I doubt any of them will be enacted.


Oh, well. I’ll keep watching, anyway. What choice do I have? It’s either watch football or move to the UK and learn to like soccer. Obviously that’s not going to happen.





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