NFL Has a Reputation Problem as Postseason Begins – Opinion
The NFL is “bad football” and not “professional football,” according to two different, long-time insiders. Their stances, and other issues, should give league officials, team executives, and others reason to be concerned about the future.
The NFL is a massively successful business, making $9 billion in 2021. That’s not part of the $11 billion the teams are now reportedly worth.
However, if the league thinks it falls in the category of “too big to fail,” it should take cues from other organizations that thought the same before they went belly-up. And, they should do it before it’s too late.
Tom Brady, one of the most seasoned veteran players of the league, said in a press conference earlier this season that there is “a lot of bad football.” The winner of seven Super Bowls, now on a hunt for his eighth with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said there is “a lot of poor quality” in the league.
Troy Aikman echoes the sentiment. This week, on an SI Media Podcast, the three-time Super Bowl champ and current commentator for Monday Night Football, said that “professional football” is gone.
There were games that we watched, and I won’t say what network most of them were on, and I had to ask myself, ‘Is this professional football?’ There was some bad, bad football being played, and that’s not good,” Aikman said on a recent SI Media Podcast.
The NFL seems to have turned into a money-making machine that seems to focus almost exclusively on how much it can rake in. While any business wants to become a success, the league, in the eyes of many, is sacrificing the heart of what has allowed it to get this far.
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) September 26, 2018
That heart is the players. Aikman explained that players can no longer play the way they practice, nor can they play the way the game was intended. The numerous questionable “roughing the passer” calls this season are a prime example.
Now, some players are scared to even touch the opponent’s QB out of fear of losing 15 yards and a down. That type of loss can change the entire momentum of a game.
The league has a “when in doubt” rule for refs to follow. However, that opens the door to egregious subjectivity.
As another example, the league has continued to turn a blind eye to the argument between real grass and turf on the field. Evidence suggests that more injuries occur on artificial turf than they do on real grass, but this doesn’t seem to bother NFL brass.
The NFL Players Association indicates that “artificial turf is significantly harder on the body.” It adds that the rate of “non-contact lower extremity injuries” is 28% higher on turf than it is on grass. For foot and ankle injuries, the rate jumps to 69% higher on turf.
There have been calls over the past couple of seasons for the league to make changes. Those changes, however, are toward more use of turf. Biomechanical engineer and NFL consultant Richard Kent told Yahoo Sports last September that it’s possible to develop safer synthetic turf “with the right team and resources.”
In the meantime, the league apparently allows players to be guinea pigs. However, they’re probably not going to stand for it for too much longer.
They definitely won’t stand for it after the latest revelation. Initially, there could have been 16 stadiums in the US hosting World Cup games in 2026. One condition for selection, however, was the use of real grass, not turf.
— Matt (@Thatmatt1017) January 12, 2023
FIFA has now selected 11 of the 16 stadiums to host games. Of those, several already have grass, and the others have agreed to change from turf to grass. In other words, owners were willing to compromise for the money from hosting a couple of World Cup games, but not for the NFL players that regularly play on the fields.
The NFL seems to have forgotten what made its games popular to begin with. If it wants to avoid the “too big to fail” farce, it needs to remember.
NFL Postseason To Bring Changes
If the past few years of football have taught us anything, it’s that players are no longer remaining silent. It’s possible that this year’s NFL postseason is going to bring a couple of unexpected surprises.
Some changes are already in the works. The AFC could see its championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA, if the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills – the top teams in the conference – have to face each other.
That was a necessary change following the cardiac arrest Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered in the team’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals a few weeks ago. Fortunately, Hamlin is doing much better and is out of the hospital.
The league will see new overtime rules during the playoffs. Now, both teams will have at least one possession.
Previously, if the initial receiving team scored a TD on its opening OT drive (of if the defense stole the ball and took it into the end zone), the game was over. The OT coin toss still exists, but is essentially irrelevant since both teams get the ball at least once.
The league is also putting pressure on officials to referee some – not all – aspects of the games better. For example, apparently no zebra knew about field goal kickers using “crutches” to lift the ball slightly higher off the ground.
The NFL just had to tell refs to watch for the use of foreign objects, since they apparently didn’t bother to make proper inspections previously. Fans have known about the practice for years.
There are renewed discussions to make refs full-time league employees. However, without adequate training, the money won’t make a difference.